Show me the money!

We’ve talked about disclosing salary to employers, and we’ve discussed when it’s appropriate to bring up money during the hiring process. The conventional wisdom says job applicants shouldn’t bring up money at all — wait until the employer brings it up. (I think that’s nuts. But I’m not conventional.)

I think it helps to consider other situations where money plays a role in decision making. You go to a car dealer. You pick the car you want, you take it for a test drive, you decide it’s what you want. You sit down with the salesperson. You tell him you want to buy it. Is that when you first ask about the price? (I’d like to do that after test-driving a Murcielago or an Aston Martin DB9. Whoa, sorry there, Bud — turns out there’s not enough in the checkbook…)

An Accountemps survey of managers asked when money should be brought up during the hiring process.

Most managers (30%) say candidates should ask about compensation and benefits during the first interview. 17% suggested bringing it up even sooner — during the phone interview. Good for them! That’s almost half of managers advising job applicants to ask about money early in the process. 26% suggest raising the money question in the second interview. (That’s 73% advocating asking about money before an offer is made.) Only 12% suggest bringing it up after a job offer is made.

Guess the conventional wisdom is wrong. The trick is in How to say it:

“So, what’s the compensation like?” (Smile.) How could anyone get upset if you ask like that?

At what point do you bring up the money?

TheLadders’ rigid set of criteria

It used to say, “ONLY $100K+ JOBS. ONLY $100K+ CANDIDATES.” With the re-design of its web site, TheLadders now claims “Exclusively $100K+ jobs. Exclusively $100K+ talent.”

They must have hired a new ad company that owns a thesaurus. (Sorry, I’m not linking you to TheLadders web site. I won’t contribute to their traffic.)

We’ve had no website facelift here. Nor has there been any change in the story, the facts or the language. Liars at TheLadders still exposes the garbage-in, garbage-out database that Ladders rents to job hunters for $30 per month. They charge empoyers a whole lot more.

No one at TheLadders has questioned the statements made by one its customer service reps to a Ladders customer (and Ask The Headhunter reader) during a service chat:

Andy: First of all, we make no claims that all of our jobs are submitted directly to us. Many of the positions on our site are linked directly to from external job boards. Since we don’t have a direct way of knowing the pay range of each of these positions, we make an estimate based on a rigid set of criteria.

The rep was responding to a complaint about a job on TheLadders that paid only $50k, and the employer had no idea how it even wound up on TheLadders. His company did not post it.

I almost stepped in a dried-up, rigid set of criteria during my morning walk today. Another $30 saved.

Sorting resumes: A strategic hiring error all the time

Auren Hoffman has reinvented headhunting and escaped from Armchair Recruiting: Hiring what comes along. This is a genuine compliment, not a backhanded one. I’m tickled that someone else is writing about this.

In Why hiring is paradoxically harder in a downturn, Hoffman realizes that when more people are looking for jobs, employers get more garbage resumes because many more “C” people are job hunting than “A” people. (A people are the best, C the worst, B in between.)

This explosion of job hunters skews the outcome of any recruiting effort that relies on resumes — employers wind up wasting precious resources looking for the same needle in a far bigger haystack.

And this explains why headhunters charge $30,000 to fill a $100,000 position, while a job posting costs virtually nothing. The real cost of “recruiting” (it isn’t recruiting!) via ads and resumes arises on the back end — the overhead involved in dealing with all those resumes. Headhunters cost more by themselves, but they bring you only a small number of highly-qualified candidates. In Hoffman’s terms, “less noise.”

How is that so? Headhunters go find who they need. They don’t sit around waiting for who comes along after requesting resumes — and today who comes along is millions of C people.

Nice work, Auren, for figuring it out and explaining it. I hope more people get it. And I hope it’s clear that while the economic downturn has put a sharp point on the hiring-by-resume problem, it’s a strategic hiring error all the time, even in boom times.

More about this in 7 Mistakes Internal Recruiters Make and Ten Stupid Hiring Mistakes.

