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© Sculpture: Jos Dirix
© Sculpture: Jos Dirix

The Current-Salary-Question

Pieter de Kiewit 15-12-2017 8:50 AM
Categories: Labour Market

Lately there has been a lot of talk about the current-salary-question. Is your future employer allowed to ask you what your current package is? Do you want to answer if he/she asks? In the US, legislation has been made that forbids employers asking this question. We all know that there is a difference between what the law says and what happens in reality. I only have to mention recent research about age and other discrimination in the labour market.

I understand reasoning that states that the salary level of a job should be separated from the person that is hired. It is about the value the position has for the organisation. If a former CEO decides to work in the company restaurant, he/she will not receive a CEO salary. That makes sense. If you qualify, why should an employer ask for your previous remuneration? We could leave it at this. But I think we should not.

If I, as a recruiter, ask candidates for the salary in their next position, I get remarks like “it should not be less than my current” or “I want an increase of at least 10%”. So I ask my clients their range to avoid wasting everybody’s precious time. And I answer a candidate’s question about the expected salary for the discussed position. He/she expects my answer. Why should this information only flow in one direction?

So let’s be practical and start by finding out about the bandwidth of both parties. When there is a match and it comes to negotiation, start with the facts: base, bonus, vacation, pension, car, etcetera. These are facts, no emotions. Then one can talk about expectations and the perception of value. This is a separate topic, there has been written a lot about (salary) negotiations. My main rule: if “no” is not an option, it is not a negotiation.

Good luck with your applications and I am very much open for input.

Pieter

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