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Sloan the DEV Moderator
Sloan the DEV Moderator

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Should I share my current salary with recruiters?

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I'm currently on the job hunt. Have been for about 2 months or so. I've started to get some questions from recruiters about my current salary, and I just don't know if it's smart to tell them or keep that close to my chest. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. I'd love to know the pros/cons of this.

Top comments (27)

darkain profile image
Vincent Milum Jr

Do it the other way first.

My VERY first question before even getting into anything is asking the recruiter the expected salary range for the opportunity.

If they cannot answer, i decline immediately.

If they respond with a number, its usually followed up with "is this good enough", and I'll push them higher.

My current salary doesn't matter, only the new target I'm aiming to achieve.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard • Edited

Your solution to turn the table around and ask first if they are willing to share a salary range is simple and good, really like it.

In any case there is zero good reason for a company, given two equally good candidates, to pay less the candidate that used to be underpaid. Major red flag.

etienneburdet profile image
Etienne Burdet

Note: it's true now for devs because it's a demand driven market (more offers than candidates), so it's logical to put the best salary you can afford. that won't get your dev hired back at a higher price.

In other jobs or other times, the market might be offer driven, and then it's logical for the company to hire the person that ask for less salary for the same skills, if you have the choice.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard • Edited

edit: misunderstanding from me. I wrote two comments and thought you answered the other one

It's not a good counter argument. Companies make hiring decisions depending on how much value the candidate brings versus how much he costs. Depending on the sector you will have more or less leverage.

But in no sector is it ok to force a candidate to either lie or undermine herself by revealing that she is underpaid.

Asking that dreaded question is generally unfair and at best irrelevant. Frankly it should be forbidden, ideally by law, or else by company policy and candidates refusing to answer. Good people in human resources I have talked with understand that.

emmtit profile image

I have learnt this long ago. And i stiked to this approach.

It is not good to disclose your current pay. In mose cases, they will take advantage of it if that you are currently being underpaid.

etienneburdet profile image
Etienne Burdet • Edited

It also has the benefit of seeing if you are in the range or not. There are margins for negocitation, but not like 50% either. If you are way below or way over the range, the job might not be for you.

My company publishes every job offer with a salary range and it helps immensely to get things faster for everybody.

mariomeyrelles profile image
Mario Meyrelles

When I do so, the answer like "12 to 50 USD, depending on experience". For me, it seems that to reach the top, it requires qualification/effort in a logarithmic scale. So, it seems to be a fancy way to give something near the median and justify saying that I am not "competent enough to get the highest as salary", putting the load in my back. I don't agree with strategy they are using now. Also, they are forcing to do a screening test with video recording as well.

efleurine profile image

So no need to waste each other time by getting the info later and finding out it does not meet your expectations. Hum I will stick to that process too

kayis profile image

Make up a salary you want and share that.

Recruiters use your last salary as anchoring point, so they probably won't go that much over it, and will sell you the few % they go over your previous salary as a huge gain.

Don't go overboard with it, otherwise you could get over their budget and they will ghost you. Do some research on what's a reasonable salary range for the job you want.

If you don't really care or think your last salary was sufficient, you can also share that, but keep in mind that they now priced you around that number for the foreseeable future.

emmtit profile image

@K, this suggestion might not be a good one for candidates in Nigeria. Recruiters would insist you tell them your current pay and even ask you to come to the interview with your last pay slip.
My workaround is by asking them that I would like to know the pay range for the role.
If they asked for my current pay, I responded that my employer has a non-disclosure policy that prevents staff from discussing their pay outside the organization. And I would like to respect that policy since I am still working there.
So, if they choose not to continue the discussion with me, It doesn't matter. However, if it is okay, they will continue with the process.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard • Edited

Asking for your current salary is their easiest and often best salary negociation strategy. If you answer it's very good for them and very bad for you.

It's a salary negotiation strategy because they don't need it. They only need to know how much value you would bring to the company and which portion of that value they are ready to offer you. If you have two candidates that are exactly as good there is zero good reason to pay less the candidate that used to be underpaid, typically because she has the wrong gender. There is a bad reason, they may want to continue to underpay you.

Good people don't ask this question. Those who do do it because it works really well if you can be intimidated enough to answer. Then it's jackpot because they know what's the absolute minimum you can accept. Then they may give you 3.000€ more than that. You will think you have to accept. And you will know only later that a fair salary would have been 6.000€ more. Or 8.000€ more. And it compounds in a career.

My advice:

Don't lie. Don't be embarrassed. Tell them you never answer that question as a matter of principle. If you can, go away because they probably don't have your best interest at heart.

There are exceptions like if you overpaid after 15 years at Google and most offers are below your pay range

But most people would have higher salaries if they just say no.

mr_eking profile image
Eric King • Edited

Good people don't ask this question.

Tough assessment, but true.

bradtaniguchi profile image

Everything is relative.

If your current salary is competitive with the job market you're discussing for, then sure share it. Recruiters will try to give you a little more, but not less.

If your current salary is not competitive, and you're looking for a big gain, then you might be more inclined to just get the job and take the big jump, even if it could be bigger if you didn't provide that number.

If you're just starting out and focusing more on getting a job, and not "shooting yourself in the foot" in regards to compensation I'd look inward to see what sort of pay you'd take or need, and compare that relatively to the current job market to get an idea of what you should want/need and what you should expect. At this point you can tell the recruiter what you'd see fit.

