When is the right time to talk about salary?

Picture of $100 dollar bills

The salary conversation is a scary but necessary part of the recruitment process. Here's how to approach it.

Nobody likes the salary conversation. For candidates, it is uncomfortable and can sometimes make them feel like the answer is going to be used against them. For recruiters and hiring managers, it can feel equally as uncomfortable. But, of course, it is a necessary part of the recruitment process. If you don't discuss it, you could waste a considerable amount of time while on different pages.

In this article, we will focus on the candidate’s perspective: when is it best for you to address the topic of salary and how should you approach the conversation?

Some recruiters and hiring managers are comfortable with this conversation, and they will bring it up early to make sure that the process does not go forward if your expectations don’t align. In other cases, if a hiring manager or recruiter is less comfortable with this conversation, it may be in your hands to address this topic yourself.

How to have a positive conversation about salary

Once upon a time the salary conversation was like a game: candidates were known for inflating their salary and businesses were known for trying to undercut whatever your expectations were, simply in the name of cost-saving.

Today, business has changed. More and more we see a shift toward showing staff they are valued and appreciated. The importance of genuine relationships between employer and employee has increased. We no longer hire someone simply to have them execute orders and operate like a machine. We made machines for that.

The people who are hired today are a unique and essential piece of the puzzle that is a business’s daily operation. And yes, that includes mining companies. Businesses understand the importance of culture. Creating a great culture starts with valuing staff and ensuring they feel it. 

FURTHER READING: How important is salary to mining jobseekers?

Remuneration plays a huge role in employee satisfaction and feelings of worth in an organisation. The mining industry in Australia is no stranger to heavy competition and skill shortages; keeping staff happy and acquiring the best people for mining jobs is too important to risk playing games that make people feel undervalued.

Don't fear the conversation

It may be widely frowned upon to discuss salary on the phone before you’ve got to the interview stage. However, despite popular belief, it is absolutely appropriate to bring it up in a respectful way.

You could approach this by asking if they feel it is appropriate to discuss salary before getting too far ahead in the process.

Just be respectful and cautious not to appear as though the salary is the be-all and end-all. It is just an essential step to ensuring both parties are on the same page.

No more games

The best approach is honesty and transparency. You don’t want to start a relationship based on dishonesty. This goes both ways. If you sense that an employer is playing games with you, take it as a red flag. You don’t want to work in an organisation with an outdated attitude toward staff. 

Go in well researched

Honesty may involve telling an employer that you are making less than what you are seeking. The best approach is to be incredibly well researched. Look at our Salary Search site to find out what the market standard is for your role and incorporate this information into your conversation when explaining why you deserve the rate you do.

Show your value

Tell the hiring manager or recruiter your package and what that is made up of, as well as what you want moving forward. Explain that, based on your research and your experience, you know you deserve xyz amount. Being honest and knowing your value will buy you credibility.

FURTHER READING: How to negotiate your next mining salary

In November 2017, a law was passed in New York making it illegal for employers to ask candidates “what is your current salary?” While this is still very much legal to ask in Australia, it does highlight how outdated this question is. Current salary does not reflect what you are worth. Market standards reflect what is fair. Know the market, know your value and don't be afraid to be honest.

Stephanie O'Brien
Mining People International