By Jon Rosser
Salary is a sensitive topic. We get it.
Several states and cities have actually made it illegal for employers to ask for salary history: Massachusetts was the first. Followed by California, Delaware, Oregon, Philadelphia, New York City, San Francisco and Albany.
But, it’s still legal in Indiana, and most states.
There are many schools of thought on how to handle this conversation. Here at Platinum Recruiting Group, we believe it’s possible to handle the conversation in a professional manner.
We get the hesitation to share this information. Especially with a recruiter that you might be just getting to know.
There isn’t even a guaranteed interview yet, so why do we need to know?
We talk about salary for multiple reasons:
- We need to determine if we’re playing in the same salary ballpark. We owe it to you, our client and ourselves to make sure we’re pursuing a realistic outcome and not wasting everyone’s time.
- It’s helpful to learn how you will handle the question if our clients ask you. (PS. Here’s how to handle the salary question from an employer)
- Most important, and this is the kicker, so we can help if we get to the offer stage.
In an ideal world we wouldn’t need to know your salary. Here’s how that would look:
Zero companies would ask you for current salary
All companies would make offers based on what they think someone is worth instead of partially basing offers on current salary
Everyone would know their market value.
As of now, none of these things are true. So, for the time being, here are 5 reasons it’s helpful for us to fully understand your compensation:
Help us help you:
- We manage offer negotiations. When negotiating on someone’s behalf, the more we know the better. Salary is just part of the equation. We need to know about bonus potential, cost of insurance, how much PTO and so on. The higher level someone is, the more variables: Stock options, RSUs, Car allowance.
- Why is all this important?
- Offers have many variables and moving parts. If both sides are genuinely interested in working together, there is often more than one way to make it work.
- But, if we get to the offer stage and I don’t know your situation, I can’t leverage my experience to make sure a deal is crafted that works for everyone.
- For example, if base pay can’t change, how about a review after 3 or 6 months with the potential to get to that desired base pay? Extra vacation? What about taking the “pro-rated” tag off the first year annual bonus? Sign-on bonus?
We’ve negotiated thousands of offers. We’ve seen, almost, everything. Let us leverage this experience!
Two Way Street:
- We are transparent. We share job descriptions and let prospects know the company name (unless it’s a confidential replacement). We understand that it’s helpful to know about the company when evaluating an opportunity, not just the job description.
- When you get into recruiting you’re told not to share this information. Keep it confidential.
- We think that’s old school. We trust the people we work with.
- Information flow doesn’t stop with description and company name. We discuss hiring managers, environment, what type of person has thrived with this company, how to prepare for the interviews.
As long as we’re sharing this much information, we think it’s reasonable for information flow to be a two-way street.
Companies are still asking for salary history:
- We think the new laws prohibiting these questions can be a good thing. But, it’s still legal in most states. A lot of companies still ask. Most companies still ask.
- If a client asks us what a candidate is making we need to be able to discuss.
- Do we always need to share someone’s exact salary from the beginning? No.
- Sometimes letting a client know that a candidate will be within budget is enough information. But we still need to be able to have a conversation if it gets to that point.
- Some pundits suggest people shouldn’t want to work for a company that asks for salary information. We don’t think it’s reasonable to scratch every company off your list that does this. Not yet. There are still too many. Just learn to handle the question.
We trust our judgement & experience:
- We’ve been part of thousands of offer negotiations. Most people we work with have changed jobs (to new companies) less than 5 times. Many just once or twice.
- Think about that. Many people have only negotiated offers with a few companies.
- Our experience can only help with negotiations. To be helpful in the negotiation process we need to understand salary information/history. Here’s one example of how it could work in your favor:
- Let’s say you are working for a company that’s losing money and hasn’t offered raises the last few years? That information can help negotiate a better offer. If a company is partially basing their offer on your current salary (right, wrong or indifferent) it can be helpful to show a lack of raises, helping to justify a bigger increase to your current salary than they would typically offer.
It isn’t easy to know your value:
- It sounds great not to share current salary. It’s empowering!
- Careful what you wish for. It actually places more importance on candidates knowing their value and that’s not easy. Here’s a real life example:
- Most people who don’t want to share salary information with us feel like they are underpaid. Understandable. Within that group, most don’t really know their market value.
- We recently spoke with someone who didn’t want to disclose current salary. Their ‘target salary’ was the very top end of the salary range we provided. Coincidence? Of course not.
- Our client wasn’t interested at that price point. That particular person was then willing to consider an interview with a target salary $20k lower. They got aggressive and nearly priced themselves out of an opportunity.
Not sharing puts more responsibility on candidates to know their value, especially if talking directly with a company and not through a 3rd party recruiter.
Skeptics will say we have the company’s best interest in mind since they pay our fees. Of course we want deals to close.
But not at the risk of damaging our reputation. We now have more than 100 years of combined recruiting experience. A lot of our new business comes from referrals.
No deal is worth jeopardizing our relationships and reputation!
We leverage our experience to provide honest insight, perspective and feedback to candidates.
Keep in mind, we’re also having conversations with our clients regarding salary ranges: Is it enough? What will they get for a particular pay range?
We’re constantly talking to “both sides” to increase the chances that we reach a favorable outcome.
Help us Help YOU!