Another controversial article is making internet rounds and debatable waves these days. The CEO of a career consulting company speaks strongly against the right of employers to ask candidates about their current salary or financial package. She advises job applicants to refuse divulging their present salary and to insist on firmly stating salary expectations only. Moreover, she urges candidates to become quite verbally aggressive toward potential employers if they ‘dare’ asking such questions (?!).
Subsequently, I have read a variety of comments related to the above mentioned article. In my professional opinion however, I would say that the author of the article did rather a disservice to potential job seekers. Therefore, as much as my input will not be a ‘popular’ argumentation, I will herewith state my point of view on this subject.
I usually advise job seekers to genuinely respond to interviewing questions. This also includes their answers to queries related to their present package and future expectations. This does not mean that their answer should be a simple figure. ‘Package’ is not solely a salary figure and ‘expectations’ are not merely income-related!
Package includes (expectations should combine):
- The work itself, the job scope as such and the professional & personal satisfaction on the job
- The training involved for continuous professional and personal development
- A direct manager one can look up to and learn from
- A team of like-minded colleagues one can rely on at all times
- A balanced work-life environment
- Fringe benefits (along with the acknowledgement & prioritization of what benefits the employee considers as ‘must have’ or ‘nice to have’)
- Working place (the location & environment as such, the distance from home, etc. – see Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory)
- The recognition
- The growth possibilities and career perspectives
- The ‘achievability’ of achievements
- Job security
- Flexible working hours and work location (where applicable)
- Appropriate working tools (e.g. company car, communication means and devices, etc.)
- Last but not least: salary / income (fixed and variable parts / bonuses)
Coming back to the salary as such, I generally counsel job seekers to remain truthful and realistic!
In my opinion, candidates should honestly state their current salary (or the last salary they had) and describe their entire package (emphasizing, once again, what they perceive as a ‘must’ and what they consider ‘nice to have’). They should not avoid articulating their expectations, but always keeping in mind those expectations should not only be linked to the salary, but to the entire package described above. Some people might opt for a similar or slightly decreased salary if other opportunities compensate for this loss (e.g. a job with desired responsibilities and attractive perspectives, various fringe benefits, long-term career advantages, etc.).
Expectations should also be linked to the industry as such, to the job requirements, to the market environment, to the economic macro- and micro-conditions, etc.
A candidate might therefore clearly state last package and her/his expectations and remind the employer that s/he is also aware of the fact that each company has its own salary grid and therefore s/he expects to be made a decent offer based on both company’s possibilities and candidate’s enumerated package expectations.
Personally, as a recruitment consultant, I do insist for candidates to be honest related to their present package. As a career counselor, I am working with each and every person on identifying the most realistic scheme of future compensation and adapting expectations to every individual’s real needs and desires.
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