You ask “If I don’t know what someone was earning before, how do I know what they’re worth?” The truth is that knowing what someone earned before tells you nothing about what ‘they are worth,’ which is not a fixed sum in any case. People and the talents and gifts they bring you are worth more or less to your organization based on a host of sensitive factors that are specific to time and place, your business situation and the makeup of your team.
If you believe that someone is worth what his or her last employer paid them, you are entrusting an important business decision to a total stranger! That is the epitome of fear-based management. Any good recruiter or HR person can evaluate a job-seeker’s value to his or her organization without needing to know what somebody else paid that employee before.
In addition to the loathsome practice of demanding a job-seeker’s salary details, here are four other ways that fear-based employers weed out the best candidates:
- They reject any job applicant with a twisting path and a non-standard career history. If the candidate has an employment gap on his or resume, the recruiter recoils and wonders “What nefarious deeds was this person up to during this gap? If they weren’t sitting at a desk typing on a keyboard, they could only have been up to no good!”
- They bristle or panic if a job applicant gives a creative or unexpected answer to any job interview question. They don’t want non-standard answers. They can’t handle whimsy or extrapolation. They don’t want to see inside the job-seeker’s brain. They don’t want to be challenged intellectually, themselves. They want a job interview to be a clerical exercise!
- They freak out if a job-seeker has requirements of their own. They can’t deal with it if a job applicant can’t meet with them exactly when they want to meet. They think that a job-seeker with a mind or his or her own is a threat to their cozy life in the corporate burrow. They don’t want job-seekers to have any demands, requirements or penetrating questions. They don’t want to step out of any box, no matter how tiny.
- Finally, they strive to hire the most cookie-cutter candidate they can find, the person with few opinions and comfortable, well-accepted opinions at that. They work to find the candidate who begs for the job most convincingly and swears allegiance to the company before he or she is even hired. They love to hire people like that, because then they don’t have to think about those people again. They only have to give them a badge and put them on the payroll, and then go right back to sleep.
Of course you need to know if you can afford a candidate. Do your own research, and figure out what reasonable salaries are for your business and decide what value the individual can bring to your organization. You might be missing a great fit. And after all, it’s all about the fit.