I Have A Number in My Head

An old friend (we’ll call him Steve) shared his job hunt experience with me. As a recent graduate from a top graduate program, he was being courted by two separate companies. After interviewing, Company A’s Staffing Rep told him how impressed they were with him and then asked him for his salary requirements. Being Steve’s first real job out of school, he didn’t have a really good idea. So, he did some research, came up with a number and e-mailed the staffing rep back.

1.5 weeks later, staffing rep responds that Steve’s request is a bit high and that he wasn’t “comfortable” negotiating. (Who hires a staffing person that isn’t comfortable negotiating?) He told Steve that he had a “number in his head” and Steve should try again and see if he could get a little closer, all the while reminding Steve what a fabulous candidate he was and how much they were interested in him. Steve (wanting a job) tried again. Staffing rep took 2 weeks to get back to him.

In the meantime, Steve interviewed with company B, who didn’t make him guess an appropriate salary and responded quickly with an offer. Guess which job Steve took?

I guess that the first staffing rep thought he was being funny. Or maybe he didn’t really like Steve. Either way, he was an unprofessional dork. Sure, ask for salary requirements. No problem with that. But then give the candidate a figure.

Please, staffing reps, don’t be evasive with a candidate. And don’t wait two weeks to respond to e-mails. And, if someone has come in to interview, please let that person know the status. It’s not hard and it’s your job.

But, the next time I interview for a job, when they ask me my salary requirements, I’m going to say, “I have a number in my head…”

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4 thoughts on “I Have A Number in My Head

  1. I think this story testifies to the wisdom of requiring negotiations coursework for any business school student, whether the specialization is HR, Finance, or Advanced Widgetry.

  2. It’s surprising how little colleges teach you about how to get a job. I suppose most professors have spent their entire life in academia, which is very different than business, and they don’t really know.

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