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I have recently spoken with a recruiter from a well-established accounting/consulting firm about exploring potential opportunities with that firm.

The conversation was standard - my background, future interest and existing opportunities. Additionally, admin questions about location and salary expectations. To the salary expectation question I provided a reasonable response - until I know the specifics of the job and the responsibilities/expectations I'm unable to provide a range.

There was no push from the recruiter on this response, however, the recruiter mentioned that the potential opportunity could be "X" (title) in business area "A" and roughly paying $YYYY. I did not comment on this statement, however, I did ask about the job tile hierarchy/org structure to better understand how this firm is organized (versus one I currently work for).

The recruiter quoted a title "X", which is the equivalent of my current title/role at my current employer, while I'm seeking the next step up with a title "X+1". The recruiter emailed the job description that has the title and the minimum experience requirements (minimum 3 years) vs title "X+1" (minimum 8 years). I exceed the 8 year requirement, yet was quoted for a title "X".

Question : While I have not pressured the recruiter about the title at this point (this was the first conversation), at what point should I make it crystal clear that I will not be entertaining an opportunity until the title and salary are to my expectations?

I risk not being presented in front of the hiring authorities or later at the offer letter stage. I'm hoping that during the interview process the hiring authorities will gauge my experience and make an appropriate offer.

Update: I followed-up with the recruiter to express my desire to be considered for the role (title wise) that is reflective of my experience, value I bring to the table and the next step I'm seeking. The recruiter indicated the there was currently no role for the title I was seeking, but that if I'm interested, I need to apply for the role that exists and that the team will evaluate the right title during the interview process. In the end, I decided to not apply for the role. I reviewed several (20 or so) LinkedIn profiles at the company to evaluate my experience for the role I am seeking and based on my assessment, I would be significantly underselling myself by applying for the role suggested by the recruiter.

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at what point should I make it crystal clear that I will not be entertaining an opportunity until the title and salary are to my expectations?

Seems that the recruiter clearly mentioned that the possible opportunity would be for position X specifically. If you are interested in position X+1 you should not be pursuing something else.

Chances are that you are indeed a good candidate for X+1, but the company may not be currently searching for someone to fill that role but are in need of someone to cover role X.

In order to save your and their time, I suggest you should soon make clear your intentions for a X+1 role, and ask them if they are or will be willing to consider someone for that position (perhaps during your next talk, or a follow-up email). Otherwise, there is no point in continuing this process.

Edit: You sense that you could perform greatly on the next steps and be able to negotiate a better position, so then it could be worth the shot. However, I still suggest you try to probe or find out if they really are not looking to hire for X+1, so you know if this is a lost cause or if you can work this out somehow.

  • Thanks DarkCygnus - this is the flipside to the other comment by jcmack. The challenge here, however, is that this is a recruiter I'm dealing with who, in my experience, typically don't see past the jobs they are aiming to fill in (i.e. not necessarily looking at matching the candidate to the role, but in fact match the roles to candidates ) and unless I make it through to the hiring manager, I cannot emphasize/demonstrate the right role/title for me. – Freewill May 31 '18 at 22:00
  • @Freewill I see, still you could end up with the unfortunate surprise that they are indeed not hiring for X+1 positions. You could alternatively ask or probe in a less evident way if that is true, or if they may be open for other positions. Then you will know if you still got chance to ace it on the next interview and with the hiring manager to renegotiate the offer. Edited my post to reflect this discussion. – DarkCygnus May 31 '18 at 22:03
  • Thanks DarkCygnus -indeed, I'm planning to clarify this aspect in the next interaction with the recruiter, in a rather subtle way (as you noted). – Freewill Jun 1 '18 at 16:22
  • @Freewill good luck with that :) anyways, wouldn't hurt to keep your options open and keep job-hunting just in case. – DarkCygnus Jun 1 '18 at 16:41
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at what point should I make it crystal clear that I will not be entertaining an opportunity until the title and salary are to my expectations?

There are a few approaches here.

First, you just make this clear initially (or now). When you allow the recruiter to talk to you about a position X with salary Y and neither are appropriate to you, it basically conveys to that recruiter "still interested."

Something like:

  • "Can you clarify whether the role I am applying for is X or X+1? Given my background/experience, I am interested in X+1 roles, does also have this role available?"

is something you really need to clarify. Otherwise, you're wasting their time.

The second option is going through the process hoping the company will be able to upgrade the position to X+1. If you want to keep going through this route, I would strongly recommend:

  • Asking recruiter what positions they are hiring for
  • Reviewing job postings at that company to verify they are hiring for the X+1 position
    • Sometimes, companies will have multiple jobs posted at once or have jobs that contain language about the actual title being based on experience, flexible, etc

Dukeling correctly points out too companies might have different interview processes for different roles, too, so with (2) you have a risk that you are locked into position X without re-interviewing.

Ultimately, given your wording in the question, I would recommend option (1) here. You seem less interested in the company and more concerned with the job/pay itself first. Which is natural. But you also sound like you will 100% turn down any offer for position X, so you might as well learn that initially and save everyone time.

  • Also, even if they have an X+1 role available, the interviews can look different for different seniority levels, so how well you do in an X interview might not tell them that much about X+1. – Dukeling May 31 '18 at 22:48
  • @Dukeling good suggestion, added – enderland May 31 '18 at 22:54
  • Thanks guys - i'm feeling the consensus on clarifying this early enough in the process. I've scraped through the company's career website and identified roles that I feel are fit for me and have emailed the recruiter back with those job IDs as well. Planning to discuss this at the next opportunity of interaction with the recruiter – Freewill Jun 1 '18 at 16:18
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You can either talk about the job title now or the job title later. Whether you talk about this now or later depends on how different the skills are between X and X+1 position too.

Personally, I interviewed for a role Z I knew I was a bit too senior for. I ended up showing and wowing the interviewers to where they want to offer me a job on the spot. I then negotiated hard for both a higher salary and a bump Z+1.

  • Thanks jcmack. This sounds a reasonable approach. The only challenge I see here is that interviewing for X that requires a low number of years of experience, clearly chartering the entry level territory, may make this a futile exercise should they question me at a later date as to why i chose to continue interviewing for this tile/role when I had no intentions to take it up. – Freewill May 31 '18 at 21:57
  • It's up to you whether you play the long game or the short game. The long game has worked out for me personally really well, but there is inherently more upfront cost. For the job I referenced, if I negotiated hard in beginning, they would've passed on me (the recruiter confirmed this later). But because I waited until they knew they wanted me, I had a much stronger negotiation stance. – jcmack Jun 1 '18 at 18:55

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