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  • Hi Justy,

    I am now interviewing with several companies. One of my priorities for this move is compensation. I am really hoping for a raise, and if I do not receive an offer that meets my minimum expectation, I will most likely not accept it.

    I am now wondering, when should I bring up my compensation expectations in the process?

    Mr. Taka

    Dear Mr. Taka,

    It is a very frequent question, and probably one of the most sensitive ones, too. Compensation is typically an important factor in any decision to change jobs and, while it is not always the highest priority, a prospective employer will usually understand your desire to ensure that your minimum needs are covered.

    The timing.

    Speak with your recruiter, discuss the budget for each role that is presented to you, and make your expectations clear. A recruiter will be able to tell you if the budget and your expectations are aligned and/or if there is room for negotiation. Be honest with the recruiter; it is important for him/her to be aware of your needs if he/she is able to assist in moving the process forward smoothly.

    Do not discuss compensation expectations at the first interview.

    If you do that you will be playing against yourself. Your expectations might change as the process goes, you will find the role more/less attractive, you might find yourself later considering other opportunities with higher budgets…etc. Therefore, I advise that if asked, you refer the question of salary expectations to you recruiter for the client to speak with.

    If you disclose your precise expectation to the company too early it will be difficult for you to change it later on.

    Your recruiter should make sure that the client is aware of your minimum expectations so that when you get to final stages, there is no surprises for you, or the company. Let the recruiter do his/her job.

    Do not wait until the very end of the process to discuss your compensation.

    The danger in waiting is that your expectation ends up being more that the prospective employer can pay, and that you will have already invested much of your time in the interview process – hoping for the best – only to end up being disappointed with the result. It is very important for you to be straightforward, but also reasonable.

    Avoid negotiation ‘strategies’, they rarely work.

    I often see candidates thinking much about how to get the best outcome and bringing up negotiation strategies (e.g. “If I say this…I will get that” or “I am fine with less but I want to aim for more…”). Such strategies rarely work. If your expectation is reasonable and aligned with the companies’ budget, things should work out.

    Think about what you need (to support your family, rent, loans, etc.) and communication based on that. Of course, more is always better, but do you really want to miss out on your dream job just because a company pays you what you view as fair but, for example, less than your thought its maximum budget was?

    The number that matters is the one that you will accept.

    The only number that matters is the one that you will accept. This should be your priority when thinking about what your expectations are. Looking at the role, the company, the growth potential…what do you need to accept this offer? That should be the amount you should be aiming for and that you should be sharing with your recruiter.

    Best of luck with your job search,


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    The Legal Beagle

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