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Tech Career Insights: 3 reasons companies ask for payslips and how to respond
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3 reasons companies ask for payslips and how to respond

16 October 2023, by Simone Markham

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You’re in an interview process with a great company and reached the final stages just before a potential offer. You’re getting excited about the job and the team, but once they ask you for a payslip, you start to feel unsure as you worry this is a tactic to lowball you on the salary offer.

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It’s completely understandable that this would make you reluctant to share your payslip. But here are three reasons companies may need to ask for payslips and how you can respond if you still feel uncomfortable.

1. To offer you a competitive compensation package

After the post-Covid tech boom, many tech companies scaled rapidly. But now the tech industry has experienced a cool down from historic highs. Companies are now struggling to raise capital and some are even implementing layoffs. As a whole, the industry has shifted its focus from ‘growth at all costs’ to ‘capital-efficient growth’.

That means employers can’t offer out-of-market salaries they may have done during the tech boom. They still need to make competitive offers as great developer talent is still in demand. But, they also need to stick as closely as possible to what is market-related.

Having visibility over your current compensation package, including benefits etc., is a way some companies can determine a competitive offer for you as quickly as possible.

It also helps avoid back-and-forth negotiations on the offer by getting it right the first time, which can help cultivate a better relationship between you and the company.

And it can help you negotiate compensation for benefits you’re currently receiving, as your prospective employer will have full visibility over your total compensation package.

2. To officially verify your employment

Some companies require official verification of your current employment. This is especially important for those working in the financial services sector. Some might need this proof for auditing purposes.

If you’re working with a recruiter, it can be a requirement in the Service Level Agreement they sign with the client you’re interviewing with. In which case, the recruiter won’t be able to move you forwards in the interview process without sharing your payslip with the client.

In these cases, it may be less likely that the company can skip this part of the process since it’s an official requirement.

3. To build trust through transparency

Lastly, having visibility over your payslip is a way to build trust through transparency with the employer. It’s important that you’re clear about your compensation expectations from the start, and be honest about why you’re expecting the amount you’ve selected.

For exmaple, if you feel you’re currently being underpaid and asking for an out-of-market increase as a result, you can motivate your reasons for this increase.

To do that, you need to do your research to understand what is market-related. You can check out how to benchmark your salary expectations in 2023 or software developer salary trends in South Africa for some useful insights.

If you’ve already had this discussion, sending the employer your current payslip shouldn’t block them from making you an offer in line with your expectations. In which case, you shouldn’t feel they’re doing this in order to lowball you on the offer.

Sharing your payslip to confirm your expectations shows you’re happy to be transparent with the employer, which helps build a solid relationship with them from the start.

This transparency also helps avoid any misunderstandings later in the process which can block you from receiving a potential offer.

If you’re worried about why they’re asking for a payslip, you can always ask for their reasoning. Transparency is a two-way street: If you need to be up front and honest with the employer, they need to do the same. This will help build a solid professional relationship from the start.

Tips on speaking to an employer about sharing your payslip

Although it’s common practice in South Africa for employers to ask interviewing candidates for one of their most recent payslips, you may still feel uncomfortable in sharing this information. Here are two tips you can use to raise this with a company:

1. Ask every company if they will require your payslip should you get to the final stages

At the beginning of the interview process, inform every company that will require your payslip that you don’t want to share it.

If you need assistance communicating your reservations to the employer, make a copy of this template.

2. Share your reasoning with the company

If a company asks for your reasoning, don’t feel shy to be up front and honest with them. If you’ve experienced being lowballed on a salary offer in the past after sharing your payslip, relay this experience to the employer.

The employer may even give you insights into why they ask for payslips, and it may have nothing to do with offering you a salary lower than what you’re expecting.

It also opens up the compensation conversation sooner in the process, which is useful so that neither you or the employer is wasting the others’ time.

You don’t want to go through an entire interview process only to have the offer stages blocked because you don’t want to share your payslip and it’s a requirement for the employer. Rather give them this information up front and they can decide if they want to continue the process with you.

It’ll save you time to focus on opportunities that are likelier to convert into an offer.

So it’s best to bring this conversation up as soon as possible in any interview process in order to save yourself and the employer time if you cannot come to an agreement on sharing your payslip. It’s not worth proceeding with an employer if you cannot offer them the information they need to make a final decision.

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