How to Negotiate Salary

Having the “money talk” with job candidates is awkward and uncomfortable and can make or break hiring decisions. Learn how to negotiate salary like a pro.



For many employers, having the “money talk” with job candidates is an awkward, uncomfortable position that can make or break the hiring decision. When not addressed appropriately, you either waste your time (and the applicant’s time) or you feel as though you’re “going on a first date and asking about ring size” (Amy Ala, Microsoft Recruiter). Here are some tips on who should discuss salary negotiations first, when you should talk about it, and how to deal with a candidate who’s reluctant to disclose salary expectations.

1. Who should discuss salary first

Although many recruiters don’t have an opinion on whether the candidate or the employer should discuss salary first, applicants may seem too money-focused and care less about what the company has to offer when they discuss salary right off the bat. A best-practice approach would be for you, the employer, to discuss salary ranges at first to put the candidate at ease, beginning with a conservative estimate that perhaps might allow room for offering more than the applicant hoped for or expected.

2. When to discuss salary range

Finding the right time to discuss salary may be the greatest challenge of a job interview, but you need to lay the groundwork during the first interaction, whether that be a phone call or in-person interview. According to Rachelle Falls, tech recruiter and founder of Sun Strategies, “Making the right match is important, but being up-front with salary will save you time and effort and even disappointment in the long run.”

3. How to deal with a reluctant candidate

A candidate may be apprehensive to say what his current salary is because he doesn’t want to limit himself, hoping for your highest offer. “If they’re unwilling to share a number or even a range, explain that in order to get the best possible offer, you need a starting point,” says Falls. “Tell me what you’re worth, what you need and what you believe is a deal-breaker.”

Negotiating salary is just one of the many difficult aspects of being an employer. For more tips on hiring and recruiting, please contact our HR team.

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