Navigate Sticky Salary History Questions with Confidence: Leverage Your Recruiter’s Expertise

In addition to landing interviews, your recruiter can provide a value-add to your job search and salary negotiation by coaching you on the best ways to answer salary-related questions. When the dreaded salary topic comes up, will you know how to best handle it? As you prepare for your next interview, keep these basic principles in mind:

Your recruiter is your best friend.

Prior to interviewing, find some time to talk candidly with your recruiter. Discuss your salary and job history openly, so they can anticipate potential interview questions and help you collect your thoughts for a positive response. If you have recently changed careers, industries or moved to a new geographic area, your recruiter can show you the most favorable way to explain any variances or gaps in your salary history.

Tap into your recruiter’s insight about the company, position and the expected salary range. Your recruiter will be happy to share their industry and market knowledge with you, and the more prepared you are, the “luckier” you will be.

Avoidance is golden.

Try to avoid discussing salary, if at all possible, especially early in the interview process. If the conversation begins to turn in this direction, try redirecting the dialogue back toward the responsibilities and expectations of the open position. However, if you are asked a specific salary question about your history or expectations, you need to provide an answer—don’t dance around. Just do yourself a favor and don’t bring it up. If all goes well, the topic will surface eventually. So, try to deflect and let your recruiter handle as much of the salary discussion as possible.

What’s your magic number?

If you absolutely have to talk about your salary history, discuss what figure you previously earned, as well as your incentive bonus, and then provide your "magic number." Your recruiter can help you determine an appropriate target or range. The key point is to be prepared before you walk in the door. Don’t be caught calculating figures on the spot.

What makes YOU so special?

No matter what dollar figure comes out of your mouth, you should be able to explain why you deserve the salary you are aiming to receive. You must be able to confidently and professionally sell your business value to the employer. What will the company get for their money and why should they consider you a good investment?

Tell the truth.

Whatever you do, be honest and do not falsify any of your salary-history information. This information is readily available to any potential employer who chooses to research it. Don’t put yourself in the position to be click, click, caught in a lie.

Interview competition can be fierce, but leveraging your recruiter’s expertise to help you prepare can give you a profound competitive advantage. Recruiters can be your most valuable resource to help you navigate those sticky salary history questions, as well as other hot topics, with confidence and success.

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