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.

Top comments (33)

shostarsson profile image
Rémi Lavedrine • Edited

I do think that this a very private information in Western countries (I don't know the culture around that in other countries).

According to me, if a recruiter's or employer's attitude toward talented job-seekers is "You will tell us your salary or we'll hire someone else", your best bet is to walk away.
They do it because it is good for them to do so. When someone knows your salaray history, they know exactly how much they need to pay you for your salary offer to represent a pay increase - or even a pay decrease that they're betting you will accept anyway.

Many recruiters grew up in the recruiting worl asking job-seekers for their salary details. It was standard procedure.

Here’s how to answer a recruiter who wants you to tell them what you’re earning now:

Recruiter: So Lenny, what are you earning at Angry Chocolates now?

You: I’m focusing on jobs in the $60K range — is this job in that range?

Recruiter: So you’re earning $60K at Angry Chocolates, or $55K, or what?

You: I want to focus on my target, which is $60K. That’s the key. If this position pays in that range it makes sense for us to keep talking.

Recruiter: My client is going to want to know what you’re earning now.

You: I understand that desire because I’d love to know what they paid the last person in this job as well as your client’s budget for this position, but I understand that you and I are in a negotiating posture and that you work for the client. My salary history is private but if my $60K target works for your client, then we’re in business.

Recruiter: Lenny, you have to trust me!

You: I look forward to working toward that point. Right now we’re talking about a possible transaction between your client and me, and it’s not appropriate for me to share my personal financial information with you. If that doesn’t work for you, I understand.

Recruiter: Okay, whatever, we’ll work with your $60K figure for now.

You: So, is that figure in the hiring salary range for this position?

I hope that is going to help someone.

I read that from a very good article but I can't remember where it was, so I can't quote it.

bamboriz profile image
Boris B.

Personally, I don't even think that's a question they should be asking. In my last interview, I was asked the question but I really didn't reply :)

I kind of just swung around and luckily for me the recruiter was ok with me doing that and just continued. Was the right move though because I am pretty certain I would have been offered a lower rate if I had given out that info.

mitchpommers profile image
Mitch Pomery (he/him)

No, you should not share your current salary with recruiters. If you are currently being underpaid for the work you do, sharing your current salary helps them to continue to keep underpaying you. If you are being paid well for what you do, sharing your current salary lets them figure out who is currently being underpaid as they won't share their current salary, leading to the same problem.

Instead share the range that you think is reasonable for the job they are offering. Neither party wants to get through the entire process to find out that you are playing in completely different ball parks when it comes to renumeration.

aspenjames profile image
Aspen James

No no no. It's even illegal to ask in a lot of states in the US. I know it is here in Washington at the least. Check in with regulations in your area and know your rights ahead of time.

Some other good responses:

"I'd rather not share that right now, I'd prefer to focus on the value that I can add to your company and this offer"

"I have an ethical concern with disclosing how my current employer compensates their employees, so I can't share that information with you"

The last one I would withhold unless they're being pushy, since it can come across overly strong in certain situations. It's a great one though, since the recruiter would have to knowingly ask you to compromise your ethics to get you to respond, and if that's the case that would be a good sign to look elsewhere.

scottshipp profile image

I am not aware of any law prohibiting recruiters from asking your current salary in Washington state. (Perhaps you mean DC, but just throwing this out there.) California definitely made the question illegal since it unfairly disadvantages women who are typically paid less than male counterparts in the same role. All states should adopt such legislation.

scottshipp profile image

I’m in total agreement that you should never share your current salary. I’m also hesitant about naming a range. Really any number you give them is giving away negotiating power. They should definitely tell you the range they’re willing to pay. I’m a stubborn person about this and have endured being asked six times in one case before they revealed their target compensation package. Most recruiters will only ask you twice. In every case where a recruiter is pressing the issue, I have always experienced that it’s because they’re purposely recruiting for someone willing to take a severely undermarket comp package.

This is in Seattle, Washington, USA by the way.

The other problem with sharing this information is that it disadvantages women and minorities who are likely already underpaid and it’s a way that this unfairness is perpetuated. So definitely if you’re asked deflect towards another aspect of your fit for the position.

jacebenson profile image

This is a post I read everytime I talk about new opportunities.

In it, it goes over salary stuff and negotiating. By giving them the number, you give them the ability to lower your expectations. Whereas if you make them propose that number you have more negotating power.

The First Rule Is What Everyone Tells You It Is: Never Give A Number First

jacebenson profile image

Objection: “We want to figure out whether you’re an appropriate candidate for the position.”

What you should think: “You’re lying to me to attempt to get me to compromise my negotiating position.”

What you should say: “It’s so important to me that this is a good mutual fit for us. Let’s talk about why I’m a great fit for this position: I know you’re concerned about $FILL_IN_THE_BLANK. In addition to my previous successes doing it, I have some great ideas for what I’d do about that if I was working at your company. Would you like to drill into those or is there another job area you’re more concerned about to start with?”

ferricoxide profile image
Thomas H Jones II

My rule of thumb is to only start discussing minimum salary-requirements if you're moving on to an in-person interview: basically, why waste the drive and the PTO to be interviewed if there's no possibility that they're going to meet your salary minimums.

molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her)

I would share it with recruiters because they are supposed to be working for you and the more information they have to help you get the best job to suit your needs the better. If you are being paid less than you think you should then share that with them and share the reasons why.

