Mastering the (Often Dreaded) Compensation Conversation:

Hello hello:

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak to Marie Zimenoff from “The Career Confidante” about how to have the (often dreaded) compensation conversation, both during your job interview and when it’s time for your promotion.

While I would love to have you listen to the interview in its entirety here: I recognize you are busy people, so I thought I’d send along some of the highlights.

In both cases:

You need to recognize that talking about money makes a lot of people tense, so I would ask that you practice stating what you are asking for out loud ahead of time. Now is the time to consider your tone. You don’t want to sound like you’re asking a question. You also don’t want to sound like you’re making a demand. You’re going for firm but friendly.

You want to think about your body language. This is not the time to drop into a “too cool for school” pose (arm over the back of your chair, etc.) but you are also not a supplicant. I don’t want you perched on the edge of your chair like, “Oh, please pick me!”

We trust you when we can see your hands. We don’t trust you when we can’t. Keep your hands where people can see them.

Silence is your friend. Once you have stated what you require stop talking. Don’t do others’ negotiating for them. (FYI, that sounds like, “I’m looking for X –Y amount, but I  understand if that’s not possible so…..” Shhhhhhhh…..)

For Job Seekers:

Offer a range within which you would be happy. This gives your interviewer a bit of wiggle-room. If you aren’t sure what the range should be, research similar jobs on or

Offer fact-based examples from past employment. This might sound like, “At my last job, my work on X project increased revenue by Y%.” This does not sound like, “I’m a really great leader. I just love to lead people. Leading is my life!….”

Explode any potential landmines yourself. If the job for which you’re interviewing has a much higher salary than the one you’re making, you bring that up. This might sound like, “I’m looking for something in the range of X –Y. More than I’m making now, but more in line with what I have to offer.” (Again, you must offer fact-based examples.)

For Promotion Seekers:

Begin the conversation (at least) 90 days out: If you don’t have set goals from your past performance review, you need to get them a minimum of 90 days before any conversation about a raise/promotion. This gives you a benchmark.

Don’t pounce on people (and don’t allow yourself to be pounced on): Whether it’s the benchmark-setting conversation, or the raise-conversation, set up a proper time for the discussion. Don’t attempt to drop it into (and don’t allow others to drop it into) a meeting on another subject/the 15 minutes before your boss walks out the door for lunch or dinner.

Keep it facts, not feelings, based: You simply have no credibility if you say things like, “But I thought everyone got a raise after X amount of time,” or “But so-and-so just got a promotion and I’ve been here longer than s/he has.” You need to be able to say, “In our benchmark meeting you asked that I do the following X, Y, and Z. I have accomplished all three things. Plus….”

Go get’em.

Frances Cole Jones