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I spoke with an (external) recruiter this morning, and he asked me about what I would expect my salary to be for a job in Data Science. Being new to the workforce, I probably sounded pretty uncertain, but I gave him some amount. He then told me that this salary would fall into the range of a Senior level employee, and that unless I want to apply for that level, I would be looking at something more like 75% of that. I didn't rebut on the phone about this, but I know this isn't correct.

After the call, I checked Glassdoor and asked a friend working there and confirmed that what I said is around the average salary and the minimum is only about 10% lower, and the amount the recruiter gave is quoted as a typical intern salary (which I wouldn't be happy with).

How can I reraise the issue when I meet in person with the recruiter (without mucking up relations with the recruiter)? Would doing this be a good idea?

I would prefer to not get into an interview where the hiring manager is primed with a low-ball salary in mind.

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    Is there a reason you want to keep working with this recruiter? – jamesqf Feb 26 '18 at 19:42
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    If you know someone who works at the company, why bother with a recruiter? – dbeer Feb 26 '18 at 19:47
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    My friend within the company pointed the recruiter to me. I'm not sure of what other path I have open to me. Should I ask my friend to put me in contact directly with a hiring manager? – Nathan Feb 26 '18 at 19:58
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    @Nathan The referral process would be company-specific, so your friend should ask the company about that. For most companies an employee referral should be significantly better (i.e. more likely to get an interview / get hired) than an application through a recruiter, and might even come with a nice bonus for your friend (assuming your friend is comfortable referring you). – Dukeling Feb 26 '18 at 20:02
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    @Nathan in your shoes, I'd ask the friend why he or she referred you to the recruiter instead of directly to the hiring manager, and see if dealing directly with the company is possible. Most companies prefer direct referrals, but if you talk to your friend you ought to be able to be sure. – dbeer Feb 26 '18 at 20:47
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How can I re raise the issue when I meet in person with the recruiter (without mucking up relations with the recruiter)?

I think you just be straight with them and lay out the facts. If they are looking to low ball you, you might need be prepared to work with another recruiter and pass on this opportunity.

I will add though that recruiters need to make a living too. They either get a chunk from the employer all at once or they get a piece of the hourly wage the employer offers up.

Would doing this be a good idea?

Yes, unless you want to be underpaid for awhile. Unless you learn to ask for what you deserve and negotiate the best deal for you, expect to end up with the short end of the stick.

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    "They either get a chunk from the employer all at once or they get a piece of the hourly wage you make." - And that is on the employer to pay, not the employee. They are corporate recruiters, not talent agent representatives. – Wesley Long Feb 26 '18 at 19:44
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    @WesleyLong Typically it is, but recruiters can make more if they give the OP less. Its up to the OP to stand up and ask for what they are worth. – Mister Positive Feb 26 '18 at 19:45
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    I definitely intend to open this back up with him. I'm not certain what his position is in terms of commission, but I am going in with indisputable facts backing me up. I don't want to be underpaid, given the lasting trouble that can cause in future job searches. Getting 3/4 of average pay will look really bad. – Nathan Feb 26 '18 at 20:05
  • @Nathan don't overthink it. There are plenty of companies out there that are willing to pay a normal salary. Unless you really want to work for this specific company, or use it as a springboard, there is no need to continue pursuing that one. – Juha Untinen Feb 28 '18 at 5:47
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How to discuss the issue with the recruiter

Raise it with the recruiter in a professional manner.

  1. Set out that you are not happy with their proposed salary range
  2. Outline the research you have done and why you think you are worth that
  3. Be prepared to get some push back from the recruiter.

At the end of the day they are expecting this sort of push back from candidates, and they have just put out the groundwork for any future negotiations.

Stand up for your position on your salary

You should also be prepared that the recruiter will decide not to proceed with the process, and you should be ready to accept that eventuality.

How recruiters work

When dealing with recruiters it’s important to remember that they work for the company, not for you. As such they can have different incentives to you.

There are generally three ways recruiters get paid

  1. Fixed upfront fee (up to 50% of the expected salary of a given hire)
  2. Commission (usually 25% of the first years salary after hired)
  3. Combination of 1 & 2

Each of these remuneration structures provide different incentives for the recruiter when dealing with a candidate.

Fixed Upfront Fee

This is usually an exclusive arrangement with a given recruiter/recruitment firm. The recruiter has also already been paid for the service. As a result the recruiter is incentivised to find the right candidate at a lower cost than the going market rate (basically their incentives are much more inline with the internal HR department).

Typically these recruiters can afford to take longer with their recruitment.

Commission

Their remuneration is directly linked to the candidates pay packet. As a result this should incentivise them to try and get the candidate a higher salary. This, however is not always the case.

These types of recruiters/recruitment arrangements will generally not be exclusive. Thus they will be competing to get the right candidate in front of HR with the HR department and other recruiters. A lower expected salary from the candidate can do that.

If we take an example rate of 25% commission and a standard salary of £30,000.

If the recruiter is successful with a candidate of standard salary then they get £7,500.

If instead they are successful with a candidate of 75% of the standard salary (£22,500) they will get £5,625.

While this may seem like a big difference between the two positions, it’s not necessarily the comparison they will be making. What they might actually doing is weighing up not filling the position, but doing a lot of work, (and getting £0) and filling the position with a small amount of work, due to the lowballed salary getting the candidate under consideration (and getting £5,625).

Sure once the salary negotiations start they may work to raise the candidates salary a bit, but probably not by too much.

Take Home Message

You are the only person who will work in your best interests. Stand up for what you think is a fair remuneration.

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