How to Negotiate Salary Without Asking About Salary Expectations

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How to Negotiate Salary Without Asking About Salary Expectations

Asking about salary history during the hiring process is actually illegal in some states. Not astonishingly, this means that when it comes time to make an offer, there might be some surprises.

The need to get in line with the rules has, however, fueled some interesting and progressive initiatives from some of the world’s biggest companies.

Amazon, for instance, is planning to hire in excess of 100K new employees this year to power up new locations in the United States. Hiring managers will not be asking for a previous salary, no matter what state regulations might apply. Meant to level the playing field, there are some that feel this will be harmful to some groups – especially women.

Is the Salary Disclosure Law Limiting Us?

Without the ability to negotiate or push back when a disparity is identified, candidates might be at a disadvantage. When it comes time to finalize the offer, this approach might derail the entire process, wasting a great deal of time and effort and causing a ripple effect of frustration from HR right up to the C-Suite.

If we can all agree that there’s got to be a better way, let’s look at what we know:

  1. As a hiring manager, you can’t talk about salary history.
  2. If you don’t talk about salary, everybody will be surprised at the end of the recruiting process.

How to Negotiate Without Asking About a Potential Candidate’s Salary

At the offer stage, many companies will make a standard offer based either on what the job pays or on the current marketplace. This removes the negotiation process, which at times must be competitive if you are to win the talent you need.

Here’s a way of gauging how your candidate might respond to your offer without asking for specifics: frame a salary range into a hypothetical situation to gauge their amenability. You might say something like “If we were to decide that we wanted to bring you on board, the offer might be in the range of 80K to 100K. In your opinion, is this a range that you might consider?”

You have put the question to them in a hypothetical manner and have not asked about their salary history. It’s a simple yes-or-no question that they are not required to elaborate on. You can then listen to their response and observe their physical reactions to get a sense of which way they are leaning.

By employing this technique, you have put your cards on the table and you have left some room to negotiate. Using this method, you have discovered much about where you and your candidate stand. You have neither broken any rules nor put anybody in an uncomfortable position. It is a flexible yet quantitative method that simply requires a slightly different technique than you might be used to.

In the end, you are still responsible for ensuring equal pay for women, minorities, and other protected groups. That doesn’t mean, however, that each candidate should have access to the same pay regardless of their experience and skill level. This method allows you to work within the parameters of the law while accomplishing your hiring goals.

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