This reader’s comment is an eye-opener — and a loud wake-up call to employers who demand to see an old pay stub before they’ll hire you. (From Goodbye to low-ball salary offers.)

From Not Desperate

pay stubI passed all of the pre-employment testing in the 95th to 100th percentile. I cleared the background, credit, reference, education and employment verifications and was told I was “cleared” as per the conditions of my signed offer letter.

Give us the pay stub

That was Friday afternoon. Monday morning, the day I was to give my notice to my current employer, the HR contact demanded a pay stub. I refused. I compromised and offered an HR contact who has historically been known to verify employment and salary range. The HR contact called my HR rep and confirmed the information verbally. That was not sufficient. They called me back several hours later and demanded the pay stub. I emailed my recruiter to state I would sleep on it and make my decision today.


I stood firm in my decision and communicated to the HR contact and the team I was asked to join that I believe my current salary is private and confidential and that I would not submit to salary verification as a condition of securing or keeping my position.

I had declined a role that was $10,000 higher and came with 10 additional vacation days to accept this role that they were now demanding salary verification for. I am sure they will not back down and I am sure I will lose this opportunity.

myobIn the end, I win because I still have an amazing job (I am currently employed and not unhappy) and I have the opportunity to secure a position with an organization that will not play games with me after already determining I meet their requirements.

The organization is in a lose-lose situation. They lose me and they have no other candidates for this position. They will be starting back at square one. It felt amazing to stand my ground and remain true to my values and principles. Nick’s articles and comments provided the courage I needed to finally not cave. Thank you!

Nick’s Reply

Deciding to give up an offer over salary disclosure requirements is a personal decision. It’s pretty clear what my position is: Keep Your Salary Under Wraps. Your screen name says it all — if you’re not desperate, you don’t have to hand over a pay stub to anyone.

My guess is you taught this employer a frightful lesson: The “talent” is not a commodity.

I have a standing Q for HR: Give me one good reason why you need to know my salaryNo one in HR has ever been able to give me a good reason. I invite more to try. (Please post your reason below.)

Here’s another question to HR: How many highly qualified, motivated job candidates will you lose to your competitors before you stop demanding confidential salary information that you don’t really need anyway? (We won’t get into the problem of how presumptuous and intrusive this is.) The market is shifting toward the talent, and you’re starting to look like a dope.

People sometimes ask, if you won’t show a pay stub to an employer — Should you disclose your salary history to a headhunter? There is a difference and it’s important to know how to handle both situations.

If anything I’ve written was helpful to you, I’m glad. Good for you for taking stock and keeping control of your career. While it may sound like sour grapes to some, I agree that what you see is what you get. Any employer hung up on getting your pay stub is going to be a bear to work with — and will go hungry waiting for a good hire.

Would you pass up a job to protect your confidential salary history? There are probably times you would, and times you wouldn’t. What are they?

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  1. I once took a “survival” job — temporary (3 months) data entry with a salary I last earned back in 1994, had to go through all the standard nonsense like drug testing, credit check…then they demanded my TAX RETURNS from the previous year (because I filed self-employed). Yeah, I handed them over. But I’ve since sworn NEVER again…

  2. Seems like something got skipped:

    “I emailed my recruiter…”

    The recruiter should have seen this coming. It does not matter whether that recruiter is internal or external; either way, that person ought to know how their client processes a hire and ought to have educated either their client or their department/divisional HA’s that basing an Offer on previous salary history is old school and is not in keeping with the current practice of making an Offer based on the value of the job opportunity and what the employer expects to see the hired candidate bring forth in that job.

    If that was an external recruiter, then that person blew a fee because they did not take care of business in advance. They better hope they either have a more compliant #2 candidate in the wings or they need to educate their client on how to properly formulate an Offer.

    If that was an internal recruiter, then that person is either behind the times (as are that company’s HA’s as well as the executive who heads up that company’s HR department) and/or is a drone employee who takes direction without question. We can see how well that worked out.

    • Paul & Nick,

      The offer was rescinded and I could not be happier. This experience will change the way I approach my next interviews and subsequent offers in the future. Believe me, there will be more.

      The recruiter was external and had allegedly placed many candidates with this company. They knew the process. Had salary history come up at any point, I would have declined to move forward. The company already knew what they had budgeted to offer. I was the first and only candidate they interviewed. They were 100% convinced I was their candidate. Until the very last minute when they asked me to verify my salary. All of my test scores, my clean background and credit checks, my verified education and employment history, my impeccable references all went out the window over something that has no bearing on the job I was offered. The recruiter who, I am certain, saw their fee slipping away, accused me of having something to hide. I had nothing to hide. I simply stood my ground on something I value….privacy and confidentiality. This employer has missed out on a tenacious, ambitious, diligent, hard working and loyal employee with over 10 years of relevant experience.

      Jobs are temporary. Staying true to my values and upholding my principles is a part of who I am. Trust us the foundation of any relationship and without it, we have nothing. I went out on a limb and had faith in the company. They were unable to return the favor and rather than back down and allow them to back me into a corner, I politely and graciously declined to do so.

      Thank you, Nick. I hope more people read this and understand how important it is to stand up for yourself.

      • Desperate- I got what you said; it is too bad the recruiter did not do a better job so this would have come out well for you. You obviously thought the company had merit toward your career growth or you would have chosen to stop the interview process sooner.

        I cringe when you say, “… The recruiter who, I am certain, saw their fee slipping away, accused me of having something to hide.”

        I am thinking this is another Millennial recruiter or an old-timer who is set in his/her ways. Too bad for both of you.

        Now, this also brings up a point- if the recruiter suggested you have “…something to hide…” then that suggests your external recruiter did not know what your current compensation is.

        If that is so, then your recruiter was acting in the dark.

        Now, I would really, really, really like to discuss this point but I see that Nick has already brought this up, earlier in this thread and since I don’t want to walk on his toes and since this is his forum, I guess I will wait until I see Nick has discussed this and in the meantime, I will keep my fingers crossed he and I see this particular point the same way.

        Better luck, next time. You sound like someone who gets HH calls all the time so I guess we can presume you will be interviewing again, soon.

        Based on what happened, I am thinking it goes without saying you might want to let the next recruiter(s) know in advance you will not be sharing your current compensation with any of their clients. In this way, if they have a problem with this, they will have the option of breaking off and finding another professional to recruit for their client(s).

        What you share with the recruiter is of interest to me (and could affect the client) but I will wait until Nick has either addressed this, here or has invited me to go ahead and put forth my two cents about this.

        Bonne Chance,


        • Good evening Paul,

          You bring up some great points. I shared with my recruiter the range of salary acceptable to me. I deliberately did not have current salary conversations with my recruiter or with the companies I interviewed with. The offer I declined when I accepted the offer that was rescinded was a smaller organization that was offering $10k more than the max in my “acceptable salary” range. Their offer was firm and it was not contingent upon salary verification. In fact, my current salary was never addressed. Again, I did not have salary conversations with either company. They made offers that were within the range I was willing to accept. I did not use my current salary as a negotiation tool or state exact figures. I didn’t have to. It was (naively) my understanding that my current salary was irrelevant to the role being offered to me. My recruiter did not ask my current salary nor did my recruiter make mention of verifying salary as a part of the process. I have yet to find anyone this has ever happened to. People in the same industry, people in different industries, people at larger companies, people at smaller companies, hiring authorities, HR generalists, doctors, lawyers, executives, admins…..nobody has ever had this happen to them. I see now it is more common than I could have imagined. I personally have never had my salary verified even when I have disclosed it in the past. I have absolutely never been asked for a current or old pay stub.

