How Candidates Should Navigate the Law Banning a Discussion of Compensation History

Just as hiring firms are adjusting to how to navigate discussing compensation with candidates when, by law, they need to avoid asking compensation history, candidates are fumbling with what to, and not to, say.

Many candidates find themselves telling recruiters, HR and hiring managers what they’re presently earning. Or what they’ve been earning. This isn’t the best approach for a candidate. Not at all.

Instead, candidates should determine what is the compensation they want vs. the compensation they’d take. And those should be two different numbers. For example, if someone’s presently earning $200,000 total and they’d like $275,000, that can be the number they want, while $230,000 might be the number they’d take.

Once a candidate has established those numbers, they should practice saying, “I’m looking for a total package of $275,000 with a base of $200,000.” And practice is best done in multiple settings. While driving the car, hitting a tennis ball, taking a walk, shaving, emptying the dishwasher, etc. There should be enough practice so that the candidate is relaxed and prepared. Otherwise, they may find themselves with their arms across their chest, looking down at their shoes and whispering. Not a good approach. So practice. Practice so much that responding to the question is not something you dread.

Typically, what’s offered isn’t what’s requested. But how one states their sought compensation can impact what’s offered.