How to Talk Salary with a Recruiter

No one likes to talk about salary. It has this mystical kind of voodoo quality. No one wants to give the wrong answer. It seems to be steeped in mystery.

It is really not that complicated. Money is just one of the things that have to align for you to be considered a “fit”. If you are already making $100,000 more than the position pays, then the fit is not there. If you were way below the salary range in your last job, that does not fit either.

But this is not entirely about the money. It’s also about the risk and the culture.

Say you absolutely love a role so much that you would take a serious haircut to have it on your resume. This can work where you are taking a right hand turn on your career path. If you had been a corporate lawyer and you wanted to leave that world to do more human focused work with a better life balance then this would be credible and might be considered.

But here’s the risk: six months in, when the honeymoon is over and you have a bad day, you are really going to feel that haircut and suddenly, your job will not seem as great as it did before. You will be ripe for the picking by people like me.

Here’s the other thing to consider: not all managers can handle it if one of their team members made more than they did in their last role. It can create all kinds of negative vibes and really mess up a team.

So when money is the topic be candid and clear about what you are used to and what you are looking for. Don’t try to get away with “Oh, it doesn’t matter” or “We can discuss it at an alternate time”. There is nothing worse than falling in love with an opportunity only to have the whole thing fall apart at the end because the salary is not appropriate for you.

So spill the beans. It’s the only way they can be counted.

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