          I accept the role my own blind faith and naivety played in the process as a whole. I have learned very valuable lessons. I will say my recruiter was fantastic. She got me in front of some amazing people. There was a knowledge gap and a breakdown in communication somewhere along the line that created a situation where she and the company lost. I do wish she had more adequately managed my expectations and I wish salary verification had come up much earlier as I would have ended the process then if necessary. Moving forward, whomever I work with will know from day one that my current salary is off limits for discussion, negotiating, verification, etc. That invasion of privacy is not required to successfully negotiate or obtain an attractive offer. Further, I find it unfortunate that my point of view towards my salary history is automatically attributed to my having “something to hide”. Perhaps I am the first candidate this recruiter and this company have encountered who did not comply. I could have. And if I had, I would be relocating 2000 miles across the country, starting a job with a company who did not respect me or my values, who placed too much emphasis on my previous salary instead of the salary they were prepared to offer the candidate of their choice and a company who did not trust me from day one.

          • Desperate….

            I get it and although for me, there is a glitch to this, I understand everything you have said and I do not find fault with anything you say you did.

            Clearly, the recruiter ought to have addressed this issue with her client in advance, for all the obvious reasons. That she said what you said she said leaves me thinking she is still young in this business.

            She obviously does not know ‘all the ropes’ involved in our business and it is always a mistake to blame someone else for something that was initiated at our own doing. In other words, I was taught and still keep to the tenet that the responsibility for everything I begin lies with me, no matter what anyone else does. If I call you, then from then on, whatever happens falls back on me since I was the one who initiated the process. This doesn’t mean I ‘did something wrong’, it only means that I have to take a look at my processes, review all the steps and conversations that went on during this process and then determine where exactly the breakdown occurred and how I am going to either fix a situation or avoid repeating my mistake or allowing myself to mix it up with people who are inclined to, as Nick referred to it, throw a wrench into the works.

            So her laying this all on you was in very poor taste and reflects on her limited experience in our business.

            She could have saved everyone a lot of time and energy if she had insured in advance her client was willing to roll with your conditions.


            “…and a company who did not trust me from day one…”

            Two things- one, it is not necessarily about ‘trust’ so much as a company mindset. As Michael Corleone said, ‘it is strictly business, nothing personal’ and you should keep that in mind because, as we all know, that company will continue on, good, bad or indifferent and you were (apparently) nothing more than a speed bump;

            “Trust” as you put it, may have been ‘conditional trust’. The employer would ‘trust’ that you will do your job effectively while, if what Nick said is true -that the employer was deliberately bending the circumstances to its liking to insure it had ‘control’ of you- that ‘trust’ would have been tested once, twice, who knows how many [more] times during the course of your employment with that company.

            The harder we look at this, the more it seems you were lucky to have extricated yourself from this as soon as you did.

            Good luck with the next one.


            And thanks, Nick, for allowing me to have some space here.



          • Not Desperate: My guess is the recruiter had no idea her client would ask for a pay stub. She may be fantastic, but she needs some mentoring. Most recruiters never meet their clients or discuss a company’s hiring process or policies. They get their hands on a job description and they’re off to the races. Then stuff starts hitting the wall. A good candidate asks good questions, but the recruiter has no answers because she doesn’t really know or understand her client. This is where employers do themselves a huge disservice — they act the same way. They e-mail a job spec to some recruiter and wait for resumes. They never explain how they interview, hire, or make offers. Ironically, it’s the best candidates — people like you, who are thoughtful, careful, and prudent — that they wind up losing, because you have standards that you will not compromise.

            If you really like that recruiter, do her a favor. Call her. Explain that you’d like to work together again, but you think she dropped the ball. “I’d like to see you succeed. But you need to make sure you cover these 3 things with each assignment you take on…” Then tell her where she blew it and how she could do it better. If she’s smart and has integrity, I guarantee you she’ll never forget your suggestions.

            The real issue here is that a headhunter should not take assignments blindly. If a company’s going to pay you tens of thousands of dollars to fill a job, there needs to be a business meeting and a discussion about how the process works, and meetings with hiring managers and their teams so you really understand what they’re looking for. The reason so few interviews today result in hires is because of all the wishful thinking. There’s no planning, no understanding, no cooperation. HR has turned recruiting into a meat grinder that gulps down anything and anybody and hopes to get a hire out of it.

            When I was starting out, I laid some really big eggs — and it was forthright conversations with candidates and clients that taught me never to do that again. You learn as you go.

      • WOW! Because of something so Tangential to the job hire both the recruiter and the employer lost a bunch of money. Their loss.

      • Not: That last-minute request for your salary is a huge signal that something was very wrong somewhere.

        “The recruiter who, I am certain, saw their fee slipping away, accused me of having something to hide.’

        I’m afraid it’s the recruiter who had something to hide: Her ignorance of her client’s expectations and/or hiring practices. I’d love to know, has she ever placed anyone there before? If yes, did the company always ask for salary verification? If no, then why didn’t she know they’d ask for it at the end? And, if that’s how the company operates, why didn’t she tell them that’s wrong — if they want salary info, ask for it before making an offer.

        A good headhunter has a certain amount of control over their client. The headhunter who taught me the business would frequently tell me to drop an assignment in cases like this. “You have no control over your client. You’ll wind up crying later, so just drop it now and move on to a better client who will actually work with you, not against you.”

  3. My note assumes the employer was prepared to withdraw or amend their Offer, depending on how they would have viewed ‘Not Desparate’s’ salary history.

    • Paul: What I don’t understand is why — if the employer requires a pay stub — it apparently issued a “signed offer letter” prior to collecting the materials on which the offer was “conditioned.” Why bother? It makes no sense to issue a bona fide offer, then to withdraw or amend it based on what the pay stub looked like.

      Worse, the pay stub was apparently not one of the “conditions” — or I’d guess Not Desperate would have made an issue of it when the offer was tendered. Makes me wonder why that condition was added after the fact.

      My guess (call me cynical): This employer does that routinely to assert control prior to actually making a hire. Perhaps they realize many candidates would not accept an offer on condition of surrendering a pay stub — and that many people will fold on the issue if they have an offer in hand. It’s harder to give up a bird in the hand than to walk away from a bird in the bush.

      Thanks for your thoughtful analysis.

      • Yes, Nick, I am with you on this- the employer handled this poorly, as did the external recruiter.

        So, they made a good offer and then threw a monkey wrench into the works (“…why that condition was added after the fact…”). With roughly thirty years in our business, it is not as if I have not seen similar employer behavior but that does not mean I understand…

        It takes having complete knowledge of every single factor related to these events to be able to calculate what occurred and why. Without all the facts and knowing all the players and their history and the company’s history, it is all speculative.

        On the other hand, this is certainly a reminder to us practitioners to not let his happen to us.

