There's an interesting discussion going on at Ask the Headhunter:, where Nick C is telling anyone who will listen that candidates shouldn't provide their current and past salary history to HR or hiring managers as a part of the process. Information is power, and Nick recommends that candidates simply say no.
I get the argument, but if candidates follow Nick's advice, only the superstars are going to survive not providing salary data when asked. Click through and take a look at the past posts by Nick to get a vibe for what he's saying, but here's his most recent advice for HR pros who think they have to have the past pay data on a candidate, STAT:
"But I don’t think HR managers are dopes or even disingenuous. I think they’re brainwashed and can’t see past their own bureaucracy. So I’ve been trying to figure out how to turn the tables and help HR solve the problem without waiting for candidates to cough up their salary info. That way these employers won’t have to pass up good candidates.
So here’s what HR should do. Following the same logic and rationale, at the point where HR would ask for the candidate’s salary history, HR should instead share:
- The salary range for the position in question.
- The salary history of the person who is now doing the same job, or who used to do the job.
- The salary history of others in the department who do similar jobs.
The company’s salary history is a crucial element that helps a candidate assess and judge a company. It enables a candidate to determine whether there is a realistic opportunity to make a match, and whether further discussions are reasonable. It’s legitimate to share the company’s salary information in the context of the interview and application process."
Some of this argument circles around the concept of pay transparency, so it's obvious that you can't give up data on what others make in the same position in the company. Anyone who disagrees with that statement doesn't have to live with the employee relations ramifications of complete pay transparency. Period.
With that said, here's the reality. You don't have to tell me what you make, but you have to tell me what it's going to cost me to hire you. Without access to that information, unless you're a superstar I can't live without, I'm wasting my time - especially if I'm working a lot of open positions.
So, here's my alternative, which strangely enough meets a lot of what Nick outlines above. I use this approach when I'm feeling soft and don't want the direct confrontation of asking someone what they make now, or as is more likely the case, when they've already told me (or at least taken a position, truthful or not) what they currently make. Here's the talking track:
"Jen, I use the first phone call to get to know you, tell you a little bit about the position and let you ask questions. I don't want to waste your time with the next step if we can't afford you, so I want to let you know that if we got to the offer stage, you could expect an offer to come in somewhere between 55K-62K. If we get to that point, is that range one in which you could see yourself accepting the offer if everything else you needed was in place?"
That's my talking track. Without disclosing what others make, I've given a range that provides a strong vibe for how the organization values the job, and what we're willing to pay based on Jen's background.
Jen can say yes or no to that. If she says yes, I've found that framing it in that way dramatically increases the probability of an accepted offer.
But you've got to at least answer that question after I've valued the job in that manner. If you don't, you're out.