Tactic: Introducing Salary or Should I Say Postponing the Introduction of Salary

When is the right time to talk salary?  Right after a company offers you a job.

Why?  It is when you, the candidate, have the most power.

That is one of the reasons companies do everything in their power to get you to disclose salary information from the moment you send in a resume or fill out an application.  Most job applications will ask you for your job history including the salary for each position.  You may be asked to include salary requirements in your cover letter or application. During the interview you very well may be asked what you are looking for?

The best method to handle this is to politely and professionally respond to these questions so you can hold off until the timing is right and still be considered for the job.  Let’s start with your salary requirements.  This one is fairly easy. You want to get across that you are open to a salary range.  Yet, the company might push back to get a number.

Here is a sample of how the conversation may go:

Hiring Manager: Tell me, what are you looking for in salary?

Candidate: I’m open.

Hiring Manager: Open is a bit broad. I want to make sure I’m not wasting your time or mine.  What if I can’t offer you what you need?  Can you tell me what you are making at your current job?

Candidate: You are right.  It would be terrible to waste each other’s time.  I’m open but I’m also aware of the going salary range for this position.  I’m working under the assumption that you have budgeted this salary to be competitive.

This leaves it to the hiring manager to tell you if the salary is not in the normal range for the position.  Otherwise, the two of you are now aware that you have both done your homework and will be an informed buyer and seller.

Key to this type of discussion being non-confrontational is keeping a very conversational tone.   This type of conversation can be very unnerving the first few time you have it.  Practice the conversation in the mirror or with friend.  Change the words so they sound like you.  Eliminating any uneasiness by practice will increase the casual tone of the exchange and move the conversation onto your qualifications much quicker.

The application and the cover letter don’t allow for the back and forth that an in-person meeting allows but you may need to address salary on both.  In the cover letter you can state you are “open” to salary discussions.  In the applications you need to address it a little differently since there are blank lines or boxes waiting to be filled.  Don’t let them intimidate you.  Leaving things empty can fill like they are incomplete but this is a good thing for the job application.  On the first salary fields you encounter enter “willing to discuss”, “happy to discuss”, or “ready to discuss” during the interview process.  Once again, try to use the words that fit you.

Remember, the longer you can postpone talking about salary the better positioned you will be to get a higher paycheck.


@ Copyright 2011, Katie Donovan. All rights reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited