It shouldn’t come as a surprise that compensation is a major factor in most job searches. In a LinkedIn survey of over 7,500 people who’ve recently changed jobs, better compensation was the third top reason people were compelled to change employers, and the number one reason that convinced people to change. And yet, talking about salary expectations often becomes one of the stickiest parts of the interview process.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Candidates who approach the compensation conversation with clarity and consistency have the best shot at getting a satisfactory package and leaving a good impression with the people they interface with throughout the process.
1. Share Where You’re At
Before engaging with a recruiter or a hiring manager, review the numbers of your current financial package. Know your base salary as well as the total compensation, which includes bonuses, stock options and other benefits. It is not good strategy to withhold this information. If you are making less than you think you are worth, you can say as much and demonstrate that you’ve done your research, know the market and have confidence in your abilities. If you’re making too much and worry about being priced out of the job, you can articulate that you’d be willing to take a cut. And if you are out of the range and not willing to be flexible, it is better to know that from the beginning and not waste anyone’s time.
2. Share Where You’d Like to Be
If you are looking for an increase, do you know what you would be satisfied with? Consider what percentage increase the market can bear and what you can expect given your years of experience and the size and scope of the organization. If you provide a range, you should truly be comfortable with the possibility of landing at the bottom of that range.
3. Stay Consistent
Don’t get greedy late in the game. If you stated numbers at the beginning, it is not okay to change them as things get more serious. Should you discover more about the role and your salary expectations change through the process, address that as it comes up. Surprising the recruiter or the hiring manager in the eleventh hour is sure to leave a bad impression and you don’t want to burn those bridges if this particular opportunity doesn’t work out.
There is no reason not to be forthcoming with where you’re at and where you’re looking to get to from the beginning of the process. The recruiter can advocate for you or they will be upfront if the company in question cannot meet your expectations.
Amy Segelin is the President and co-owner of Chaloner, a national executive search firm focused on communications, public relations, and marketing recruitment.
This story originally appeared on Chaloner’s The Interview Room blog.