You just interviewed a great candidate who has been making far less than you were willing to pay. Did your eyes light up thinking about how much you can save from what you expected to pay?

While you might be able to get away with paying below the range you had in mind, there are several reasons why you should stick with your range. Pay for what you want done and then hold the person accountable for doing the job. Your range should represent the level and quality of work you expect for that pay. Offering a lower amount just lowers those expectations.

In addition, no matter how confidential we like to believe wages to be, employees talk… and those conversations are protected by California law stating you cannot stop them from discussing wages. Even if there are no other employees, it seems confidential information is rarely totally secure within the company. What happens when she hears about the original range or that others with fewer responsibilities earn more?

Starting a position too low often means, at some point, you’ll need to provide an “equity increase.” If you don’t eventually pay close to the pay in other companies, you take the risk of losing her to another company. The cost of replacing her will be far greater than paying her a fair wage from the start.

California has a proposed law to prohibit employers from asking about previous wages… just to prevent this type of below-market offer! I happen to like knowing what candidates previously earned. I also like knowing I can hold the employee accountable for the work itself because I’m paying a fair wage. What do you like knowing?


About Your Columnist

CJ Westrick

CJ Westrick is a featured columnist for Women Lead, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she covers all things human resources and managing people in the workplace. CJ Westrick, SPHR, has been in human resources (HR) management for over 20 years and has maintained her SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources) national certification since 2002. She started HR Jungle, a human resources consulting firm, in 2006 to provide senior-level HR expertise to businesses without internal HR.


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