How to Delay the Money Conversation as an Executive Job Seeker
Embarking on a job search, especially at the executive level, is both an exciting and stressful experience. One of the most critical topics to address, yet often one that many job seekers feel uncomfortable discussing upfront, is compensation. This begs the question: When is the right time to discuss money, and how should I respond when asked about my salary expectations?
The Value of Timing
Before diving into the mechanics of the conversation, it’s essential to understand why you might want to delay the money talk. Primarily, the early stages of the job seeking process should focus on the value you can bring to a company. Emphasizing your fit, experience, and ability to solve the company’s challenges can set you apart from the competition. Once there’s mutual interest, the compensation discussion becomes more comfortable and can be negotiated from a position of strength.
Strategies to Delay the Money Talk
Focus on Fit and Value First: Begin discussions by showcasing how your experience, skills, and vision align with the company’s needs. When your potential value to the organization is evident, employers are often more willing to meet your compensation requirements.
Leverage Pre-Screening Questionnaires: Many companies use questionnaires to screen candidates. If faced with a mandatory question about salary expectations, consider using a broad range or indicating that your expectation is negotiable, depending on the overall compensation package.
Redirect the Question: If asked about salary expectations in the early stages, try redirecting by saying, Before discussing compensation, I’d love to learn more about the role’s responsibilities and growth opportunities. This not only delays the conversation but also shows your genuine interest in the role.
Use Market Data: Let employers know that you’re aware of the market rate for your position and that you’re looking for a competitive package based on your experience and the value you bring.
When the Money Question Arises:
Eventually, the money question will come up. When it does, it’s essential to handle it with grace and confidence. Here are different ways to respond when asked what you need to make:
- I’m looking for a competitive package based on the role and my experience. This is a noncommittal answer that indicates you’ve done your homework without boxing yourself into a specific figure.
- From my research and given my experience, roles similar to this one typically offer a range of $X to $Y. I believe something within this range would be appropriate, but I’m also considering the entire compensation package and growth opportunities. This approach shows you’ve done your research and know your worth, but you’re also open to discussing.
- I’m currently making $X in my current role. Given the responsibilities of this position and the value I can bring, I would expect a competitive increase. This is a more direct approach and works best when you feel confident in the value you bring.
- I’m open to discussing what you believe is a fair compensation for this role. This puts the ball in the employer’s court and can sometimes lead to offers that are higher than you might expect.
- Compensation is just one part of my decision. I’m equally interested in the company’s vision, culture, and growth opportunities. Can you tell me more about these aspects? This response refocuses the conversation on the role itself and shows that you’re not just driven by money.
Know Your Worth: Before entering any negotiation or discussion about money, research the typical salary range for your desired role in your industry and location. Tools like Glassdoor, PayScale, and industry specific reports can be instrumental.
Consider the Entire Package: Compensation isn’t just about salary. Think about benefits, bonuses, stock options, work flexibility, growth opportunities, and company culture. All of these factors contribute to your decision.
Practice Makes Perfect: It’s natural to feel nervous about discussing money. Practice your responses with a mentor, career coach, or trusted colleague. The more you practice, the more confident and natural you’ll feel when the topic arises.
In conclusion, while the compensation discussion is inevitable, it’s crucial to approach it strategically. By focusing first on your value and fit with the company, and by handling salary questions with grace and confidence, you’ll be in a strong position to negotiate a package that reflects your worth. Remember, it’s not just about what you earn, but also about finding a role where you can thrive and contribute significantly.
To get the help you deserve finding the right job, contact ECP to get career support that’s proven.
Written By: Terri Wiksten, Chief Operating Officer
Terri Wiksten is a dynamic powerhouse who works harder than anyone you know and tackles every task with 100% effort while maintaining her enthusiastic, cheerleader attitude!
She loves helping professionals save time and money as they search for their next challenge and thrives on how technology turned this industry on its head, allowing for constant change and opportunity to do things better and more effectively for our clients.