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When working directly with a potential employer [as opposed to a recruiter] do many of the same guidelines apply? For instance, is there a time too soon for the potential employer to ask about compensation? I feel that I'd like to keep this information private until I know more about the position and responsibilities. I'm sure the employer would like to understand right away whether they can afford me, or not...

Mark's picture

Mark-

SO sorry this took so long! I am not sure how I didn't address this.

It's really too subtle and delicate a set of interactions to generalize, but generally the same principles apply. Delivery becomes MUCH more sensitive.

It is NEVER too soon for an employer to ask about compensation. Every job seeker is too damn caught up about compensation. When they ask, know what you make, and tell them. It's completely reasonable at that point for you to ask for the range of the position you're being considered for. It will probably be reasonable. In the 10% of cases where it is too low, graciously tell them that "if that's the case perhaps we can save some time, and I'm sorry for any misunderstanding..."

On the other hand, at that point (whenever they ask), shut up about flexibility and other compensation until you get an offer. THEN you can decide what to do.

Your concern about keeping your salary confidential is considered an immature stance. They would not ask if they didn't have a reasonable expectation that the timing was right and they would be in the ballpark. If you don't divulge, and you are clumsy about it, it will be a considerable negative.

Don't start negotiating too soon (which is how withholding information is viewed - a negotiating tactic). It will be seen as selfish and materialistic. Relax, interview, and if you get to the point where an offer is made, you'll learn all you need to know then. If you try to be a little too clever or vague too soon, you'll never make it.

If money is that important to you, well by all means ask. But it will rule out the best of companies and executives.

Cheers,

Mark

Brent's picture

This many not be generally true, but as an employer myself, I don't at all mind when interviewees ask about compensation. I view it as a sign that the interviewee is reasonably protective of him/herself. And sometimes, I do forget to mention salary, and I appreciate it if an interviewee brings it up during the interview (politely, of course).

Obviously, one can be pushy about this, and that's bad.

But a polite and upbeat, "Now...can you tell me a bit about the kind of salary you might be offering?" is perfectly okay with me. I suspect this might be increasingly true with employers, especially as we enter the Consulting Age (as Tom Peters predicts we are).

Mark's picture

In general, I would say Brent's approach is "better"... but it's a distinctly minority position.

Remember, many of you ARE managers... and you don't know how to do this. If you get asked as an interviewer, and HR's involved, adn the salray is still not nailed down, and the range is huge, and budgets are tight but this is a special position... all these things run through one's mind.

Let's trust that the salary is going to be fair. Focus on something else.

Mark

Brent's picture

Oh, agreed absolutely. I'm not saying that one should necessarily expect an interviewer to be OK with talking about salary. Just that some people do exist who don't mind talking about it.

dart4915's picture

I think that the interview should run smoothly and if the interviewer mentions salary then that is great, but if they do not, I wouldn't risk the interview going sour. Can't the interviewee just wait until the company calls with an offer? Isn't that what the interviewee states in his "close," that he/she wants an offer? The negotiations can be done when the offer is given.

Any input would be great. I am just an EE apply for jobs and am not a recruiter.

Mark's picture

Dart-

Yes. Do NOT mention salary EVER until the company offers. What good is knowing about salary if an offer is not forthcoming? If it's that important to you, great... but you'll miss opportunities whose range is too low until after they realize how good you are.

Mark

joolzb's picture

At my first interview with the company which has made me an offer (5/12) they asked what I currently make and I told them (as a guide).

They called me back in on (5/12) to deliver the offer and give me some additional details regarding the role but we have an issue.

The role is a good fit for me BUT the salary they have proposed 'on a 6mth trial basis' is way short of my expectations and what I have been earning for the past 5 years (7k short) and that I would only get a car allowance during that period as they will only commit to a company vehicle after 6mths.

After that 6mth period if I satisfied certain measurement criteria (yet to be given to me) they gave the impression that the salary would increase to within my expected range, with a company vehicle.

This lack of confidence that they are sending out to me worries me to make this job change, although they are a good company in the trade I am in.

Has anyone any advice on how to approach the next step in negotiation?
Do I play hard ball and risk losing the offer?

Julian

AManagerTool's picture

My advice?
Don't accept. I had a very similar thing happen to me and it was a nightmare. When you get the offer is the ONLY time when you are ever in the drivers seat. 6 months down the road, you will be a passenger again.

