Recommended play - Refusing to disclose salary history?

If a recruiter asks you in an interview what you currently make, do you deflect their question with something like

" I’d rather talk about what I’m worth than what I’m currently making" or do you answer the question head-on and confidently because you don’t want to break rapport?

Sorry, Recruiters! You’re Not Getting My Salary History Mar 21, 2015

They say that if you’re going to tell a lie, the best way to do it is to make it a big lie, and to tell it over and over again. In the recruiting arena, we’ve been telling this lie for decades:

“We have to ask job-seekers for their salary history, so that we can extend a job offer that is appropriate.”

That’s a lie and it also makes no sense. When you call a plumber to come and fish a kid’s sock out of a tub drain, do you ask the plumber what he charged the last person who called him with a similar request? No! You ask the plumber “What are your rates?”

If you don’t like the plumber’s hourly rate, you don’t hire the plumber – case closed!

A job applicant’s salary history is none of your business, and the job-seeker’s current salary is also none of your business. All you need to hand over as a job-seeker is your current salary target. How was that target salary derived? That’s your business and no one else’s.

An employer is not going to tell job-seekers what it’s paying current employees. An HR person who demands your current or past salary is not going to tell you what s/he’s getting paid – so why should you provide that information?

The only reason most of us have gotten used to the idea that employers have the right to know their job applicants’ past or current salaries is that we’ve grown up with the understanding that employers call the shots in the hiring process. That idea is a_frame_, or mental model. It’s so ingrained in us that we don’t even see it. We accept it unconsciously as the way things are.

Any employer who treats the recruiting process as an unequal equation where the employer’s power is greater than the job candidate’s power is an employer that doesn’t deserve talented people on its team.

Why would you want to spend your precious time and energy working with people who began their relationship with you by telling you that they’ll make the rules, and you’ll follow them?

It’s a new day. Smart organizations have already figured out that they won’t get great people to work for them, much less keep them, by treating them like cattle.

Hidebound, stuck-in-the-past employers still treat job-seekers badly. Their message to job applicants is “Who cares about you, or about your privacy? I need your salary history, period!”

Of course they want your salary history! That information gives an employer leverage in the negotiation process. If you knew what they were paying their current employees and if you knew what the pain of the job vacancy was costing the organization, you’d have leverage too.

That’s why at Human Workplace, we teach job-seekers to run their careers like businesses. You have to know a lot about the types of Business Pain you solve - including the cost of that Business Pain to anybody who suffers from it!

Unfortunately, most job-seekers don’t know what kind of Business Pain they solve, or what it costs. They’re happy to pass on their salary information to anyone who asks.

We are learning new approaches now and growing new muscles! Your salary details are just as private as the balance of your checking account. It’s nobody’s business but yours!

Let’s say you’re earning $54K now but you know you’re underpaid. You’ve done your research so you know that jobs like yours typically pay $68-$70K. When the recruiter calls you to tell you about an opening at Acme Explosives, s/he’s going to ask about your background and also ask you what you’re earning now.

When you explain that you have the exact experience Acme is looking for and when you mention your $54K salary, you can almost hear the recruiter’s eyes light up, even over the phone!

Acme Explosives is going to scramble to schedule an interview for you, because you’re talented and you’re also a cheap hire. They’re going to show you the red carpet treatment. They’ll bring you lunch in the conference room.

They’ll make you a job offer at $58K. They’ll present the offer to you while their recruiter and the hiring manager are high-fiving in the next room. All the other qualified candidates cost $70K and up!

Run away from an employer or a recruiter who insists on having your current or past salary information. Some job-seekers have never met a recruiter who didn’t ask for that data.

That’s because for years and years, recruiters have been asking the obnoxious “salary history” question and job-seekers have been sheepily handing over the goods, even to the point of sending the recruiter a W-2 or other proof of past earnings. How ridiculous!

Is the company going to prove that they made good on their verbal promises to employees, or prove anything at all about how they conduct their businesses or lead their teams? No! They’re not.

Many organizations still believe that they are kings and queens on the mountaintop while people who want to work for them are ants. You will never grow your flame in a place like that.

Job-seekers have more power in the hiring equation than they think. If a recruiter gets snippy with you on the phone, you can always handle it like this:

RECRUITER: I don’t know why you’re being difficult. Acme Explosives says they want your salary history, and they’re my client, so I have to give them what they want. You won’t get an interview unless I have that information.

YOU: I understand completely. Most likely you are overwhelmed with talented candidates for this position. I’m not even sure why you’re wasting your time with me, since I seem to be disrupting your process. Let’s just part ways and wish one another well. See ya! (hang up phone)

The old framework is breaking down. Little by little, mojofied job-seekers are weakening Godzilla, the scaly mascot of bureaucracy and fear. If a recruiter didn’t need you in his or her pipeline to make his or her quarterly revenue goal, believe me, the recruiter wouldn’t waste two seconds with you!

Some recruiters will throw you out of their pipeline when you remind them that your finances are your own business. Good riddance! They are dinosaurs.

You don’t need them. You can partner with a righteous recruiter who understands that without talent, s/he’s got nothing to sell, or you can reach hiring managers on your own with Pain Letters that you’ll send directly to their desks.

