“What are your salary expectations?” – and the answer

25. April 2022

By Stephan Breitfeld 

A thriving industry is generally good news. Especially if it is as thriving as the Life Sciences are right now. Taking some of the general developments during the pandemic into account, we’re facing a vast number of positions, an exceptional growth that wants to be fulfilled. And the good news (and kind of bad news at the same time): salaries are on the rise as well!

The sky is the limit – isn’t it?

With the ever-growing demand for talent and an overall growing industry, it’s also good times for executive search consultants like myself. The high-level positions that need to be filled seem endless. What also comes with the demand is a rising level of salary expectations and that can be difficult to handle. The payment expectations have skyrocketed since the pandemic and cause a growing dissonance with what the employer is willing to pay for the respective positions.

Just the pure fact that the salary expectations for a position can be six figures apart makes for a sensitive situation. Of course, talent sees themselves confronted with a number of opportunities and an omnipresent tenor of need, but talent still needs to match with an employer in the end.

Expectation management

In comes the glorious phrase “expectations management” and the manager for this, being me. But it’s incredibly important to approach this topic right and with the right sensitivity. Because a candidate who asks for way more money isn’t necessarily the one who is greedy and needs to tone it down – and even if he/she is, can’t be regarded as unreasonable – but needs to be heard and taken seriously. At the same time an employer can simply be completely off with their expected pay and, in case of a rise, wants to hire the jack of all trades. Sometimes they need to meet in the middle, sometimes somewhere else. In all cases it helps to be prepared.

Transparency – talk money and do it right. Don’t shy away from the uncomfortable money talk. The more you are clear and authentic about your values in your compensation, the better you will match with the candidate.

Consistency – keep your word and stay true to what you value about salaries. Make it understandable and fair across your company. Have a budget and keep the individual in mind.

Strategy – make up your mind and have an overall plan for your company. How are salaries developing? What are the factors that contribute to increase and promotion? Benchmark your pay regularly.

Focus – make sure you set the right priorities when it comes to compensation and make clear what it consists of apart from money. Money is not everything and that goes both ways. Focus on respectful and meaningful relationships.

If this is a field you struggle with, there is always the help of a professional – just a phone call away. Get in touch!

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