May 30, 2023

Cracking the Career Code: How To Discuss Compensation With a Recruiter (Part 1)


Episode Highlights

Are You Talking With an Internal or Agency Recruiter?


How to Know Your Market Value


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In this 5 part series, Matt and Kierra will be covering how to discuss compensation with a Recruiter. Tune in to learn more!

Episode Transcript

Welcome to Cracking the Career Code with Matt and Kierra, where we provide candidates the keys to success in their job search. In this series, we’ll be covering how to discuss compensation with recruiters. So there’s a few different things that job seekers should keep in mind when talking to a recruiter about compensation and whatnot.

So, Matt’s going to go over the types of things we’ll be covering in this series. So take it away. I think the series will probably be about five parts, and really those things that job seekers should keep in mind when they’re talking about compensation, especially in those initial conversations with recruiters is one, are they talking with an internal or a corporate recruiter or an agency recruiter?

Also, how should a candidate or a job seeker know their market value and what they should be paid? Also, the legality of recruiters asking about current compensation or compensation history. Also, would they be open to considering full-time versus contract roles and how to convert those two from an annual salary to an hourly rate, and then also we’ll give some tips on how to negotiate during the offer process. Yeah. Yeah. And so we’ll start off with agency recruiters versus internal or corporate recruiters. I think there is a lot of confusion when it comes to knowing the difference. So we’ll start with agency recruiters.

That’s both what Matt and I do. We work for an agency and something that we really want to emphasize is that we get paid based on how much the candidate gets paid. So we are trying to get the candidate the most money within reason, obviously, because we do have a partnership with our clients as well.

But it is our goal to get you as much, and we also get compensated based on what we get you so when we are asking you questions about your target, it’s only so that we can be within that range, but also get you more, if that’s a possibility. So what else would you add to the agency side of things?

Yeah, so we obviously have to work within our client’s budgets and what the requirements are for the role. You know, we don’t just ask for top dollar for every candidate. If that candidate doesn’t have all of the requirements or the years of experience that our client is looking for.

But you know, that’s why when you’re working with an agency recruiter, you can be pretty transparent with your expectations. And agency recruiters can also be pretty transparent with budgeted ranges that our companies that we recruit for have for each of the roles that we recruit for. Yeah, and a lot of times I tell the candidates that we’re talking to, we are transparent with you throughout that whole process, so there shouldn’t be any surprises when you get to the offer stage.

We send you over and we are going to be in constant contact about where they’re at on the salary range, what we think we can get, and what the offer is going to look like. Yeah. It’s also super important for the transparency piece that if you are interviewing with other companies, let your agency recruiter know because we can speed up the process if needed.

We’ve had instances happen where people don’t realize that and they missed out on getting a better compensation or missing out on an opportunity because they didn’t realize that we were able to either speed up the process or communicate that to the company that they’re applying and interviewing with.

So that’s an important thing to keep in mind. And then also just being reasonable with the comp too. We don’t want to send you over at a number and then you get to the offer stage and it’s way off of what you had originally discussed with us, because everyone is then confused on why the number is what it is, and that’s why transparency is key.

Do you want to go into the corporate side of things and how that’s a little bit different if you’re working with an internal or corporate recruiter? Sure, yeah. Before that, I’d just like to add, best case scenario for a candidate working with an agency recruiter is, we’ve been transparent through the entire process and then at the end, when you get to an offer stage, you might have multiple offers to choose from and you can choose the company that’s the right fit for what you’re looking for the next step of your career. And you know, probably the highest compensation as well. And a lot of times agency recruiters will be able to act on your behalf and negotiate for you rather than you having to do that yourself. That’s where it becomes a little bit different with talking with a corporate or an internal recruiter. And those are recruiters that work directly for the company that you are applying to. And usually those conversations have to be approached a little bit differently.

Oftentimes those corporate recruiters have a very strict budget that they have to adhere to. They might be trying to get a deal for their company, save them some money. You know, they have budgeted compensation ranges, and sometimes there’s even internal policy where they’re not allowed to share that with the candidates.

So it ends up being this kind of dance between what are your compensation expectations versus what’s the budgeted salary range? And oftentimes, they can’t be as transparent as we could be on the agency side. So when candidates get to that dreaded question in their first recruiting call, I always tell them to use a couple different strategies.

So, one of the canned responses that I always suggest is you could say something like, although I’m interested in this role with your organization, I need to ensure changing jobs makes financial sense for me and will be a step up in my career path rather than just a lateral move. Many times when you say something like that, the recruiter will cave and will share the budgeted range with you, and then you can determine, you know, is that within my expectations.

You really don’t want to be wasting your time and the recruiter wants to know so that you’re not wasting their time as well. Some other suggested ways is you could say, I’m sure throughout the interview process I’ll be able to demonstrate how my skills can benefit your organization in this role, and then we can agree on a competitive package that we’re both happy with.

But a lot of times when you use that, you know, you have to be pretty open on your compensation expectations, and you really want to determine kind of what the general range might be early on. So again, you’re not wasting anyone’s time. Yeah, no, those are all great suggestions. And I do feel like people run into that a lot when asked the questions about what their targeted comp is.

