Why do recruiters ask for your payslip?

Have you ever wondered why the recruiter you are working with has asked for your payslip? Well, if you are reading this article, then I am sure you have thought about.

I read an article not so long ago, from the perspective of a candidate, about why recruiters ask for payslips and how it disadvantages the candidate in the negotiation stages of an offer. On the one hand, I do understand some of the points that were mentioned but I also felt that there was no thought into the potential reasons as to why recruiters want payslips. There didn’t seem to be a ‘let me put myself in their shoes’ moment and seemed to be more about complaining than anything else.

I suppose not all people view things or try to see things from different angles, so I do understand, and thought this article might help anyone who thinks about the question above.

Reason 1

This is the simplest reason but our Clients with whom you interview with, ask for it. They sometimes even have it included in the SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) we sign with them in order to do business with them. If the agency does not supply it, they don’t work with the agency and you don’t get to explore the opportunity, unless you manage to apply yourself (which isn’t always easy).  Some clients have made this a requirement and unfortunately Agencies have no way around it. If agencies want to have awesome varieties of opportunities for their candidates, and service great clients, they have to agree to terms set out by the client. Sometimes there may be wiggle room to negotiate these terms, but often there is not.

Reason 2

Let’s say John (candidate) starts working with Sarah (recruiter). Sarah asks John all the questions to make sure she is getting the right opportunity for John and also asks about salary. She has to ensure that she matches opportunities in the right range for John and makes sure she is not positioning him for something to senior or too junior. John lets Sarah know that his current CTC is say, R15000 per month and he wants a reasonable market related salary of R17000 per month.

Great! Now Sarah can start sending his CV for relevant roles and go through the recruitment process with John, and interested clients. Let’s say they now reach the offer stage and client X makes an offer of R17000 per month, which is what John wanted initially. But wait! When John sees the mock payslip from Client X, he realises that his nett salary (what he gets into his bank account) is even lower than what he is currently on? How is this possible?

Well, the way in which John understood his payslip was that his current salary was R15000 per month but, in actual fact that was just his cash component of his salary. His benefits still needed to be included, in order to get the true TCTC. Now, he has an offer that’s actually lower or the same as what he is currently on, which he is not happy with at all. Sarah trusted that John understood his salary structure and based her decisions on the information she was given.

If Sarah had seen John’s payslip she would have noticed that the benefits were not included in the amount John had informed her of. By seeing his payslip, Sarah would have been able to advise John accordingly and adjust his expectations as needed. Sarah now looks unprofessional to her client because she could not get something as simple salary expectations right with her client. This unfortunately can lead to the client not negotiating the offer, and John and Sarah losing out on the opportunity. It a lose-lose-lose. John has no new exciting job, Sarah has a compromised relationship with her client and lost the deal and the client still has a vacancy to fill.

You may think this scenario is impossible and that every person should know how their salary is structured, or the difference between TCTC and cash component, but I can tell you from my own previous experience, that is not the case. I have seen many of these situations before and it leads to everyone having wasted time, and losing the opportunity.

This situation can go both ways where a candidate genuinely believes they are on more than what they are actually on according to their payslip. This means the information given to clients by the recruiter is inflated and again, makes the whole situation a bad one.

As a recruiter, it’s part of their jobs to understand and be able to decipher and ensure they understand their candidate’s payslips correctly. In the right agency environment (like ones I have been in), recruiters should undergo payslip training, as some payslips, are super complicated.  Recruiters are trained to understand payslips and sometimes it’s best to let them help you and ensure that you are getting a fair offer at the end of the day. Recruiters are not there to take advantage of you and are there to help and guide, if needed. They have your best interests in mind and want to create a win-win-win situation!

Reason 3

Other reasons recruiters may ask for payslips is simply an issue of honesty. Bob (candidate) tells Mike (Recruiter) he is on salary of R20000 but, when Mike does see the payslip, its clear Bob is actually on less (R18000). Either Bob took a chance (happens more than you think) and inflated his current salary in the hopes of getting more, or Bob genuinely does not understand his salary structure. Again, it’s up to Mike to find how Bob came to this inflated current salary and explain to Bob his breakdown, if needed.

Why would an inflated current salary be an issue, you ask? Well imagine Mike tells his client Bobs expected salary is R23000 per month, which is the agreed amount by Bob and based on a market related increase from R20000. Now the client wants the payslip, as per the SLA, and sees that Bob is only on R18000. The client is confused as to why Bob wants such a large increase (+-30%) and is not sure what Mike was thinking. The client thinks the increase is unreasonable and potentially feels he is being taken advantage of, and decides not to pursue any further.

I am sure we all like to believe that people will always tell the truth (I know I do), but believe me, I have seen candidates lie many times before. Being greedy gets you nowhere and at the end of day a candidate may feel they are worth more than a market related salary, which is fine, but you would still need to prove yourself to a future employer. It does not matter how many interviews you do or how great you are on paper, but until you are in the new environment, no employer knows whether you will actually perform and do well in their culture.  We all have to show we are worth our salt at the end of the day.

So to finish off my article I want to leave you with some food for thought:

Recruiters at the end of the day are just trying to do their jobs and make sure that the biggest “deal breaker” is covered on both the candidate and client side. They are not evil monsters trying to take your negotiating power away or intimidate you and make you feel that you have no bargaining power.

By all means negotiate your salary with recruiter, but do it before it gets to the client so that you and the recruiter are on the same page. Your relationship is a two way street, just like the recruiter has to prove and convince you on their options, you may need to prove and convince them you are the right person for job, at a specific price.

Remember, that recruiters don’t decide what the employer offers you at the end of the day. The recruiter can put you forward for a 50% increase on your current, but they cannot guarantee that you will get it. Ultimately the decision on the offer is up to the client and the level they see you at. Recruiters simply relay the information, they don’t make the decisions. Heck, I am sure if every recruiter could get every candidate a 50% increase they would. Think about for a second, the more they get for you the more they can charge the client, the more commission they make.

Sadly, it’s not a realistic business model and would be extremely unfair on the client and bad for business. Recruiters are your partners in your career search, and if you are not sure why something has been requested from them, just ask the question. The answer may surprise you and if you don’t feel comfortable, find someone else to work with that fits your work ethics.


3 thoughts on “Why do recruiters ask for your payslip?

  • October 9, 2015 at 4:58 pm

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