After more than 20 years as an electronics engineer, Pete Edwards reached the low six-figure pay level. Now, as he looks for a job following a layoff, he finds that salary success a burden.
Although his experience includes the sought-after field of 3-D printing, the 53-year-old hasn’t been able to land a permanent full-time job. Time and again, he says, employers seem to lose interest after he answers a question that they ask early on: “What was your last salary?”
That question comes up sooner than ever nowadays. Hiring managers used to broach salary history or requirements only in later stages, after applicants had a chance to make an impression and state their case.
Today, pay increasingly is mentioned early in the process, either as a required field in online applications—which are used more often—or during initial interviews, say recruiters, compensation consultants and job seekers.
The shift is vexing applicants, mostly those of a certain age and pay level, who are concerned that a salary they worked to attain now gets in the way of having a job at all. “I’m unemployable now as a result of getting to the top of the tree,” Mr. Edwards lamented....Until people like this man are hired, you'll have a difficult time convincing me there's a STEM worker shortage.
(And like we've talked about many times before on this blog, the question "what was your last salary" is an invitation for a non-answer or a lie from HR. I wish they knew that.)
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