The Dignity of the Job Search Part II

Recently I proposed a “Job Applicant’s Bill of Rights,” calling on potential employers to treat applicants with dignity and respect. Now I’d like to add candor and realistic expectations to the list.

Sure, employers enjoy a buyer’s market today, but being honest about compensation and experience benefits all sides.

Too often, employers ask for the moon in their recruitment ads: “Advanced degree plus 10 years of experience or advanced training on special equipment plus 10 years or more of direct experience.” What do they offer? Blue sky: “Salary competitive” or “Salary commensurate with experience.”
Sadly, when someone with ideal credentials applies, he or she discovers the compensation is really on the ground floor, appropriate for someone fresh from college or just starting a career.

Why do employers do that? Do they think overqualified, underpaid employees make for a better workforce? Research consistently demonstrates that underpaying never results in increased efficiency and productivity. Firms that pay appropriately for talented employees reap the benefits of increased productivity and profits.

Advertising for applicants with credentials beyond a job’s value, interviewing candidates and then offering a finalist an inappropriate wage, wastes both your time and theirs.

Why not act honestly? Prospective employees understand and self-select where to apply when employers state a salary range that is below a prospective applicant’s market value. Employers appear unprofessional when advertising that they are seeking someone with 10-plus years of experience but have no intention of offering compensation for someone at that level.

What happens today is that the discussion for compensation occurs in the first interview. Why? Because having not advertised truthfully about compensation in a recruitment ad, prospective employers want to eliminate candidates based solely on compensation during the first interview. Prior to the recession, negotiations over salary took place during the final interview, when the employer and applicant had reached an understanding that they were well matched.

If you challenge search firms and employers that begin interviews by describing compensation that is far more appropriate for someone with no experience, as opposed to the 10 years of experience they advertised, you’ll likely hear that the employers are “testing the waters.” When they do, ask them, “Why waste the time of people seeking employment?” What’s even worse for the employers is that their published job requirements often discourage the exact potential employees they really can afford.
Employers who act this way hurt the reputations and brands of their companies. Employers who attempt to “nickel and dime” new employees end up not recruiting the finest employees they really need and, in the end, do not attain the level of growth or market penetration they profess to seek.

My experience has demonstrated time and again that offering a competitive wage and benefit package attracts highly skilled and motivated employees who perform at a top level. They remain loyal and in the end achieve measurable results that expand the mission of the organization.

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