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Why do recruiters ask for current salary?

I've recently had an interview where the recruiter kept pressuring me to tell her what my current salary was while at the same time being hesitant in saying what they were offering (which was on their advert anyway).

I thought this was irrelevant to the interview so I preferred not to share but I keep wondering what is the reason behind this question. Is it something harmless or is there a specific purpose to it? Would appreciate the thoughts of anyone who know about this. πŸ™‡πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ

Top comments (7)

cjbrooks12 profile image
Casey Brooks

Don't give your current salary in an interview. Instead, give them a range of what you'd expect to be paid, and together you can come up with a fair wage that works for both of you. But the amount you get paid should be based on how much the new company values you, not based on how much your previous company did.

Realistically, they are wanting to know how much you are expecting to be paid, and knowing how much you're currently making helps them determine the expectation of them. It looks kinda bad if you're asking for twice the salary as your current job, and so they will have more power to negotiate down. But if you're current company pays horribly and doubling the salary just puts you back into a reasonable salary range for the industry and location, well then that's what they should be paying you, and you'll have more power to negotiate upwards.

So again, don't give recruiters your current salary. Tell them how much you expect to make and let them decide if they value you that much. And be open to negotiation on that number (so start higher than you actually think you'll get), but also reasonable and don't be too greedy.

laurieontech profile image

It's now illegal in certain states because it was adversely perpetuating the inequality of salary. If you don't know what you're worth/were previously underpaid then that will continue and snowball for the rest of your career.

And while employers/HR use it to their advantage there is value in discussing acceptable salary early in the conversations. The theory was that using your current salary as a benchmark was a good way of doing that. That's not the case, so giving a number is rarely to your advantage. However, making sure the potential range of compensation is within what you're anticipating/willing to accept is important. Given how long and arduous interview processes can be, you don't want to waste your time when expectations aren't in line.

jess profile image
Jess Lee

I can't think of a reason why a recruiter would ever need to know that. I personally think there can only be harmful reasons.

anders profile image

Either so they can lowball their offer, or alternatively maybe to figure out if they can afford you.

niorad profile image
Antonio Radovcic

Never ever come up with the number first. General rule of thumb in any negotiation.

cristiano profile image

Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your thoughts. It’s good to have some reassurance that I was going in the right direction by not sharing any unnecessary details.

Something that I have overlooked is working on my negotiation skills as these seem to be as valuable as learning how to code! Also feels good to have a safe space like to share my concerns, have a good day everyone. πŸ™

joelnet profile image
JavaScript Joel

I always answer this with irrelevant. Don't submit to their nonsense.