Dear Evil HR Lady,
An online application is obligatory at a certain company, even though the candidate has developed inside contacts in the team (not HR) he wishes to work for. There is a field for “minimum salary.” This is not one of the required fields with a “*” next to it and the application can well be completed without filling it in. There are several potential strategies I have read up on for dealing with such a form:
1. Leave it blank (it is not possible to type a word, i.e. “negotiable”);
2. Enter the number that is the lowest number you are willing to accept;
3. Enter the number that is at the higher range of what you realistically think they might pay;
4. Enter a number that is in between those described in points #3 and #4.
Now, #1 would obviously be the most desirable, as the first rule in negotiation (of salary or anything else) is that the upper edge belongs to the party with the most information. However, although it is not a required question for the application, HR might be using it as a “weeder” question and not want to consider any applicant who has left it blank. (I consider that a bad strategy, since it turns off a lot of attractive and savvy candidates, but it’s a fairly common one, unfortunately.)
The problem with #2 is that you risk low-balling yourself. During negotiations, “Ah! But you said that you would accept a salary of _____” could come up, and that would rather tend to pigeon you during negotiations. The principal problem with #3 and #4 is that such strategies are fundamentally dishonest. After all, the application DID say “minimum salary,” and isn’t it unwise not to tell the truth to a prospective future employer?
Besides, when we are talking about a range of acceptable salaries, #3 and #4 both carry the risk of either low-balling you (if the company’s budget is at the higher end of your imagined range or even higher) or getting you eliminated (if the company’s budget is at the lower end of your imagined range).
What are your thoughts? I know there could be several reasons why that slot is on the application. How is a candidate to work with it without either eliminating himself from consideration or low-balling himself?
To read the answer, click here: Should you reveal your salary expectations on job applications? (MoneyWatch)