Imagine the ideal interview process: you effortlessly answer every question, confidently state your professional and financial goals, and candidly negotiate the nuances of your new position with ease.
Unfortunately, these days, such transparency is hard to come by between employers and would-be employees. Rather than freely discussing our respective situations in order to establish mutually beneficial relationships, today, our mouths remain shut for fear of saying the wrong thing; interviewers fear inadvertently asking questions that could be considered discriminatory, and candidates fear speaking honestly when it might make them vulnerable to discrimination. This leads to vague conversations that don’t address either party's needs.
The Unforeseen Consequences of Salary History Bans
Some major culprits for this lack of transparency are laws that prevent employers from asking candidates about their salary histories. Many states and cities now have such legislation in place, such as California’s Assembly Bill 168. Although these rules were implemented with the good intention of helping under-compensated individuals acquire higher pay, a court in Philadelphia recently ruled that such laws actually violate free speech.
Preventing, or discouraging, this constitutional liberty keeps candidates and interviewers from gaining clear understandings of each party’s goals. This creates weak relationships built on uncertainty, which tend to fall away easily.
Another issue with these bans is that they inadvertently discriminate against those whose salaries are publicly available. People who work at public agencies, municipalities, public universities, city planning operations, police stations or fire departments all have their compensation reported online. This information is also often tied directly to the employee’s name. For that reason, workers from the public sector don’t receive the same salary history protection that others do. This oversight is something that needs to be addressed in future legislation.
Avoiding a Fear-Based Approach
With the US labor force becoming more diverse by the day, discriminating is never in an employer’s best interest because it means ruling out potential high-quality candidates. Despite that fact, many candidates are still quite wary of the subject, making them averse to sharing helpful details with executive search firms or potential employers.
For example, even though some fear that if they provide their picture they’ll be discriminated against based on how they look, in reality, doing so can help candidates stand out among crowded pools of applicants. While discriminating based on how someone looks is illegal, providing a photo is not.
Furthermore, although the Immigration Reform and Control Act prevents employers from directly asking applicants about their citizenship status, citizenship is commonly required in order to legally work in the United States. Being transparent about this from the start will save everyone important time in the hiring process.
Trusting in Transparency
Employers are looking for candidates who are transparent and enthusiastic, not defensive and suspicious. If you approach them with this attitude, candidly advocating for your goals, they’ll be more likely to do the same, leading to healthier relationships between everyone involved.
Never fear to disclose information to an executive search firm. We’ll never share your information with anyone, let alone future employers. In fact, the more transparent you are, the easier it will be to place you in your ideal job.
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