Why do I have to say what I make?
In some states, employers can’t ask you about your salary history.
It’s a law. Employers in these states now have no choice but to bury their heads in the sand and refrain from asking.
You can refrain from sharing too. It’s your right to do so in those states.
On the other hand….
You can also share.
You can be transparent about your past compensation.
You can be clear and candid about what your expectations will be regarding any future offer and you can spell out what components of compensation are important to you.
It’s your choice.
If you want my opinion, humor me for a minute here…..
A distraught woman went to her therapist. Her marriage was in shambles.
The therapist asked her to start from the beginning.
“Well, I was very jaded about men because of my past relationships.
When we first started dating, I was very guarded.
I didn’t want to expose myself and be vulnerable and get hurt again, so I fought off any attempts for him to get to know me.
We eventually married.
The distrust lingered.
I had difficulty opening up – for a couple years, he tried and persisted to get me to open up, but I continued to resist.
When he told me last week he thought it was time to separate, he said I never opened up to him and never gave him a chance and it hurt him.
What I’ve come to realize is he is a good man – he is much different than anyone I had ever been with. I put up so many walls because of my past relationships and all of the things my girlfriends told me about their relationships and how men will always hurt them if they bare their soul to them.
Now I’ve lost a good man, a good partner, and someone who never would even think of hurting me.
Therapist: “Well, how would you change things moving forward?”
Woman: “If I had another chance, I would have been more transparent from the beginning.
I wouldn’t have brought the baggage from my past relationships into this one.
I would have given him a fair shot and been up front with him about what I wanted from a relationship and what my expectations would be and so forth.
I would have told him about my past experiences, how I was hurt, and what I could have done differently.
I would have told him I expect to be treated fairly and with respect, and that if you don’t we will not have a relationship for long. In fact, if he couldn’t promise me that in the first couple dates, well then it wouldn’t make sense to go any further.
And as time went on, we would continue to be respectful of each other and make sure that we didn’t take advantage of or take the other for granted.
I think if I would have done this, we would have had a much stronger foundation and one that would stay strong through any sort of adversity.”
The moral of the story:
The relationship you have with your employer is one of the most important ones you’ll have in your life behind your family, your significant other, and your closest friends.
The recipe for success in personal relationships extends to your relationship with your employer.
If you want to start off the relationship in an evasive, distrustful manner(“If I share what I make now, they’ll take advantage of me and low-ball me”), play along with the law in your state.
If you want to build a relationship with a potential employer with a firm foundation, start it off in an honest and open and straightforward manner – disclose your current compensation, disclose your expectations for an offer, and see how they react. if they resist, blow you off, don’t engage or otherwise leave you feeling uncomfortable, abort the process.
It’s not worth going down the path if you don’t get the sense they’re at least open to an honest dialogue about your expectations relative to your skill-set, others they are looking at, and what their able to afford.
You can always say no at any stage in the process – that’s also your right.
The government has restricted employers from acting like an “adult” in employer/candidate interactions in these states. But…if you declare your current compensation and history, you allow the employer to be an adult. You give them the chance to do the right thing.
If the employer takes advantage of the situation and low-balls you because of your past, walk away. F*** them. Is that someone you’d want a long-term relationship with?
If the employer says you’re not worth what someone else is because of your skill-set, it might be true. It might not. Regardless, now you can talk about it. That’s healthy. That’s how relationships work – that’s how relationships evolve. You may learn something along the way.
If the employer ghosts you after you disclosed your compensation history, is that someone you want to work for? At the first sign of adversity, they disappear? Is there anything attractive and endearing about that behavior?
So if you’re in a non-disclosure state, remember you are an adult and you have 100% control over what you say, do, and accept.
If you hide behind a law thinking it will protect you from being disappointed or being treated unfairly, you’re mistaken.
You’re also undercutting your own personal power to say yes or no and to control your own destiny and work with companies and people who share the same character as you.
Bob Pudlock is an executive recruiter and President of Gulf Stream Search, an executive search firm that specializes in the placement of top talent in the food, beverage, ingredient and flavor industries in the US. For more information, contact Bob here or here.