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I'm looking for a little advice on how to answer the salary question in upcoming interviews.

I have every intention of being up front and honest about current compensation if asked, but I was wondering if it's reasonable to include consulting income (less than 15% of my total income) when disclosing that number. If it is reasonable to include the consulting income, should I disclose it as such, or should I simply give a total number?

Thanks,

Adam

pmoriarty's picture

Do you intend to give up consulting if you get the new job? If so, I'd say include it. If not, my personal opinion is that including it is disingenuous.

DWElwell's picture

Despite listeing to the podcast on interviewing, I have yet to hear a convicing argument about why my (or anyone's) current or past salary is at all relevant to a new position. If I think someone is the best candidate for a position, then shouldn't I offer commensurate on the value I think they will bring? How is their previous salary a factor in my computation?

That being said, if you are asked this question, better not to avoid it. I prefer asking if we can discuss it after we have both determined that I am a qualified candidate and am interested in the job. But a lot of recruiters ask right off the bat, which I find odd. If they do, I always answer base + variable component. E.g., I might say something like "I make $110,000 base + up to $40,000 based on performance, or some such.

As you move up in your career, a larger and larger proportion of your compensation will be directly related to performance so it is important to include it in the discussion.

pmoriarty's picture

Based on my experience in having hired over 100 people in my career, I can tell you that there are candidates whose expectations are not in line with the company's (and in some cases, even the industry as a whole). If, as a hiring manager, I have a req for a position that pays $50-70k and the candidate is expecting at least $100k, we're just wasting each other's time if we don't get the salary question out of the way up front.

I can quickly think of 6 instances where this has happened to me. In those instances, I was glad to stop there, thank the candidate for his interest and time, and move on.

tomw's picture

[quote="DWElwell"]Despite listeing to the podcast on interviewing, I have yet to hear a convicing argument about why my (or anyone's) current or past salary is at all relevant to a new position. If I think someone is the best candidate for a position, then shouldn't I offer commensurate on the value I think they will bring? How is their previous salary a factor in my computation?.[/quote]

Their current salary might tell you what value someone else thinks they bring. If you're interviewing to fill a ~$75K position and the person in question is making $40K in the same market and position, it may tell you that there is something missing from their value. They might talk a good game, but not actually have the experience or authority they claim to.

DWElwell's picture

I view the salary exepectation question very different from the salary history question. I think asking about the Salary range a candidate is looking for IS relevant.

In my own experience however, I have noticed there are huge variables that determine what people are payed from company to company. For example, I started my career as a Federal employee in the IT field. Unfortunately, IT folks in the Federal government are way underpaid compared to their commercial counterparts. When I "jumped ship" to work in private industry, I recieved what I considered was a substantial increase.

But two things became quickly apparent (1) there were people who came from other private companies that had the same qualifications and experience that i did that were paid a lot more for doing the same things and (2) within 6 months i was being recruited for positions that paid even more for doing the same things. The only difference as far as I can tell was that my starting point was "further back" and that had I started my career in private industry I would have been offered much more.

Note, my rate of increase once I switched was about 4-5 times as fast as as my colleagues for several years, which adds credence to this theory. Either I was d-mn good compared to my peers (maybe, maybe not) or managent knew I was being shortchanged.....

So again, I ask, why is salary history such a big deal?

acorn24's picture

[quote="pmoriarty"]Do you intend to give up consulting if you get the new job? If so, I'd say include it. If not, my personal opinion is that including it is disingenuous.[/quote]

Yes. I occasionally act as a marketing consultant to companies with whom my current employer does business. If I acccept a position at a new organization within my industry, the consulting work would likely be a conflict of interest, so I plan to give it up.

ccleveland's picture

[quote="DWElwell"]So again, I ask, why is salary history such a big deal?[/quote]

"Big deal" vs. "at all relevant to a new position" are two different questions. I agree that salary history isn't a "big deal;" however, I do believe it is relevant.

There is a correlation between salary history, expected salary, and employee [u]value[/u]. Understandably, there are almost always extenuating circumstances that cause variances in the correlation, such as the example you mentioned about being a Federal employee. The point is to take [u]all available relevant information[/u] to make a decision and not exclude available data (such as salary history) because there may be extenuating circumstances that rule it out. If something seems out of the ordinary, it's up to the hiring manager to find out what it is!

CC

Mark's picture

There's another thread that discusses this issue in some detail.

For now, trust me when I tell you:

There is a lot of bad reasoning above this post.

It doesn't matter whether you like the question or not. if you don't answer, or evade, you're hurting yourself for reasons other than salary. Sure, you don't have to answer...and we don't have to offer.

Present salary IS relevant.

Future desired salary IS relevant.

You cannot delay answering either.

You should not bring it up until you have an offer.

Mark

acorn24's picture

Mark,

Any feedback on my initial question (should I disclose consulting income when asked about current compensation, and if so, should I disclose it as such, or simply give a total)?

Thanks,

Adam

juliahhavener's picture

If you include it, I would say that you need to break it out separately. Otherwise if this employer checks that number, they are likely to believe you inflated your current salary unjustly.

Mark's picture

Does the consulting income have anything to do with your present work? Will you continue it? Did you represent accomplishments from it in the interview? Did you discuss it in detail?

I can't answer with certainty until I know those things, but my guess is that it is HIGHLY unlikely that you would disclose it as separate or even mention it in ANY way.

Mark

acorn24's picture

Yes, the consulting work is an offshoot of the work I do now. It's not something I plan on continuing, as it would represent a conflict of interest if I took a position with either of the companies I'm speaking with (though it doesn't in my current position). My resume doesn't speak to the consulting work at all, nor would I plan on speaking about it in an interview unless asked.

I was simply thinking that "current compensation" can be made up of several things - salary, commissions, bonuses, and in this case, outside consulting work. When evaluating new opportunities, I would expect to take everything into account that would effect my bottom line, like loss of consulting income, cost of living changes due to relocation, etc, so I thought that it might make sense to include the consulting income when asked about my current compensation. Sounds like that line of thinking may be wrong...

I guess this brings up another question. If my compensation with my current employer is made up of salary plus commission plus bonus, how specific should my answer to the current income question be? Do I need to break it all down, or would a total be appropriate?

Thanks!

Adam

Mark's picture

The consulting income is off limits for discussion.

You can include it in your own calculations of whether you want to take their offer, but it should NEVER come up.

In describing your compensation, be specific: base, commission, bonus.

Mark

DWElwell's picture

Okay, you all have convinced me salary history is a useful data point, my story not withstanding. :wink:

I just wish more recruiters would stop asking about it before we've even discussed the particulars of the position. (Yeah, I know it's a "weed out" question). Mark's observation that salary shouldn't be discussed until after an offer is ready to be made (and presumably) accepted is great in theory, but in my experience it's never seemed to work out that way. I guess I must be doing something wrong...

-Dan

Mark's picture

I didn't say that salary shouldn't be discussed until after the offer was made!

I said that you should not bring up salary before the offer is made. YOU talking about salary is VERY different from the company talking about salary.

Yes, they will bring it up, and you have to know how to handle it. But knowing how to handle it is not in and of itself a reason to bring it up.

Mark