So I think that’s a great way to navigate the conversation and also get some answers, because time is everything and when you’re on the job search, you don’t want to be wasting your time with a company that can’t pay you enough. So yeah, agency, we are working with several clients to help them fill roles within their company.

And the corporate and internal side, that’s where the recruiter is working with the company, works at the company, and they’re trying to get the best value for each position they’re hiring for. So, yeah. Yeah. And how would you usually tell if someone is an agency recruiter or a corporate recruiter?

Like what would you tell job seekers to do to find that out? Yeah, that’s a good point because it is hard to tell. So the first thing you can do when you’re talking to a recruiter on the phone or they message you, you can look up their LinkedIn, it’ll say what company they’re working at.

So if you look at Matt or I’s Profile, you’ll see that we work with Hirewell and not the company that we’re reaching out to you about. And that’s one way to tell if it’s an agency. And then you can also just ask. So you can ask the recruiter, do you work internally for this company or are you an agency recruiter working externally with them? So either ask or look at their profile, but they’ll tell you either way. Yeah. It’s not like a secret. I think another good question to ask that the recruiter is just like, who is the end client? Do you work for the company that’s the end client?

Or are you recruiting on behalf of a different end client? So, some key vocabulary and jargon there that, non-recruiters and job-seekers might not be familiar with. Yeah. Yeah. And I’ve been asked that question before and it’s really helpful when we can give the information that we do have.

I mean, some of our clients that we work with, we’ve been working with for such a long time that we do know a lot about the company and the people that work with them. So always great to know and it will help you understand some of the questions and how to navigate your search a little bit better.

But also it’s important to know your market value. Matt, how would you start or go about learning what your market value is? Yeah, so this is definitely, more of an arts, not a science. There’s a lot of info out there on how to know what you should be paid based on your skills and your experience level.

So can be quite complex. I know a lot of times people go to the websites like PayScale or or Glassdoor or Indeed, but all of that data is self-reported data. So, you know, self-reported meaning like I would go to and say, this is my salary as a agency recruiter. So sometimes that can be misleading because, you know, I might put in my base salary, but Kierra might put in her base salary plus her commission.

Some people might add their base and their bonus, and their total comp with like benefits and 401K contributions. So all of that’s a little bit convoluted and most big companies aren’t using that self-reported data, but instead they’re paying for data that actually comes directly from HR departments and they are reporting that data to companies like Mercer or Willis Towers Watson, or any of the other companies that do large salary surveys nationwide.

So, a lot of times what you’re seeing public isn’t what corporations are using to come up with their budgets and their salary bands for different positions across the organization. Yeah, I think that’s a really good point because when you do go on Glassdoor or any of those other websites and you’re looking up salaries, they do have such a big range.

And yeah, oftentimes people will use those when they’re targeting and they’ll be way off because those ranges are based on so many factors. Yeah. So I do think that’s really important to be aware of, but another way you can kind of find out as well is I’ll be on calls with people and they’ll ask me like, what are you seeing in the market right now?

Yeah. For my experience, my tools and technologies, just where do I kind of fit in? And based on my experience with companies that we’ve been working with or candidates that we’re talking to, you can get a pretty good idea of what other people with similar experience are targeting. Yeah.

And I think that’s always a great way. That’s why you should talk to agency recruiters because- Yeah, take those calls! Yeah, we can help you out more ways than just one. So, yeah. Definitely ask your recruiter what they’re seeing in the market, because that can help you get an idea if you’re within that target or what their competitors are seeing and what other candidates are targeting.

Yeah. You can even ask, you know, if you think two years down the road you want to get into from an individual contributor to a manager position, you can ask agency recruiters what they’re seeing those roles pay for, and then you kind of know what you might be making in the future. Once you build more skills and become qualified for those roles, that would be the next step in your career.

I also think. Another great place to get like quality data that’s not self-reported is from the Department of Labor or O*NET, you can type in different jobs that are in many different industries and you can see what those pay. And that’s information that’s coming directly from the government.

Yeah, we’ll try to include like a link for you as well that you can use for your search to see your market value. But I think another piece that we really need to touch on is geography. Applies a big into your comp if you are working remote, but you’re working in New York and the company that you’re looking at is in Phoenix.

The comp probably isn’t going to be the same as the companies that you’d see that are based and onsite in New York. So I do think you need to pay attention to what area you are living in compared to what types of jobs you’re applying to, because that will differ drastically. And just because you’re in New York doesn’t mean that you’ll get paid more with a company.

Yeah. Because they have a budgeted rate that they’re they’re sourcing from all over the us and other parts of the world. So it just really depends on what they’re looking for and what they have in their budget. Yeah, just because a role is a hundred percent remote doesn’t necessarily mean a company is going to pay a premium for a location like San Francisco or New York that has a very high cost of living, so.

I’ve seen it both ways where they do have geo-based salary ranges, and then I’ve seen it where it’s kind of just the same across the board. Again, compensation is an art, not, not a science. So a lot of different factors come into play here where you’re trying to find out your market value.

Yeah, absolutely.

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