Avoid premature income discussions
You need to avoid the hard lessons we see others experiencing every day. Here’s an example. One client was a general manager with Exxon, earning a sizable income, but wanting to win a new job at a 20% increase. After two meetings, the CEO said, “Bill, we’d like to have you join us, and I’d like to work out something attractive for you. What have you been used to earning at Exxon?”
At that point, having been encouraged, Bill explained his income. To make a long story short, he accepted a position. However, he later found out that the last person had been paid 40% more, and the company fully expected to match it.
Now, the moral is that you should never negotiate based on where you’ve been. Negotiation is like poker. You never want to lay your earnings on the table.
Premature discussions about money can be a real deal breaker. Besides, the more enthusiastic an employer becomes about you, the more likely he’ll be willing to pay more.
Sometimes an interviewer will begin like this: “Jim, before we get started, I’d like to know how much money you are looking for.” Here is a possible response: “Charles, I could talk more intelligently about my circumstances after I know more about the job. Will this job have line responsibilities?” Or, “Charles, I would not take your time if I did not have a fairly good idea of the range you could pay. If we can agree that my experience fits your needs, I doubt we’ll have a problem on compensation. My concern is whether your needs call for someone with my background.”
The idea is to be gracious while avoiding a direct answer. If an interviewer persists, say: “I’d rather avoid discussing compensation. Challenge is most important to me, and I would like to talk money after we both feel I’m right for the job.” If all else fails, give a range surrounding your estimate of what the job pays.