Today’s question comes from a job seeker who’d prefer not to divulge compensation information during the interview process.
Why does every recruiter ask my current salary and/or salary history? I’m very private about this, and frankly, it’s no one’s business but between my current employer, the IRS & my Financial Advisor.
Let’s be very clear about this – any job seeker who is currently interviewing for new opportunities should be prepared to provide current and, in most cases, past salary history to an HR recruiter, agency recruiter or both. Sometimes this occurs as a conversation, but more often in the form of hard evidence – providing a paystub, W-2 form, offer letter or other supporting documentation that can tell a company that doesn’t know you the value placed on your work by a company that does. In addition to providing this information during the interview process, the great majority of employers conduct pre-employment screening that can include wage verification along with a drug screen and background check.
Most often a candidate will say that their current compensation isn’t important and that they’re simply interested in “what the job pays.” While openings will usually have a budgeted total compensation range, that does not mean all or even most applicants would receive offers within that range. Skills and experience aside, an offer you receive in your new job will always be tied, at least in part, to your current compensation and your salary history. US salaries should see an average 3% raise in 2011* according to the Conference Board annual salary survey. Practical experience tells us the average salary bump an employee can expect when making a move is in the 7-10% range. And, despite the fact that you may have colleagues who earn more while performing the same job, the company hiring you isn’t interested in what they make, but rather what you have shown to earn in the job you’re in, as well as the history of what you’ve made in previous roles.
While it’s understandable that many job seekers want to keep their compensation details close to their chest, it only serves to delay a natural hiring process and, in a worst case scenario, the difficulty exhibited causes a firm to pass entirely on a candidate. An agency recruiter is interested in what you’re making so that they can present to you opportunities which would represent a fair increase off your current salary. A firm’s HR recruiter has budgetary requirements to meet in making a hire and he or she wants to know there’s enough room in that budget to make you a reasonable offer. Certainly one does not want to flaunt their salary details to the world at large, but providing this information to a source whom you trust to assist you during your job search is both reasonable and expected.