Visualize something with me fellow Pushers. You log into whichever of your myriad free email accounts you’ve shunted job board traffic to, and, to your shock and delight, you have four emails from various recruiters for jobs in your niche!
Dutifully, you open each and read the list of job requirements, reminding yourself as you go that you’re actually a skilled technical worker despite only meeting about half of their wish list. “What the heck,” you think to yourself, “I’m a CCIE with almost two decades of hands-on experience, maybe they’ll overlook my glaring deficiencies.” So you reply.
A brief back and forth takes place and you eventually set up a phone call. The call goes well, and they ask you how much you’re looking to make. You read in a few articles that you’re supposed to play coy here, something Psychological sounding about the person who says a number first losing the game, so you deflect and say you’ll entertain a range based on the job. They persist, you dance. You ask for a range, they dance. At some point someone says a number, and it turns out the job pays half of what you’re currently making.
I’ve been surreptitiously broaching this topic with my architect-level friends over the last 6+ months and what I’ve noticed is many of us have reached the same conclusion – we’re too old for this crap.
So I’m going to take a risk here and publicly state that I talk about salary first now. I think it’s risky because it’s associated with arrogance, or at least tackiness. It gives recruiters the impression that you only spend hours scouring text files, drawing diagrams, and answering 2am emergency phone calls because someone is paying you.
But the reason myself and a few of my friends have independently bowed out of the “no YOU say a number” dance is we’ve invested in a dozen or more long conversations, often getting excited about the potential job, only to find out there’s really no chance we can accept it. And, at the risk of that arrogance thing again, when you reach a certain level in IT, you’re inundated with people telling you you “sound like a great match for a position.” At least in 2017. Maybe I’ll be crying over this post in 10 years as I’m automated out of a job, I don’t know. And while I’m not a tech recruiter I have to imagine they have better things to do than spend 10 minutes explaining job requirements to people already earning significantly more than the position they’re trying to fill. Really, wouldn’t it be a better world if we were just honest with each other up front?
Like that Gandhi dude said, be the change you wish to see in the world.