I think Salary is a tough conversation to have for everyone involved in the hiring process.  Candidates, hiring managers and recruiters all want to get the best deal.  How can we talk about salary without all the stress?

No one wants to give away too much too early.  If a candidate tells a recruiter they are looking to earn 100k-120k and the position is actually paying 150k that candidate just lost out on 50k.  If the position is paying 85k, they just lost out on the position.  If the position is paying 100-120k that candidate will be considered, but the hiring manager is going to want to see someone with more experience for the same price or less.

Hiring managers have to make smart decisions for their company.  Most companies have some kind of pay structure that they follow, this usually gives guidelines on starting pay and annual raises.  This means

a hiring manager has a range that they can pay their candidates.  Let’s say they have a range of $20-$25 an hour.  They know they can’t go over $25, it wouldn’t be fair to existing employees and it isn’t within their budget.  So why not pay everyone $25 an hour?  It’s within range, wouldn’t that make the most sense?  Not always.  If you hire everyone in a department at the max rate you are going to have very little left in your budget when it comes time to give raises.

As a recruiter, I have to find the best possible candidate within the salary range I have been given.  Most candidates don’t put their salary requirements on applications, usually for reasons mentioned above.  More than once I have asked a candidate for their salary requirements and they respond “I am open to negotiations”.  After I tell them my range, they are no longer open to negotiations. Usually, I will tell a candidate the range I would be able to pay them based on the experience they have.  If the max pay rate is 75k but you don’t meet all the qualifications (maybe you have a few years less experience than what is desired) I might tell you “for someone with your experience the salary range will be 55k-65k”.  It isn’t because I am trying to lie, it’s because I want to be realistic.  If my client falls in love and wants to offer you 75k, I don’t think my candidate will be angry.  However, if I tell you the max is 75k and you get offered 60k, the candidate might be insulted and decline the offer.

In a perfect world, we would pay everyone the salary they want.  Until then, understanding everyone’s role in the negotiating process can ease some of the stress.  As a candidate, know your range.  Hiring managers, understand that you need to pay well for great talent.  If you can’t be flexible with your range, understand that the quality of candidates will suffer.  And as a recruiter, discuss salary early on and be open and honest about what you can offer.

By Caitlin Mandeville | People Science Talent Advisor II