I was hired on at a project management firm to take on ailing projects. I took a lower salary with the understanding that at the end of my probationary period, I would be back up to my old salary with a fat bonus. Guess what, I was on eternal probation. All the projects were in the crapper before I got them. I turned all of them around but never to the profitability that was in the original project projections. They were using this as the excuse to keep my salary low. After I resigned, my manager told me he was suprised I stayed that long. The last three clean up guys never made it through one project.

Take your time, NEGOTIATE and best of luck!

joolzb's picture

AManagerTool
Thanks, your illustrating my fears 100% and I too have joined a company who offered me a wage which I took, with the promise of a hike up after 3 months. 18 months down the line the MD was still skating around the issue, to the point where he insisted that the conversation never took place. One big, big chunk of advice to all is 'get everything in writing, with dates, times and figures attached' and 'chase' your line manager or MD up several weeks before the dates agreed for salary and performance reviews. Its so easy for them to 'forget', if you know what I mean.

On my issue, I have requested to meet with who would be my line manager to discuss the offer in detail and have noted that I have issues with the Basic Salary and Car Allowance.

Julian

bradleymewes's picture

As an employer I must agree with Mark. It is a HUGE turnoff when it appears that a potential candidate's sole concern is money. Even if it isn't, if you are the first to bring it up or continually bring it up, the first thing that crosses my mind is that you will be more focused on your wages and when you are getting your next raise than actually doing your job.

Sometimes too, I will interview someone for a position that may not have a set salary. Maybe it is a new position with no salary history, maybe I am re-evaluating how a particular position is worth. Asking for a range is very acceptable, but, as Mark suggests, leave it at that. If, after giving a range I am pressed for additional details and commitments before I have even offered I see that as very rude and unprofessional.

Brad

Mark's picture

Brad-

While I understand your point, I think Julian is in a different spot here, in that the offer has already been made. Once that happens, money IS on the table, and BOTH sides have to feel fairly treated.

Julian, if it's not too late, I would recommend caution. Sounds like they have doubts. Maybe it's your dream job, and you're willing to bet on your performance - great. But if you have doubts... DON'T.

The default is always no.

Mark

bradleymewes's picture

Absolutely agreed, didn't understand the point. Thanks for the clarification.

Brad

Danimal's picture

In a first round interview, how do you answer the question: "What are your salary expectations?"

bflynn's picture

[quote="Danimal"]In a first round interview, how do you answer the question: "What are your salary expectations?"[/quote]

Well, you could just answer the question. I think there are better ways to go forward.

Understand that the reason behind this question is to make sure that you're in the same ballpark. They are looking for a reason to eliminate you from consideration or at least to make sure they don't get to the end, only to discover that they're thinking X and you're thinking X+50%.

I usually say something like "I don't have an expectation right now, especially without having a good understanding of the requirements of the job. You know this position so much better than I do, what is a fair market rate for it?". Note that you're not asking them how much they want to pay. You're asking for semi-public information that, given an accurate job description, you could find out anyway.

If the range is what you'd like to see (or higher), then just say that the range is within what you would consider acceptable - I usually refer back to the job again and report that is in a range that positions I'm looking for could be expected to pay. Note, if its way higher than you're thinking, try not to react. There may be something unexpected in the position, such as a pending, required rotation to Iraq (And no, I'm not making that up).

If the range is low, its a warning sign that maybe this isn't the right job for you. Use it to query more about the position. I have discovered positions that were too junior doing this and was able to save both of us the time of further interviews. You don't end the interview right away, but you save the information so that if you're called for a another round, you can decline and you can say why.

Hope it helps - Brian

juliahhavener's picture

[quote]In a first round interview, how do you answer the question: "What are your salary expectations?"[/quote]

I would be prepared to answer that question in a range. It's a reasonable assumption that if you applying for a specific job, you have done some research on that position. What is the market rate? In a recent interview, I used my company's current pay scale, with a slight adjustment for difference of cost of living in the area I was interviewing (across several state lines). I was prepared with an answer in a $10,000 range.

I think being unprepared for this question would give the impression that you didn't care enough about the position to do a little research on it. The job description and/or title should give you a reasonable jumping point at an educated guess. I don't think it's a 'guess how many jelly beans are in the jar' question...I think it's designed to see how your expectations line up with market information.

Mark's picture

There are several ways to look at this, and it boils down to perspective.

You can take the approach that you "ought" to know. Do some research - salary.com, salaryexpert.com, bls.gov - and see what you can find out.

You can take the approach of analyzing what you do and your pay, what others who work in your firm doing what you do get paid (don't assume they're close - internal compression!), and cost of living/industry differentials.

You can also say, "mine plus X percent".

If you're happy in your job, you can say, "mine plus BIG X percent".

