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Thursday, October 23, 2014

This Stupid Issue of Salary During a Job Search

This stupid issue of salary

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 He has created a number of eBooks and Video Workshops that cover various aspects of finding, and getting, a job. Learn More Here.

1 Post a Comment :

Bob Gately said...

Hello Lawrence,

If applicants refused to answer such stupid questions, employers would stop asking such stupid questions.

As professional engineers we never offer our services until after we fully understand the project. Job applicants need to fully understand the job before they can give a meaningful response to a salary question. Perhaps employers don't want applicants to know what the job requires before they commit to a salary.

Some employers look at their employees and job applicants as interchangeable cogs on the wheel of productivity whose salary is to be minimized. Such employers suffer from excessive employee turnover and low productivity.

Successful employees have all three of the following success predictors while unsuccessful employee lack one or two and usually it is Job Talent that they lack.
1. Competence
2. Cultural Fit
3. Job Talent 

Employers do a… 

A. great job of hiring competent employees. 

B. good job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture. 

C. poor job of hiring competent employees who fit the culture and who have a talent for the job. 

Identifying the talent required for each job seems to be missing from talent and management discussions. If we ignore any of the three criteria, then our workforce will be less successful with higher turnover than if we do not ignore any of the three criteria.
1. Competence
2. Cultural Fit
3. Talent

There are many factors to consider when hiring and managing talent but first we need to define talent unless "hiring talent" means "hiring employees." Everyone wants to hire for and manage talent but if we can't answer the five questions below with specificity, we can't hire or manage talent effectively.
1. How do we define talent?
2. How do we measure talent?
3. How do we know a candidate’s talent?
4. How do we know what talent is required for each job?
5. How do we match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

Most people cannot answer the five questions with specificity but the answers provide the framework for hiring successful employees and creating an engaged workforce.

Talent is not found in resumes or interviews or background checks or college transcripts.

Talent must be hired since it cannot be acquired or imparted after the hire.

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