Leave the dinosaur-age bully recruiters to duke it out with one another in their tar pits and go to work for an employer that values your privacy as much as you do.There are more and more of them every day!

Here is a script for handling the question “What are you earning now?” from recruiters!Here is an article that explains how to report your past salaries on an online job application without giving away your private information! Attention Recruiters! Want to learn how to Recruit with a Human Voice?Become a Righteous Recruiter: Join us for the virtual course Recruiting with a Human Voice!

Do you want to learn to Recruit with a Human Voice and align yourself with high-mojo, in-demand candidates in your talent market?

Read about the Intensive Four-Week Virtual Course Recruiting with a Human Voice here. Course starts April fourth, 2015! Grow your recruiting muscles and learn the groundbreaking and very effective Recruiting with a Human Voice approach with us!

I’ve gone round and round about this. I make a lot so I tell them. Usually they say the job they have won’t pay that and I say thanks and hang up.

Back when I made a little, I wouldn’t tell then but simply say I’m looking at this range of I were to make a move.

Oh, and most recruiters suck. To all you recruiters reading this, you suck!

My issue with these kinds of questions is that with the variety of incentive programs and benefits offered, salaries are rarely comparable.

I agree. market value is what matters, not what you made previously. Unless you are a candidate that has very little negotiation power (like if you have been unemployed for a while and are desperate for a job)

recently in salary negotionts i told the recruiter who i was going through my target range and she said that it was between me and another candidate and he was willing to accept below my range and had more experience so that i should be flexibile.

it obviously sounded like she was trying to screw me but i still wanted to hear a number so i said i would play ball. eventually my offer came through and it was higher than the recruiter told me and at the bottom range of my target. the recruiter forwarded me the email from HR at the company and at the start of the email chain from that morning i saw an email from HR to the recruiter saying that they were offering me. that email had occured before the recruiter called me saying i was basically in a bidding war with another candidate. so it was nice to confirm that the other candidate with more experience willing to work for peanuts didn’t actually exist and it was just her attempt at fucking me over.

why would she want you getting less, it affects her take also

^ No, she would take the difference. The company is paying X, the less you get the more the recruiter gets.

recrutiers i dealt with get % of ur first year pay

^ In the OP’s case, it must be a recruiter closer to my definition…which is the company pays the recruiter and then the employee gets paid by the recruiter for a period of time.

In my field first question is what was your base and what was your last year bonus, also how much are planning to make? In ‘cost’ jobs (read any job that doesnt generate revenue). Jobs are brackated pretty tightly so if you price outside bracket, there is no point to submit your resume

huh. I’ve actually never heard of it happening this way. I’ve thought the recruiter gets say 3 months of your salary as commission. Ive never heard of the recruiter paying the candidate… mind boggling

^ Some companies run this way that’s why the candidate has to do his research.

Company tells the recruiter if you find me a good candidate I will pay you $X over 2 years (doesn’t have to be all upfront). The recruitment firm takes $X and then pays the candidate an inferior amount and pockets the difference. Of course, there are some conditions involved in case the employee leaves or is terminated during the time period.

I spoke to a technical writer that was hired full-time by a multinational 2 years ago. He got paid $45/hour to write manuals and later found out the company actually paid $63/hour to the recruitment firm.

who do u get a w-2 from?

I am going through the job interview rodeo again and for once the recruiter has yet to ask my current compensation. It’s refreshing. It’s like, if I’m looking for other opportunities, I obviously want to be making more than I currently am, so what does what I make now matter. I also recently got F’ed by a 3% raise in tandem with a “promotion” so I’m a little irritated right now. Not that I wasn’t before. But still.

FT i think that set-up is more for temporary/contract employees, not full-time. I had a summer jub like that previously, where I got paid by the recruiter, not the business I was working for. They were paying the recruiter £30 an hour, of which I was only getting £15. Once I found out, I told the recruiter that I quit and found another job, but really I just started working directly for the company instead. They didn’t inform the recruiter because they preferred that I got paid fully for my efforts. Slightly unethical, but recruitment companies are scumbags.

assume this is for entry-level corporate FPA and business analyst stuff where compensation is generally all salary

I usually don’t go into specifics of what I’m making unless I know the recruiter well. In most cases, I’m much more likely to just tell them what I’d like to be making in my next role. That is good enough for their purposes and also shields me from disclosing too much about myself. And if for some reason the role they’re trying to fill doesn’t line up with my aspirations, it’s best for both of us to go our separate ways anyway.

In that case, they’re probably asking to make sure you’re not way outside the bounds of what they could pay. For example, I can pay an entry level analyst $x +/- 10%. If your asking for $x +20%, then I can’t do anything for you. Might as well not waste each other’s time. That’s why just saying “I will need to make $x to make the move” is appropriate. It satisfies that prescreen.

Agree with the OP article. I was approached by a headhunter a couple months ago regarding a lateral move to another firm. I quoted him my asking price which was about $400,000 above my current income. Normally that would seem aggressive at any comp level, but he ended pushing the firm to consider my price.

This dude is so full of it.