How is your salary set?

How is your salary set?

I talk about salaries all day. How much candidates want, and how much clients are willing to pay. As such, I have very strong opinions (and many frustrations) about how we approach setting salaries in this market.

Years of experience
When meeting with clients and taking a job brief, often I’m asked, ‘What do I need to pay to get someone with three to five years’ experience?’

Kill me now, someone! If there is such a thing as a dumb question, this is it. Obviously in other industries this equation may have more relevance, but in marketing and communications, years of experience has nothing to do with how much you’re paid. This year I’ve placed a grad on 55K and one on 35K – they both have the same degree (Bachelor of Communications) and zero years’ experience. Some communications managers with 15 years under their belts are earning 170K, some 85K. #truestory

It is simply ludicrous to think that how long we’ve done something should determine how much we’re worth. What’s even more astounding is that corporate recruiters produce ‘salary surveys’ which base their findings entirely on this ridiculous concept.

Salary bands
Typically, when I pick up a role I’m given a salary band to work with. For argument’s sake, let’s say it’s 110–140K. While this is helpful for my advertising and screening process, when it comes to offer time it’s as useless as boobies on a bull.

Why? When given a salary range, candidates always think at the higher end and clients at the lower (it’s just human nature). What a no-win situation we are setting ourselves up for here, people – where is the common sense in this? Even if we meet in the middle, someone will always be disappointed.

When we put a candidate forward at Little Black Book, we give our clients a precise figure for salary expectation that is within their stipulated range. It’s not exactly rocket science (and I didn’t even get an A bursary!).

P.S. It also means we never have annoying negotiation conversations at the end, which can leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouths.

Your current salary

This is such an interesting one. It is standard procedure in the recruitment process to set a new salary based on an increase of the candidate’s current one.

Again, this just doesn’t sit well with me. What if it’s a completely different job/industry? What if you’d just received a five per cent pay rise the day you applied, or hadn’t had a salary increase in ten years? Perhaps you were underpaid/overpaid in your current role?

This raises a question I ask myself all the time. Is it any of your new employer’s business how much you are currently paid? Now, I’m preparing myself for the hate mail here (hey, any publicity is good publicity!) but I really don’t think it is, not in the slightest.

Why not? Consider this scenario (based on true events):

Client: Yes, I know you put Jane forward with a salary expectation of 75K, and I interviewed her on this basis, and I told you she was amazing and JUST what we were looking for. But I have since found out she’s only earning 55K and I’m not going to give her a 20K pay rise, that’s just OTT! Let’s go with 60K.

Me: FFS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jane is worth 75K. She stands out in the market, aligns perfectly to the criteria, blew the other candidates out of the water, and passed the on-the-job assessment with flying colours. Not to mention that you would have offered 75K if you didn’t know.

At Little Black Book, we don’t declare our candidates’ current salary when we shortlist. If we are asked specifically for it, we talk to the candidate first. While I’m here, does anyone know the actual rules/law around this? If so, please enlighten and/or arrest me.

On that note, I’ve got to fly – I have some shortlisting to do. Apologies for any HR feathers I ruffled today… #sorrynotsorry

Margot Keegan - Chief Booker

Margot Keegan

Chief Booker

Pink Line
Book Icon

Be part of
the super book

Join Little Black Book and put yourself in front
of New Zealand’s top employers

Join us

Subscribe to Little Black Blog