According to research recently conducted in several Western countries, people changing jobs are not motivated primarily by the prospect of a higher salary. Indeed, the prospect of a challenging and rewarding job, room for initiative and responsibility, career possibilities and the number of free days per year consistently rank the same as or higher than money on the list of factors influencing the decision to change jobs.
But I have noted a rather different attitude among the job applicants I deal with: as long as an employee finds it difficult to pay for basic items such as food, housing, clothing and schooling (not to mention luxuries such as a car and a decent vacation), salary remains a crucial concern.
The fact remains that in Slovakia, a higher salary still represents a crucial tool in the hands of HR managers who want to lure talented people to their companies. Of course, once you arrive at salary levels over 30,000 Slovak crowns ($700) gross monthly, other working conditions (training, work environment etc.) begin to play an important role as well.
Given the difference between the Slovak and Western job markets, some interviewers are confused as to whether they should mention the salary during the first interview with an applicant, since no one wants to hire an employee motivated purely by money. Although this is a legitimate concern, it often causes big misunderstandings. It is also a huge waste of time to discover after two or more interviews that the salary expectations of the applicant are much higher than you can offer.
Applicants also tend to increase their salary demands the moment they think they have been selected for the position. This can be avoided by discussing your salary package in detail during the first interview. If you can both agree at this point, it makes sense to continue the application procedure. If you cannot agree you are both happy to find this out at such an early stage.
Other interviewers wonder if they can rely on the salaries quoted by their headhunter, and it is here also that a few words of caution can save both time and money. For recruiters, the higher the salary a client can offer a potential candidate, the easier it is for the recruiter to find suitable applicants. Secondly, in most cases, you will be invoiced a salary-related fee, meaning the higher the salary, the higher the fee for the recruiter. That's why you need to be very skeptical of the salaries quoted by headhunters, and always make sure that your recruiter bases his advice on extensive salary benchmarking.
Furthermore, interviewers will want to look closely at where the recruiter is located, and if they work only for international companies or whether they also work for purely Slovak companies. If the recruiter has a sound Slovak client base, they often are used to finding great people at affordable salaries.
Gerard Koolen is a partner at Lugera & Maklér. His column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.