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The past few years have been a roller coaster ride in terms of how companies and applicants talk about salary and salary ranges. By choosing to partner with a recruiter on your search, you will be able to get the inside track on positions you might have previously thought were not a fit for you. 

In 2018 California passed Labor Code Section 432.3, which prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their salary histories. Since then, more than a dozen other states have followed. The intent of the law was to help classes who were discriminated against obtain equal pay for equal work. The unintended consequences of the law are still rippling through the labor market.  

What companies liked about knowing a candidate’s salary history was that they could make a reasonable offer. Take what a candidate is making, add 10-15%, there’s a reasonable offer.  

How did companies first react to the change? They would give a candidate the salary range of what they are willing to pay. How did candidates react to this? Candidates reacted by asking for the top of the Salary range. 

Take an example of a job that required 5-10 years of experience and would pay $90-130k in base salary. Candidates with 5 years of experience were regularly responding by asking for $130k in base salary (the absolute top of the range). It didn’t matter that it was what the company had in mind for a ten-year candidate. “Gimme the top of the range, please.” 

So, companies reacted by pulling back on their published salary ranges. A job that would previously have said $90-130k, now lists $90-110k as the published range. But those same companies will tell the recruiters they are working with “if you have someone who is a strong candidate and needs more money, send them anyway and let us know what they need.” 

And that is where we are in the market right now. If you are a candidate working with a recruiter and the recruiter says they think you’re a fit for the job, listen to what your recruiter tells you rather than what you see as the published range.  

When reputable recruiters share a candidate with their clients, they are always telling the clients the candidate’s expected salary from the very start of the process. If it is above the range, that’s fine. As long as everyone knows what it will take, no one’s time will be wasted. 

And that is why when I am asked what the salary range is for a position, my response is: “Salary Ranges don’t matter”. 

Obviously it matters that no one’s time is wasted. But when a reputable recruiter presents your background to their client, they will always tell them your compensation expectations. The company will then be able to decide whether to invest everyone’s time. Partnering with a recruiter will not only save you time, but also make sure you have an advocate to get you more than the published salary range for your next offer. 

Talk to one of our recruiters at Pacific Executive Search to see what roles could be a fit for your background.