How do you handle from the client we don't share a salary range?

Here is my new dilemma so to speak.  I am helping a law firm locate a candidate in IP with an undergrad in chemical engineering.  The job order said 1 to 5 years.  I talk to a great candidate with the required under grad.  It would be a relocation for him but he seems interested.  I ask him what his salary range is.  After hanging up with him I call the client  and leave a message for the recruiting coordinator with my presentation and salary range.  I get an email back saying that range is out for them and oh by the way we want 2 to 4 years even though the job order says 1 to 5.  I email back and ask very nicely since that salary range was out could she please share with me the range that they are looking for so that there are no disappointments down the road.  The answer was no she could not but they were competitive with the market.

How do I handle this?  I have had lots of thoughts going through my head and realized that I need to make about the law firm and not about I work on contingency.  Something to the effect that I know the Partners are really busy and would hate to see them spend their time interviewing a candidate get excited about said candidate only to lose out because of salary.  It would better knowing if you had a hirable candidate before everyone went through all the interviews and possible flying in to find out that his/her salary would not work.

Thanks.  Any advice would be sincerely appreciated.


Views: 1082

Comment by Amber on July 16, 2012 at 11:53am

Since coming into recruiting 3 years ago, I have taken a long time to learn that there are just some clients/job orders that I do not take on. On a retainer or contigent basis. I would probably tell this client that you cannot work on a req without this very basic info. It is hard to get past that feeling that you are passing up work, but if reality is either a very low likeliehood of ever making a placement and/or the aggravation of working with certain people, you can see that you aren't "losing" anything.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 16, 2012 at 12:00pm
Process of elimination. If this candidate is out of their range shoot them an email and ask if they can consider a candidate with three years at 20k less than this one they turned down.

Sometimes firms won't share salary ranges because they will pay more for candidates with specific company experience or certain types of case work.

I would just tell candidates that the salary will be determined by so many factors that it will be determined by the individual candidates background. Put a few in front of them until you find the sweet spot.

It's a pain in the tail to go through this drill but many do it because there are so many variables.
Comment by Theresa Hunter on July 16, 2012 at 1:06pm

Sandra and Amber thank you so much for your feedback.  You are right Amber it is hard to turn down work as most law firms do't for some reason want to share a salary range so it does become some what frustrating.  Sandra I will try the if that is not what you want will this work and see how it goes.  I got one law firms basic range after I placed one candidate there.  I will see what happens.

Thanks ladies I appreciate the feedback.


Comment by Bill Schultz on July 16, 2012 at 3:11pm

Ask them what tree they believe JDCE's grow on.  

This person sounds like a "disqualifier."  She gives you no info so she can get you to send candidates and then dismiss them all for some strange reason.  

Besides the tree remark, I may have asked " Besides the $, how does this candidate stack up?

The number of years comment was pure nonsense.  

If I recall though, you can kind of figure out a firm's salary range from their forst year associate salaries.  

Comment by Theresa Hunter on July 16, 2012 at 3:20pm

Thanks Bill.  Yes, law firms are good at the we want a 1 to---- and than when you find such a person they say gee the partner wanted someone older---younger depending on what JD year you presented based on THEIR job description.  Right now trying to find a sort of young JD with a Chemical Engineering background who wants to change to a new firm has been a challenge.  If it was easy everyone would be doing it.  : )

Comment by Bill Schultz on July 16, 2012 at 4:27pm

One thing you got going for you is that associates will move from a firm where they are being treated like crap with the hopes of not being treated like crap at the next one. 

Comment by Theresa Hunter on July 16, 2012 at 4:41pm

I wanted to let Sandra know that I took her advice and sent an email to the recruiting coordinator saying based on the salary of the previous candidate would you look at a 4th for 30K less. The reply that I got back was this I really can't commit to specific salary ranges at this time, especially prior to seeing a resume.  I typically do not have recruiters or candidates asking me to commit to salaries or salary ranges so early in the process.  I would love to look at your candidate but if you can only pass along the application under these circumstances, we we will have to pass.

Now the ball is in my court either I say thanks I appreciate your assistance with past search and move on or the candidate that I have recruited will be presented with out knowing the salary range for the position only that they are competitive in the market.  I feel if I can back with an explanation of I am not trying to get a salary commitment just a range so that I don't waste your time, the partner's time, the candidate's time and MY time with someone that may not work because he/she is over your salary I will look like I am arguing with her.

I do have a nice candidate that I recruited so I will see if they like him even though he is not in the 2-4 range that they now want but is in the 1-5 range that their job order was asking for.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 16, 2012 at 10:06pm

Wasn't exactly what i meant, my fault for not being clear.  I meant find a candidate with 4 years for 20K less then send the resume and an email asking if they can consider this candidate's background and years of experience since he is 20K less than the one they turned down as being too expensive.

The reason they do not want to commit to a salary range is that they know if they give you a range and you give it to the candidate the candidate will always ask for the top or more. 

If you feel that anything else would be arguing then just shoot back and tell her you understand you will just ascertain from the candidate their asking range and make her aware.  I would be hard pressed not to toy with her a little bit by sending a candidate who looks good, then when she asks for the salary range tell her the candidate didn't want to commit to a range until he spoke with her or that he indicated he was competetive for the market.


You might do some research with several people and or fims who have this kind of practice and see what they can tell you about salary ranges.  Hit in the middle with a candidate then if they pass as too expensive nicely tell her that based on your market research they do not seem to be in the market range.  If you find anyone who for some reason is will to take less you will certainly pass them on. 



Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 16, 2012 at 10:08pm

Try some oil and gas companies with legal departments.  They have JD's with ChemE undergrads.

Comment by Bill Schultz on July 16, 2012 at 11:35pm

I don't think salary range is that important to get from the client.  Most of my clients say " whatever it takes" and mean it.  Of course, we both know the market so people fall within say a 20k range for the moat part.  

Send the candidate.


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