Do you have to tell recruiters your present salary?

It seems normal practice. After all, they want to know what you will expect to earn, should they take you on

It’s something most of us have faced: you’re looking for a new job, and the employer asks for details about your present salary, often before they even ask you for an interview.

However, is it really any of their business what you are earning? The new job will presumably have a set salary range, so if you tell them what you are currently earning, will this influence what they offer you to start with? Will it, for instance, enable them to offer you less than the going rate, purely because you are on a lower wage?

This is an issue the experts are somewhat divided on. Certainly there is no legal requirement to tell potential employers what your existing salary is – and some people feel it is none of their business. They should have a fixed offer which will not be affected by your present salary.

Everyone agrees that telling lies is a definite no-no. If, say, you inflate your salary in order to gain a better offer, and then the firm finds out, you could lose your job altogether. Nobody wants to hire a liar.

Another argument is that employers have a right to know what you are earning, so they can make a more informed decision about what you are worth.

However, it is certainly true that every position should be complying with a basic, generally acceptable, salary package. A role’s salary should not vary widely from one firm to the other, and you should research your desired position’s salary range well before you apply.

Knowing how much a person performing a specific role is usually paid is vitally important, equipping you with bargaining material should the company offer less than you were expecting. Don’t forget to take regional variations into account, though – a position in London will obviously pay more than one in Scotland.

If you are worried that your present salary is too low, and may influence an employer to offer you less, you should come up with a persuasive argument why you are being paid less than you are worth. For instance, you could explain that you were unaware of the proper remuneration for your role when you took the position, or that the company was a start-up one, and unable to offer you more.

In conclusion, whether or not you tell a recruiter your present salary is completely up to you. Sometimes it will work in your favour, while in other circumstances it could work against you. It’s your call.

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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