There are a lot of thought pieces out there about whether the current salary a candidate is currently earning should be revealed to a recruiter. As a headhunter, I build long-term relationships with candidates to help them make the next best move available to them. These relationships are built around trust and openness, and I have very candid (and confidential) conversations with these professionals about their current salaries, establishing when that salary is likely to be assessed with their current employer, what additional bonuses are earned in any given year, what benefits are in play, and, what their desired salary is if they were to move. These questions around finances form just one part of an overall assessment of the candidate, and are usually the last round of questions asked, once a candidate’s skill set, level of experience, aspirations, timings and priorities have all been explored and established.
How much of a concern/pressure/priority the money is for a candidate in their job search is information I need to have in order to work in partnership with them to assess their best move in the market. How else can I evaluate whether a particular opportunity, which may pay much more than current earnings, but which could equally pay a lower remuneration package than a candidate is currently on, still might represent a worthwhile role to apply for? In my industry, I work with people within media, who may be looking to move from one platform to another, so they may have very solid experience within press, and be looking to break into digital. If all we talk about is desired salary ranges, rather than have a candid conversation about current earnings, these candidates will not be getting the best out of me as their ally, and may miss out on that perfect role that offers the scope, learning curve and the new financial trajectory they ultimately want, with maybe a slight financial pinch at the start.
And where are these ‘desired salary ranges’ coming from? Is the candidate thinking about an arbitrary percentage uplift, that would allow them to buy their dream house, or are they actually aware of how their experiences translate financially on the open market? I would argue that an experienced recruiter is the person best-placed to help them set out a desired salary range. The kind of relationship I have with a candidate means that a desired salary is a figure that we both have come up with, which is aspirational but realistic and achievable, and which is based upon current market trends and professional insight.
All these cloak and dagger tactics around not revealing a current salary to a recruiter suggests an insecurity or lack of confidence about what a candidate is earning right now. What a candidate is currently earning is by default what they themselves have accepted as their current market worth, and they should stand by that figure and be able to articulate to a recruiter why they are on that salary and what they think and want to do about it.
Whilst I appreciate that a candidate would object to an unknown recruiter, who is yet to establish their own credentials, asking outright what they are currently earning, candidates should be wary of confusing old-fashioned concepts of privacy with the need to provide your recruitment partner with some actual yardsticks and boundaries, otherwise it seriously hampers a good recruiter’s ability to do the best job for that candidate.
Aside from the other key consideration that no-one seems to have flagged up – the fact that the clients that I work with expect me to know and be able to register a candidate’s current salary details with them when presenting a candidate for a role.