DEV Community

Sloan the DEV Moderator
Sloan the DEV Moderator

Posted on

Should I share my current salary with recruiters?

This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough posts to write. Email if you'd like to leave an anonymous comment or if you want to ask your own anonymous question.

I've been on the job hunt for around a month now, and have been wondering about the benefits to sharing my current salary with recruiters - please let me know the pros and cons to this decision.

Top comments (14)

seankilleen profile image
Sean Killeen • Edited

Sharing salary information with a potential employer or recruiter can typically only hurt your interests; rarely does it help you.

What you are looking to figure out is the market rate for what this organization is willing to pay you. By sharing your salary information, you are immediately putting a cap on your expectations and their expectations and messing with that concept. You may have limited yourself without ever knowing it, and any increase you negotiate will be against that prior number. In short -- when you provide a number, companies can benchmark their offer against it; when you don't, they have to gauge a salary against the competitive rates in the market without any cap from you. That can be the difference between 15% and 40% or more.

I've practiced two answers pretty thoroughly over the years -- you can redirect the conversation in polite but firm ways without losing even a little bit of positivity. If you stay upbeat and confident, they're forced to move on.

  • When someone asks me for my salary history: "Oh, no worries, I don't typically talk about salary at this point. I want to see if an organization is the right fit for me first."
    • If someone is insistent: "Since this is a new position, I don't consider my salary history relevant, as it's about the impact I'll be bringing for the company and what value the company places on that impact."
    • If they say they can't continue without placing a number in a system, I'll helpfully offer: "Oh, just try putting in $1; that should get you past the system but will be clear that we still need to have a discussion about it."
    • If for some reason they're still adamant at this point, then IMO they are trying to exploit you, and you should move on.
  • When someone asks me what I'm looking to make: "I see that more as a process of discovery. Money aside, I know I have a potential to make a big impact here. Assuming you feel the same way at the end of this process (and I hope you will!), it will be important for me to know what value the company places on that impact, because it helps me better understand whether I'll be a fit."

I practiced a few variations of that (out loud!) until it felt comfortable to say. I've used it many times, and I've gotten several big salary jumps partly due to it.

One drawback: This means you will get later into conversations before you get to the salary talk. This is good for you -- they already like you if you got that far! -- but it can lead to some big mismatches in expectations. However, this sets you up to negotiate for other benefits if you're far apart on salary. It also builds your network even if it doesn't work out, because the employer will have wanted to hire you. Lastly, it will help you better target organizations and roles where your compensation goals might be met.

Happy searching!

fkranenburg profile image
Ferry Kranenburg • Edited

It depends on the recruiter. If the recruiter is truly independent than you could tell your current salary. But also tell the new salary what you would like to earn. That way the recruiter can sort out what jobs and employers are willing to pay it. At the end of the day the recruiter only get paid if they get you succesfully inside a new company that is willing to pay your suggested new salary.

My personal experience is that recruiters that ask you really lots of questions about what you want from a new employer are the best ones.

grunk profile image

The only reason you should share you current salary is if you are above the pay range for the position you 're interviewing.
You can then, use it, as leverage to maybe, have a better offer than what they where willing to give.

In any other situation you current salary is none of their business and will probably be used against you
"I see you are currently a 50K , we can offer you 55K , that nice upgrade isn't it ?" (not letting you know they can go to 65 ...)

canro91 profile image
Cesar Aguirre
eonuk profile image

There are NO pros. None at all. The recruiter has nothing to lose in asking the following questions. But has a lot to gain. If 50% of people answer the questions then thats a big win for the recruiter with almost zero effort involved:
1) How much are you currently paid?
2) How much are you looking for?

All that can happen is it opens the possibility of them putting a low-ball offer to you. Ie. less than what they were planning on offering. Recruitments fully expect people not to answer (1) but there is no harm to them in attempting to fish for an answer.