When it comes to talking to another company I think being open about your salary expectations will only help you and the company you are talking to get on the same page. If you feel you are being underpaid currently and want to be paid more then you would give a higher salary expectation number. If you think your current salary is fair then you could give that number as your expectation.

I don't really buy that if you give a number first its horrible for you as long as you give a number based on what you want, expect, and you are worth based on whatever the market says. I have given salary expectations first for 3 job transitions and every time it worked out great, I got exactly what I wanted.

stereobooster profile image

because they are supposed to be working for you

I don't try to argue with you, just curiosity: isn't they work for the company and not for you? (Because the company paying them money)

molly profile image
Molly Struve (she/her)

That's on me I should be more clear, I'm talking about Recruiters that work for general recruiting firms so they get paid by whatever company they place you at. Recruiters also want to make a good name for themselves otherwise no one will want to use them so it's in their best interest to place you at a company that is suitable for you.

Another thing to keep in mind with general recruiters who work for recruiting firms is that often their commission is based on a percentage of your salary so they are definitely going to want to get you the best deal possible

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel 🕵🏻‍♂️ Fayard

The company has already much more information about the market that you have.
The single information they lack is "what is the minimum amount of money is this person ready to work for".
Release this information early in the process and you are basically trying to strike a deal naked.

itsasine profile image
ItsASine (Kayla)

No, but.

No, you shouldn't volunteer that, especially if you're in a jurisdiction where it's an illegal question to ask (not just an illegal answer to take action on, like if you have children, but straight-up illegal to ask). You should be discussing the value of your skills being brought to the job and the value of the job to the company, not what other companies have valued that at.

I do, however, see where it makes sense to discuss it in relation to other things. I make more right now than I would reasonably value my skills and work. But I also have city bills to pay.

So if I'm looking at a new position, I could see mentioning my current salary to be like "I understand you may not be able to beat that, so perhaps we can discuss remote work options to offset that" (or PTO or something else to make the full package look more worthwhile than just a dollar sign). I likewise see it useful to tell external recruiters what I make now so they know to not even try telling me about $50k jobs when my rent is over $2k a month.

booleanhunter profile image
Ashwin Hariharan • Edited

I had an initial telephone round with a good company recently, and the HR asked me my current CTC - I wasn't expecting this question so soon and it caught me completely off-guard.

I still knew better than to reveal my CTC, but I did mention a desired salary range for the role. The HR agreed to it and scheduled an interview that would happen in the next couple of weeks.

Later during the day, I felt that I could have in-fact mentioned a much higher range for the position. Is there any way that I can recover from my blunder when the subject of salary is raised again (if & when I clear my interviews)? What would be an appropriate response?

cjstehno profile image
Christopher J. Stehno

It depends... early in your career you may be trying to advance your position and may therefore be trying to get into one with a potentially-higher salary than what you have been making. If you are making 30k and the position you want averages at 50k, telling the recruiter that you make 30k is going to tell them they can low-ball you and bring you into the position at a lower rate, like 40k since it will still be a step up for you.

On the flip side of that, as you become more experienced in your career you may be making a higher salary than average, so telling the recruiter right off the bat what you make, and what you would be expecting sets the bar so that they don't bring you positions you would not be interested in, due to a lower salary.

I have always hated that question and have generally tried to turn it back on them, stating a range of what you would be comfortable making in a position rather than giving my actual salary. It's not really any of their business and what you currently make has no bearing on what another company should pay you.

This is not to say that salary is everything, but that's what the question was related to.

afzalsayed96 profile image
Afzal Sayed

I had a call with a Founder (not recruiter) and he straight up asked me my salary after initial introduction. I politely denied saying I want to be judged on my skills, not my salary and quoted an expectation instead which was very much matching with theirs.
He still pushed my to share my salary and when I denied saying it's confidential information and I'd rather not share it, he hung up on me.
Am I in the wrong here?

quwip10 profile image
Atlas • Edited

It seems that most people on here are recommending against sharing your salary. If you are uncomfortable doing so, then the advice below is fine. However, depending on the situation, I think it can be fine to share your current salary. If you are happy with your current role and willing to stay (as in you are just exploring other options) sharing can be a good way to let the recruiter know what it would take to get you to leave. Most recruiters know that people don't leave existing jobs (where they are happy) without a 10%-25% pay increase. Revealing your current salary can help level-set the conversation for both of you. When I am asked this conversation in interviews, I often reply with, "What is the salary range for this role?" Usually they will give me this answer and if not, we can discuss what I am looking for, or what I am currently making and what it would take to get me to leave my current role.

jacobherrington profile image
Jacob Herrington (he/him)

I tend to share - but I also don't shy away from asking for high salaries.

How I would answer most questions regarding recruiters:

1) Do what is ethical.
2) Challenge others to be ethical.
3) Do what you need to do to create the best oportunities for yourself.