OK, I don’t get it.  I’m sorry.  I’ve tried, but I must be missing something.

Why would a recruiter want to invest time with a candidate without telling them the salary range? 

Why would a candidate subject themselves to numerous screening interviews only to find

Happy senior elderly business man juggling money dollar bills banknotes isolated on grey wall background

the job salary he or she is being recruited for is substantially below their current salary scale thus making the whole process an expensive waste of time?

This is a recurring problem.  Several executives who attended our interviewing skills lecture at the just concluded American College of Healthcare Executives Congress in Chicago said that recruiters,  primarily those in-house, but some employed by named firms, seem loathe to share that salient information. A heads-up to recruiters who use this approach for whatever reason, candidates feel that the practice is beyond bizarre and more than a little aggravating. 

This must be some novel recruiting strategy— lets drive off good candidates. On the other hand, why would a great manager or executive want to work with an organization that has such a Byzantine approach to employing managers and executives?

It is a bad idea to honk off a recruiter.  But recruiters, it is a very bad idea to treat candidates with disrespect, and there are more than a few problems on that side of the coin.

In the interest of full disclosure, we do not — we will not — play this silly salary game with candidates in hopes that something will work out. What usually works out is that the recruiter ends up looking silly and the candidate frustrated, unless by the remotest of coincidences the secret salary range would offer an attractive promotion.

One executive at our lecture on interviewing skills for senior executives had an interview with a representative of one of the big five search firms but had no idea of the title or the salary range. He was irritated because he felt the recruiter seemed to be trying to get him to disclose his salary range in hopes of finding his client a steal of a salary deal.  My advice to that executive, before he begins to answer questions he should take the initiative and ask the recruiter for the range. There are three things that can happen:

  1. The recruiter will refuse, in which case I told him he should probably politely decline to continue.
  2. The recruiter will be transparent, disclose the numbers, and he can proceed, or not, based on the quantifiable information.
  3. He can proceed with the very real possibility he will be wasting his time.

Whichever course he chooses, I suggested that he take the high road to avoid any comments that could be taken as confrontational or rude.  Recruiters have the memories of elephants.

As I wrote last week, candidates should avoid, at all cost, playing their own version of this game by trying to jump above the stated range after other candidates have been eliminated.  It is an almost certain way to end up on a search firm’s black list and call into question their integrity.