The issue of salary history has and will continue to be a thorn in the recruitment process. Unfortunately, many recruiters are known to use salary history to eliminate candidates from the hiring pool. Candidates with a high salary history are considered too expensive, while those with low salary history are considered unqualified. Many candidates do not want to give out their history, but with the tough labour market and salary disclosure being a prerequisite to a potential job, there is no choice but to share the information. This catch 22 situation leaves the candidate negotiating in the dark because, even after the disclosure, very few recruiters are willing to disclose the overall compensation package for the position at hand. Instead, they use the obtained salary information as a baseline to set pay. According to many recruiters, a candidates’ salary history reflects their worth which is not the case.
How to handle the salary history request as a candidate
A salary history check is tough for many, but every candidate hopes for a pay rise with every new job. So, how do you ensure that you respond to a salary history request in a way that you maintain your negotiating power without hurting your chances at the job?
You can choose to disclose or not disclose your salary history
Salary history check request is personal, and a candidate can choose to disclose it or not. The recruitment process is skewed towards the employer, so the candidate may lose on the job by deciding not to reveal. Some of the polite ways you can avoid answering this question are: Letting the interviewer know your NDA agreement with the current employer does not allow you to discuss terms of employment. Or, Out rightly informing the interviewer you don’t want to discuss past salary because you want to have fair negotiation based on the value you can bring to the company.
In choosing to disclose, refrain from lying or exaggerating your past pay. Remember the HR is versed with the market and don’t want to be caught in a lie during the interview process, therefore losing credibility. If in the previous roles you were underpaid and feel this might hurt your negotiation power, do not hesitate to state that as you are looking to be at par with the market value.
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2. Stipulate your value
Whether you disclose or not, be sure to state your value to the company. Emphasize your skills, qualification and experience and how they will not only match but exceed what the company requires. Be sure to back up all the stated values with evidence hence why you should always record your tracking metrics.
3. Research the current market value
It is essential to look at the whole recruitment process as a bidding process. After showcasing your value, the last this you would want is to underbid. For this reason, make a deliberate effort to find out the market value for the position you are interviewing for. Then, determine the highest and the lowest amount offered for the role and how much you are willing to accept. To get the market value, check out online consult tools such as Know your worth and what am I worth. Coworkers and industry networks also come in handy while researching market rates. Have conversations with people within your organisation and beyond to have a full spectrum view of the industry rates.
My mentor always says, if you don’t ask, you don’t get it. Ask the employer for the salary range they have budgeted for the position to gauge whether you fall in the ballpark. In all fairness, it will avoid time wasting for both the candidate and the interviewer if either of the two does not fall in the other salary range. Expect some resistance, but the only sure way to know the answer to the employer salary range question is by asking.
The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power – Unknown
How to handle the Salary history request as HR
Refrain from asking the salary history question. The only reason you are requesting this information is to find out if:
- The company can afford the candidate at the current market rate.
- You can afford the candidate below the market rate.
- You can make an above-market rate hire which is wasteful (Very common in headhunting and highly competitive industries).
Instead, follow the approved budget for the position and disclose it as early as the job posting period. Disclosing the salary early on in the recruitment stage helps in;
- Candidate Self-selection: as it informs the candidate as early as when reading the vacancy ad on what to expect and based on their expectation, they can choose to apply or not. At the same time, some will apply with and aim to negotiate within the stated salary range.
- Reduces third party consultation, which may be prone to bias.
- It helps in improving the candidate experience as no one wants to be asked private questions by strangers.
- It helps uphold and promote diversity, equity, openness and fairness. Because when salary ranges are in the open, discrimination based on gender, race, tribe, age cannot happen.
- Streamlines negotiation as the candidates already knows what to expect.
- Allows the recruitment process to focus on other things.
As a candidate, whether you choose to share our salary history or not, always focus on a salary that will make you happy instead of one that will get you by.
For HR professionals, do not let salary history checks affect the candidate experience. Bad candidate experience will make candidates lose respect for you, both as an employer and brand. You already know the range the company can offer for any given position, go ahead and offer that without the many terms and conditions.
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