        So you are suggesting the hiring company knew there was a possibility the recruit (‘Desperate’) would toss the baby and the bath water and was prepared to watch it happen, while calculating it would not?

        Quite a gamble. This speaks volumes about the mentality of the people involved in that thought process- possibly all the way up to Executive Management. That’s scary stuff.

        And equally scary is a Hiring Authority who will deliberately risk having wasted everyone’s time by, as you said, adding a condition after an Offer had been tendered.

        Taking this a step further— ‘Desperate’ is probably earning at least around $100K. Which means, using your suggestion, the employer ‘likes’ to play this power game with its staff.

        Who on this planet would ever want to work for an employer who likes to be so manipulative [of senior employees]? This is one step away from being awarded a Gold Star by Machiavelli, himself.

        The last time I experienced inexplicable behavior by a client, it took me approximately two years to finally understand ‘what happened and why’. The next time I saw it coming, I was better prepared, smelled the rat in advance and accordingly, packed up my stuff and ran for the hills.

        Maybe down the road, ‘Desperate’ will get some kind of feedback that clarifies this bizarre series of events.

        And it goes without saying we’d all like to know who this employer/company is so we can avoid them like the plague.

        Thanks very much, Nick.


        • Paul,

          I’m afraid I’ve had clients like that myself — who play power games. They think they’re “neogitating.” All they’re doing is killing their reputations. I’ve worked with hiring managers who actually treat this as an intellectual game. They’ll spend hours arrogantly “explaining” their “strategy” to outwit the job candidate. I know — it borders on insanity. But I think it’s just ego.

          “And equally scary is a Hiring Authority who will deliberately risk having wasted everyone’s time by, as you said, adding a condition after an Offer had been tendered.”

          People sometimes ask me if my training in cognitive psychology is helpful in my work. It really is, in subtle ways. What you say is scary is actually a well-documented phenomenon in social science. Sharp sales reps understand this phenomenon very well — even if many use it unethically. It goes like this.

          You knowingly lure someone into a deal you know they’d never accept. You drag out the process — make them invest lots of time in it. Get them to share information they’d normally not share. Make them like you. Flatter them. Get very close to them. Then lay out a deal that sounds just great — something that makes them feel you’re doing them a solid.

          Then, after they’ve invested loads of time, emotion, and trust in you — throw in a fast curve ball. Explain that there’s nothing really unusual about this, it’s just part of business. Odds are very, very high they will rationalize and accept the curve you threw. It’s very hard psychologically to invest yourself so deeply in something, then walk away from it — even if you suddenly find that a last-minute demand violates everything you believe in. Human beings hate to think they’ve been conned. They want to believe they’re too smart to be conned. So they rationalize that, hey, this is just business, what the other guy wants or “needs” really is reasonable… besides, I’ve invested all this time and effort… I’d never have done that for a lousy deal… so I’ll tell myself this is a good deal and I’ll take it…

          That’s how it works, roughly speaking. Some employers (and sales people) understand this quirk of human nature. We don’t want to believe we wasted our time or that we’re suckers, so we go along with ridiculous demands.

          Not Desperate revealed an enormous degree of integrity and self-respect by saying NO while holding a signed offer in hand. Not many people can do that.

          I didn’t mean to lecture. If you’re interested in this, read Robert Cialdini’s excellent “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” and Wm Poundstone’s “Priceless.” Behavioral psychologists discovered long ago that we humans are lousy judges of risk and value. This is something that should be taught in grade school, high school, and college. My mentor at Stanford, Gene Webb, gave me Cialidini’s book — after he taught me to “Never work with jerks.” It took me 20 years to understand that lesson!

      • The same thing is happening to me today, I was offered a position and they asked me what I am making now and they offered a lot more then my current pay, I did the drug test and the background. I also provided resume, refference, associate degree, licenses, etc. However, once I was done with all that process the HR presents me with a form stating I need to bring in 7 years worth of W2 forms for verification……I mean WTH??? Why wasn’t this mentioned prior to wasting my time doing the hiring process??? No I don’t have anything to hide, I don’t feel they need to see my 7 years financial history. I was offered the job, I passed all test and backgroung check and I am more then qualified for the position and I was chosen over other candidates and now I am asked to provide W2s???? I don’t think so, for that has nothing to do with my experience and my work performance.

  4. Good for you for rejecting the job offer.

    There are an alarming number of people that want to use past salary as some sort of proxy for skill. While there is a small nugget of truth to that, in the real world it is rarely that cut and dry.

    It is funny to read the outcry from recruiters and others on LinkedIn and other places when someone dares to suggest that salary history should not be shared. But, but if you are making $65K then you probably aren’t qualified and/or don’t deserve $130K. To me, this is silly as you should should at least get an idea if they are qualified or not by at least taking a quick glance at their resume and/or by basic screening.

    Secondly, how many people have shared their salary along with a fair raise (sometimes even less than 10%) with a potential employer only to have them make an offer only 2-3% more than their current salary? Of course, everyone said the candidates target was okay and reasonable. How many of these employers can articulate the reason for the pitiful raise other than “it’s still more than your current salary?”

    Lastly, I believe the data shows that most people want to quit a job because of a combination of money and feeling underappreciated by management (this includes things like promotions, development opportunities, etc.). In cases where this is true, why would people want to leave to do the exact same job for almost the exact same pay?

    • Dave: A good friend of mine lost a top management job a few years ago. He looked for a year. A company finally made him an offer, after telling him, “We want you because you’ve been doing exactly what we need you to do for 5 years! You’re perfect!”

      Who would want a new job that’s what they’ve been doing for 5 years already? He took that job because he had to, financially. For a 20% salary cut.

      A few years later, he lost that job. Downsizing. He searched for months. Finally a company offered him a job “doing what you’ve been doing for years” — at a 30% cut from the last one. Fortunately, he was in better financial shape. He turned it down after counter-offering. They wouldn’t budge. Neither would he. He’s starting his own business.

      A few days later, after he turned them down, HR sent him a rejection letter. A form letter.

      “why would people want to leave to do the exact same job for almost the exact same pay?”

      Why, indeed? I think I know why. Because they have a job offer.

  5. It would be interesting to be a fly on the wall at this company…

    “Our perfect candidate, who passed all of our interviews and tests, and who we offered a job, just declined because we asked them to provide a pay stub after we extended an offer.”

    “Oh… maybe we should stop asking for that.”

    Probably didn’t happen, though.

    • It’s more like, “We’re trying to save money! Why won’t no one work for us? Must be a talent shortage!”

      • Paul Forel seemed to suggest that, after getting that salary verification, the employer might have lowered the salary on the offer, depending on what the salary verification revealed. I think he’s right. I think they might have done that, even after tendering a written offer.

    • Would also be interesting to know the name of the company. Maybe a little public shaming (not that that even exists anymore) might help put a stop to this kind of nonsense…

      • I understand why one might want this information however I will not be revealing the name. It was a large organization and would have looked incredible on my resume. Thankfully, I am not in the business of only making moves that look good on paper. My previous employers and my current employer have all been large, global names as well.

  6. What’s driving me crazy is WHAT tangible result would have come with the provided information? Rescind the offer? Modify the offer if the salary on the pay stub was “too low” to a lesser amount? Use it to justify not give raises for xx years?

