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 Salary History Disclosure

By Joe Stein

 Salary History Disclosure
A key to being a savvy Job Seeker is the ability to adjust with the changing philosophies and methods of the modern job search. Enlightened Job Seekers also will adjust their personal strategy and methodology based on the need of the employer they have targeted.
An area that has changed significantly in the last several years is Salary History Disclosure. It was not long ago that both the Employer and the Job Seeker had a “Don’t ask…don’t tell” philosophy towards discussing salary until the end of the recruitment process.
More prominently in today’s recruitment advertisements, the prospective employer will write that they will not consider Resumes, which do not include a salary history.
Why have employers become more insistent in knowing the salary history of candidates?
  • Recruiters have very limited time available to recruit for a position. With the downsizing of organizations over the years the role of the Recruiter is a stressful and fast-paced position. Employers do not want to spend significant time on individuals they cannot afford; they simply do not have the resources to operate in that manner.
  • Employers want to focus on candidates that they can afford. I have read a number of articles from “experts” who discuss how employers should have a focus on “value” and not just salary. “Value” being defined as the positives a person will bring to the organization. The reality is that most positions come with a budget number attached to it. It is rare for a company to move above their approved budgeted number regardless of the perceived “value” the person might bring to an organization.
  • Why should you consider providing salary history with your resumes?
  • It will allow you to focus on positions that fit your salary range. It is exceptionally frustrating for a Job Seeker to spend time with an employer, especially if you have gone through multiple interviews, only to find out you do not fit into the budget for this position. This frustration is even greater if you are currently working at a position and have to juggle your schedule significantly in order to attend an interview. 
  • In today’s economy employers can be a little choosy in selecting the right candidate. If you are in an industry that has a higher supply of labor than demand then employers have the strategic upper hand when requesting information. Failure to provide the requested information will generally result in an employer seeking out someone who will cooperate.
  • You will usually provide the information later in the process. At some point in the recruitment, generally fairly early, you will be required to complete an application. Virtually all applications require you to list your last several employers with salary. I am not sure why most Job Seekers will submit this information on application without much consternation yet will be very wary about providing this information in your Cover Letter when requested.
  • Why would you not want to provide Salary History?
  • It may negatively impact your negotiation leverage. The thought is that the prospective employer will use your range to offer you the low end of what you would accept. Please keep in mind that you in no way are required to accept an offer. This point is valid even if the offer is within your range. The prospective employer may actually be led to believe that there is competition and offer a higher counter.
  • You feel it is a matter of principle not to provide this information. You may feel that it is not the business of the prospective employer what you have made in the past. 
If you decide to provide salary history information, feel free to consider presenting to the prospective employer a salary range that you are seeking. This will help prevent the employer with having a reverse effect of considering you too cheap!   It is often human nature to correlate quality with price, so a candidate very low in the salary market range may be considered inferior in quality. When providing your salary it is important to make sure you do your market research in order to accurately reflect the appropriate range for this position. You can always provide the caveat that you will need to examine the position thoroughly to determine what your actual salary needs are for that particular position.
If you decide that you do not feel comfortable informing your prospective employer regarding your salary history then you will need to determine how best to communicate this. My suggestion is that you unemotionally communicate to the Recruiter this information while being polite and professional. You will need to be prepared to have to revisit this request so being firm will be a must. You might want to try to redirect the conversation towards one of your selling points when this information is requested.
Finally, whatever you decide to do always be honest and professional with the prospective employer. If you decide to provide information, you may be tempted to inflate the number to make it look like you have a higher salary history. This type of deception has a tendency to backfire on a Job Seeker, as a Reference will often surface the truth much to the detriment of the Job Seeker.
As always, best of luck in your job search.
The following has been prepared for the general information of WNY Jobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.
Joe Stein
WNY Human Resources Professional
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