Recruiters and Overstating Candidate Salaries — Grrrrr!
Most recruiters spend the time to make sure a candidate has the right skillset for a job. At some point, salary requirements come up. In all fairness, this is a key aspect to any job search. Hopefully, the candidate has a fair view of their value. Sometimes, a candidate might be asking for a lower salary because they feel their skill set doesn’t align with a higher level. At times, we also get candidates who are unaware of their true salary worth. If you have a candidate who has been underpaid in their previous jobs, they might not know what their skills are worth in the fair and current job market. A good recruiter should therefore be able to provide unbiased feedback on the market value of their candidate.
The recruiter will then look at what the client is looking to offer, and make the comparison between that and what their candidate is after. This is where things get tricky. Especially when a recruiter decides that the candidate’s skillset on paper is worth more than what they’re asking for.
Why does this happen?
It’s simple: the recruiter stands to make more commission this way. They’re therefore incentivized to see the upside in that situation.
Why is this an issue?
Simple, again. The recruiter has inadvertently set the candidate up for potential failure. The hiring manager will review the resumé and expect a more senior or skilled individual at that higher salary level. That might eliminate them through the initial screening of the resumé. If they make it to a technical interview, there might be an unfair expectation as the interview will be set to a higher level that the candidate should be interviewing at.
In fact, I had this happen to a candidate. This person looked very senior on paper. Speaking to him, though, he admitted that he is less-skilled than what his resumé suggests. He told me a story of a recruiter who thought he was worth $30K more than what he was asking. So when he was submitted to an interview with a tech assessment meant for a senior engineer, he failed.
This really bothered me. This candidate was nice and honest, and was upfront about his skillset. His other recruiter failed him, because they were blindly worried about collecting a higher fee for the candidate. What’s the job of the recruiter, after all? Certainly, it’s not to misrepresent the candidate’s abilities. And it’s not to strive for the highest fee possible.
When I spoke to this candidate, we both agreed that we should be targeting a junior to mid-level role for him. We also said that a flexible salary requirement (+/- $5k of his salary range) would be the best thing for him. There was no thought about me losing out on a higher commission from closing him. I would rather submit him at a fair salary range and job level than have him fail an interview process that does not match his skillset.
All recruiters should think this way.
The candidate comes first.
As a side note: It is part of our philosophy at Elevano to never ask candidates about their salary history. We’re also aware that this reflects state and local laws regarding salary disclosure. We encourage our candidate to be mindful of these laws on their job search, and know that in various circumstances, they are legally protected from disclosing salary history.