A recent post on the “desired salary” interview question by HRNasty got me thinking about this question myself.
When it comes to salary, there are three numbers you should be able to share with a recruiter:
1. What you make in your current role.
2. What you would like to make, based on current market rates or advancement in skills and education since you started your current role.
3. The bare minimum you’d be willing to accept to consider making a change (sometimes, less than your current salary depending on your circumstances).
Given all the changes in the economy recently, there are not many recruiters that will want to know the salary for your past 3-4 jobs.
Here are three more things to keep in mind:
1. Odds are, if you’re working with an agency recruiter, we aren’t going to lowball you. In almost all cases, the more you make, the more we make. If you’re working directly with the company, most offer you a fair rate so you’ll stick around for a while, rather than jump at the next best thing. And if they don’t, would you really want to work there anyway?
2. Being evasive when asked this question to make the recruiter throw out the number first is not a good negotiation tactic, it’s annoying. Even if the top side of my budget is higher than what you require, that doesn’t mean that’s what I’ll pay you. That said, if you’re underpaid, I don’t expect you to leave where you are to be underpaid somewhere else.
3. If you don’t know what you’re worth, ask the recruiter what market rates have been for someone at your level in your industry. Most recruiters are happy to share this data. You can also do research online on sites like CareerBuilder, salary.com, PayScale or GlassDoor – but be aware that these salary figures are often self reported and vary in accuracy. Never say it’s not about money: everyone has a price (what you would like to make), and everyone has bills (meaning that the bare minimum you would accept would cover your expenses). If you’re one of the lucky few who really doesn’t need to work, I’m guessing you have a certain number that makes it “worth it” to work.
Bottom line: just put some thought into this beforehand and answer the question honestly. See…not so hard, right?