Disclosing your salary

Let us All Apply for Our Stimulus by Robert Huffstutter of Flickr
Let us All Apply for Our Stimulus by Robert Huffstutter of Flickr

Recently, many employment professionals weighed in on whether or not they would work with a candidate who did not disclose his or her salary. This is a very important topic, I feel, because there are so many factors that should determine the answer and some outplacement firms and other career coaches seem to definitively advise their clients NOT to be the first to divulge. This can be dangerous advice. Read some of this feedback straight from employers’ mouths:

“It is important to know if you are pursuing a candidate that you can afford. I’m not going to pay them less than the range nor more. Candidates unwilling to give that basic information are likely going to be a problem child on other items as well.” – Corporate Recruiter

“I won’t waste my time, or the candidate’s for that matter, if I don’t know if we are even in the same ballpark. You are there to help him. You can’t do that if you don’t have all of the information.” – Internal Recruiter

“99% of your interviewees don’t have a problem with discussing salary. Why waste time with the 1%?” – President, Executive Staffing Firm

“During my twenty years of overseeing recruiting in almost every conceivable specialty there is one and ONLY one reason a candidate would not reveal salary- that reason quite simply is: He is embarrassed at how low his salary is compared to your opportunity (assuming you have revealed the figure for your search), and even if you did not reveal the figure for your search, he has come to the conclusion revealing his salary will hurt his bargaining position due to it being below market value.” – President, Executive Staffing Firm


The majority of these professionals understand the importance of earning a candidate’s trust. If they recognize that there is none or that it is unidirectional, they may decide that their time is better spent working with a candidate who is willing to share the information that they need to earn the trust of the hiring manager, which is much more valuable. Certainly it is recognized that power in negotiating can be gained by holding your cards close to your chest, but the gamble that you take to have the position of power is that you will be left out of the game completely.


Listen to how the question is formatted

There is a difference between a salary requirement and a salary history. At the very least, confidently state your salary requirement. It can be in a range, but be able to verbalize what would make you consider the lower end of the range versus the higher end. If salary history is requested and you are asking for more than 10% of what you had made, be prepared to justify your request without being defensive. Educate yourself on the market and the value of your skills. Remember that the process is a give and take, so ask them what you need to know as well.

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