Recently, I wrote an article about the growing number of pay equity laws designed to correct gender- and race-based disparities in compensation. The post focused on California’s ban on asking about salary history and offered compensation policy advice for nonprofit executives navigating this evolving landscape.
Campbell & Company supports these legislative efforts, and we believe similar laws will continue to take shape across the U.S. While organizations seek guidance amidst this change, jobseekers need their own set of do’s and don’ts. How can I prepare? What can I ask? How much should I share?
To help job candidates understand what a salary history ban means for them—and how to thrive under these new circumstances— our Executive Search team assembled five key recommendations:
- Research the market salary range for the position before speaking with the hiring manager or search firm. It’s critical to have this information ahead of your first call. Use resources such as Guidestar and, more cautiously, Glassdoor and check with national societies and associations in your field, which often conduct annual compensation surveys. Examples for fundraisers are AFP, AHP, and CASE.
- Ask for the salary range during your first conversation with the hiring manager. If they request your salary expectations, counter with a question about how the salary range was set. Before sharing your expectations, you want to understand what the organization expects to pay and how they arrived at that number.
- Don’t be afraid to ask further questions about the salary range. These may include: Has the organization conducted a market analysis specific to this role? Is there room for negotiation? Candidates often feel uncomfortable or apprehensive broaching the subject of salary early on in the hiring process. However, posing direct questions will ensure that you and the hiring manager stay in sync throughout the process.
- Understand that organizations need to start at the low to midlevel of the salary range. When a hiring manager shares a $125,000-$150,000 range, many jobseekers picture themselves at the $150K end. In reality, the upper level may indicate room for the position's pay raises over the next few years. The high end is generally reserved for the most exceptional and experienced candidates.
- If you have an initial offer, be proactive to ensure that the salary meets the current market range and counteroffer if necessary—with data to support your request. Using the research you did at the outset, you should be well-positioned to make a counteroffer should the need arise. Some organizations will offer a lower salary expecting a counter, so remember that you have the ability to negotiate during an offer. If you counter the initial offer, ensure you're making an equitable counter both for your needs and the organization.
Discussing salary has always been tricky, but California’s recent salary history ban and other pay equity laws are seeking to create a fairer and more transparent job search process for everyone. My colleagues and I strive to be a resource to nonprofit jobseekers, so please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me directly with questions.