Thursday, 2 April 2015

So why ask about salary if candidates will exaggerate it?




I'm quoted in this article in the Mirror, and elsewhere, commenting on Glassdoor's latest survey about salaries, finding that one in five candidates would lie about their current salaries.

“Inflating your existing salary when speaking to new employers is not a strategy I would recommend. There are far more effective ways to negotiate a higher salary when you are applying for a new job – the secret is to do your homework and then not be afraid to ask.” 

“Most employers do not intentionally try to scrimp on salary offers, but they will usually start with an amount that is lower than what they are willing to pay, based on the assumption the candidate will try to negotiate upwards. This ‘buffer’ ensures the employer is not paying a disproportionately higher salary than they pay existing employees in similar positions. Failure to synchronise salaries across a business for both new and existing candidates can lead to a sea of discontent if employees discuss their pay with colleagues. Use websites like Glassdoor to assess what you should be paid for specific jobs at specific companies so you can use information to power your negotiation.”


These are my top tips for negotiating salary during the recruitment process:

1.       Don’t be afraid to negotiate, employers fully expect you to do this.

2.       Research is key. This will enable you to pitch an appropriate salary range for the job based on your research of similar jobs in the same region and sector.

3.       Be realistic about where you are in your career and what you can achieve – don’t expect to have much negotiating power if you are just a few years into your career.

4.       Make sure you express your interest in the job and the company before you start trying to negotiating a counter offer. Tell the recruiter why you would love to accept the role, how much value you can bring to the organisation and so on.

5.       Negotiating a higher salary can often go backwards and forwards several times. Do not panic if this happens, if often means the employer is trying to meet you halfway.

6.       If securing a specific salary for a new role is a deal breaker, you need to have a clear ‘walk away’ figure in your head.

7.       Practice your negotiation skills with a family member or friend. If your manifesto for a higher salary doesn’t convince your role play partner, it’s unlikely to seal a better deal with your new employer.

8.       Be prepared for "no" as another possibility and prepare in advance as to how you will deal with this.

9.       If you can’t get the salary increased to the level you request, you could ask them to increase other elements of the package such as the bonus for example.

10.    Alternatively, you could agree to review the salary following the successful completion of the probationary period.



Actually, I think the surprise is that not more people would lie.

To me, 'how much fdo you get paid now' is just a stupid question for an employer to ask, basically meaning they haven’t worked out what someone should get paid or if they’ve got the experience they need.

So I think many people would tend to reinterpret it as ‘what do you think we should pay you’ and so of course people increase what they say.  This means that employers end up paying more for better negotiators than for better performers and is probably one of the factors behind the gender pay gap.

It's a draft question.  Don't ask it.  Offer what someone is worth to you and if they need more, talk about how you might increase it later.



You may also be interested in this Glassdoor survey on pay transparency.


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