Laws barring employers from asking candidates their salary history are spreading, with several locations, Oregon included, already enacting legislature. The intent of these laws is to level the playing field and ensure diverse groups receive equal pay, and while they do that, they are also altering the fabric of hiring in the tech industry. Any change of this caliber creates uncertainty for both job seekers and hiring managers and changes the conversations happening during IT interviews.
Bans on asking about salary history will only increase, and companies are preparing appropriately. For example, Amazon has stopped asking about salary history in all their offices, even those operating in states not affected by a ban. This helps keeps their company consistent and prepares certain offices for the day the law arrives.
At the same time, candidates are increasingly unwilling to divulge their salary history even if it is still legal to be asked in that area. This adds pressure onto what is already a high-stakes conversation. Salary history bans, regardless of where they currently stand, are changing the conversations happening during the recruiting and interview processes. On both sides of the coin, discussions are moving away from what an individual currently makes and toward the salary expectations (and role expectations) that exist. Even if a job seeker volunteers their pay history, in states like Oregon where it’s unlawful to inquire about salary history, it’s still illegal for employers to use that information when forming an offer.
Despite the bans in place, some candidates are being asked about their salary history even where it is illegal to do so. Job seekers are typically well-educated on this law, but instead of responding with “You can’t ask me that question” it’s on the candidate to politely shift the conversation toward discussing salary expectations instead. In order to do so strategically, IT pros are wise to come to interviews prepared with knowledge of what the market rate is for the job so they can communicate those expectations appropriately. The Dice 2018 Salary Report is a great starting point for research.
However, candidates should not focus on market rate salaries alone. Astute job seekers should grow comfortable asking specific questions about benefits, since a lower than expected salary but better benefits could indeed be a better offer than a larger salary and poorer benefits. Weighing the whole package is essential and requires asking for the information necessary to see the full picture.
Those organizations enjoying successful hiring despite the salary history bans are the ones changing their mindset from what a technology candidate is currently being paid to what they are willing to invest in the position if the interviewee meets their criteria. Going off of a job seeker’s previous salary is not an ideal practice because then a potential offer is not driven by the role at hand or your organization, but by a previous employer that may operate much differently from your business.
Understanding market rate salaries is essential for shaping offers for developers, programmers, analysts, and other tech pros, but that’s only part of the picture. What benefits does your company offer? Think past the usual like health, vision, and dental. What perks exist in your office? Consider your culture and strive for providing a phenomenal candidate experience and strong work-life balance. As the gig economy and salary history bans change recruiting strategies, they move the conversation from a single dollar figure to the more enticing package as a whole.
Whether you’re an IT pro on the hunt for your next career move or a business looking to land top talent, salary history bans in tech affect you. As they change the direction of hiring conversations, it’s necessary to get educated on market rates and keep the big picture in mind. Doing so is a best practice for success regardless if you’re in Portland where the bans are in place or somewhere they haven’t yet reached.