Should the Salary budget be disclosed in the initial stage?

The first question that we are often asked when we’re recruiting someone, is the salary range for the position, but we always choose our words before disclosing it. Candidates think that knowing the salary range will help them get clarity on whether an opportunity is worth pursuing. In fact, the opposite is true. Whether you are above, below or in the middle of the salary range, talking about it just creates more obstacles

At Konnexions, we believe that Talking about salary up front gets in the way of the real priority!

Our clients range from mid-size to large, and our searches are often for one-of-a-kind, mission-critical positions. So in that genre, we’ve seen that salary ranges are rarely set in stone, they are simply a budget guideline, the best estimate. Even formal salary surveys are only an approximation – you never really know the true market rate until you have interviewed at least 3 or 4 people who meet all the qualifications for the job.

As a search firm, finding the right fitment is our priority, and perfect candidates are not always within the target salary range. To rule out great people before talking with them – based on salary alone – would be a disservice to our clients. We’ve often seen clients pay above their target salary range to attract someone with unique skills. In the long run, hiring and retaining high performers is the only thing that matters. And talking about salary too early in the hiring process puts budget conformity above job performance.

All this sounds more about people who are ABOVE the range, but what about the ones who are BELOW…. That’s just as big a problem.

What happens when I tell a relatively junior candidate who is currently earning $80k that this position has a target salary range of $100k – $125k? They proceed to ignore all the other parameters that go into deciding if this is the right job, they ignore all the factors the employer uses to set a salary and they lock in on the salary range like it’s the only thing that matters. Big mistake. The candidate thinks “If I can impress them, they will pay me at the top of the range … at least $120k.” Without ever analyzing whether $120k is realistic, given their actual skills & experience, and degree of independent contribution they can make… they begin to fantasize about how to spend the extra forty grand.

Salaries are not determined by the target range, they are determined by market rate – what other people with similar skills are earning. The candidate never knows who they are competing with for the job. Our $80k junior candidate does not know about:

  • The industry veteran who currently earns $140k but would happily accept $130K for a flexi work routine.
  • The even more junior person who is earning $75k but is hungry to prove themselves and would be thrilled with a salary of $90k.

If we share a salary range up front, and then later offer my $80k candidate the job – at a very reasonable $100K, with tons of room for future salary growth – they feel like they just took a $20k pay CUT (from their fantasy $120k) instead of receiving a $20K pay RAISE from their actual $80k salary. Instead of being happy, they are disappointed, and the employment relationship is poisoned before it even started.

We are used to being asked over and over again, but we would think twice before sharing that salary range with anyone.!!!