Droolers, Charles Manson and A. Harrison Barnes

Man, I couldn’t have written it better myself. I’ve been watching a family of “job” sites that’s akin to a pack of electronic junkyard dogs trying to bite people. I’m not even gonna give you the link. The flagship site is called Hound.com. Don’t waste your time visiting it. Trust me: You don’t want those doggie cookies on your computer.

Steve Gosset over at RealityBitesBack soundly thrashes PC Magazine for promoting A. Harrison Barnes and his pack of rabid job sites including (again, no links because I don’t want you getting infected) a bunch of sites ending in “…Crossing.”

Kudos to Steve for spraying A. Harrison Barnes (Gimme a break! Does he belong to the Yacht Club?) and his dog team with poo-poo water. (You’ll have to read Steve’s post to see where Chas Manson and droolers fit in…)

I guess Marc Cenedella over at TheLadders has an apt competitor now. Throw ’em both over the clothesline before they spawn more puppies.

Update Dec. 17, 2009: Toby Dayton draws the clothesline tight…

.

The real reason employers want your salary history: Hiring is a crapshoot

We’ve talked salary history to death. I dunno — it still astonishes me that HR demands it. Not one compelling reason has been offered to justify why HR must have it. On the other hand, we’ve heard from enough job hunters who routinely decline to disclose their salary, and life still goes on. The Job Police don’t show up at anyone’s home with warrants for old pay stubs. Lots more folks are aware that they can say NO. (I’ll offer this caution again: Withholding salary history could cost you an interview or a job. Judge for yourself before you act. Saying NO ain’t for everybody.)

Which brings us to a bigger matter. The real reason employers want your salary history.

Now, I don’t accuse employers of conspiring to defraud job applicants of decent job offers.  (Though, I do think some companies — including the one represented by the HR manager we all heard from — are indeed defrauding applicants.) I think the problem is far bigger. In most cases, I think companies demand salary information because they don’t know how to run their business for profit.

When they’re trying to fill a position — and put a value on a job applicant — I believe employers just plain don’t know how the job contributes to profit. They have no idea how to judge your ability to do the job or how the work will contribute to profit. In other words, they have no idea what you are worth. The job is just a line in a budget, and the number is right around what it was last year.

So for most employers, hiring is a crapshoot. They don’t know how one additional employee hired today will affect profits. Think about that.

When was the last time an employer showed you a business plan for the job in question — with a number in it that shows what you’re expected to bring to the bottom line?

I contend that this is the problem. Employers want your salary history because they need to start somewhere. If they knew how the job in question contributed to profit, and if they could figure out how you will contribute to that profit, well, then the entire hiring process changes. We want only people who will boost our profits significantly. In fact, we’ll pay based on how much extra profit we think you will bring to the bottom line. So here’s the business plan, here’s what this job brings to our bottom line. Show us what you think you can do — that’s what we really care about. That’s what we base offers on.

I contend that the only way a company can rationally determine a job offer is to first put together a business plan for every position the company fills. Then it must measure an applicant against that plan. Otherwise, hiring is a crapshoot. In fact, hiring is a crapshoot and employers want your salary history because they don’t know the value of the job in question. They have no idea how much profit it can produce. So they’re flat on their asses, using what your last employer paid you, to predict their own future.

That’s a woo-hoo! big problem.

Salary history: Will HR put up or shut up?

In recent postings (How to make more money, Why you should tell me your salary) we’ve discussed whether job applicants should disclose their salary history to an employer. This topic has taken wing elsewhere: On BNet (Should Jobhunters reveal salary requirements?), on PunkRockHR (Candidates, Salary, and Disclosure) and on Job Hacking (What happens when you don’t pay attention to statistics?).

Job hunters seem to clearly recognize why it’s not a good idea to disclose, even if some feel pressured to do so. (Hey, I don’t knock anyone who desperately needs a job and decides to disclose. But I think that’s a short-term fix and later the tire is gonna blow on you big-time…)

Some in HR offer all kinds of reasons to support their position that applicants should — or must — disclose salary history or forfeit their chance at a job. I find none of them compelling.

