CASH might not be the only reason most people bother to go out to work, but it is a major consideration.

When is the right point in the candidate selection process, though, to talk about salary and benefits?

The first thing to say about salary and benefits is that there are actually various stages of the selection process when employers are typically keen to tempt applicants, if not into a discussion, then certainly into revealing important information about current or previous levels of earnings.

As you will see, however, there are some excellent reasons why it is in your own best interests to delay the discussion.

During the application

The first point at which employers often raise compensation is as soon as they invite applications from prospective candidates.

Some job advertisements state specifically that applicants must divulge their current, past or expected earnings in order to be considered for the position.

There are, however, several major problems with complying with such a request.

First of all, no matter how well qualified or well suited you are for the job, if the figure that you reveal is too high, then there is a very strong chance that you could actually put yourself out of the running before your application has even been properly considered.

If the figure is low, on the other hand, then you could find yourself struggling to negotiate a reasonable salary if you happen to be offered the job.

Your current or past salary

With regard to current or past earnings, however, there is an even more important reason why you should try to avoid revealing this information.

Put simply, there is a world of difference between any job that you did in the past or the one that you are doing currently and the one that you are now applying for.

Even if the job titles were the same, the tasks and responsibilities, the required levels of skill and experience, the company itself, your colleagues and perhaps the hours and annual leave entitlement are going to be different.

Each new job should therefore be considered on its own merits.

What many employers will typically assume if you do choose to reveal past or current earnings is that a further 10 to 15 per cent on top of this will be enough to keep you happy, and so getting any more out of them can then prove to be extremely difficult, even if the position warrants a higher salary.

If you are asked to reveal current or past earnings at the point of application, therefore, try to skirt the issue by indicating that you will be happy to discuss it at the appropriate time, when you know more about the job and other important factors.

Your expected salary

If you are asked to reveal your salary expectations, meanwhile, either use the same tactic or, if doing so would preclude you from applying, then do your research and indicate a reasonable salary range (a range, not one figure) for the particular role that you are applying for, in the particular location where you are seeking employment and for a person with similar skills and experience to your own.

During the interview

The next point at which employers are likely to raise the issue of money is during the course of a job interview, but entering into discussions even at this stage could find you facing precisely the same problems as earlier on in the process.

In addition, however, if the recruiter thinks that you are the most suitable candidate for the role and you indicate during your interview that you want more money than their second choice of applicant, you could find yourself losing out on a job offer which might otherwise have been yours.

Again, therefore, if the interviewer tries to bring the subject up, simply tell him that you will be happy to discuss compensation at the appropriate time.

Incidentally, never raise the issue of money yourself during interviews, for the simple reason that all employers care about at this stage is what you can do for them.

Bringing the subject up is only likely to make them think that you are only interested in the job for what you can get out of it.

The best time

So, if the application and interview stages are not the appropriate times to discuss salary and benefits, when is the right time?

The simple answer is this: The only time when it is appropriate to talk about money is after you have received a firm job offer.

Even then, it is important to remember that you should be negotiating for what is reasonable for the job that you are applying for, not the one that you are doing currently or any that you done in the past.

Never raise the issue of money yourself before this point and if the employer happens to do so, then do your best to dodge the issue.

Employers are not stupid and most know that they are pushing their luck when they ask about current, previous or expected salaries.

So in most cases, they will accept polite resistance and let it go until the time is right.