The official blog of Abacus Group — a place to share our knowledge and thoughts on trends in recruiting

May 30, 2017

Compensation Matters–But It Can’t Overtly Dominate Your Job Search


Salary is, understandably, a significant component of the job search process. Location, industry, and company culture key, but almost no one can deny that reasonable compensation is part of their criteria. Money enables not just survival, but the ability to maintain a certain level of comfort. Compensation is also, of course, one of the many well-deserved rewards for one’s their time, effort, and commitment to their profession.

Sometimes money becomes the dominant focus of one’s job search—and it shows. This mindset greatly damages one’s prospects in meetings with potential employers. The excitement to achieve higher earnings in a new organization is valid; when one remains with the same employer for many years, their income level ultimately declines in comparison to their peers. Annual salary raises within the same company rarely exceed three percent, yet professionals are typically eligible for compensation bumps of 10 to 12 percent when they move to a new employer.

Despite the earnings discrepancy between staying put and moving to a new company, job seekers must never reveal to employers that money is their primary motivation for seeking new opportunities. When a candidate presents him or herself as salary-driven, he or she risks demonstrating an insufficient interest in the position’s nature, challenges, and the company which it serves. He or she fails to communicate loyalty or long-term commitment and pose a strong threat to employee retention and productivity.

Instead, job seekers should verbally prioritize other, unrelated factors, including new learning opportunities, company reputation, professional recognition, and long-term career development. Our recruiters offer very specific advice for the discussion of compensation. When directly confronted with the question of how much you are looking to earn, mention that it is not the money you are interested in, but the opportunity. If pressed, you can say, “I am looking for a fair and competitive offer.” This should remain consistent with your messaging about why you are looking for a new job in the first place. You’re eager to learn new skills, to concentrate on a specific part of your experience, to explore different challenges, and to grow professionally.

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