    Has anyone ever heard of a written offer letter allowing for downsizing the salary based on a prior pay stub/W2? Rescinding it maybe but changing the salary figure and reissuing the offer?

    Unless the applicant lied about prior compensation (and it sure sounds like they kept it confidential) there is nothing that can be done with this information except “Hmmm, they were earning much less than we offered. Interesting. Oh well.”

    • The applicant convinced the employer well enough during interviews that they got a job offer and there was additional verification via any background/reference checks.

      That is all that should matter.

      • Thank you. This is why I refused to comply even though I knew the offer would be rescinded. I cannot emphasize enough the irrelevance of current salary. The biggest lesson I learned from this? I now know my worth in this particular market and I was selling myself short. Never again.

    • Hank: I’ve seen employers revise offers down even after they’re tendered in writing. “So sue us.” I’ve talked with employment attorneys who say yes, you could sue over this, but good luck making your case, especially in states where employment is “at will.” The employer could reinstate the original offer, hire you, and fire you the next day without explanation. “Lotsa luck.”

      The bigger question is, why do employers do this? I think a lot of it has to do with HR practices and policies that are followed blindly. In Not Interested’s case, I think there’s a good chance someone in HR realized, “Oh, look. We forgot to verify salary. No problem. Just verify salary now. It’s our policy.” Forget about common sense, integrity and responsibility. Just follow the policy.

      If any of this sounds absurd to you, consider this e-mail that I received yesterday. The entire message was in the subject line. There was nothing in the body. My guess is this person is relatively uneducated and unsophisticated, but that has no bearing on the facts she presents, and it actually reveals how some people take the worst brunt of horrible employer behavior. (It ends exactly as I’ve reprinted it below without any editing on my part.)

      Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 5:29 AM

      Subject: I just want to know I have went for a job interview I got the position I told him I would have to give my current job the two week notice they said that’s fine the day before I was to start I called the company and they said that they already hired someon

      I’ve received more mail about rescinded job offers than I can count. This is the most eloquent.

  7. Tick box mentality here? So much focus on the minutae (pay stub) that the big picture (the scarce resource) is lost. Makes no sense. But gives insight into the power of HR.

    A downside is how refusing to comply makes one look “difficult” to work with – another possible reason for the offer being rescinded?

    • Ha — Being difficult to work with is what led Not Desperate to conclude the company wasn’t worth working for!

    • I am willing to appear difficult to work with if it means staying true to my guiding principles. I was not difficult. The recruiter mentioned on several occasions that working with me was refreshing, that I “naturally” did all of the right things, that I required no coaching, that my diligence and flexibility was appreciated as well as the recruiter having received very positive feedback after I “killed” my interviews. If it were the company’s privacy or confidentiality at stake, I would be expected to uphold the very same principles I refused to compromise. And if I didn’t, I would be terminated. The irony….

  8. Here we go: A Human Resoures consultant posting on LinkedIn (Russ Kovar) answers my question, “Can you name one good reason why you need to know my salary?”

    “I strongly disagree – in the corporate market place companies will need to know candidates compensation packages, validate that the compensation is correct and sometimes will request a pay stub or W-2. Corporations don’t request comp information to undercut offers, they want to validate that the candidate is providing correct information, and use the current compensation to make offers.”

    Gimme a break.

    Here’s the response I posted on LinkedIn.

    You’re not answering the question: Name one good reason an employer needs to know an applicant’s salary?

    You say, “They want to validate that the candidate is providing correct information.”

    That’s a tautology. How is it useful to validate information that you have no business asking for?

    You say: “and use the current compensation to make offers”

    BUT you also say, “Corporations don’t request comp information to undercut offers.”

    You’re contradicting yourself. You’ve offered no reasons why an employer needs anyone’s compensation information. Just double-talk.

    Have at it, folks.

    • “…they want to validate that the candidate is providing correct information” about something that is none of their business and is not relevant to candidate performance. I cannot wait for the day when the rest of the US gets onboard with Massachusetts and makes asking for salary history illegal. Salary history is absolutely no indicator of knowledge, talent or skills. If you could successfully evaluate a candidate based on salary history, there would be no need for resumes or interviews. Give me a break.

      • This. I have mentioned this on other posts/threads. There are several variables that go into salary, many of which could be out of the candidates control. We could sit here all day listing them off.

        In a utopia, salary could be used. But then, no one would have any reason to leave a job.

    • The only reason I could envision asking for a pay stub or W2 is verifying employment and it’s a quick and easy way that most people have access to.

      But there are certainly better ways of verifying employment?

      • In this scenario, a W2 or pay stub with personal info including salary and benefits information redacted would suffice. Herein lies the problem: employers are not merely attempting to verify employment. It all goes back to salary and as the state of Massachusetts has decided, salary history should not be used to extend an offer of employment. Employment should not be contingent upon prior earnings. The employer is not being honest when it asks for a W2 or pay stub to verify employment. Inference? Employer dishonesty and misrepresentation = okay. Problem? The employer-employee relationship should not be unequal; the employer needs a candidate just as much as a candidate needs them. Both parties should be held to the same standard.

        • Yes, correct. I was just playing devils advocate.

          I mean I could probably send a faked copy of my W-2 anyways.

          But don’t some of the background check services already offer this? Or how about old fashion reference checking?

          • Ouch, Dave, somebody in HR should CALL somebody on the phone to ask about a candidate????

        • I’m still confused. You said your HR rep provided the employment and salary data verbally. So what was their rationale for wanting the pay stub?

          A part of me wished you had complied just as an experiment to see what would have happened.

          Good thing you didn’t give notice. Any chance of reviving the other offer?

  9. I was recently contacted by a recruiter about a position. I mentioned what I was looking for in terms of salary in order to make sure that my requirements and the company’s budget lined up. Don’t want to waste time.

    The recruiter sent me an exclusivity document to sign. Among my many issues with it was that they were going go submit my candidacy at a salary of $x. I told the recruiter that this was a poor negotiating stance. Her comment was that I could always negotiate for more during the interview.

    I didn’t bother to educate her on the concept of anchoring and why submitting my candidacy at a certain salary level was bush league behavior. I took a pass.

    Vitaver and Associates, BTW.

    • Chris,

      This is a good contribution….

      1. “Bush league behavior”….lol, sounds like a newbie Millennial recruiter.

      2. Giving out your salary/salary requirements to her client is not a correct procedure and in fact, assuming she is recruiting for a specific assignment her client gave her, she ought to know the range that job offers. With that in mind, what she should have said is that knowing your range preference, you either do or don’t fit into that range. If you do not, she should have indicated there is a gap between what you want and what they are offering and she should then ask if you are open to different numbers and at the same time, she should be asking her client if they are willing to bump the numbers to match your requirements, assuming you are a fit for the job and they like you, etc.

      If you do both coincide on the numbers, then she could have said that your range falls into theirs and that the emphasis from that point forward should be about how you fit in with them and they with you… being sure your experience, qualifications, etc. match their requirements. In a similar situation, I let the candidate know that salary expectations will be most likely met and that we should put our energy into being sure their is a match between the client and you, the recruit.

