Talking about money

November 3, 2009 at 1:17 pm Leave a comment

A big frustration faced by many job hunters — and recruiters — is talking about money in the hiring process. While conventional wisdom remains that salary and benefits shouldn’t be discussed until later in the hiring discussions, failing to disclose salary expectations can result in wasted time for both sides. If the salary isn’t even in the job seeker’s ballpark, isn’t it better for both sides to know that early on so they can both move on?

Recruiters say yes but that job seekers can appear presumptuous if they bring up salary in early contacts with the potential employer. Timing and how the discussion is handled are everything when trying to determine just what a job may pay. Here are some tips from recruiters and career experts:

*Once the employer is clearly interested in you as a candidate and you are meeting in person, state your salary expectations clearly and without apology. Often they will ask this at the end of the interview and if not, bring it up in a polite, conversational fashion. Give a range of what you’re looking for — you can state what you earned in your most recent job if  you want to be in the same ballpark. Watch closely how the employer responds. If the number seems too high, ask them if that’s the case. Be prepared to withdraw your candidacy if the salary is much below what you are seeking.

*In this highly competitive job market, especially for journalism positions, if you don’t have many prospects and are willing to accept a lower salary you’ll want to try another strategy. Try to gather as much information as you can on salaries at this organization or at least for this type of position before the interview. Don’t bring up salary but when it comes up, ask leading questions to see what the salary range for the position might be. Then try to position yourself at the higher end of the range — even if it’s lower than what you’d like. But always have a bottom-line salary number you can’t go below. Employers in this market smell desperation and often try to impose a “layoff or buyout discount,” figuring the job seeker will take whatever it is they offer. Try to avoid playing that game even if you are willing to take a pay cut from your previous job.

*Leverage your skills. If in addition to editing you could take on management and some writing duties, for instance, tell that to the hiring manager. Employers sometimes can “find” money from other parts of the organization or in other budgets for an employee who can handle a multitude of tasks.

*Just as you would let an existing employer know about another offer so they could counteroffer, make sure to let potential employers know about other interest in you if it has reached a serious stage of discussions and especially if it has reached the negotiation phase. Interest levels tend to rise when an organization may lose the opportunity to hire you so make sure to keep everyone informed about your status. This, obviously, is a good way to command a higher salary. Keep all of your options open until the final decision-making stage.

*Don’t forget about non-salary compensation, such as benefits. If they can’t pay you what you’d like, perhaps you can get an additional week or two of vacation or would be eligible for a bonus plan. Ask if your salary can be reviewed in six months — often this is a relatively easy request for employers to grant and if you’re doing well, you could receive a nice bump early in your tenure in the position.

*A great tip on networking from these same sources: While job hunting, aim for a set number — five is good — of in-person meetings a week with contacts from your growing network. In these short meetings (15 to 30 minutes) you are not asking for a job but the contact’s advice — where should you look, how does your resume look, who is hiring and who isn’t,  and always, the names of some others in your field w/whom you should set up future appointments.  Most people are pleased to be asked for their advice and after meeting you in person may recommend you to others. Keep a spreadsheet of these contacts, and get back to them. And another great tip:  set up these meetings (by phone, not email whenever possible) for the next week on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning between 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. before lunch, when people are more fresh and less rushed.

As always, some job leads. The hat tip on the following two is

*Argus Media in D.C. has a reporting position available:

Company: Argus Media
Policy reporter needed
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Not Specified
Ad Expires:
December 1, 2009
Job ID: 749479

Argus Media, a leading provider of news and information for world energy markets, is looking for an ambitious energy and regulatory policy reporter for its Washington, DC newsroom.

The successful candidate will have wire or daily reporting experience and a demonstrated facility with energy policy, economics and financial & commodities markets. An analytic mind, numeracy, attention to detail and intense intellectual curiosity are essential.

The position involves reporting on energy markets, regulatory policy and finance, including some corporate coverage in the energy sector. Travel is required. This is an excellent opportunity for an enthusiastic, proactive individual to join a strong reporting team at a crucial time for US energy and regulatory policy. Argus Media offers competitive compensation and benefits and has an award-winning training policy.

To apply, send your resume and three examples of published work to: No calls, please.

*The folks at the Hill have a reporting opening. The listing and link follow:

Company: The Hill newspaper
Washington, District of Columbia
Job Status: Full-time
Salary: Negotiable
Ad Expires:
November 30, 2009
Job ID: 1114574

The Hill is seeking a full-time reporter for its online and print publications. The job will suit only someone who has a thorough knowledge of campaigns and elections and who is also capable of turning his or her attention to other political subjects without missing a beat. This is not an entry level job but is suitable for someone with at least three years’ reporting experience, preferably more like five, with much of it spent covering federal politics.

The Hill is a fast-paced and expanding news organization with an expert readership in Washington and a nationwide following that is enjoying explosive growth. Reporting here requires the ability to meet the needs of both groups — finding important details on politics and policy making, and presenting stories in a way that is accessible to a wide and varied audience. Our need for someone eager to work hard, sometimes at uncongenial hours, means that the successful candidate will be a genuinely driven and ambitions reporter. Salary is negotiable.

Applications by mail — no phone calls or emails please — to Managing Editor, The Hill newspaper, 1625 K Street, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20006.

*Also, I have been contacted by two different D.C. news organizations looking for some short-term editing and writing contract help. If you are interested, please be in touch and I will connect you.

Happy hunting!



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