I personally usually give out my current pay, but do give out a number of what I'd expect by doing my own research.

tavi profile image
Octavian Nita

Finally, a sensible, mature answer!

iamarek profile image
Arkadiusz Chatys

It's very unlikely that sharing the current salary will put you in the better negotiation position. If the recruiter is pushing on that one, just say you are not allowed to share it and they will stop asking. Good luck!

theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring

I never share my current salary, I share my minimum salary requirement to move jobs.

mteheran profile image
Miguel Teheran

Good philosophy

missamarakay profile image
Amara Graham

Ask if they can share a salary range for the role. This isn't necessarily a red flag if they cannot share one.

Know your worth - do research against publicly available salary ranges and salary information. If you provide a number of a range, salary or total comp, stick with it throughout the entire process.

You do not have to share your current salary, just your expectations. And even then, depending on your country or state (in the US), they may not be allowed to ask.

The more your share, the more you can determine if the salary expectations are a fit for you as well. There is nothing worse than getting to the offer stage to find out the offer doesn't come close to meeting your expectations.

dougatgrafbase profile image
Doug Schwartz

I write developer docs, so my questions might not apply for a developer.
I always ask the following questions:

  • What is the maximum salary offered?
  • Do they expect me to regularly work more than 40 hours/week (I don't have an issue about burning a few extra hours just before a release, but not as a rule)?
  • Is the role completely remote (if not, forget it)?
  • Do they care when I work (I tend to be an early bird)?
  • Do they have experience with docs people (I don't enjoy teaching the oblivious)?
  • Where are the team members located?
  • How often am I expected to attend team meetings (I'm leery if it's more than a couple meetings a week)?
  • Is this a new position? If not, what happened to the last person (from their response I can sometimes avoid a toxic work environment)?
mariomeyrelles profile image
Mario Meyrelles

I usually mention my current and realistic salary. So people will understand the kind of developer/professional I am. Many jobs are bad and just want the cheapest slave to do advanced and boring stuff, like maintaining and evolving a legacy code. In this kind of job, you will not be able to show a bigger value and justify a higher salary. The company knows this and understands that they don't need to hire a genius to do the work. So, for 90% of the contacts I receive on LinkedIn, I get ignored when I try to discuss salary and job description.

In my case, I live in Brazil and work overseas, remotely. A lot of companies are looking for the EXCELLENT developers we do have in LATAM, with the hope to pay a little money in USD and take advantage of the current exchange rates. I only continue the conversations if salary is compatible with a remote developer in the USA working in a similar scenario/position. I can't agree to work for 4000 USD when they get like 10k USD for the same position. Of course, things can vary regarding taxing, days-off, company-to-company contracts and other conditions.

Senior+ developers should focus on jobs where they can generate more impact. Higher salaries are paid for the ones who generate significant impact on the organization. This is precisely my case today. My code impact multiple customers, retailers and developers. The risk is very high as the impact is also very high. The stress, troubleshooting, crisis management is also very high.

My current salary is proportional to the impact I generate. I try to demonstrate this. And, of course, I participate in a very few hiring processes. It's specially complex to be a key developer / tech lead overseas at this time. But it is possible and I believe that very good developer doing any stack can find good contracts in US and Europe.

goldfinger profile image

A lot of states have made it illegal for recruiters to ask what your current salary is. They can ask you what your expected salary range is, which give them what your expected salary range is not what you think they would accept.

I also let them bring compensation into the conversation. The goal of any interview is for you to interview the employer and for them to fall in love with you as a candidate. Being too focused on the comp can really hurt that initial vibe. Good recruiters will ask your range very early before you move forward. If you move forward after sharing your range, they will more likely than not pay you in that range. During my last job cycle most recruiters would say, "That range is no issue" then continue on.

soulfiremage profile image
Richard Griffiths

There is zero reason to weaken your negotiating position and you are never under obligation to do so.

Emphasize your target salary if pushed BUT don't give ground if they insist they need your current salary. No one does, unless they are making a power play with weird justifications. They should be focussed on whether you are likely to thrive in that role and be a genuine benefit. Knowing your current salary does NOT argue to this.

Instead it could be seen that easily giving up what you earn now as a mild weakness. I used this point with one recruiter in the past: "If I easily gave away a negotiating position for no good reason, how could a manager be sure I'd be solid when handling their business?".

Use it as a filter - if folks focus on these kinds of points then there is a reasonable chance you may dodge a bullet :)

They must focus on whether you could do the role and work with their current team. And, of course, for yourself, focus on whether the role and salary range they offer is right for you.

ferricoxide profile image
Thomas H Jones II

I generally keep it close to the vest. Since I currently have a job that I'm not actively looking to move on from, I'm not looking to move without a significant bump. I generally let them provide me a range and, if it's where I need it to be, then we can start zeroing in. If they can't or won't offer the range, I generally say, "been nice talking to you. Good luck with whoever you find."

webbureaucrat profile image

Only if you're already dramatically overpaid (so you want to keep that as a baseline).

Almost always, though, in a negotiation you benefit from "asymmetric information."

You may have to be pretty firm about it. They will be strongly incentivized to strongarm the information out of you (which is one way to know you shouldn't give it). You may need to raise your voice a little to get your point across.

alex_escalante profile image
Alex Escalante

No, period.

mteheran profile image
Miguel Teheran

I don't like to do it and when I have to do it I try to say 20% more at least.