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I am a young software engineer from US/California who has a high-paying job (for my age and location). Because I participate (and win/get top places) at various programming/data-mining competitions, I frequently get letters from the recruiters which follow the below-mentioned pattern.

Hi, I am from ThisCompany. I have noticed your good performance in one of the competitions that we sponsored and I would like to bring you to the on-site interview with our team. We have interesting tasks and provide great compensation and bonuses. Tell me what do you think.

The problem is that everyone claims having "interesting tasks" even if in fact the tasks are boring and annoying. So I would really like to know what do they mean by a great compensation and bonuses.

I read the following questions: one and two, but I do not believe that they are similar to mine, because the first one is about a fresh graduate and the second one about positions at a current work.

The reason to ask for ranges of the compensation/bonuses is simple:

  • they already have an ability to estimate my knowledge (they see my current employee, and my performance in a competition and all past performance in other competitions)
  • I do not want to waste my time for an interview with a company, if it is not ready to pay me the amount of money I expect. (I never disclose my current/past salary and a couple of times I was in a situation where after the interview process I received an offer which is below the salary I was getting a year ago).

I assume this can be helpful for a company for a similar reason: what is the point of wasting time on an interview.

So how I politely ask for an approximate salary range and the bonuses from a recruiter?

  • This may vary depending on your location, industry and profile, but I would be very wary of any recruiter that jumps straight to an on-site interview without doing at least a short phone screen first. – Lilienthal Sep 28 '15 at 9:41
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So how I politely ask for an approximate salary range and the bonuses from a recruiter?

Just ask.

Something like this should work: "Sounds interesting. I'd like to move forward. But before we waste each other's time, please tell me the salary range being offered so that I can see if it would fit my needs."

Polite enough, and to the point.

  • 2
    short and to the point, direct communication of your needs, this is the best way I think – Kilisi Sep 28 '15 at 0:09
  • Good point. I would think recruiters know they need to be more upfront about the salary range when a candidate is currently employed. – user8365 Sep 28 '15 at 12:50
  • I'd only drop the before we waste each other's time because it might convey that your time will most likely be wasted. Might be seen as a bit arrogant as well. I'd use something along the lines of to make sure we're on the same page or even a simple before we proceed. The last bit mentioning if the salary fit my needs is really polite, appropriate and shows that you are a valued professional in the market. – Paula Hasstenteufel Mar 2 '18 at 12:08
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Politeness and firmness can coexist. Indeed they reinforce one another. Create a short list of firm, simple questions and statements, with an assertive intro:

"In order to respect both your time and mine, allow me to share with you my criteria for considering a position."

Then list your salary range you would consider, etc. Don't reveal data your employer would consider confidential.

Beware also the "interview" designed to solicit competitive intelligence. Don't let yourself be used.

Some recruiter are paid on quotas and face pressure to misrepresent an opening in order to trick you into taking the interview. Guard yourself and your time.

Most recruiter are awesome people and can be excellent career resources. Treat them all professionally.

But put your own needs ahead of theirs. If a given recruiter pushed back inappropriately, he's in the wrong.

  • Thanks for your answer. Is there any reason I should write my own requirements? Why can not I just ask for an approximate compensation? – random Sep 27 '15 at 20:02
  • I think having your own requirements shows that you know where you are going in your career. For example, if you will not relocate, you should say that upfront. That saves everybody time. Regarding salary, there is no reason for you to say anything other than "market salary as shown on" some standard website like salary.com. – Thomas Cox Sep 27 '15 at 20:06
  • Here is a "problem": I already earn significantly more than a claimed average for a software engineer in my region (based on glassdoor), so I am afraid that a 'market salary' will lead them astray. – random Sep 27 '15 at 20:36
  • Why is that a problem? Just tell them you're above market. Do you really want to be bothered with opportunities to make less? If so, why? – Thomas Cox Sep 27 '15 at 21:07
  • @random - You already have a job, so just ask for more information about the position before committing to an interview. If they don't get the hint and give a salary range to encourage you to apply, their offer will be low or they just don't know what they're doing. – user8365 Sep 28 '15 at 12:53

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