Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Tactical Disclosure of Salary

The recent thread about whether or not one should disclose their salary history touched on an issue close to home, since I am currently looking for another job myself.

Some companies shield themeselves behind a third-party recruitment website or recruiter that requires that you disclose your preferred salary in order to submit an application. A particularly eggregarious example is In the case of, you cannot submit an application unless you pick a salary from from a combo box on the form.

When unexpectedly confronted with this while applying for a software job at Best Buy, my strategy was to select a ridiculously low number as a clear signal that this isn't a real number, and hope that I would have an opportunity to discuss the salary later. Despite being *exceptionally* well qualified for the position, and writing a cover letter which conveyed my (genuine) interest in the job, the application just dissapeared into /dev/null.  I can almost always tell if an employer is going to be interested or not and in this case it just doesn't make any sense at all that they did not respond, so I suspect that it got filtered out by some semi-random arbitrary filter on

Given this, it seems that the only thing  you can do in such cases is to submit a figure that is average (or perhaps slightly below average) and hope like hell that you get a chance to have an oppotortunity to negotiate things in an acceptable manner later.

It is my experience that the best employers will give you a fair offer regardless of whatever salary information you provided.  Unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of working for an ethical and fair employer.

PS:  If you work in software development for Best Buy, please get in touch with me. Seriously, your HR department or third-party recruiting web site is overlooking a local candidate that is an extremely strong fit for a specific position. I don't particularly need the job - I have other high quality prospects on the table right now, but this particular position was at least theoretically an unusually good fit.

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

My comment to your resume getting filtered at Best Buy is this.  You are simpily too smart.

I applied there when I was in college for a summer job (Feshman year I think) and it must have gotten filed into the circular bin.  Everyone I know that has ever gotten a job at Best Buy has been dumber than rocks, and I know a lot of smart people that applied there.

Now I realize you are most likely applying for a job writing software or doing IT for them, but I'm sure the rediculous HR policies about no smart candidates still apply.

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

>"It is my experience that the best employers will give you a fair offer regardless of whatever salary information you provided."

The best employers won't ask for your current salary, or at least they won't refuse to give you an offer just because you don't disclose it.

T. Norman
Tuesday, March 9, 2004

"A" people hire "A" people. "B" people hire "C" people.

Perhaps Best Buy is filled with "B" people hiring less skilled/qualitifed "C" people.

The real Entrepreneur
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

"Perhaps Best Buy is filled with "B" people hiring less skilled/qualitifed "C" people."

In my experience with Best Buy it's more like C's hiring D's.

Aaron F Stanton
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I always wondered ... If As hire As and Bs hire Cs, then how did all those Bs get hired in the first place? :-)

Gareth McCaughan
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Because its a false statement.  A's hire B's, unless they are extremely disciplined to hire only A's.  There are very few companies like this, which is why good companies go bad over time.  Also when you try to grow a company, it is generally not possible to hire only A's.  Some companies, like id Software, counteract this by just choosing not to grow large.

Oren Miller
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Are you guys talking about Best Buy corporate? Because I would like to think that I'm not a "C", to say the least.

Besides, even they are all Cs or Ds, then that's great - just means I can stand out from the crowd without even trying!

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Companies *want* to know your salary because they use that to determine your worth and your fit.

Thus, if you make 30K and are looking at a job the company plans to pay a salary of 100K for, you will be disqualified. They won't concider you for the job.

Your 30K salary only qualifies you for a 30K+ salary job regardless of your qualifications.

Yes, there are exceptions but, in general, this is true.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Hmmm...maybe the way out of this depressing cycle is to create a company of your own, pay yourself a boatload of cash, and base all future salary requirements off that.

Now to figure out the "pay yourself a boatload of cash" bit...hmm...

Aaron F Stanton
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Another thing.

Essentially, the second company is asking the first company (where you currently work) as to how much they think you are worth.

To illustrate, if you work for a non-profit and get a lower salary than the equivalent job at a for-profit company, and you want to move to a for-profit company, the for-profit company will likely base your target salary on the low non-profit one.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Can someone please tell me what an A person is. What is a B, and what is a C?

Thursday, March 11, 2004


The "As hire As, Bs hire Cs" statement is basically saying that very skilled people (As) generally don't have self esteem problems so they don't mind hiring people as good or better at the job than themselves ('cause they're not afraid of getting showed up).

But on the other hand, less skilled people (Bs) generally do have self esteem problem (specifically, related to the job) and tend to hire really bad people (Cs) because then the Cs will make the hiring B look good, by comparison.

Using A, B, C for these groups is, I think, taken from the letter grading system used in schools (and not from other letter systems like type-A, type-B personalities or A,B,C social groups used in the UK).

Like any rule of thumb, it isn't meant to be taken completely literally or generally.

Bill Tomlinson
Thursday, March 11, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home