By Jon Piggins, Executive Recruiter, IT Sales & Marketing
Salary Disclosure Questions Pre-Interview Process
There are a lot of opinions on salary negotiations and salary disclosure: Should you tell your current salary or just your desired salary? Should you give this up front if asked, or save it until you are at an offer stage? In our experience, most all companies are going to want to know both your current salary and your desired before investing in the interview process, some will even want your full salary history.
Reasons for the Salary Question
From the point of view of a recruiter working with primarily growth-mode tech companies, there are compelling reasons for the salary question.
The first reason you may be asked to disclose your current salary and desired salary is that the company is trying to screen out candidates who just are clearly not going to be a fit. A senior sales person who has been making $250,000 annually with a $150,000 base is not going to be satisfied with a salary that is half that. Given that tech companies often get thousands of resumes for one opening when there are no guidelines set out to screen applicants, setting up a current salary range is a very rational way to reduce what could otherwise be an overwhelming onslaught of applications.
Another reason companies ask for current salary is that the company obviously has a budget. At different times in the company’s life, or depending on the sector and competitive power of attraction, each company is in a different position in terms of the salary it can offer. Some companies invest a lot in the benefits package, many early stage companies offer a high backend equity offer, others have an amazing culture or location. Many elements go into the total compensation package, but there are still restraints on what a position is slated to pay. No one wants to waste time on an interview process if the compensation is just not going to be a match.
Some companies ask for your salary history as well, although this is not very common. You are most apt to run into this in a sales position where the company is eager to see the progression of a sales professional’s career.
Does the Recruiter Have to Know my Salary?
Even if the company hasn’t requested the current salary, your recruiter should. Again, a recruiter’s job is to find the best talent fit for the company, in the most efficient manner. Ruling out a salary expectation mis-match saves everyone time. An external recruiter is working simultaneously with many companies. Knowing your current salary and desired salary will allow them to cross check against other opportunities, current or future.
If a candidate has a salary history that doesn’t match the range set out as a screen, that doesn’t mean it’s all over. There can be compelling reasons for a company to consider a candidate with a salary that is higher or lower than the guidelines. For example, if a candidate was working in the non-profit sector it is not uncommon for the salary to be under current market levels. If someone was at a start-up, it is likely that they had a fantastic upside in equity but a smaller salary. A salary that is higher than slated may can also be explained. Perhaps a sales professional was successful in a sector but wants to make a move into a different niche where salaries are not as high but they are confident in their ability to learn and excel.
When Do I Have to Disclose my Salary?
If you are in one of these situations, you may or may not have to disclose your salary, but the likelihood is you will. If you are plugging answers into an on-line form, this salary information may rule you out but you have little choice about providing it or the form may not let you continue. If you are working with the company directly, hopefully the circumstances around that salary information are heard by the person you are communicating with, be it an admin or internal recruiter. A candidate in this situation is probably best off when working with an external recruiter as the recruiter can take the time to understand the situation if all other qualifications are a match, and then present a compelling story about you to the hiring manager.
The internet is full of advice about when to disclose this and how not to. Disclosing your current salary is not the opening move in a chess game. Our experience is that these salary screen questions are just that – a screen to narrow the candidate funnel and make the interview process more efficient for all involved. Generally speaking, it’s in the candidate’s best interest to rule out the mismatch from the beginning just as much as it is in the company’s interest.
Once in the interview process, the candidate is establishing their value and assessing the potential with the company. This is the opening of the salary negotiation, even though numbers aren’t usually brought up until offer stage. So do you have to disclose your salary? It’s up to you and it depends on circumstances. It’s a question any good recruiter and almost any company is going to ask. You get to make the final decision.
About the Author
Jon Piggins, Executive Recruiter, IT Division
Jon is personable, knowledgeable and completely reliable. He has extensive sales and business development experience, in both B2B and B2C. Put Jon’s business insights and acumen to work for you by expediting your talent acquisition and hiring processes.
About Redfish Technology – Building Growth-Mode Tech Companies with Hand-Picked Talent.
Founded in Silicon Valley in 1996, Redfish Technology is an award-winning talent acquisition firm specializing in high tech sectors. Partnering with growth mode companies, small and large, Redfish staffs executive functions and builds out the teams below. The company provides services nationwide and has offices in Silicon Valley, the East Coast, and Sun Valley.