Don’t Dodge the Compensation Question!
Whether you’re an expansion stage technology startup or an enormous corporation that’s been around forever, there’s always a hiring budget. Every hiring manager looking to bring on new blood has constraints to work within and he/she will always want to make sure that a competitive offer can be made if it gets to that stage. Otherwise it would be a huge waste of everyone’s time to have gone through numerous phone screens, onsite interviews and reference checks only to find out that a deal ultimately can’t be done because the candidate’s current earnings are way above the top end of the hiring kitty.
I understand compensation details are sensitive, personal and something you’d probably only share with your close ones. I think most people get this at the end of the day, but let’s try to make sure we can all work together. If giving a specific base salary and bonus breakdown really makes you squeamish, take another route. Provide your OTE (overall total earnings), a rough range (“between $100,000 and $140,000”) or better yet, your minimally plausible option. This is basically the bare minimum you’re willing to take (in order to pay bills, put your kids through college, etc); this is the salary you’re actually comfortable accepting if everything else is perfect about the job. You should always know what this number is for yourself because the truth is, while money is important, it shouldn’t be your sole motivating factor.
Don’t try to BS anyone too much either about your pay, with hopes that the hiring team will try to “match” or top your present earnings. If it’s deemed that your current compensation breakdown is a little too aggressive, you might be asked to provide a W2, which could turn out quite ugly if you’ve happened to stretch the truth. Any credible hiring organization knows what the market is paying (believe it or not, you’re also not the only candidate they’ve interviewed), so just be honest and find out which method makes you most comfortable when you’re asked to disclose how much you’re making. It will make the process easier and certainly won’t hurt your chances of getting an strong offer.