August 19, 2015

8 Tips for Talking Money With Recruiters

CoffeeThere are two different types of recruiters: agency recruiters, who work for a staffing firm, and corporate recruiters, who work in house for a company. Agency recruiters work with a variety of clients, whereas in-house recruiters only recruit candidates for internal jobs at their companies. When working with either type of recruiter, it is not only okay, but incredibly important, to talk about money right up front.

As an agency recruiter, I discuss money from the outset with both my clients and my candidates. Would you engage with a realtor and withhold your budget for a new home? Would a realtor spend their time sending you the best listings if they didn’t know your budget? It’s the same with a recruiter: we need to know both the client’s budget and the candidate’s salary requirements up front so that we don’t waste anyone’s time.

If you are still wary about talking money with recruiters, here are a few tips to help you navigate these sometimes tricky discussions:

1. Provide a Salary Range

Ninety-nine percent of my clients want to know a candidate’s salary requirements to ensure that the candidate is a match for their role both professionally and financially. Since clients pay recruiters to vet candidates, we need to know your salary requirements. We also want to know your salary requirements so that we can present you with roles that are appropriate for you.

I recommend providing a salary range every time you speak with a new recruiter. That way, you won’t miss out on opportunities by incorrectly assuming that the salary is too low for you.

If you fear that you might accidentally undercut yourself by providing an exact number — i.e., if you’re worried that an employer will pay you less than it would have after hearing your proposed salary — then you can always provide a salary range instead of a specific number.

2. Be Honest About Your Current Salary

Quick, successful placements are made when a relationship is based on honesty and trust. Lying or inflating your salary in the hopes of only hearing about higher paying roles will result in you missing out on great opportunities. Not to mention the fact that benefits, bonus potentials, flexible schedules, and telecommuting opportunities are all perks that can play into an overall compensation package.

CoinsBe honest about what you make, even if you feel you’re grossly underpaid in your current role. If you work with a strong recruiter, they will be able to educate the client on what the market will bear and sell you to the client based on what you bring to the table — not simply on cost and salary history.

3. Be Honest About Your Salary History

Why does a recruiter need to know about your salary at previous jobs? They have your current salary, right? Isn’t that enough?

Actually, salary history provides both valuable insight into your growth as an employee and industry benchmarks. A salary history should never be an excuse for a recruiter to present you with only low-paying roles. After all, it’s not in my best interest to place someone who will jump ship after a short period of time because the salary is too low. My goal is to place the right person in the right role for the right budget, because that yields repeat client business and boosts my reputation in the candidate community.

4. Bring Up Money, Even if the Recruiter Doesn’t 

If a recruiter doesn’t ask you about money, you are most likely embarking on an inefficient and convoluted search process. The only exception might be when the salary range is clearly stated in the job description. But frankly, even then nothing should be assumed. If the recruiter doesn’t bring up salary, you should.

5. Know What to Ask For

Do your homework. Talk to your peers. Look on job boards for jobs like your own and compare the salaries — noting, of course, that these sites are decent benchmarks, but never absolutes.

Additionally, you need to be forthright with your recruiter about what you would consider. For example, if you know you wouldn’t make a move for less than $150K, tell that to your recruiter. Or, if you’re miserable in your current job and would consider a cut in pay in exchange for a shorter commute or less travel time, share that with your recruiter as well.

6. Know Your Worth

The notion that “Once they meet me, they will see my value,” is, sadly, a fantasy. You have to know your own worth. If you’re a designer with ad-agency experience, an impressive portfolio, and a degree from a top design school, then you can ask for the high end of an employer’s salary range.

If you don’t have all that, be prepared: what’s your niche? What differentiates you from the pack? Keep this at the top of your mind as you present yourself in the interview.

7. The Worst Thing You Can Do

Here’s the worst thing you can do: ask for more money based on rationales and factors completely unrelated to the role itself. For example, if you or your spouse is about to have a baby, then congrats! But that is not a reason to make more money.Coins

Did your role change in any way? Do you have new responsibilities? Have you helped win new business? If you come to the table with a list of accomplishments or increased responsibilities, those are good reasons to ask for more money. You may know that your lifestyle is changing and you will need a higher income, but personal factors are not negotiating tools. You need to sell yourself on what you bring to the table, and then put a number on that.

8. No Surprises

There should never be any surprises when it comes to receiving a compensation package. Oftentimes, money isn’t discussed during the recruiting process until the second or third interview, and that is a sin.

Don’t be afraid to be transparent early on about what your bottom line is and what your “nice-to-have” salary is. Do your homework, be confident in your salary range, and be transparent with your recruiter when it comes to money. All of these steps will result in a more successful job search and an increased likelihood of landing the job you want.

Read more in Recruitment Process

Joyce Bethoney is director of recruiting for Communications Collaborative, a marketing, advertising, and creative staffing firm and a division of Pile and Company. Joyce has been in the business of creative staffing and recruiting since 2003, and a part of the creative industry since the inception of her career in television production. Her expertise across all creative and marketing functions has made her a go-to resource in the New England market for securing hard-to-find talent.