Money plays an interesting role in the recruiting process, we know it’s one of the main motivations as to why we all get up and go to work each day, but it’s also a topic that we tiptoe around and are hesitant to bring up whenever we’re interviewing a new candidate. For the most part, talks regarding salary expectations don’t even begin until you’ve reached the final rounds of the hiring process.
But why is it that recruiters and hiring leaders have to treat these talks as a faux de pas that we all try to avoid until it is absolutely necessary?
In 2018, we should be working to make candidates comfortable bringing up and speaking about the subject without having them feel like they breached a social boundary.
Why we need to break the awkwardness
To the majority of workers, salary is one of the most important topics when searching for a new job. They have their own obligations that they need to be concerned about so it only makes sense that the amount of money they’ll be bringing in will be one of their top concerns.
With that said, this DOES NOT mean that you initiate the conversation by asking about their current or past salary. It puts many candidates into an uncomfortable spot where they may not want to divulge the information but feel as though they have to in order to show that they’re a “team-player”.
It’s also worth noting that California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Delaware have recently passed laws that forbid employers, third-party recruiters, and reference checkers from asking applicants about their salary at past jobs.
To add to that, even if an applicant willingly chooses to divulge that information, the information cannot be used to determine their new salary. Even if you’re not located in any of these states, it’s still advised that you avoid the “How much are/did you make?” question to keep your applicants comfortable and to be prepared for when these laws do inevitably come to your state.
How do I respond if the candidate initiates the salary conversation?
With the power shifting to the candidate in these conversations, it only makes sense that you inevitably come across the candidate that immediately brings up the salary topic. When this happens, you should be prepared to handle the conversation that both answers their question while also leaving your company protected.
A good way to respond is by giving them a range that you feel comfortable giving, for example: “The position pays between $40K and $60K”.
Although the candidate may assume that they’ll be able to get the job at $60K, keep in mind that you don’t have to worry about finalized salary talks until much later into the recruiting process.
Another avenue is by responding with, “What is your target salary for your current job search?”
This way, you can get a good idea of what the candidate is looking for and if their range is too high, you can let them know that it won’t be a good fit or at least ask if they’re open to negotiation.
How should I go about changing the way we talk about salary?
For starters, you may want to consider putting the salary range somewhere in your job description so that applicants are well aware of what you’re willing to pay from the start. This way, those with higher salary expectations can self-select themselves out and you don’t have to waste time with candidates that won’t be interested.
To add to that, you can let applicants know that salaries are completely non-negotiable and that once a salary offer is made, that is what your company is sticking with.
Another rule is to make sure that you never base your salary offer on the applicant’s salary history. In fact, you should be going out of your way to speak with your team about the new laws regarding asking about salary history and making sure that no part of your process details asking about an applicant’s past salary.
Having the information on hand ready to discuss is also a great way to stay prepared for the situation, make sure to do your homework and pull up multiple sources of salary data so that you have plenty of information handy to support your stance.
One option that is often overlooked is to be proactive with the salary talk yourself to avoid any misunderstandings later on. Start by asking what type of salary range they’re looking for, then let them know what the company is willing to offer based on their experience and expertise.
It’s a different time to be a recruiter, people are cutting through the smoke and want to get straight to the point of what they’re expecting to get paid for a job.
Although times are changing, it’s still important that you do what you can to ensure that your company is safeguarded from any unsavory salary conversations by ensuring that you and your team are up to date on state laws as well as how to steer the salary conversation in your favor.