There are so many different opinions on when you should introduce salary into a conversation with candidates. More recently, I have heard a lot of opinion around paying what the job is worth and not taking the candidate's current salary into account. I can see this point of view but there are two main problems with this.
1. Would you really give someone a £40,000 pay rise if they were on £50,000 and you bench marked the role at £90,000? Why would you do that? Is this not similar to a big football transfer e.g. Manchester United paid £85 million for Harry Maguire who is not worth it and immediately has a huge weight on his shoulders to try and justify the price tag? Big salaries bring demanding expectations.
2. Most candidates would be delighted with a decent pay rise to move jobs and have enough budget still in the kitty to enjoy further ones based on performance. I have seen the doubling of salary overnight pay rises to candidates and have not yet seen a successful outcome. It sets unfair expectations.
I do believe that salary should be discussed in the early stages of any recruitment process both to understand a candidate's current remuneration but also their expectations. It may be that a "pricey" candidate has been earning more than your salary budget but in a much bigger role, and due to life circumstances, they may not aspire to achieve the same level. You may get a lot more for your money than you were expecting and in a good way.
For me, salary should be put on the table as early as possible in your candidate conversations. What's the point of investing time and resource in a recruitment process, everyone loves a candidate and then it all falls down because your salary expectations are too far apart? Don't kid yourself that you will be able to talk a candidate around at the end of the process.
Transparency is a powerful thing!
I work in HR and am somewhat new to the field. Part of my job is managing recruitment. When I receive a promising resume, I will email the candidate to arrange a phone interview. In that first email, I ask, "What are your salary expectations?" If the person replies, "I am looking for salary between $X-Y" but I know the position pays lower than that, I will advise the applicant that their expectations are higher than what the position pays and ask if they are still interested in the phone interview. Sometimes they are, sometimes they're not. I have read your column and it seems many job-hunters are uncomfortable with revealing their salary expectations so soon in the recruitment process. So what is the best, most professional way to ask a candidate's salary expectations?