This is the second post in a series of three based on my interview with Steve Meyers, a Senior Headhunter with 20+ years of experience in executive search. To see my first post on general Job Search Advice from a Senior Headhunter, click here.
Steve: I recommend every one of my candidate to leave it blank in the application and only provide it when the company insists. Many company do not insist on this information.
Q: How should a candidate respond when the company asks “What are your salary expectations?”
Steve: This is always an awkward subject and you want to move the focus off the number as soon as possible. I recommend saying something like the following “Life is expensive, so the right compensation is important but my number one priority is finding the right fit for my career in the long term.” and something like “Starting salary is important, but I am more interested in how the company rewards for above average performers.” And if you are pressed to provide a number, then you can try saying “I hate to overshoot and be disqualified for this position, but if you need to know then the minimum I would accept for an utopia position is … ”
Steve: High tech companies have been pretty fair in their compensation in this market. I would be surprised if it’s really off. It’s pretty typical to be offered base + bonus in this market. It’s the companies in financial services or retail that are giving low ball offers if they are hiring at all. There are just too many people out of work from those sectors who are desperate for jobs.
Steve: For negotiating an offer, this is where having a headhunter is helpful. I can take a hit for the candidates by negotiating on their behalf. I say I can take a hit because I can position it in a way that if the company refuses, they won’t think anything negative about the candidate. Offer negotiation is very tricky. You want to make sure you do it the right way so they don’t think twice about making you an offer in the first place.