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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

a demand not just for salary history, but benefit details too

A reader writes:

How weird do you think this is? After my second interview today, the person in charge of the organization (who I've been corresponding with all along) emailed and said I am their first choice, and can I please send my current salary, info on the value of all my current benefits, including 401(k) contributions, etc, so he can make an appropriate offer. While I understand the current salary question, isn't there a standard "average" of what benefits are worth? I thought that was slightly odd. Of course, I've been out of the interviewing/job offer world for some time, so maybe it isn't!

Ugh. While I appreciate his interest in making you an offer that beats your current package, there's no reason he can't just ask you what your salary expectations are, taking into account things like benefits. Oh, wait, actually there is -- the fact that so many employers think it's okay to base your compensation on what their competitors thought you were worth, rather than figuring out what you're worth to them. I really hate these invasions of privacy, which are designed to benefit the employer and lower the negotiating power of the candidate.

That said, it sounds like you're about to get a job offer, in a terrible market. So congratulations on that!


Brian said...

A similar AAM post had the best advice ever:

Just say you signed a confidentiality agreement with your current/previous employer(s) but would be happy to review their initial offer.

Anonymous said...

This happened to me, too!

After my second interview with company A, I was offered a job with company B.

I told company A about this and that I was more interested in their position and they wanted to know what company B was offering me!

During a phone interview with company A, they had already disclosed the range they were paying, and during the first interview were aware of what I was asking.

I couldn't believe they had the nerve to ask what another company was offering me.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't even know how to answer that. How would you even calculate benefits package?

I don't know how much my employer's portion of my insurance premiums are, and even if the new employer covers more, it is the quality of the coverage that matters to me, more than the premiums.

Personal time? Since that is paid time off, that is included in my salary that is a separate answer, but some companies offer more personal/vacation/sick/holiday time than others.

401k matching? So many employers vary their contribution, if any, every year and often the amount depends on my own contribution.

Professional development? Transit reimbursement? Health Savings Accounts?

What about 'soft' benefits like a flex schedule or on-site concierge services or group discount clubs or mentoring?

Even if I knew how to calculate all of these, I wouldn't be inclined to do so. It is a lazy employer who can't be bothered to do their own market research and their own assessment to decide what a potential hire is worth to them.

Anonymous said...

well it is the question asker here...i ended up sending him some information and his offer wasn't even that competitive! Makes me wonder even more if this is the right place to be.

Brian said...

Funny - it seems the only one who benefits from providing salary history is the one making the offer:

~ If your salary is significantly higher than their offer they're not going to increase their offer.


~ If your salary is significantly lower than their offer I have no doubt they'll decrease the offer but still leave it better than your current salary.

Anonymous said...

If they ask for salary history, is there a way of weaseling out of it? I hate giving out that information, especially in an initial phone screen, where I figure my salary history may be used to disqualify me (pretty sure that just happened a week or so ago).

My first reaction is always to ask what they're offering, but if they don't want to tell me, I'm kind of stuck.

I've never signed a salary confidentiality agreement with a current or previous employer and wouldn't feel comfortable telling an interviewer I had.