Traditionally, candidates have been advised to broach the topic of salary only after a job offer is on the table.

But bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch says that the rules have changed: In today’s economy, it’s completely acceptable to discuss salary up front.

Welch tells CNBC Make It it all comes down to “simple economics.”

“Obviously, not all regions and industries are hot,” she says. “But in general, hiring managers are sweating bullets these days. Good candidates are hard to find and even harder to land.”

The upside to today’s tight job market, Welch says, is that “job seekers have leverage, which means you can ask about money when you want — even in the first conversation.” This also means that both the job seeker and the hiring manager are free to “make sure you’re on the same page before you slog through three or four interviews, only to find out you’re moneybags apart.”

But these new rules don’t mean that job seekers should say whatever they want — language, tone and approach are still important. 


“Jerks still have a hard time getting hired,” Welch says. “Try something like, ‘This job sounds fantastic and I’m very excited about it. Could you just help me understand the salary range so we can make sure we’re aligned before moving forward?’”

Welch emphasizes that “no economic boom goes on forever, and someday, when tough times return, so may this taboo.” But until that happens, she says, there’s no reason not to be up-front about your expectations from the beginning. 

“Go ahead and talk money early. You know you want to, and at last, for now and nicely, you can.”

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Instituteand a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at [email protected].

This article first appeared on CNBC and is republished with its permission.