I’ve been an executive recruiter for more than 18 years now, and I’ve seen just about everything in terms of the interview and hiring process. And that includes discussions that involve compensation.
Now, I know that there are numerous sources on the Internet (and elsewhere) that advocate never, ever disclosing your current compensation level to a prospective employer. In fact, they stress that you should be so resolute in regards to this issue that you’re willing to walk away from the opportunity.
That’s all fine and good, except for the fact that they’re not the ones who have to walk away from what could be a great employment opportunity. No, the person doing that would be you.
I’m addressing this issue because I’ve seen it adversely affect people’s candidacy during the hiring process. In other words, not disclosing your current compensation level can (and often does) raise a “red flag” with hiring officials.
Not only have I seen these things happen, but I’ve also heard stories from other recruiters. In these tales, the candidate really wants the job, and the employer is really interested in them. It’s a great opportunity, much better than the job the candidate currently has. Alas, though, the candidate does not want to disclose their current level of compensation.
In some cases, the candidate believes they’re exhibiting their negotiation skills. And of course, they’ve been told over and over that they must be willing to walk away. More often than not, though, it’s the employer that walks away . . . right over to the next candidate in line.
It all comes down to priorities—what’s important to you. Are you seeking a new job so you can squeeze as much compensation as possible from another company? Are you afraid of being “short-changed” if you disclose your compensation level? Acting out of fear is never a good idea, and that includes within the realm of employment.
There is something you can do to avoid disclosing your actual level of compensation, and that’s presenting a desired range. You can say something like this:
“I would rather keep that information confidential at the present time. However, the range that I’m seeking in this new position is [amount here].”
If presenting a range of desired salary is not enough, then you’ll be faced with a decision: disclose your current level of compensation or be steadfast in your refusal not to do so. That decision, of course, is solely yours to make. However, this is the time to decide what is truly important to you.
Is it more important to keep your current compensation level confidential . . . or is it more important to keep your candidacy for the position alive?
After all, you will ultimately be compensated for the value that you bring to the organization, not for your bargaining skills during the negotiation stage of the hiring process.
If you’re working with a recruiter, you should be upfront about your current compensation and expected compensation. The recruiter needs this information upfront in order to help you. Recruiters work with hundreds of candidates a month, and they expect you to be transparent when it comes to compensation discussions.
In the end, you and your career will be the major beneficiaries.
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