      3. Regarding that ‘exclusivity document’…..

      That is a dumb move from them because as far as I know (Nick?) there is nothing keeping you from taking other search firm calls, even if you do sign such a document. What were they going to do if you broke the agreement? Send you to ‘Nam? [That is a rattle we used to say when we would wonder ‘how much more trouble’ the highers could cause us because of something going on they are not happy about, the joke being that we were already “in the ‘Nam”]

      So I am curious to know how that document read in terms of what happens if you take another recruiter’s call and subsequently take a job with their client…after signing such a document.

      No one should ever sign such a document; I hope Nick is in agreement with this.

      I also ask for exclusivity but I tie this into a time frame of roughly thirty days, to be renewed if the recruit feels I am doing an adequate/good job of finding that person a new position according to their specifications. Unfortunately, there are exceptions to such an arrangement which I will not go over now, for the sake of brevity.

      4. Thanks for including the name of that woman’s search firm; it is always good to know where the idiots in our business work and how they train their people.



      • Paul,

        1 – A LinkedIn query showed this recruiter had been in that position for 3 months and with the firm for a total of 7 or 8, if I remember correctly. No other experience, so yeah, probably a new person.

        2 – I said in an email that throwing out numbers early was bad. Went over the recruiter’s head.

        3 – The exclusivity said that for 120 days, I could be represented to client only by them. It also said that I would introduce no other candidates, recruiters, “etc.” to the client.

        Now, I don’t have a problem with this, per se. I know recruiters don’t want to get into a urination contest over fees. But the problem was that it limited me to the entirety of the client with no clearly marked boundaries. What if they had a subsidiary or wholly owned company under another name? Would that count? What if I found another position with that company through my own efforts or if they contacted me for another position? I don’t think a recruiter should get a fee just for a piece of paper if I do all the work. (I don’t know the exclusivity arrangement between the recruiter and the client, so I don’t know what the client would and would not be technically allowed to do.)

        I simply asked that the agreement be limited to this position. I would have been open to some negotiation on this and maybe even allowed the entirety of the company if that was clearly delineated.

        The biggest thing that threw up a red flag was the use of “etc”. No one with an inkling of a brain should sign anything that has the word “etc” in it in that way. What does “etc” cover? What if I recommended a consultant for a particular job and they hired that person? Does the recruiter get a cut of that? It’s just too vague.

        The response was “well, this is the form we need.” No addressing of my concerns, so I punted. I doubt such poor negotiation skills would have been of use to my candidacy if it got to the point where the recruiter needed to step in to close the deal.

        • I should add that in hindsight, the agreement wouldn’t have been worth the paper it was written on. It did not define terms, didn’t state jurisdiction for legal disputes, didn’t list what remedies would exist for either party should the other fail to perform, etc., etc. (Sorry, I used to sell industrial equipment, and one of the things I had to do was go through customers’ PO terms and conditions to make sure we could agree to everything, and if not, what we would push back and negotiate on.)

          Of course, this is all academic in that any lawyer could have the agreement thrown out in one hearing. But the problem is that that recruiter waving around the piece of paper could potentially make the client put me in the no-go pile to simply avoid the headache.

          • Until we’ve actually seen the document/Agreement, there is no way to make a determination as to its legitimacy but overall, from how you describe it (Nick?), it does not sound enforceable.

            Like I said, above, no one in the recruitment business should reasonably expect you, as a recruit/candidate, to hold to such an agreement and give that particular search firm/agency an exclusive.

            If for no other reason than you don’t want to cut yourself off from other recruiters who may also have an opportunity that suits you.

            And you are correct- historically, employers have been willing to file/trash/discard a resume if proceeding further with a recruit/candidate seems to complicate life for that employer.

            I’ve seen for myself where some junior weenie in a company’s HR department will throw a wrench into my referral process -just to cover their a**- and as a result, have a senior executive with that company decline to proceed further with my candidate…even when I have provided documentation and references as to how that executive could check to be sure my referral was straight up and legal.

            You have choices and you exercised them. That’s the way it goes.

            I did check out their site (thank you again for providing their name) and they seem legitimate enough but I do question, listening to your relating the events, their process and equally so, their training.

            Unfortunately, just because there was a speed bump between you and they, it is certain they will continue to brandish that Agreement and unfortunately, snare people into signing it.

            Maybe Nick could do a blog about this (here and at LinkedIn) and help put out the word….

            Thanks again,


        • Chris,

          “What if they had a subsidiary or wholly owned company under another name? Would that count? What if I found another position with that company through my own efforts or if they contacted me for another position? I don’t think a recruiter should get a fee just for a piece of paper if I do all the work. (I don’t know the exclusivity arrangement between the recruiter and the client, so I don’t know what the client would and would not be technically allowed to do.)

          I simply asked that the agreement be limited to this position. I would have been open to some negotiation on this and maybe even allowed the entirety of the company if that was clearly delineated.”

          Just a couple of points, mostly for you to know…

          When a recruit/candidate is presented, a Fee Agreement between that recruitment firm and the employer/client is presented, usually attached to the resume sent to that client.

          One of the points of such an agreement is that it is understood and agreed that if the employer hires the presented candidate for ‘any other position’ or if that candidate is referred to another employer, that client is responsible for paying the recruitment fee. This includes if that candidate is hired by that employer, anywhere within the enterprise (another division, a subsidiary company and so on).

          Should you ‘find a position, on your own, within the client’s company’ raises a few eyebrows because it raises the concept of adventuring. Meaning that you are making contact within that employer’s company/division/subsidiary ‘on your own’ which is not only not cricket (you should be co-ordinating any such activity with that recruiter, not operating on your own once you have been referred), it is sure to possibly raise a question regarding the referral process….which started with the recruiter. You are, in effect, throwing a wrench into the works, at the peril of the recruiter. This would be considered to be in bad taste by most of us in the business. You are, in effect, biting the hand that fed you. Not cool.

          Operating ‘on your own’ makes you a loose canon and none of us in this business care much for that kind of activity. It may cause us to not get paid. Why would you risk that recruiter’s getting paid after they had, after all, contacted you originally about a career opportunity?

          “I don’t think a recruiter should get a fee just for a piece of paper if I do all the work.”

          Well, stated just like someone who is not aware of the entire referral process, starting when the recruiter first did his/her homework/research to discover you and subsequently engagee with you about a new career opportunity.

          It is not ‘just a piece of paper’, Chris. We are talking about an entire process and frankly, what you think as to why a recruiter should get paid is quite ungracious, considering it was the recruiter who knew enough to call you to begin with.

          If necessary, think of this like that story about the computer consultant who, after inspecting a client’s mainframe computer -that was inoperative and all the in-house technicians could not get that computer going, hence the call to the consultant- stared at the computer for several minutes, walked around it a few times and then, nodding to himself/herself, took a step back and then rushed forward, kicking a portion of the mainframe’s housing…..which caused the computer to kick back into life, spewing data normally, again.

          The client, receiving the Statement of Charges a few days later, was livid when it read that the consultant’s firm was due $5000.

          “Five thousand dollars!”, the chief engineer said, “that’s too much to charge just for kicking the computer!”

          “Actually”, the consultant said, “it was only five hundred dollars for kicking it and it was another $4500 for knowing where to kick it.”

          The same applies here. Even if the recruiter is a spazz -there are newbie/sloppy/spazz recruiters- if you get hired, then credit must, appropriately, go to the person who initiated the process of getting you hired.

