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Purpose of Salary History?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WriteThinking, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    What is the purpose of hiring entities asking job applicants for their salary histories right off the bat?

    Is it a quick way to eliminate someone who may have previously made a salary higher than the prospective place wants to offer? If so, who knows how many potentially good applicants -- which a paper may never know about -- are lost in that first whack?

    Is it an effort to be fair to each individual prospective applicant, and be more sure of applicant's fairness in their demands as they try to move onward and upward? Or what?

    I've never liked this requirement when I've seen it. Salary, in general, should be among the last things discussed, not the first, shouldn't it?

    If a place wants to know the salary range/history of an applicant, and/or their reasoning for whatever money a person may ask/negotiate for, couldn't such questions be broached -- only of any serious candidate -- in an actual interview?

    It seems that asking for a salary history could preclude a person from even having a discussion about a job/salary, when, maybe, somebody might be willing and able and OK with accepting less than might have been expected otherwise just on the basis of a salary history.

    My point is, why should somebody potentially be eliminated from consideration from any job over something that, especially these days, may be negotiable, and/or changeable, depending on a person's circumstances?
  2. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    The old adage is, he who mentions money first, loses. They're trying to get the upper hand in any future salary negotiations by making you set the starting point.

    I never, ever fill in salary history or acceptable salary range on an application or on first contact.
  3. thegrifter

    thegrifter Member

    same here. i don't mind negotiating, but I'll be damned if I'm going to toss them a softball on the first pitch.
  4. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    OK, I think we're on the same page here.

    But, what about something like the listing below, just to use an example of a job that has been posted on this board's jobs thread, where they have a written-up post, asking specifically for a salary history, you're not sitting in their office filling out an application, and it's up to you what you send in?

    Let's say you send in everything but the salary history to them. Are you out of the candidate pool from the get-go? (Not to say I've applied for this, but it's a good example of what I'm wondering about).

  5. bagelchick

    bagelchick Active Member

    I don't think you want to ignore it completely, but rather say something like "salary is negotiable" or something like that.

    I'm curious to hear others responses to this.
  6. thegrifter

    thegrifter Member

    The last two jobs I applied for requested my salary history with my cover letter and resume. I didn't put my salary for either job. Then, during the course of the phone interview, they mentioned the budget they were working with and asked if it was acceptable and we were able to negotiate from there.
    Plus, even if the salary isn't negotiable, vacation time usually is.
    Hope that helps.
    My thinking on salary history is it can often knock you out of the running because they may think you don't want to take a pay cut or might be excepting too much of a bump in pay from your current gig. But I don't think it ever hurts not mentioning it. If anything, it may force them to call you and ask.
    My $.02.
  7. I was recently at a workshop for unemployed people and one of the sessions was about writing resumes. I asked what to do when the hiring place has asked for a salary requirement or history. The people running the sessions -- two long-time HR people -- plus two others in the room said, do not ignore the request. Hiring managers will toss your resume in the garbage if you did not follow the instructions for applying. In today's hiring market, you don't want to give them a reason to toss your resume.

    Granted, this was a general workshop, not specific to journalism. But I think the advice is sound regardless. Unfortunate, but sound.
  8. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Active Member

    Someone arbitrarily deciding that EVERYONE is motivated equally regarding pay, as in they must always get more than their last job, must never go backwards and -- if they don't adhere to these two presumptions -- they must be unstable and therefore not worth hiring, is flat-out stupid management.

    Maybe someone wants to shift careers and accepts the idea of a wholly different pay scale. Maybe Aunt Gertie just died and left you a pile of money that could subsidize 25 years' worth of pay cuts. Maybe your spouse just got a promotion and a raise, so you can make less without feeling a pinch.

    A similar stroke of stupidity is assuming that mid-career or late-career people won't be happy with and thus won't give full effort or won't be loyal for lesser pay. Says who? In this job market, a lot of people will gladly bust their hump for a paycheck they might have grumbled about before. And in industries like this one, loyalty is defined as, "Ain't nobody else gonna hire you away anyway."
  9. thegrifter

    thegrifter Member

    I get what you're saying, BP, but in our field, I really do think it's different. Even before the economy went to shit, journalists weren't receiving real raises. You'd tell your friends about busting your ass and finally receiving a 5% raise and they'd laugh.
    In my experience, the first raise is the only one you're really going to receive in journalism.
  10. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    what is this "raise" of which you speak? ??? :eek: ::)
  11. Absolutely true. I just worry job seekers don't have much leverage in today's market regardless of the industry.
  12. Mark2010

    Mark2010 Active Member

    Agreed. A no-win situation. either you price yourself out of the job based on past salaries, or you lowball yourself if they were prepared to offer more.

    If someone's last job was $15 per hour, it's doubtful the first offer would be $20 per hour.

    If someone asks me expectations in a prelim interview, I'll give them a ballpark figure, but also hedge by saying 'well, it depends on the cost of living' (which is very true). I understand they don't want to waste time on someone if the budget is so far off from what they would be willing to accept.
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