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Salary - The Discussion We Have To Have

Can you ask a person’s salary history?  Does it matter what they make or made?  Doesn’t the company have a range they work from?

These are great questions – and have been asked for what seems to be forever – since I first entered the human resources field in 1980.  Nothing has changed except the dollar amounts (higher).  The information is still important. 

As of today, in Minnesota, you can ask a person’s salary.  You can’t discriminate (hopefully this did not need to be openly stated – this is basic), but you can ask.  But why does it matter?

Client Companies Have a Range 

Our clients have a salary range – $XXX,XXX to $YYY,YYY.  While there may be some flexibility for the perfect candidate, the range is something that is set by the client based on their market research, our discussion with them about our understanding of the market, and the fact that people today are not making lateral moves (or anything close to lateral).  And there is also internal equity . . . . . people in similar roles or at similar levels inside a company. 

Candidates Want to be Flexible 

Candidates are flattered when we call – we have found them and want to talk with them about an exciting opportunity.  While they do not universally rush to return our call, they often want to learn more – for themselves or for passing the information along to a colleague.  Salary does come up – usually brought up by us EARLY in the conversation.  Why?

  • If a candidate makes $250,000 and our range extends to $150,000, we need to know that right away.  While candidates want to be flexible for the right role, there is only so much ‘flex’ available. 
  • If a candidate makes $150,000 and our range extends to $250,000, we need to know that as well.  We have ‘room’ to talk.  Remember, I stated the range extends to $250,000; I did not say that our client wants to pay $250,000 if they do not need to. 

Client Companies Want to be Fair 

While everything except culture is negotiable, there is not endless room for discussion.  Internal equity, budgets and the marketplace all play a part.  That said, getting to the end of a search and then discovering you are $100,000 (or more) apart at the time of the offer is simply unacceptable – and too late. 

Let me end with the title of the Blog again:  Salary – The Discussion We Have To Have