TechWhirl (TECHWR-L) is a resource for technical writing and technical communications professionals of all experience levels and in all industries to share their experiences and acquire information.
For two decades, technical communicators have turned to TechWhirl to ask and answer questions about the always-changing world of technical communications, such as tools, skills, career paths, methodologies, and emerging industries. The TechWhirl Archives and magazine, created for, by and about technical writers, offer a wealth of knowledge to everyone with an interest in any aspect of technical communications.
Subject:Re: Questions Re: Previous Salary From:JIMCHEVAL -at- AOL -dot- COM Date:Thu, 20 Nov 1997 17:30:16 -0500
In a message dated 97-11-20 15:59:37 EST, you write:
<< I'm interested in what you think about recruiters and headhunters who ask
what your salary or hourly rate was on your last assignment. Is it a fair
and appropriate question? Should we tell them? >>
For an hourly rate, no. For salary, you might not really have a choice.
Really, you shouldn't have to do either. But when you're looking to sign on
with one company, you're a bit more subject to their rules and conditions
As a contractor, you can be reasonably sure they'll try and place you no
matter what (if they've bothered to contact you or follow up on your contact
in the first place.) The fact is, this is all negotiating ammunition. You
can be damned sure they're not about to tell YOU what they've paid each and
every person with similar skills and background. But if they know you
accepted less than they've paid these people on previous assignments, what
are the chances they won't try and get you at the lower rate on this project
Personally, at the risk of being viewed as thorny, I give minimal info. The
last time a headhunter asked what I'd gotten on my previous assignment, I
said "My rate is $X, if that's what you want to know." When he pressed, I
repeated this and added "I don't discuss the details of previous assignments
with other clients."
Consulting firms will ask you lots of info they don't really need to have,
but would love to have. Most people I suspect blindly answer all these
questions. Another common one I don't answer is "What company placed you on
that assignment?" I make a very conscious effort to keep competive info
between companies separate. I also don't give out previous
supervisor/client's names except where absolutely necessary.
An example of why NOT to do this last by the way is the flurry of phone calls
a bunch of us got from one agent right after an employee was fired - and,
apparently eager to please, shared all our names while interviewing with this
I'm an ex-coin dealer (among other things), so I may be more guarded about
giving out competitive info than your average techie. But certainly previous
rates are obvious negotiating tools and as much as possible, your stance
should be "I'll show you yours if you show me mine."
Currently available for freelance/contract work
Visit Chez Jim: Jim Chevallier's Home Page - http://www.gis.net/~jimcheval