But the best answer is to delay this discussion until you have an offer. If you are too high or too low, you may lose the chance to even CONSIDER working there.

Thus:

"I have none. I'm sure at this point that the salary you'll offer will be reasonable, and salary is not one of my top concerns."

Mark

joolzb's picture

Well I never accepted the offer from one of my previous posts and that was the right decision.

Moving on... I have received another offer (actually a few days ago), now this job is a fantastic opportunity. USA company, GLOBAL PARENT wanting to grow the business into UK and Europe. I have had 1 face to face interview in France, 4 x 1hr long phone interviews and was flown from the UK to USA to meet the team and for a 10 man interview/grilling.

Anyhow after the 10 man event, my contact called me to outline that they want me to join the company but wanted to explain the compensation etc., first of all. He said that the salary range which we had identified before I flew out fell in-line with the USA scale, explained incentive bonus and sales commission. The kicker was that as this is a new role, in a new country they would like to employ me in a Junior role until I have a handle on things ie fully trained and operations so that they wouldnt need to fly support out from the USA - sounds reasonable to me.

Its taken about 5 weeks now for the offer to materialise, basically due to the fact that they needed to find out how they will pay and support me in the UK from within existing entities and the preamble between UKHR and USHR.

The offer on basic salary is $10k lower that I was hoping for but they do have a generous incentive payment and as my employment would start in the Junior role, I would expect the basic pay to be increased once promoted to Senior. A few other bits like holiday, sickpay where missing from the offer but the WORRYING omission is Sales Commission pay details (something that I was told would be paid in addition to the Bonus incentive) also Health benefit package (but US to UK health care differs to I am not precious over that).

Yesterday I contacted UKHR to see if we could sort some points out and they have directed me back to the US contact who I tried to call last night.
Having sent an email earlier, outlining the points that needed discussion I have not had any reply and got banished to voicemail when I called.

Questions...
1. Is the offer stage the forum to negotiate. I ask this as my brother in law tells me he wouldn't expect to negotiate once the offer has gone out - is this a UK thing?

2. I have pointed out that the Sales Commission detail has not been provided, having been discussed with my contact post final interview. Additionally I have asked for a little guidance on what the increase in basic may look like once promoted to Senior. (I'm asking this because I like to understand where we are going salary wise) - my question on this point is, that I wonder if my asking these questions will be deemed churlish, any thoughts?

> UK HR did tell me that they have some information stating that I will receive sales commission when I am managing accounts direct - post training / Senior progression. But I dont understand why it has not been included in the offer!, would you expect it to be?

3. Education / Investment in People - an additional point that I would like to understand more on is the companies policy for further education sponsorship, whether that is to learn German, Professional Certificate or Executive MBA - again would this be deemed rude to ask at the offer stage? I dont think so but am aware of US / UK differences.

Mark's picture

Joolzb-

First off, you weren't banished to voicemail. For now, they're busy. If you call a couple more times without a reply, then you might have a problem.

1. Yes, the offer stage IS the forum to negotiate. How could you negotiate without knowing what they were offering? Your brother in law is incorrect.

2. Don't accept ANY offer without knowing the details. That information MUST be included. Lack of it is unprofessional.

3. Ask about education. NOW IS THE TIME.

And, be careful. That junior title worries me. They may be doing a "dangle" on you - go to the main site and look in the blog posts history for a post on this.

Mark

joolzb's picture

Spot on Mark, they where busy - I had called his office phone twice before and sent several emails over the two preceeding days - without any reply. But there is a fine line between hounding someone and leaving a bunch of voicemail messages and keeping things moving.

Thanks for clearing up whether the offer stage is the forum to negotiate, it was my view that he was incorrect also, but he says that the candidate would already know what the salary or range they are hiring at will be and when he is being interviewed for a position he establishes what the range is so that he knows whether the offer is good or bad, otherwise you just dont know or have to rely on industry figures and your own wants salary +% etc. Maybe this is another UK/US nuance.

I have learned the hard way before not having EVERYTHING included up front even something that may be trivial, if you think about it you need to have it covered off. Some think that I am being over cautious and paranoid but I really don't think so. If you have issues 2 years down the line with something that was discussed verbally and never documented it could be that factor that makes you want to change jobs if that line manager 'forgets' your conversation, if it had been documented it cannot be forgotten.

Ive asked about Education and await feedback, at my interview it was mentioned that since 2001 I have been employed by several businesses (min 2yrs which I thought was quite a long time!) but they saw it as an issue. With this appointment I have stresses that I see this as a long term attachment and would like them to consider sponsorship.

