[Baypiggies] Question about employment application forms

Shannon -jj Behrens jjinux at gmail.com
Mon Oct 26 08:46:20 CET 2009

On Sat, Oct 24, 2009 at 11:52 AM, Roderick Llewellyn
<roderick at sanfransystems.com> wrote:
> Hello All,
> I have a question about how you all out there handle modern employment
> forms, which ask for salary requirements. Many of these online applications
> demand a numeric entry before you can even proceed with the application, so
> you can't enter things of the form of "negotiable" or "decline to state" or
> "make me an offer" lol.
> Prior to about 10 years ago, companies never discussed salary until they
> were ready to make an offer, at which time they made the first move, usually
> issuing an offer letter. These days companies have decided to steal even
> that small negotiating advantage by making the candidate state his/her price
> before candidate even knows if the company has the slightest interest in
> them. I find this offensive, but that's how it's done now.
> My question is: how do you handle this kind of thing? I'm not looking for
> people to tell me their salaries or the like. I'm interested mainly in the
> logical process by which you come up with a number to fill in these forms
> which demand one. I have been searching for work for a couple years now, and
> it's possible that the numbers I've entered in these forms have caused me to
> be eliminated without the firm even bothering to read my resume or the rest
> of my application (e.g., their application process has code of the form "IF
> salary_requirement [candidate] > our_incredibly_low_amount THEN reject
> (candidate)" )
> For example, do people (who ideally have actually gotten jobs through this
> kind of process) have heuristics such as:
> 1. I enter in the last salary I made. At least we know I must have been
> worth that to somebody.
> 2. Same as 1., but I increase it by X %. After all I deserve a raise.
> 3. I always tell the truth, and enter in the minimum I would accept, since
> that maximizes my chance of getting a job I would actually take.
> 4. I enter in a large number, knowing that the firm will always cut it down,
> never increase it.
> 5. I roll the dice. One number is as good as another.
> 6. I do careful research to determine what similar positions pay to the one
> that I'm going for, and state a number similar to that. (Problem with that
> is that in my personal case, I have been unable to find useful salary
> information - my belief is that developer salaries have plummeted in the
> last few years, and can find no comparables to my 35 years of experience -
> which is valued at zero by the marketplace anyway).
> Anyway those are just a few ideas. Please again don't get offended, I'm not
> trying to penetrate people's privacy, just trying to get a handle on how
> people have (ideally successfully!) deal with this very difficult (and in my
> opinion, totally unfair) question that now occurs on most firms' application
> forms.
> Thanks very much,
> Rod Llewellyn

Everyone else had good advice.  I have one number that I charge for
salaried startups, and I have another number that I charge for "build
it from scratch, and get a lot of equity" type startups.  Neither is
particularly big, and in fact I keep getting more and more fun jobs
for less and less money.  These days, I'm living pretty frugally.
I've never had success with the sort of computer forms you're talking
about.  I'm not sure those ever work.  I've interviewed at several
places that I had no real relation to, but almost invariably, the best
companies come to me through my network.  Best of all, since they
already know all about me, I don't have to bother with a technical
interview ;)

Best of Luck,

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things
with great love. -- Mother Teresa

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