Judge me by my Expertise, and not by my Salary

Some time back, I was taking interviews of some candidates, for filling a crucial position within my organization.

I finally zeroed on an amazing candidate who was a “superstar” in every respect. He was a technical whiz kid, who also had awesome management skills to boast about.

He had years of professional experience behind him, backed with powerful success stories in his kitty. His go-getter attitude and amazing temperament made the interview one of the liveliest interviews, I had ever conducted after a long time.

I patted myself on my back for having found such a great asset for my team.

So Frank, it was wonderful talking to you. Now Let us come to the most important part.”

“What is the current salary, that you are drawing.”

He looked at me, straight in the eyes and said calmly-:

Sir, with due respects to you, I will not be able to reveal my current salary. I have my reasons for it. Request you to give me a chance to hear me out, before taking any decision.

I was dumbfounded, angry and confused seeing his audacity.

I resisted the urge to throw him out while allowing him to give his reasons-:

Judge me by my Expertise, and not by my Salary

I was shortlisted for interview based on my expertise. You evaluated me, based on my expertise. You were impressed by me; by what I was able to bring across to the table. You also know perfectly, the market value for my talent.

If every criterion for selection is expertise based, how come salary comes in the picture now?

My expertise is something which I have acquired over the years, by sheer hard work and persistence to learn. My salary is something, which I was forced to accept over the years, due to factors beyond my control.

 Do you think, it is fair to compare an apple with an orange?.

I don’t want to be either undervalued or overvalued

If my salary is “below” your expectations, your question will be “Hey, Frank, you have quite a bit of experience under your belt, but still, I see your salary, far below the market standards. Any reason why that is so?”

I will have no answer to your question except to absorb your pitiful sympathies.

If my salary is “above” your expectations, your question will be “Hey Frank, you are earning quite a package. I do not see anybody even coming close to what you are getting. Why do you want to leave your current organization, as they are keeping you quite happy out there?”

Again, I will have no answer to your question, except to avoid your raised eyebrows.

My point is, what is the purpose of all this meaningless discussion. You have seen my talent, now just pay me as per my market “worth”. Do you bargain when you purchase an iPhone?

I don’t want to be a victim of UNFAIR expectations, even before I start

You have seen my talent and then I tell you my current salary. Your reaction will be “Hey, this guy is far beyond my budget, but I need to have him at any cost. Let me talk to HR and request for some additional budget. If that is not working out, I will release one or two guys and ask this guy to “manage” their work also in addition to his own work. After all, we are paying through the nose, he should not complain.”

So you see my point here, I come into your organization as a white elephant who has been invested heavily upon.

 I am supposed to slog my hardest and prove every time that I am “worth” my salary. I am not supposed to complain or even think about “work-life” balance.

Why should I suffer for something which is no fault of mine?

I want to be treated as an “EQUAL”

I reveal my salary and the next thing that will happen is that you will end up negotiating with me around the same figure.

 This so-called negotiation tips the balance heavily against women, minorities, and people of color like me who are “traditionally” often underpaid compared to their counterparts.

 This is massively demotivating to my self-esteem and does no justice to the years of hard work that I had put in, to reach this level.

Your billboard says, you are an equal opportunity employer. Please practice, what you preach and be a shining example for others to follow.

The government is WITH me

Recently the New York city council has passed a resolution, banning employers from asking, what salary the applicants drew in their last jobs.

 While applicants can volunteer the salary figure, the new measure strictly prohibits employers from trying to find out the applicant’s salary from previous employers or public records.

New York isn’t alone in the bid to ban queries regarding past salaries. Massachusetts was the first to pass a Pay Equity Bill last year, that barred employers from screening candidates based on their previous salary or asking salary-related questions.

Earlier this year, Philadelphia passed the Wage History Bill that prohibits employers from asking about the salary history. The bill was aimed specifically at reducing the gender pay gap.

If Government can support our case, why can’t companies follow suit? After all we live in an equal opportunity country.

The One Lesson We Learn here

I selected the candidate and also paid him his “market worth” as he wanted. It has been six months, since then, and he has been performing brilliantly. I am proud to have him in my team.

But, a lingering question still torments me, over and over again

Is it high time, Companies should start striking off the SALARY question from their interview bucket list?

Are we doing injustice to candidates by not paying them, what is due?

It is Time to Think about it.

Technology manager, poet, archaeology enthusiast, history maniac and also an avid blogger. I look at each day as a new flower waiting to unleash its magic. Visit Ravi on Medium.
Technology manager, poet, archaeology enthusiast, history maniac and also an avid blogger. I look at each day as a new flower waiting to unleash its magic. Visit Ravi on Medium.
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