Four Tips for Talking Compensation With Candidates

Back in August, Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker, signed a law forbidding companies to inquire about pay history.  In order to close the gender pay gap, this law is supposed to help everyone receive the same pay for the same work, without using past salaries as a guide.  Though this law doesn’t go into effect until 2018, there are already present issues with getting salary information (from men or women).  As a recruiter, conversations about compensation often end up as awkward games of keep-a-way or tag.  Who is going to give up the information first?  Here are some tips for approaching the dreaded money question.




1. Make sure you have all the information required from your client with regards to the salary/compensation package

It can be dangerous to allow your client to keep the salary range open.  There is too much room for error if a ceiling is not established.  It’s also beneficial to know what the whole package contains.  These days, deals are made or fall through by the little things.  Vacation time, remote/flex office hours, and credits for commuting and phone bills are big selling points.


2. Be very careful when dealing with clients and candidates in different states

An Engineer from Silicon Valley is not going to make the same amount in Denver or Austin.  Makes sure all parties are aware of the cost of living adjustment and what that means for their negotiations and expectations.


3. Transparency is always the best bet

What if your candidate is more expensive than what your specified range covers?   Use your judgement.  Is this a candidate that ranks higher in your performance rating?  Or someone who is a little “eh?"  If you feel like you have a solid offering for your client, tell them both the truth.  Tell the candidate that they could be a little expensive for the role, but you would still like to present them.  Tell the client that you realize this person may be out of the range, but is worth a conversation.  A great opportunity for both parties can result in concessions for both.



4. Know your client and know your candidate

This circles right back to the top when youre negotiating a deal.  This can be a tricky dance and you never want to break toes.  First, you need to understand that not every deal is a success.  Going back and forth too many times can be taxing for both, so be an advocate for the candidate AND the client.  Lead and advise both so the process is as quick and painless as possible.



The moral of the story is to make sure you have as much information as possible before wading into the waters of money and compensation.  As you begin working on new roles and for new clients, research the position and what the market value is for each role.  Use the tools at your disposal; Glassdoor, Payscale, and


Read these resources to sharpen your recruiting skills:


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