Job Journey: How to Talk about Money

When you are looking at a new opportunities, money should come up early and often.

I know everyone likes to look really cool with a “money isn’t everything” attitude and it is true, money isn’t everything but it is important. Really important.

It is a key factor in your financial health and household contribution but it also plays a part in your psychological health and sense of accomplishment. Getting paid at the end of a long and difficult week should feel satisfying. (If it doesn’t, consider going back to the first chapter of the Job Journey!)

Money is a tough subject and should be treated with respect and not too much innuendo. Being cagey is not the best approach.

People tell me that they don’t want to give away the farm. They think if they give an answer that is too low, they will ultimately get hired at a rate that is lower than it should be.

Here is what really happens: you tell me you are looking for $50,000 and I know that my client wants to pay around $75,000. You are not leaving money on the table by saying $50k, you are saying that you are not working at the level that my client needs. There are almost certainly other factors in your experience and responsibility that will not line up either.

You could tell me you are at $50,000 and you would need a salary of $60,000 to consider moving from your comfortable office and friendly colleagues. That’s constructive and helpful. I still would not put you forward for the other job, but I would have a good sense of your objectives.

People also tell me that they are used to making X but they are willing to be “very flexible” for their next role. They mention this on the first call. Before they have heard about the job. This is a good illustration of giving away the farm. You don’t want to tell a recruiter that you are willing to work for cheap right off the bat. We are liable to take advantage of that down the road.

When you are interviewing for a role and it has great people, is close to home and the work sounds amazing, then you can offer to work for less. You can do that when there is a really good reason, not before.

Before every interview, write down two numbers: your annual compensation now and the annual compensation you would like. You can throw out whichever makes more sense when you are asked the dreaded money question. Sounding confident will go a long way to getting you want you want.


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