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Discussion on: β€œWhat is your current salary?” is a red flag that you don’t want to work here

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alexmartelli profile image
Alex Martelli

I see your points, and the ones made in the many comments. However... my problem with interviews in the last 15+ years (as I've been working as a high-performing, very senior engineer at Google) has been more or less the opposite! You may wonder why, being happy with my job and total comp, I'd be interviewing at all... I just want to know experientially how things stand, just in case I may be missing something even better, and to calibrate me (when I am a hiring manager rather than just a very senior IC) in terms of compensation budgets.

Anyway, I seem to pass maybe two thirds of the interviews I do (interesting in itself: it shows there's no single linear scale of "desirability to ANY employer", it varies case by case!) -- and then inevitably when I get an offer the total comp is simply ridiculous compared with what I'm making TODAY. (Obviously, since I'm happy where I am, I wouldn't even dream of moving without major improvement in total comp, +20% or more). This makes most of those interviews something of a waste of time -- not a total waste, I DO learn something anyway!, but mostly a waste.

So nowadays, when approached by a sourcer/head-hunter (which still happens very often), I mention FIRST THING the ballpark number of the total comp package I'm looking for, before I'll even consider changing employers (in addition to other constraints I just won't be flexible about, such as: I want to keep working close to where I live, in the heart of Silicon Valley; no commuting, no moving, not much traveling either) -- and usually never hear from them again, saving everybody time and effort!-)

Of course this is the viewpoint of a very senior, well-known engineer (I've written popular technical books, there's a Wikipedia entry about me, I'm in the top first-page of Stack Overflow responders by reputation, I enjoy a long tenure with a known-to-be-employee-cuddling star company, ...) -- I might have felt very differently, much earlier in my career!-)

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ Author

Thanks for your insightful comment.
I feel, and you will probably agree, that there is a difference between you choosing to tell your current salary, and a company asking for it to a junior / mid-level candidate.

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alexmartelli profile image
Alex Martelli

You're right, it IS an important distinction!