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Salary disclosures and the hiring process

What are your feelings about: a) Providing your salary for prior positions? and b) presenting up front before speaking with the potential employer your salary expectations?


Chris Holtzer
Title: Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis
Company: Sargento
(Senior Manager - Strategic Analysis, Sargento) |

I think it depends who I am talking to. Recruiter vs HR of the business.

Recruiter = Be blunt, and up front. That is one of the greatest assets that working with a recruiter brings to the table (for a candidate). You can check the formalities and get right down to it. They work for the employer, but they want to find a mutually beneficial combination. They get to play the role of intermediary, so don't be bashful about asking them anything. In my experience, nothing is off limits, and they will be honest and blunt with you too.

Direct Hire: Etiquette suggests that salary is an end game discussion. In our field (accounting/finance) there is just too much ambiguity with titles & job descriptions, and as a result both parties can waste a lot of time by not getting salary expectations out of the way early.

I personally think that we are finance and accounting professionals, so there is no reason we can't have financial discussions, including salary right out of the gate. I tend to work with ranges rather than a firm number, but that is really just a preference of mine. I have had pretty good success with getting the salary discussion on the table early, and then spending the rest of the interview establishing why my compensation package requirements are a great value for the potential employer. It tends to take the room by surprise, but I have had some very good responses and results from this strategy.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

Recruiter: People take jobs at different salary ranges for a whole host of reasons. Even rock bottom number are not rock bottom. Shouldn't the discussion center around what you as the candidate is looking for, a presentation of the job by the Recruiter (with the employers salary range) and then the candidate can decide?

Direct hire: Have the potential company be up front with their number (I too agree in ranges). If we're too far apart out of the box, we're not coming to terms, why waste anymore time. Then at the end you can start the negotiation process.

Providing salary history IMHO is the worst negotiation tactic a person can do. Do you tell your customers your cost? And, as you mentioned titles, duties, industries, geographical regions all have impact on what you've made or haven't made.

A buddy was the CFO of a electronic manufacturer many, many years ago. They went public and I assume he made a fortune (based on lifestyle and the many years he held that lifestyle). At some point ways parted and I doubt he's ever made as much money, either in salary or compensation. Wouldn't his salary history preclude him from most jobs? I'd say so....

(CFO) |

I agree with Chris.

Although etiquette may suggest that it is impolite to discuss salary, it is also a mistake not to get it on the table up front. I can't tell you how many times as both a potential employee and as a hiring manager, I wasted my own and someone else's time in the selection process because, when salary was left to the end, we discovered that we weren't even close. ;-(

One thing is for sure when it comes to compensation and titles: They are all over the place!

I won't even respond directly to the frequent "please provide a salary history" request any more. If I think I might actually be interested in the position and they've made this request, I'll just state what my minimum salary requirements are and offer to provide salary history details along with references at an interview.

Such a request for a complete salary history is too often an indicator of an employer playing games up front. Small companies are notorious for this. Their lack of market knowledge or indecisiveness indicates to me that I probably don't want to join their team. They don't know what they really want or what it is going to cost them to get. They are too lazy to determine that for themselves and are asking applicants to provide the information for them.

One of the things I initially found uncomfortable in my shift from the private to the public sector but have now found of great value is that fact that all of our salaries and our pay grades are public information. This is actually refreshing as I don't have to play the guessing game about what I can expect to be paid for an opening at another public entity or an internal position where I am.

It also reduces the envy driven, competitive, back stabbing politics that often occurs when individuals strive for perceived higher pay through advancement. Employees aren't worried that someone else is getting more than they are unfairly. They can see right up front which positions pay more and that all employees in similar positions are within the same pay grade. And, they know ahead of time what a promotional position might pay so they can decide whether they really want to try for it or not; whether the additional headache (and often heartache) are worth their efforts.


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