The junior title worries me too, but I will be the first person they employ in the UK and Europe and they have pitched the reason as they will have to support me with direct training and basically for a period I will be shadowing a Snr person from the states. The objective for both the company and myself is to become fully capable and up to speed as soon as possible. I hope its not a dangle, been in that situation before and it drove me crazy, this time its in their interest to upgrade me as the will not have to ship additional people into the UK and EU to support the client base once I am up and running. I guess I am an 80% fit for the role but I have asked for a training/development roadmap covering my first 90 days. And the plan which takes me from jrn to snr in addittion to enquiring what financial differences exist, just so we know where I am heading really. (trying to be careful not to focus too much on money but not ignoring it - fine line that).

When I understand more on the jnr / snr role, gap, financial etc. I will have to decide whether to ask them to take a look at the basic salary. My feeling is that if the progression takes me up into the band we discussed then its fine otherwise its a little light. I have found out that Sales Commission will only come with the Snr role as that is when accounts in the territory will be handed over to me, my feeling is that with the progression comes the commission and that will be the financial difference here.

Last night I requested job descriptions for both Snr and Jnr roles and asked what the companies expectations are regarding timescale on this progression.

My concern is that I am asking lots of questions, that will either be seen as a good thing or a mither to my contact, giving him additional work to do.

Julian

wendii's picture

Hi Julian,

Sick pay is statutary in the UK, so unless the company are paying over the statutary minimum it's not normally included in contracts. However, I would expect to see holidays - if not in the offer letter then in the attached terms and conditions. If you want me to compare it to one of our standard templates to see what's in and what's out PM me, I'll be happy to look at it.

I'd agree with Mark (and your gut) though, get everything clarified and get it in writing. Candidates who ask loads of questions sometimes irritate me, but if I was the candidate, I'd still ask questions, it's now or never for sorting these things out.

Wendii

attmonk's picture

[quote="wendii"]Hi Julian,

Sick pay is statutary in the UK, so unless the company are paying over the statutary minimum it's not normally included in contracts. However, I would expect to see holidays - if not in the offer letter then in the attached terms and conditions. If you want me to compare it to one of our standard templates to see what's in and what's out PM me, I'll be happy to look at it.

I'd agree with Mark (and your gut) though, get everything clarified and get it in writing. Candidates who ask loads of questions sometimes irritate me, but if I was the candidate, I'd still ask questions, it's now or never for sorting these things out.

Wendii[/quote]

Just a point, whilst sick pay may be statutary over there in the UK there can be a huge difference between SSP (statutary sick pay) and CSP (company sick pay). Dont confuse the two because currently SSP is around £12 (ish) per day and one would hope CSP would be a lot higher.

Andy

joolzb's picture

From my understanding Sick Pay is Statutory but full pay is at the disgression of the line manager - most roles that I have had have been like this.

One other interesting point is that I am told that NOTICE PERIODS for contractual termination in the US are professionally 2wks! I've never had anything less than 4 weeks in the UK and know some people with more senior roles expected to give upto 3 months

Mark's picture

A note about the future of management:

Great managers will have less ability to be so in a future increasingly regulated by misguided legislators.

Of course, free democracies get the government we deserve.

Mark

bflynn's picture

I cannot remember the name, but a former professor studied this and determined that we alternate between periods where businesses are encouraged to perform and periods where businesses are regulated. This boom-bust cycle runs about 40-55 years in length.

The basic rule is that businesses (managers) push the limits of the laws. They go further than the public or public representatives are willing to allow. New laws are created to restrain business. Eventually, the laws restrain businesses too much and they are changed or relaxed.

Managerial restraint would be necessary to prevent this cycle from occurring. However, managerial restraint runs directly against delivering the best results. Managers push the borders to get the most out of the system, on behalf of the shareholders.

I cannot see the dynamic changing. I also believe we're moving into a period of increased regulation.

Brian

bflynn's picture

I cannot remember the name, but a former professor studied this and determined that we alternate between periods where businesses are encouraged to perform and periods where businesses are regulated. This boom-bust cycle runs about 40-55 years in length.

The basic rule is that businesses (managers) push the limits of the laws. They go further than the public or public representatives are willing to allow. New laws are created to restrain business. Eventually, the laws restrain businesses too much and they are changed or relaxed.

Managerial restraint would be necessary to prevent this cycle from occurring. However, managerial restraint runs directly against delivering the best results. Managers push the borders to get the most out of the system, on behalf of the shareholders.

I cannot see the dynamic changing. I also believe we're moving into a period of increased regulation.

Brian