There is ongoing debate on whether you should or should not disclose your current salary to a recruiter of hiring manager when applying for a position. Disclosing your current salary does not limit your chances of negotiating a better salary package offer. Refusing to disclose your salary however, may lose you the job!
In the blue corner: not disclosing your salary
The argument for not disclosing your salary is primarily that in doing so, you will be in a weaker position when it comes to negotiating a salary package. Supporters in this corner would say that you should be able to negotiate a package based on what you feel you are worth, and that current or previous salaries are not relevant in this discussion.
There are of course those who are in the enviable position of naming their price in the job market based on elusive skills, or high profile career achievements. In this situation, I agree that you are very likely in a great position to ask for what you want without mention of current package.
For the majority of us however, we are likely to face serious competition in the market when we set out to look for a new career opportunity. How do you know where you weigh in against opponents in the ring?
In the red corner: why you should disclose your salary
On your own, knowing your worth in the current job market can be difficult to identify and understand. Recruiters however are in a very good position to provide advice, as they meet with job seekers and employers on a daily basis. They are able to compare and contrast the value and risk of an individual candidate amongst others competing for similar roles.
Seeking expert insight into your worth on the job market is particularly important if you are looking to transition your career from one sector to another. For example, from the Private Sector into Government. A recruiter can use their knowledge to advise and guide you appropriately so that you set realistic expectations of your value, and do not price yourself out of getting the job you want.
Watch out for sucker punches!
I am not saying you should trust all recruiters with your career path and salary negotiation. There are certainly those less scrupulous in the industry that are working towards their commission above all else, rather than genuinely seeking strong outcomes for their clients and candidates.
This can involve them doing sales job on a candidate to get a quick placement which involves very little value-add consulting. We have all heard the horror stories. It is important to identify and engage with a reputable and well-referenced recruiter. Ask your friends and colleagues who they have worked successfully with in the past and do your research.
Believe you are a contender
Job seekers hold the power to negotiate a better salary package offer. If you genuinely have a strong case to negotiate based on facts and a proven track record of success in your career to date, then you should do so.
Regardless of this, the employment market does suffer the same ups and downs as any other, based on availability of skills. If there is a glut of similarly experienced people in your field, you should realistically expect a potential fall in your market value.
Don’t put yourself on the ropes
Failure to disclose your current salary will usually raise immediate concerns with a recruiter or hiring manager. It is usually a fair assumption that if you won’t disclose your salary, it is likely to be far less than what is being offered for the role you are targeting.
In my experience, many people who take this approach haven’t thought about the value proposition to put forward as to why they feel they are worth the higher salary package. Their expectation is quite often formed from pure emotion, personal need, misinformation and what colleagues might be earning. Relying on these things will not get you far.
It’s a knockout
In conclusion, I encourage you to think twice before deciding not to disclose you current salary to a recruiter or hiring manager.
It will not limit your chances of securing a stronger salary package if you can appropriately support your expectations. Consider why you feel you are worth it, and really define the value proposition that you will bring to the employer. Why are you valuable to them? What value will you create for their business? Back up your claims with evidence of where you have done similar things in your previous roles.