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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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Michael Fasani

I just avoid the question in the following way. I say β€œYes, so I wouldn’t leave my current position for less than xxxx”. This gives them a rough idea of perhaps what I earn but also sets a clear message around what I expect without answering the exact question and without seeming confrontational.

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Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ Author • Edited on

It's not about being confrontational, it's about polarizing :
I want to spend more time with good companies, and less time with bad companies.

How can you tell at the start of the process that the company is probably not that great?
Well asking for the current salary is a signal as clear as a sign as it can get.
I mean either the question often works or it almost never works.
If it often works, lots of people are working there are underpaid, and that's not a good sign.
If it almost never works, then they are dumb for asking it, and that's not a good sign either.

On the salary expectation question, here is how I handle it

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Michael Fasani

Unfortunately, I see it differently. I interview people and I also am interviewed from time to time when I change jobs. As a business, we have a budget and we need to know what a candidate expects.

We have several steps during our hiring process which can take several hours or days per candidate and in stage 1 we need to know what you might want in order to not waste your time and ours. If your expectation is 150k and we only have a budget of 100k perhaps us hiring you will not work. Perhaps we are looking for a mid-level engineer and the candidate applied anyway on a just in case chance that we offer a senior role, perhaps the company they work for already is a fortune 500 and we are a start-up.

A salary is often a pre-agreed budget and it's a waste of everyone's time if the expectation is way above the budget. This is just how business works. A company is not bad for asking what someone might expect early in the process. I agree you should not ask what they earn currently but you should ask what they want to continue the process and not waste time. If the candidate wants slightly more than my agreed budget I may still continue the process because yes sometimes there is an extra budget for the right person.

I recently changed jobs and I had many interviews and offers with a 50k variance in them (80k if we include share options). Some companies are small and some are big, some have low salaries and some high, this is just how it is. I was able to avoid many long and tedious interview processes by knowing early on that they did not have the budget for what I wanted and I avoided wasting their time and mine.

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

I do agree that it makes sense
1) for the company to ask about expectations
2) for a candidate to disclose his expectations if he expects more than what lots of companies ask

My advice "just shut up about your expectations and be happily surprised" is for people who are likely to be underpaid
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