Many of my clients and, I believe, most job-seekers today have great fears about revealing their salary requirements, as they're asked to do in company input form, after company input form, when applying for a given job ... and rightly so. You're trapped because they want a firm figure, not a range or words that say "salary range is open", so their input form literally forces you to choose a figure.
It's a stupid way to go about things, even from the employers' viewpoint, but they persist on doing this idiotic "dance" by asking the applicant to tell them their salary requirement before they've even reviewed their resume.
I call it stupid because it generates lots of resumes from many different people who wouldn't take the salary being offered if it were posted up front; or who might even be scared off because it looks like a heavy-duty job because it's rather high. This results in countless wasted resumes, both on the part of the sender and the employer's reader. I suppose the HR departments that foster this kind of thinking think it screens the improperly-priced applicants out, while in actuality it adds to the work everyone does that is, to put it mildly, wasted.
The smart thing to do would be to include the salary, or the range that is being considered for the salary, upfront. This would attract certain people, repel others, and limit the resumes and wasted time. It would be the upright thing to do. I might even say it would be the sensible thing to do.
Discussing salary with a third-party recruiter, however, is a completely different story. It's the wise thing to do because the third-party recruiter will, hopefully, know the salary range the employer is offering, and he or she will want to find someone who fits the requirements as well as that salary range. No wasted time or energy here.
I wish more HR people would read this and realize how stupid it is to do this kind of thing. Get the would-be employee to tell you how much they want and perhaps screen them out if they're too high, and maybe lose a highly-qualified candidate for a few lousy dollars. Somehow, that thought never seems to have entered those who build those input forms.
Some of the more progressive companies out there have begun to look at not only how well someone interviews, but how well they "fit" into the organization because they've begun to realize that having good retention rates for employees is economical and saves money in the long run, and salary isn't the be-all and end-all of that equation.
I'd welcome hearing from anybody who can defend this "salary upfront" type of thinking. To date, I haven't heard one argument in favor of it, but ... who knows? ... there could be a rational reason for it. I also welcome comments from those applicants who have encountered this and would like to share their experiences.
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Lawrence M. Light has been a job coach for over fifteen years. His website is eJobCoach.com. He has created a number of eBooks and Video Workshops that cover various aspects of finding, and getting, a job. Learn More Here.