But I don’t think HR managers are dopes or even disingenuous. I think they’re brainwashed and can’t see past their own bureaucracy. So I’ve been trying to figure out how to turn the tables and help HR solve the problem without waiting for candidates to cough up their salary info. That way these employers won’t have to pass up good candidates.

So here’s my suggestion and my simple business logic. HR contends it’s legitimate to ask for an individual’s salary history and that the information is a crucial component when assessing a candidate. HR contends salary information should be shared in the context of a job application and interview to enable both parties to determine whether further discussion is realistic, and to ensure that if discussions lead to an offer, acceptance of the offer is a realistic possibility. HR contends that salary history helps an employer judge a candidate.

So here’s what HR should do. Following the same logic and rationale, at the point where HR would ask for the candidate’s salary history, HR should instead share: Read more

Why you should tell me your salary

In How to make more money we’re discussing why a job hunter should decline to state salary history. People who stand firm and say NO to the demand for salary info argue it’s the only position to take. HR folks and some headhunters argue that if an employer requires your salary info, you’re dead meat if you decline. They claim it’s not smart to say NO.

Let’s change the question from, Should you disclose your salary history? to Why should you disclose it?

So here’s the challenge to employers (and HR) and to headhunters: What can you tell the candidate to convince her that it’s to her advantage to tell you her salary? How will disclosure clearly benefit her? I’d like to see some solid reasons why it’s to the candidate’s advantage. (“Because if you don’t tell us, we won’t consider you,” is not an answer.)

I think there are some valid reasons to disclose to a headhunter, but no good reasons at all to disclose to an employer.

How to hire (or find a job): The 3% solution

Where do companies find the people they hire? (Hint: Dumpster diving is alive and well in Human Resources.)

4% come from Monster.com
3% come from CareerBuilder
1% come from HotJobs

These figures have not changed since these job boards have been online. 90% of companies surveyed have contracts with Monster.com. 80% with CareerBuilder.

60% of corporate recruiting budgets are spent in online job advertising. (Source for most data in this post: CareerXroads 2009 8th Annual Source of Hire Study.)

The single biggest source of hires (30%-40%) is personal referrals. But spending on it is virtually nil. A top HR exec at a Fortune 50 company complains to me that he has no budget to go out and recruit through personal contacts because execs from the big job boards wine and dine his top execs — and the bulk of the available budget is thereby dumped into the job boards. He’s livid. There is no budget for The Manager’s #1 Job.

But that’s not the main reason the board of directors should heave its own HR operation into a dumpster. Read more

Forget your job, distribute yourself

If your job is in jeopardy, why be an employee if you can be a distributed innovator? If you’re a manager, why interview applicants if you can meet people who are innovating on the edge of your industry?

I’ve already written about how some of the best career advice doesn’t come from career experts. It’s between the lines in business articles. Here’s another example of how to put business ideas to work to save your career.

In the February 9 edition of ComputerWorld, tech guru (and former director of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center) John Seely Brown talks about the silver lining in our broken economy. He says now is the time to live on the edge (like we have much choice). Here are a few ideas I’ll bend into shape for you: Read more

An open letter to recruiters who use TheLadders: Stop complaining

My posting about TheLadders has more comments on it than any blog entry I’ve ever written (including while I was blogging for InfoWorld). What’s interesting is that no one defends TheLadders. Even people with embarrassing stories about wasting their money and getting burned came forward to share their pain and anger.

Then a recruiter posted a comment about how she has found some good candidates on TheLadders. I’m posting my reply here because, well, it’s my blog and I can post where I want ;-). Sorry for pulling rank and bumping up my comment…

Check Audrey Chernoff’s post in the comments section. I don’t know Audrey, but she sounds like a nice, responsible recruiter who tries to do the job right and with integrity. But she blames job hunters for diluting the quality of responses she gets from her Ladders job postings. Give me a break. The problem is bigger. Read more