Why Salary History is Irrelevant
Author: Matt Roe
Published: November 30, 2017 
salary talent hack recruiting interviewing negotiation compensation offer why salary history is irrelevant talent paradigm lindsay mustain #asklindsay matthew roe matt roe
YOUR SALARY HISTORY IS IRRELEVANT.  

Well… not really, but bear with me.

Okay, so here’s the dirty, dirty secret of HR & the recruiting industry. (I’m not doing myself any favors from a recruiting perspective by sharing this either). Ready for it? This is the big secret:

Most HR teams, hiring managers and many external recruiting firms have a BUSINESS interest in not paying you what you’re worth.

Shocking? Seem obvious? Maybe. Maybe not. Imagine this scenario.

Julie is a software developer that graduated and began her career at a startup, rather than a Fortune 500 corporation. It had all of the fun and excitement of being a start-up: work-life balance, flexibility, daily coffee runs, but a low salary (typical to startups). After 2 years of Julie being compensated at 35K, the company shows signs of financial duress and could even go under. It’s time for Julie to look outward.
salary talent hack recruiting interviewing negotiation compensation offer why salary history is irrelevant talent paradigm lindsay mustain #asklindsay matthew roe matt roe
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Julie goes into recruiting calls at jobs that she feels qualified for - in fact she’s excited to find out that she’s overqualified for some! She’s excited that her 2 years of hard work are about to pay off and she’s going to get a nice pay bump! She explains to the recruiter that her salary was a low 35K since it was a start-up, still knowing that the market rate for a 2 year software developer is almost double that. 

Julie is later discouraged to see that these companies aren’t offering her according to her expectations… She doesn’t want to come across as ungrateful, or only caring about the money, so she interviews and in the end, receives 3 different job offers from 45-50K and humbly accepts the best offer.
salary talent hack recruiting interviewing negotiation compensation offer why salary history is irrelevant talent paradigm lindsay mustain #asklindsay matthew roe matt roe
JULIE JUST WON, right? She got a 15k pay raise, right?! NO. Julie’s SALARY HISTORY was IRRELEVANT in determining the VALUE that she could provide (and thus, the pay she should receive!). She had the technical skills of a 2-3 year developer, but she ended up getting paid like a kid out of college. 

This gets to my larger point, which is: I believe you should never disclose your salary history under any circumstance to a potential employer. I believe your salary history is irrelevant for 5 reasons.

1. First and foremost, I don’t believe that being at one employer who paid you under-market, for whatever reason, should keep you under market you for the remainder of your career.

2. Hiring managers, recruiters and many external recruiting firms could have a BUSINESS interest in not paying the full market rate. Obvious reasons include… Budgets, sales metrics, scorecards, etc. Aren’t these people bad people? Some of them most definitely are. But most of them are working with the system/business scenario that was handed to them. If they think they CAN underpay you, they have a BUSINESS INTEREST to do so.  

3. PAY does not determine ability to add VALUE. We’ve all seen the overpaid consultant who was terrible and the underpaid employee who constantly over performs.

4. COMPENSATION isn’t solely defined by pay. It’s defined by the candidate. Stress level. Responsibility. Work-Life Balance. Passion. Drive. Opportunity. Family involvement.  You should NOT have to feel bad because you took a low paying job that allowed you to have the family life you’ve always dreamed of.  

5. Your value is NEVER truly tied to your dollar compensation. You are intrinsically worth more than what any employer can provide, regardless of the dollar signs. Don’t let anyone other than you define what you’re worth.  
salary talent hack recruiting interviewing negotiation compensation offer why salary history is irrelevant talent paradigm lindsay mustain #asklindsay matthew roe matt roe
Here’s the thing – the salary/pay rate conversation should be an open and honest discussion about what the company and market can pay a candidate for what they’re  worth. But it’s not. At the moment, it’s a negotiation. And in negotiation, information is leverage. Don’t give up your leverage. Tell them you’d like to be paid according to the market standard and figure out their best offer. If they can’t afford you, they can’t afford you.
 
Job seekers: You have more leverage than you think. Don’t let a system keep you down. The only way you can demand your worth is if you know your worth.

Instead, nicely tell them: My Salary EXPECTATION is…

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About Matt Roe: I’m Matt Roe. I live in Charlotte, NC with my gorgeous wife, Allison, and my crazy German Shephard, Jordy. I lucked into the recruiting world a year and a half ago, have seen some good, some bad and some ugly and am learning to love this job that I never thought I’d get to do. I primarily recruit in IT Staffing in the Health-Tech/Fin-Tech and Health Insurance verticals. 
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Talent Hack was founded by Lindsay Mustain, #asklindsay. I am a recruiter by trade and a humanist by condition. The existential question that drives me is "How can I help you?" Marrying together my expertise in talent acquisition and candidate experience this question becomes "How can I help you find your dream opportunity?"

My vision is to one day help organizations realize the impact of valuing human beings as people and not as pieces of paper. Until that time, I share unapologetic advice and job search strategies that work within the current system. Learn more at: www.talentparadigm.co/services

I help to bridge the gap between job seekers and employers through branding, the candidate experience and journey, along with disruptive talent acquisition strategies. My journey at Amazon led me to becoming their most visible employee by speaking on talent attraction, candidate experience (CandX), and humanizing the talent acquisition process.

I launched Talent Paradigm in 2017 with the goal of leveling the playing field for candidates in the job seeking process. My organization provides coaching, resume writing, branding, and consulting services and products to help improve candidate outcomes.
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