          Your job is not to assess what we deserve or not deserve, your job is go with the flow, play out your part and either the process ends in a hire or it does not.

          In essence, once you agree to work with a recruiter who calls you, then it is only fair that you follow the steps as outlined to you and if you have any ideas of your own, it is only right that you share your ideas with that recruiter so that person may follow up on your suggestions.

          Going rogue, zigging instead of zagging, acting like a loose canon are all things that are not appreciated and in the course of Business, should not be actions a candidate take.

          Play fair or don’t play at all. And worry less what the recruiter ‘deserves’ and instead, focus on determining if the job offered is right for you or not and if you have any suggestions, then present them to the recruiter for handling.

          This business of ours is convoluted enough without either party pulling the rug out from under anyone.

          In other words, if you put ‘conditions’ on such a scenario, you only serve to complicate the process, risk losing the opportunity, risk the recruiter not getting paid and risk the client not hiring you.

          Decide up front if you want to work with that recruiter and then simply follow the yellow brick road from that point on.

          If you want to pull out, halfway through the process, that is your right, just please be sure you are doing the right thing for all concerned, you being the priority.

          We’ve all lost fees, one way or another. That possibility is a fact of life in our business. But open communications between all parties keeps these kinds of mishaps to a minimum.

          So do your part, be a team player and play your hand with your cards on the table.

          And no, you are not ‘doing all the work’; you are simply being yourself and are being chaperoned through the process. It is the recruiter and client who are ‘doing all the work’ of seeking out qualified candidates, calling enough of them to finally find someone who is qualified and interested in going on the interview, finding alternative candidates if the first ones do not end in a hire, spend the time to review with you your background, identifying the key points that will serve to close the client on wanting to hire you, [typically] coaching the candidate on interview procedures, educate that candidate about the client company, their position in its market/industry, let you know who the key players are, what the job is about and what is expected from you in the execution of that job and then educate the client to know as much about you as necessary so they know you are a likely prospect for hire. Whether or not your particular recruiter did or did not do a ‘good’ job of this is not relevant and although we can deliberate as to how well she did or did not do her job, the fact remains, it is the recruiter who is the catalyst, here and appropriately, drives this bus to its final destination, in spite of any obstacles that may present themselves along the way.

          And if the entire process goes smooth as silk, that does not mean the recruiter deserves ‘less’, it means you experienced the benefit of that recruiter’s hard-earned experience in these matters.

          In your particular case, what this particular recruiter may ‘deserve’ is a firing squad at dawn but as a rule, when all the players keep to the ground rules, there is no need to assess who ‘deserves’ what; simply play the game and be up front about what you have in mind along the way.



          • This is not my first rodeo. I know full well how this all works.

            But some chump asking for an exclusivity agreement simply to be able to chuck my resume (with a salary number, to boot!) at an employer is not good business sense.

            And here’s my point about finding a position on my own: This was a very large company. What if I found something else in another division/business unit/etc. where that recruiter had no contacts or relationships? Is that worthy of a fee? If I mention it to the recruiter so a fee can be earned, are other candidates going to be dumped in front of the hiring manager and create competition for me? In very large companies like this, often times one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing, and some vague agreement would actually be bad for everyone involved: me, the recruiter, and the hiring manager.

            As I said, I would have been willing to agree to exclusivity, even to the entire company, if there had been some give and take on the agreement. I’m not going to behave unethically and stiff a recruiter out of a legitimate fee. I’ve had recruiters call me about positions before, and I’ve had to politely turn them down because another recruiter had already submitted my name for the position. If, during an interview, I become aware of another position at the company, I’ll run it by the recruiter to make sure everything is kosher.

            But I’m also not going to sign on to some vague agreement.

    • Paul Forel raises a lot of good points in his comments below, and gives an insider’s view of how employers and third-party recruiters work.

      Unfortunately, job seekers get intimidated by recruiters. The disreputable ones will claim all kinds of things to help ensure they earn a fee. In this case, the recruiter asked you to sign an exclusivity agreement. Good recruiters still want to ensure they earn a fee if their client hires you — and that’s understandable. From an ethical standpoint, if a recruiter tips you off to an opportunity or to an employer that’s hiring, the right thing to do is work through that recruiter when dealing with that company, assuming you really would not have known about the job or company otherwise.

      This is where the big HOWEVER comes in.

      First, you don’t pay a recruiter for a job. An employer pays the recruiter to fill the job. Thus, any contract is between the recruiter and the employer, because there’s a service and a promise to pay involved. I’m not a lawyer, and this is not a legal lesson, but as a headhunter I’ve dealt with all kinds of situations, and this simple concept is lost on most people, even recruiters. THERE IS NO CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT BETWEEN A JOB SEEKER AND A RECRUITER WHO’S BEING PAID BY AN EMPLOYER.

      Unless you sign one, which is really kooky to do. Even then, it’s not clear that such an agreement would be enforceable, especially if it can be construed as interfering with your right to work. If the recruiter’s client turns you down, and you apply for another job at the same company and get that job on your own — putting aside the ethical question of taking advantage of the first intro to get the second interview — any contractual or fee problem is between the employer and the recruiter. What’s the recruiter going to do — charge you for the job? Unless you explicitly agree to that in writing — and it would be silly to do that — the recruiter has no recourse against you. He’s got recourse against his client, and in their agreement, it probably says that if the employer hires you after an intro from the recruiter IN ANY OF ITS OPERATIONS for a period of X months, then the employer owes the recruiter the fee.

      But it’s their problem, not yours. Unless, of course, the employer wants to violate the agreement, and then fixes the violation by cancelling the offer to you. You’re out a job. But the contractual problem is still between the other parties.

      You found the tip-off in that agreement: “etc.” You’re right: It’s ridiculous. I wouldn’t work with any recruiter who wants me to sign an exclusivity agreement because I’m not paying him anything and he’s not guaranteeing me anything. It’s just a recruiter who’s trying to intimidate the job seeker.

      You could tell the recruiter, “If you want to make sure you get a fee for hiring me, you should do that in your agreement with your client, since your client is paying you. You don’t work for me. And I don’t work for you.”

      Having said all that, I agree with Paul that there’s an ethical question here, and it’s a good-business question. If a recruiter gets you in a door, the right thing is to respect the recruiter’s position in the transaction. Don’t help screw the recruiter out of a fee, especially if you want to work with him or her again.

      On the other hand, if the recruiter is doing nothing substantive to get you in the door for another position, that’s his tough luck. Let him go fight it out with the employer — who is not really his client in that case, because what client would go around its recruiter? :-)

      This slices many ways. Chris, you’re smart to stick to the wording of the agreement. If people read agreements carefully, they’d know what they’re getting themselves into. But they should also ask, does this agreement make sense? Is it enforceable, or is it a scam to control me illegally?

      • Nick,

        I agree with you that the contract would not likely be enforceable between a recruiter and the applicant. If it interfered with the candidates ability to find work the contract would be working against the public interest. Also since, I’m assuming that the candidate has not paid the recruiter, no consideration (i.e. there has been no payment) has taken place so the contract itself would normally be considered void.

