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Going In-House

Hours And Compensation

You should never discuss hours and compensation during an interview. This is true even for a cushy and relaxed in-house position. Negotiations with in-house employers are less challenging if you are working with a headhunter. A good headhunter will not only negotiate on your behalf, but he or she will also ask your employers the questions you may be unwilling to ask yourself.

The appropriate time to inquire about hours and compensation is after you get an offer, which is why you should not accept on the spot. By accepting too quickly, you are showing your desperation, as well as giving up an opportunity to investigate such important information as benefits, salary, and hours. Give yourself time to ask questions.

Christie, who made this mistake, advises against accepting right away. Although accepting on the spot demonstrated her strong interest in the job and helped her bond with her future colleagues, she regrets her hasty decision. When she accepted, the only information she had about the company was how much she would make. She did not ask for more money, she did not know what the vacation policy was, and she knew nothing about their health benefits. By accepting on the spot, Christie gave up a golden opportunity to negotiate.

The good news is that you will likely be informed about the possible range of your compensation and other relevant information, either through your headhunter or directly from your interviewers. If for some reason you cannot find out what the compensation range is, do not ask your interviewers before an offer. Instead, try to find out your market value by researching this information online, by asking your friends, or by inquiring with headhunters. Usually this will give you a ballpark idea of what to expect. If all else fails, assume that the compensation range is likely to be the same as or slightly less than what you are currently making. Companies are aware that many candidates experience a kind of reverse “sticker shock” when offered a salary that is significantly less than what they are currently making, so a range is given to prevent that. Additionally, remember that startup companies and “glamorous” in-house positions (in sports and entertainment, for example) usually pay less than hedge-fund positions, for example.

In-house salaries are eminently negotiable. Researching your market worth will help you answer questions about your salary expectations. Be realistic, as you can disqualify yourself by naming a number too high, or, conversely, hurt yourself by naming a number too low. Instead, armed with your research, give them the highest reasonable number and remember that it will likely be negotiated down somewhat. If your research yields nothing and you have no idea where to start, admit that you are not familiar with the range, wait for the employer to give you the range, and name a number slightly higher than that as a starting point. But if you are given a reasonable range, do not ask for more. Another possible approach is to ask, “Here is what I am making now—where does this fit in relation to the compensation you offer?” Alternatively, you can ask, “I understand that this job is not going to match my current compensation, and I am prepared to take a cut because this is what I want to do long term. What is the range you are offering?”

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsGoing In-House - Unique Aspects Of In-house Positions, The Interview Process, The Importance Of Homework, Personality Fit