For (2), the key thing to remember is that the first people to give any numbers loses! The recruiter knows this. You should too. Your goal should be to ask what the salary range is BEFORE they ask you how much you are looking for. If they refuse to give you an answer, then it becomes a lot easier to refuse to give them an answer when they ask.

Quite often recruiters will try and avoid this situation by asking you how much you are looking for very early in the conversation. Even within the first 2-3 minutes. You need to shrug this off with "Well, I need to find out more about what the job entails before I can answer that". If they are insistant then give them a broad range with a large top end that is so unspecific it is of little use to them.

Key points:
1) Never tell them how much you are earning. Its none of their business. They expect you not to answer this but might push. Act like you've heard it a 1000 times before with a slight "eye roll" (I know that you know I'm not going to answer this) tone.
2) First person who provides an answer loses.
3) Never talk in exact figures. Always use ranges with a bias towards the top-end.
4) Expect recruiters to fish for answers but know that you are not going to answer - they are used to being fobbed off.

webbureaucrat profile image
webbureaucrat • Edited

Only if you're already dramatically overpaid, frankly.

The economic term is "asymmetric information." Any information you have that they don't is your power.

If you're anything like me, you should carefully rehearse those conversations in your head beforehand because HR and recruiters are very practiced at buffaloing people into giving that information. You can't be afraid to drop your voice into your chest and say, "I'm not going to discus that, and you need to move on." (Especially if the person you're talking to isn't the hiring manager.) The bottom line is that whatever they tell you, giving your current salary isn't standard--they just really wish it was, and they aren't counting on you giving yours even if they say they are.

Now what you can do is turn it around and say, "What I'm looking for is ${much_higher_number}" but again if you're like me you've got to practice to say it without stammering. Remember, inflation is high right now and salaries are on the way up. What you make right now is probably out of date.

jamietanna profile image
Jamie Tanna

Reframe the question back to them with an answer of what your salary expectations are. As others have mentioned, current salary just tells them what they could underpay you. Expectations show what you want, and while still may be lower than market rate, shows what you want.

A little bit rich coming from me when my salary is public, and when going for job interviews I gave them both current salary and expectations

marcello_h profile image

Let's assume they don't have that information and they put you into an interview where in the first round, that subject is also "not done". So perhaps in the 2nd or 3rd round you are getting that question, or they answer your "salary range" question. At that moment you'll find out it's a mismatch (or they do). That's a waste of time for both parties, and I know that afterwards you have a bad feeling.
Mentioning it to the recruiter will remove that awkward situation.
(Or if you hesitate, just mention what your expectations are.)
I think it has mostly to do with trust. Trust the company that they will make you a good offer and if they don't... well up to you how to deal with that.

theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring

I prefer to engage in Hyperbole with this question, instead feeding them my minimum expectation on a new salary if I were to accept an offer from them.

If they balk at the figure, then they likely don’t have the budget for me and I shouldn’t waste any more of my time interviewing.

uzair004 profile image
Muhammad Uzair

There were quite some discussions on this topic, can't remember the platform.
But crux was you should avoid telling them your current salary. Tell them how much you expect or how much pay will be given for the job

deozza profile image
Edenn Touitou

Only if you lie about the amount to have a nice raise. I'm currently at 43k€, I tell everyone that iI'm at 47k, and that I don't want anything under 50k. Unless the enterprise and the job is really cool, then I can make an effort and accept 47k. In the end, I would always have a raise.

dwroth profile image
Daniel Roth • Edited

No. "I receive a competitive compensation package relative to the market where I work now and I'm looking for a competitive compensation package in my new position."

If you are not used to saying "no" to people, this will feel awkward. Embrace the awkward. You will grow new muscles and improve your lifetime net earnings.

jenc profile image
Jen Chan


imthedeveloper profile image

I used to add on a reasonable amount to my current salary knowing they would shoot for that or above. Don't take that too far of course doubling etc is meaningless.