Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Looking For A Job: The Dreaded Money Conversation

A couple of days on Twitter I had an exchange with some fellow Twitterer’s (sp?).  One of them had re-tweeted someone, repeated what someone had posted, with regards to how an interviewee was obviously not a good fit because the first question they had asked was what was the Salary Range for the position and they were obviously just in it for the money.

I took exception to this.  Having recently changed jobs within the last year, and being the interviewee & interviewer plenty of times in the past, the importance of the money conversation was still fresh in my mind.

“So Balls,” you say, “it’s all about the money?”

Glad you asked Dear Reader, you need to have more that moves and motivates you than money, but it is important never to underestimate its importance.   I love what I do, but if I could not support my family and do it, I’d do something else.  Family is first to me, and that means money is pretty important when I look at taking a job.


Maybe you’re under paid, maybe you’re overworked and underappreciated, or maybe you’re looking for better opportunities.  There is nothing wrong with any of that.  When you go on Monster, Dice, or [insert job board of choice] and you start looking, eventually, you will probably type in your position and sort by Salary.

This is a good thing to do, you should look at what the posted range is out there.  You should probably go on and look at what your position range is for your area.  You should get an idea of what you are worth.  Perhaps you’ve been with your company so long that you are getting paid more than the average person in your area.  Perhaps you are way underpaid.  This knowledge will help you decide what you are looking for and what you should expect to get.


So eventually you find a post, get an email with a job description, or a recruiter contacts you with an opportunity.   You’re psyched, you’re stoked, you’re…….wondering where the salary description is.  Did I miss it?  Did they forget to put it in the information they sent?  You look at the numbers description the averages for your area and you HOPE that this job will come with the salary you want.

This is the point where I will say shame on you COMPANY X or shame on you RECRUITER, not that they are bad people but they are playing the game.  Everyone wants to get good people for the BEST DEAL possible.  You want money from them, they want you to kick butt, take names, and work cheap.  So you have to play the game as well.

The money talk is uncomfortable, we don’t like asking about it.  If you are working with a good recruiter they will share this information with you. 

“But Balls”, you say “I feel a little uncomfortable about asking, how do I do it”



You may be tempted to yell show me the money but that would be the wrong approach.  There are a couple approaches.  If there are questions that you have about the job or the position in an email or a phone call put those up front. 

I’m the kind of guy that I won’t be turned off from a Candidate if money is the first question, but most people aren’t like that, they want to believe in their heart of hearts that you want this jobs for bigger reasons than the money.   So let’s use a little etiquette.

  1.  Make sure and research the company if they have a website visit it, and mention how you are interested to work for this company (And I hope you are!)
  2. Ask a question about the job, or ask to clarify anything that seems ambiguous to you
  3. Politely point out that the salary and salary range information was missing and state that as excited as you are about this opportunity you wouldn’t want to waste the Companies time or yours perusing a position that isn’t right for either of you.


It’s all about the manners, I mean after all you’re excited for this job, you do want it, but the money does need to be there.  If you ask the right way they will tell you, if they are good and upfront company.

Occasionally you’ll get a response along the lines of “what are you looking for salary range?”, they are being purposely vague.  It’s not bad, but it is someone who is trying to cleverly find out what you want without showing you their cards.  I would respond with the following:

“ a salary range that is fair for my position and experience and allows room to grow and continue to support my family, here is what I’ve seen is the typical range in this area, insert numbers from what your research shows, can you tell me what the specific range for this position is?”


We all have somebody to take care of, ourselves or our family and it is hard to work at a job and not enjoy the labors.  We all start at the bottom, it is rare that someone is so brilliant they go straight to the top.  But finding the right job for you is the mixture of a lot of good things, the people around you, the team you work on, your manager, and yes the money.

Money is very important and it should not be over looked because people are afraid of being greedy.  Remember it's not greedy to feed your family, pay your bills on time, or earn an good wage.  Don't be afraid Dear Reader ask when it is important.

The fact is it is a bit of a dance, but if you have to dace be as polite and direct as possible, the end goal is to find a job, get the money, and do the you complete me speech in the living room work happily ever after.




  1. Great post and very accurate.

  2. Great post, I agree with most of what you said. If an employer or recruiter is put off or overly cagey about the money issue, then you don't want to work for them anyway.