Kingston Smith

Does it matter what a candidate earns right now?

I’ve not only helped clients recruit and been a recruiter myself, I’ve also been a candidate. I’m still genuinely surprised when employers reduce the salary allocated to a role because the applicant earns considerably less in their current job. Especially when you consider that, if the applicant earnt more, employers would be unlikely to increase the offer.

The advice I always give, which does meet quite a lot of resistance, is that, at the point of recruiting, pay for the role not the person. If the new recruit is successful in the role and goes above and beyond what is expected, they can be financially rewarded accordingly. If they merely meet expectations, increases can be smaller and infrequent.

Just because a candidate earns less doesn’t mean they aren’t worth more. There can be many contributing factors as to why they earn a lower salary than you’re planning to offer. Employers should resist trying to find out a candidate’s current earnings, as this may cloud judgement, leading to assumptions about skill levels.

I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve heard employers consider rejecting a good candidate because their current remuneration is less than what’s being offered. Especially when they’re clearly the best person for the role! Employers could consider offering a lower amount, with a guaranteed increase on successful completion of their probation period, if they do have doubts.

Remember, employees who feel they’re being paid less than they deserve, don’t necessarily tell you. They might just go and find another job.

At job offer stage, candidates might be inclined to accept the role offering them market rate, not the one benchmarking against their current package. This could mean an employer loses out on a great employee, who ends up working for the competition.