That salary history question.
As I did my daily trawl for job postings to post to Archives Gig, I came across this ad from Chapman University in Orange, CA. (And yes, I will post this job on AG. Because however much something like this ticks me off, it’s still information that falls within my posting guidelines.) It’s a 1-year term position at the California Gold Archive, which sounds kind of like a cool collection. Temporary job aside, what really burns my toast about this announcement is this: Chapman requires a salary history from its applicants. If you don’t include it with your application, you will not be considered for the job. Let’s take a look at the announcement, shall we (all emphasis theirs):
2/19/2014 28-14 Asst. Librarian-California Gold Archive-Archivist Admin Full-Time Accepting Applications
Please submit a resume with Job No. 28-14 and salary history, and/or application. APPLICANTS MUST SUBMIT SALARY HISTORY IN ORDER TO BE CONSIDERED FOR THE POSITION.
This is a Regular Limited Term, benefit based assignment for one year, however the duration of this assignment can be lengthened or shortened at the discretion of the University.
Maintain physical and intellectual control of the California’s Gold Archive (CGA) through arrangement, description and the creation of finding aids; promotion and public outreach to raise awareness of the CGA by creating and maintaining scholarly and community relationships. The CGA Archivist will plan digital content building utilizing social media outlets and digital preservation. The position will also manage the CGA Reading Room as well as volunteers, students and special hires in processing and digitization projects. The position reports to the Coordinator of Special Collections and Archives. Other duties as assigned.
Required: Formal coursework or training in archival management and theory. Knowledge of the access tools for special collections and archival material. Working knowledge of the standards and procedures for preservation and conservation of paper, audio/visual media and artifacts. Demonstrated experience developing processing plans and creating finding aids in accordance with national standards. Knowledge of and ability to maintain awareness of developments in archival processing, digital information technologies, and their uses in special collections and archives. Excellent analytical, organizational, and time management skills. Oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills to promote and present the archive to multiple audiences.
Desired: Minimum 1-3 years of demonstrated experience working with books, manuscripts, photographs, recordings, and other material in a special collections & archives environment. Demonstrated experience working in archives in an academic or institutional setting and providing reference services in a reading room environment. Prior experience with project management.
Notice to Applicants:
This position will be posted for a minimum of 5 business days and may close at any time after that without prior notice.
Successful completion of a criminal background check required for final candidate.
Chapman University is an Equal Opportunity Employer, committed to providing career opportunities to
all people, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation,
disability, or veteran status.
Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange, CA 92866 Human Resources Department
Now, I suppose that this university has encountered opposition to the salary history question from its applicants, which is why their note about it is in ALLCAPS at the top of the posting. It’s the first thing the job seeker sees. Why on earth do they need to know this information? I expect that an employer would be able to look at their own budget, what they want the worker to do, and figure out how much they’re willing to pay that worker to do the work (in this case, over the period of just 12 months). How difficult is it to list a salary range for a temporary position?
Why should my last paycheck determine how you, a completely different employer, pay me? It’s completely irrelevant, and it undermines trust in the potential employer immediately. Even if they’re just requiring this number for the sake of being nosy, I have to think that the employer is using that number to decide how little of a salary they can get away with compensating me. After looking at Chapman’s employment page, it seems that requiring a salary history is a blanket policy for this institution’s positions. I cannot fathom why they need to know, for any job.
Let’s take me as an example of a prospective applicant for this job. By the time I had graduated from UW-Madison SLIS, I had well over two years’ worth of paraprofessional academic and institutional archives experience under my belt, which would put me in their “preferred applicant” category for this job. When I graduated, I was making about $1000 per month in my hourly student jobs. Even my best paid jobs up to that point didn’t break $15/hour. My job before that, I was living on the poverty line as an AmeriCorps*VISTA. I lived (and still live) in the Midwest, presumably with a different cost of living than Orange, California. What exactly is Chapman going to do with that salary history information? They are advertising an entry-level job with a high educational requirement and a specialized skill set – they’re going to get applicants who are just out of grad school.
That fact that this job term can be “lengthened or shortened at the discretion of the University” is even more galling. So, I’m supposed to provide this not-even-remotely-your-business information for a job that could pretty much end at any time. That just made me more angry.
So, employers, hear my plea: Just list a range, already. Then I, the prospective employee, will know if it’s a salary I can live with. You, the employer, know it’s a salary you can pay. And then we are simpatico, and we don’t have to waste each other’s time, and we don’t have get into the particulars of how much I got paid at my work/study job while I was between classes in grad school.
Unfortunately, Chapman is one in a string of employers who ask for this sort of thing from their applicants. If salary history (and the related question, salary requirement) has been a component of your salary negotiations with an employer, I invite you to comment here.