Thursday, February 11, 2016

"How much did you make in your last position?"

I had been meaning to blog about this Wall Street Journal article*, but the ever-productive H1b skeptic Norm Matloff beat me to it. The article (by Lauren Weber) is quite a sad one: 
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.)

Having problems with the WSJ paywall? Search on Google for the title of the article ("High Salaries Haunt Some Job Hunters") and it will give you temporary access.

10 comments:

  1. Sad situation. Hate when they ask you: what's your gender, what's your ethnicity.

    ReplyDelete
  2. IIRC, when I filled out a profile on the ACS job board, it makes you give your current salary. This is in advance of actually applying for a specific job. I think they should remove this, since ACS doesn't need to know this information, and I don't need possible employers knowing it right off the bat.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Seems like a thinly-veiled way to get away with age discrimination...

    ReplyDelete
  4. While we're at it, I've been seeing a lot of ads for "New graduates" or some variation thereof. At least try to hide your age discrimination a bit better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Won't work as your experience or publication can reveal a lot! No escape from this "google" age reality.

      Delete
    2. Anon, I don't think you understand what Old Biddy is saying. It's a dig at the employer, not advice for the employee

      Delete
  5. What do you want to bet that if he'd gotten in first with a question about how much the position paid, they'd question his motivation--and if he'd asked second, they'd think he was being difficult?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Prior salary is only an impediment to getting hired if someone is dogmatic that their new salary needs to be higher. Any rational employer will pay the least amount for the maximum skills they can get, though I can see a worry about hiring someone at 75% of the prior salary potentially demotivating the employee. Sucks to be on the steady supply/decreasing demand curve, but preferrable to do so here than in most countries of the world (clearly except for Western Europe where people seem to care more greatly for each other....I read something about that in an old book about a Jewish carpenter...fortunately Americans know that taxes are bad).

    I sympathize with Mr. Edwards but, as pointed out above, he's just as likely not hired getting based on age (yes, yes, discriminatory, good luck proving that).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

      Delete
    2. Violation of the "you" rule; deleted.

      Delete