    • Chris: Smart move. So many hours, so much agony spent chasing stuff that we know will go nowhere. Job seekers everywhere could stand a short course in Reality Checking.

  10. To play devils advocate….

    I agree 100% with the ethics part that one should be going through the recruiter to a specific company.

    But Nick starts down a different path worth exploring:

    “On the other hand, if the recruiter is doing nothing substantive to get you in the door for another position, that’s his tough luck. Let him go fight it out with the employer — who is not really his client in that case, because what client would go around its recruiter? :-)”

    I would venture part of the frustration with many recruiters is that they throw crap against the wall to see what sticks.

    Paul alludes to doing homework on a potential candidate, and I would assume that he has done the appropriate legwork with his client. So, I would assume that the chances of getting deep in the interview process are better than average.

    On the other hand, how many times to we hear from recruiters that will submit you and then you do not get very far in the process? I know of cases where a year or so after the fact, people have done their own legwork to get into the company and get much farther than they did, with supposed “help” from a recruiter (yes, I realize the client pays the bills).

    • To really play the devils Advocate,
      The exclusivity agreement ought to cut both ways.
      That is to say, if they want you to be exclusive to them, they need to be exclusive to you, for that position, with that client.

      • “To really play the devils Advocate,
        The exclusivity agreement ought to cut both ways.
        That is to say, if they want you to be exclusive to them, they need to be exclusive to you, for that position, with that client.”

        Surely, you jest…

        There is a vast difference between a recruiter asking for exclusivity [especially a timed exclusivity] in being the sole recruiter to represent you to various companies and your suggesting that recruiter present only you as a sole candidate to be presented to a client……is apples and oranges.

        You are suggesting a recruiter be allowed to call on various companies and present you as a candidate for vacancies but on the other hand, may present only you for those same jobs?

        You might think that is ‘fair’ but it is unrealistic. First, it does not fit the recruiter’s model where we routinely present candidates three opportunities and clients three candidates.

        So the idea that a recruiter is going to sit on his/her hands, hoping you get hired and not having back-up candidates is never going to fly. (This does occur but only because that recruiter is lazy and dizzy, not wanting to go to any more trouble to find additional candidates and hoping their fairy god mother arranges for their client to hire their only presented candidate. When their candidate does not get picked, they suddenly scramble for additional candidate but it is too late! Their competitors have all along already been also presenting candidates to the same client.)

        So you are suggesting an unbalanced arrangement where you get to be presented to multiple employer vacancies but the recruiter only gets to present you and no other candidates.

        Sounds cozy and cushy until one remembers that that recruiter’s competitors are also presenting candidates to that same client. So while you might think you have an advantage with your suggestion, reality is that you are being compared to other candidates by virtue of their being additional recruiters in the mix. As well, of course, other candidates/applicants, applying on their own.

        This opens the door to another perspective of our business and so I will lay out the ‘secrets’ of our business in plain black and white.

        You have already anticipated what I’m going to say? How can I fairly represent you while I am also presenting additional candidates? Those ‘other two’ as I described, above?

        It’s scorpion and turtle time, folks. First, to basics:

        We are in the business of earning recruitment fees. (There are those recruiters, especially dizzy-minded Millennial recruiters who claim they live for their clients and their job is to fill vacancies but they are confused- our ‘job’ is to earn recruitment fees.) We do this by filling client vacancies/by getting you hired.

        Remember what Mr. Nick reminded me of, here, a few weeks ago- our responsibility is, in actuality, to the client. When we ‘represent’ you to clients (you were referred to us by someone and you match our recruitment demographic/candidate industry base so we agree to call around, seeking to get you hired) we are, in fact, seeking to earn a recruitment fee. In effect, once we engage with a client company about their hiring you, our candidate, we become ‘agents’ of sorts of that company. We are now working for the client company, not you. Ack!

        We also seek to increase the odds of our getting paid so we ‘stack the deck in our favor’ (sorry, Nick, I couldn’t help myself!), by presenting two additional candidates when we present you. (Don’t forget, when you got our call, we may already have had a candidate or two interviewing with our client and we are seeking to add a third candidate. You are not necessarily our first and certainly not our sole candidate being presented to a client.)

        You don’t like that, I’m sure. But hey, think of it this way- there will be other, competing candidates being considered, whether I am in the mix or not. You are not the only candidate in that stack of resumes.

        Does this mean I’m not your friend, after all? Well, first, as Michael said, “It’s only business” so don’t take this stuff personally. (In other words, I probably never was your ‘friend’ but I definitely am your advisor. This does not mean we cannot become friends but it is helpful, in this conversation, to keep in mind the priority of things so you understand how we execute our business. I have many ‘friends’ who are candidates who did or did not get hired but again, this phenomenon occurs as it occurs and friendship for the sake of friendship should never take the place of remembering what we are doing here….).

        (Don’t take this as a signal you may act like a pirate and work against us….that will only complicate the dance and doing so is not in your favor. If your recruiter is being straight up with you, be straight up with that recruiter. Don’t take what I’m saying to suggest I am giving you license to be a loose cannon.)

        Second, a recruiter who knows what they are doing will actually help you in your competition against his/her other two candidates by letting you know what their strengths and weaknesses are so you can plan your interview presentation accordingly.

        You’re right- I don’t really care which one of you gets hired as long as one of you does.

        I’ll applaud you if you accept an Offer and if no Offer is tendered or the negotiations do not work out, I [may] offer to continue to find you additional interviews and in fact, as I’ve described here, I already am, remember?

        So now you may know more than you did, before, and now you know why your suggestion cannot possibly hold water.

        We are in a position to help you but you are not really in a position to manage us.

        Accept what we can do for you and don’t try to create more from our relationship than what already exists.

        Have a nice da-aaaaaay.


        • The bottom line is, headhunters (recruiters) are paid by employers. They work for employers. Their duty is to employers. They’re not going to present ONLY YOU for a job. They’re paid to present several choices to their client.

          That’s why, if a headhunter asks you to sign an exclusivity agreement, you tell him or her to take a hike. That’s not how the business works.

          When a “headhunter” tells you s/he is going to find you a job, smile. It’s bullcrap. They may present you for a job, but they don’t get paid to find you a job. Job seekers need to get that through their heads.

          The only contract is between the headhunter and the employer. And even then, there’s sometimes no contract until the headhunter introduces a candidate the employer wants to hire!

    • “I would venture part of the frustration with many recruiters is that they throw crap against the wall to see what sticks.”

      I’d say about 95% of them. Honest. That’s not hyperbole. It’s a spaghetti-against-the-wall kind of business. Employers EXPECT crappy service from “headhunters.” They get it. And the circle will never be unbroken. Or the cycle, either.

      Again and again, whether we’re talking about job boards or ATSes or silly headhunters: HR continues to fund this stuff because HR is largely inept. They cause their own problems.

      • And that’s why, unfortunately, job seekers like Chris and others, are tempted to go around recruiters.

        I don’t have a problem with a recruiter earning a fee on my placement. But, I think they should “work for it” – i.e. where is the value add that they gave to justify their fee?

        • “I don’t have a problem with a recruiter earning a fee on my placement. But, I think they should “work for it” – i.e. where is the value add that they gave to justify their fee?”

