You saw a position advertised, you were curious, you investigated, they met you, you like each other and now it’s getting serious. HR or the recruiter flat-out asks you what your wage expectations are. What would you do?
Naturally, you want the best deal possible, but go too high and they may write you off. Of course, you don’t want to provide too low a figure either. Here’s some advice on how to handle the money situation during a job investigation process – assuming you actually want the role.
1. Going through a third party can make it easier
Salary is a personal and emotive topic. Pay negotiation is not an everyday part of your relationship with your potential employer. Getting a recruiter involved can take the heat out of the discussions. You can be open, honest and aggressive with the recruiter without annoying the potential employer.
Generally, recruiters want to create a win-win situation; they will tell you honestly if your expectations are reasonable and/or achievable.
2. Be clear on the figure that you are willing to live with
If you are working with a recruiter, let them know the amount you will accept happily and the figure which you will walk away from without bluffing (it’s okay to have a gap between the two). Can you imagine selling your house at an auction without letting the auctioneer know the reserve price and the sell price? Sending a recruiter to the negotiation table without clear instructions will leave you open to getting a worse deal.
3. Give precise numbers, not percentages
More times than not, candidates who give percentage-increase goals don’t even know how much money their request equates to. Talking in percentages gives your potential employer the impression that your primary motivation is how much extra you get, not the job. It could also convey the impression you would go to another firm if they offered a percentage point more.
If you do have a percentage in mind, take 30 seconds on a calculator to do the math before discussing compensation. You will look more credible and serious about the role.
4. Negotiating on your own
If you are negotiating on your own, make sure to keep these in mind:
Mark Verrall is the practice director, banking, for MRI China Group in Hong Kong.