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Front Page - Friday, May 17, 2019

Career Corner: Are salary inquiry laws helping?

I hope you’ve heard the exciting news that many states and some cities have updated their hiring laws to bar employers from asking your current salary.

And, in some, the laws are even more specific. In California, for example, prospective employers are required to provide a salary range if a candidate asks.

These changes are being put into place to help even the playing field, and it’s excellent news all-around.

Even people in locations not covered by the new laws are benefiting as some companies adopt these changes corporatewide.

Not asking how much you make can help in two ways. If you’re underpaid for any reason, your future salary won’t be based on your past salary. This means you can make more and be paid fairly more quickly.

And, if you’re looking to downgrade your career for any reason – or just change to a different path that pays less – you won’t have the employer asking why you want to take a pay cut. You won’t be dropped just for making too much money. Yes, this really happens.

Employers do typically ask how much you want to be paid. But, you can find information about pay on sites like Glassdoor.com that will help you to answer this question when it comes up. And, it does come up in the very first screening call, so be prepared with an answer.

But I still have questions.

I have seen, for example, a number of cases lately in which the company – in a regulated state – is choosing to operate in the old-fashioned way. They’re still asking salary history and refusing to provide a salary range when asked. This seems especially prevalent when a recruiter is involved in a state where the recruiter doesn’t reside. They don’t seem to be up to date on the laws in other states.

So, what’s a job seeker to do? This is such a hard question and, honestly, not one I have a clear answer to at this point.

You can (and should) push back on this question if you feel comfortable. But be aware, you will catch more flies with honey. Telling the recruiter they’re breaking laws by asking you certain questions is likely not the way to get a job offer.

That’s the problem with these great new laws. As a job seeker, your goal is to land a job. It’s not to change the world.

If you take the time to stand up for this issue, you could very likely lose the opportunity. On the flip side, however, the situation will never change if job seekers stay quiet on this issue.

If you have encountered this issue, I’d love to hear from you and how you handled it. It’s an important and sticky issue that we are all working through.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.