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“Strong and Assertive”

This little firestorm brings a few things to mind:

  • Lying is not the same as being strong and assertive. Strong and assertive goes something like this: “I currently make X, but given my experience I’m targeting X + $5000 for this job.”
  • Unfortunately HR is filled with idiots. Lying isn’t illegal. But I’m not an unnamed HR executive, so what do I know…

One of the many things that drive me crazy about the hiring process is how skittish people are about negotiations. Rather than tell this recruiter she wants more money, O’Hara decides she’d rather lie than just say that.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to tell candidates that I’m not going to use salary against them. It’s hard to come up with a compelling offer in the dark.

Then again, there’s my second point above. There are recruiters and HR people out there who make negotiations an argument.  So, after my annoyance fades, I empathize with the gun shy job seeker, or one who’s been given advice to be elusive or advice that’s a weird combination of self help and sales training.

So here’s the rub as I see it:

  • Job seekers, be honest and direct about your salary history and your expectations. If the recruiter or HR person makes it confrontational or uncomfortable, don’t write off the job until you learn more. They could be giving you an insight into how the company works, or they could be the one idiot in a great organization.
  • Recruiters, give feedback about the candidate’s expectations. You don’t have to give a specific number (in fact, you probably can’t), but at least let them know if you can meet their expectations or not.
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