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No. You should not ask candidates for tech jobs about their salary history. In fact, doing so could be against the law.

Several states and cities have recently passed laws that prohibit asking candidates about past salaries. These laws were passed largely to combat pay equity issues that many consider systemic.

Furthermore, these questions often put job seekers in an uncomfortable spot, and people can take any one of a number of different approaches to answering the question. Some job seekers will give a simple, honest answer. Others may exaggerate their current or past compensation in the hopes they can score a larger salary. Many job seekers attempt to steer clear of the question altogether. While the first type of response may be useful, the second and third types of response actually work against your hiring process.

While this question could trigger thorny legal issues, it is also an unnecessary one. A capable hiring manager should be able to determine any candidate’s value based on their qualifications. If your company is concerned about wasting time because salary isn’t mentioned in the hiring process, you can post a salary range in the job description or ask candidates for their salary expectations.

Given the recent and continuing changes surrounding this issue, consider the following considerations listed below.

Review online forms

Laws surrounding salary history have only popped up very recently, making it possible that your online application forms are still requesting this information. In fact, some laws may call for the immediate removal of an online form requesting salary history. Essentially, putting a text box for salary on an application is, for all intents and purposes, the same thing as asking about it in an interview. Even if the request is still legal in your location, that may not be the case in the near future. Therefore, it is a good idea to change your policies now rather than taking on a legal risk later on.

Your HR team should also evaluate any forms in an applicant tracking system. If salary is a required field in these forms, this probably needs to change as well.

Establish a pay range

At the end of the day, it is an employer’s responsibility to establish a pay range for a position they are advertising. A candidate’s salary history should not matter to respect to their pay with your company if hired. They ought to be paid a fair wage for the work they will do, commiserate with their skills, experience, and value they can provide.

Instead of focusing on salary, you should be screening candidates for the technical abilities, soft skills and professional experience that will allow them to prosper. Ultimately, the responses to these kinds of questions are more than what they were paid at an earlier job.

At SSI, we help our clients find the best-fit talent for their operations and their budget. If your company is currently looking for assistance in finding talented professionals, please contact us today to find out how we can help.


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