          That’s rich- Such arrogance. “…justify their fee…” What’s it to you, anyway? You are not paying the recruitment fee. You, as a recruit, are receiving a free service.

          What you ‘should’ be concerned about is the effectiveness of the recruiter as s/he interfaces with you. After that, the rest is a free ride to the employer and its career opportunity.

          Thanks for the laugh!


        • Dave….

          “I don’t have a problem with a recruiter earning a fee on my placement. But, I think they should “work for it” – i.e. where is the value add that they gave to justify their fee?”

          Well, now that I’ve gotten over the shock of your Paris Hilton impersonation, let me remind you of something that you can apply to your “value add” conversation:

          Recruitment fees -as important as they are- come and go. The check arrives, I bank some, I buy stuff and before you know it, the fee is all gone and needs replacing.

          Fees come and go, they are ethereal.

          But what sticks is the deep-rooted satisfaction you get when you have taken a job with a company that treats you well so your life style is supported and the environment is pleasing and supportive.

          For the most part, you come to work happy and leave happy. Your friends, neighbors and relatives all benefit from seeing your smiling face. You have peace and are able to ‘feel good’ each day about what you do and what you get done.

          And this extends to your clients and customers, as well.

          It truly is a ripple effect and it lasts! It lasts for years and years!

          Your mental health benefits, your physical health benefits and years later, if reminded, you are grateful to that recruiter who called you out of the blue one day.

          That is your value add.

          And it can’t be bought with a recruitment fee. It is bought for you, by some recruiter who knew enough to call you.

          This thread has allowed some of you to get off track about what getting a really good job is all about. Well, the thread was about a spazz recruiter so what the heck but in the meantime, interjecting this BS about what you don’t have a problem with and your “where’s the beef?” has you forgetting the lasting value of what we bring to the table.

          At No Charge To You.


          • Paul, no need to get hostile as you seem like you know what you are doing.

            I’m just pointing out the complaints I hear/experienced from both sides of the table in my corner of the universe, that there’s an alarming number of individuals and agencies that could use some work to say the least.

            Let’s not forget about the blog post Nick wrote here, that a recruiter may have not known the hiring process of the company well enough. My poorly worded point is that if someone is going to pay a large sum of money, I’d expect things to go a bit more smoothly.

            Secondly, anyone who has sufficiently moved up in their career gets bombarded by recruiters if they have a profile up on any one of the job sites. It begs the question, if I am a company of any size, and have dedicated HR, surely they can use the same tools. In other words, if I’m going to use your services, I want you to find me the high performers that may not necessarily be looking or on said sites. Simply trolling or simple business directories for leads is the most rudimentary things.

  11. HR is less and less involved in hiring and more involved with on-boarding. If you indulge their every request instead of drawing the line, it is like giving a mouse a cookie. That said, I can see HR’s concern in your case, if you turned down a similar gig that paid $10K more with more vacation – I would want to insert that rectal probe a little deeper.

    Now recruiters – don’t get me started. I am sure they have their place as outsourced HR, but not all recruiters are at executive level – most are body snatchers. Remember, you still have free will, exercise it. In this day and age it is incumbent on every employee to be aware of the general job market, trends and the value you bring to a particular position. If you are seeking a new position or role – it is doubly incumbent on you to do the research, build the pitch and circulate in the stratum needed to advance you cause. Except for executive positions – recruiters these days fill slots with bodies and carry more about the quantity than the quality of beef they move.

  12. Almost everyone is lumping the Evil H.R. Lady into a common bucket. Consider that both the recruiter and H.R. rep are in a bind- they look bad when (not if) they recommend “bad” people to the hiring manager/management. “Bad” being any number of things. In such cases they have actually failed to properly do their jobs- evaluate and qualify candidates.

    And be honest, that can be tough especially when the candidates are highly technical or specialized (like IT). If the company hires someone and they were simply a good liar/pretender and can’t do the job the company is negatively impacted. That goes back to reflect on the recruiter/HR. I’m not even considering the question of competence here.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t side with them. I simply advocate understanding the root problem to better address it. I refuse to give my precise salary history or W2. I work in IT security- I say why hire a security guru who can’t keep his former employers confidential information a secret? That is saying up front that you can’t trust me to keep your secrets either. Regardless- I point out it is based on an error in logic. They are trying to calculate risk. Former salary is not a good indicator of qualification, it is looking at the easy thing in order to try and answer a harder question. Kind of like the new boss that wants to look at the inside of your car to see if it is clean enough (wrong measurement, bad premise). Rather, lets focus on the problem itself which is how to prove I am highly qualified, competent, and low risk for them.

    • Jack: It’s indeed worth looking for root causes. But I really think high turnover is now accepted as a norm, a given, nothing unusual. So nobody balks when HR hires fast, furious, and wrong. “It’s built into the cost of doing business because there’s a talent shortage.”

      I’m not trying to be glib.

      BTW, the real EvilHRLady, Suzanne Lucas, is a buddy of mine and really smart :-). I don’t believe you’re talking about her :-).

  13. Has anyone looked at the online job applications? Many applications require previous salary information for previous employment and not just current (or last) employment. They also require a target salary. If the field is not filled in, you cannot go to the next screen or submit the application. These are multi-national organizations requiring this information.

    • @David, right I see that too. The web form REQUIRES a number.

      And, I bet they are shocked and outraged that anyone would lie when required to enter something. Maybe that is why someone might request/demand to see a W2/tax info? I think it incents people to guess what the pay range for the new position is. Talk about random roulette.

      Overall, the business community has created the situation for themselves. They treat employees like replaceable widgets to be cut at the first opportunity, and then are surprised when employees no longer exhibit things like loyalty or leave in search of an extra 5-10% salary.

      I see the “past salary” as just passing the buck- it assumes the past employer has done the hard work for them to evaluate what your work value is (to the new company). The premise is wrong. There is a hard question to answer, but looking at the wrong measurements (last job) is easy for them. Even big companies do it.

      My take- just don’t let it get adversarial. They have a problem, help them solve it. Without compromising confidential information (that’s irrelevant anyway).

      • My comment was an observation and not intended to be confrontational.

        As someone that was is currently looking for suitable opportunities, I see several large and small companies wanting this information on their applications. I fear that the electronic screening is using the information to determine which candidates advance in the screening and hiring process or have their information forever buried in a bit bucket. (My current experience with seeking employment may have looking at things in a very cynical manner.)

      • @Jack: “I see the “past salary” as just passing the buck- it assumes the past employer has done the hard work for them to evaluate what your work value is (to the new company). The premise is wrong. There is a hard question to answer, but looking at the wrong measurements (last job) is easy for them.”

        Bingo. An HR consultant would have to charge half a million bucks for a one-year engagement to deliver that solution to an HR client.

        Good tip about not letting it get adversarial. You just need to get smart — there is no mountain. You must show the employer there is a better objective. Like having a conversation to talk shop offline. Usually, you must find a way to sneak that in for the employer’s own good.

    • @David Wilson:

      Yup. Ever hear the old Zen koan? You need to get over the mountain?

      The answer is: There is no mountain.

      Yup. Don’t use online job applications. They’re for the lemmings.

      These are not merely multi-national organizations. These are stupid, inept multi-national organizations. Being multi-national doesn’t confer automatic smarts.