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This is one of my all-time favorite topics, only because I've had a "mixed experience" with it (Mixed = Positive or Negative), depending on my employer at the time.

On the question of the reliability/validity of non-traditional salary info sources, Chuck's "quality" observation speaks volumes. In lightly refuting these sources with candidates, especially with self-reported data, we have occasionally gone so far as to ask the candidate that when it comes to self-reported data and who volunteers that data - did they think it was individuals who were proud of the salary level they were earning, or the individuals who were ashamed? The resulting dead silence usually conveyed an understanding of why the information may be selective - and therefore skewed to the high side.

With regard to "responding", this is where it's good not to have full authority, and where it's nice to have recourse to a compensation specialist. Likewise, I've also seen used (successfully), the ability to negotiate up to a +5% maximum. After that, past approaches I've seen (used) are to state the unequivocal interest in the candidate, but to make clear that the offer is believed to be the correct balance between what the organization can afford and what the candidate should reasonably be willing to accept. After that, we always gave the 24 hour deadline for acceptance - after which we would move to our second candidate for the job (even if there wasn't one). That seemed to guarantee an acceptance (in the 23rd hour) in about 19 out of 20 instances.

Good points, Chris. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

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