This is a question we’ve all been asked at some point – and if you’re just entering the job market, you’ll most certainly be asked during your career. And, quite rightly, we feel a little bit uncomfortable about it. In fact, some countries have outlawed anyone asking this question at all!
Why are you being asked this?
Essentially what a recruiter is trying to do here is gain the upper hand in salary negotiations. If you talk first, you lose.
They want to find out what you’re currently paid so they can see how much room they have to play with when it comes to making you an offer at the end of the interview process. It’s the basics of negotiation, right – who’s going to show their hand first?
As a reputable business, you should never put potential employees in this position. Simply ask what salary/package they are looking for. Or even better, tell them the full range from the beginning.
If you are asked this question though – firstly, don’t respond with a “how dare you ask me that!” And end the conversation. At the end of the day, this recruiter, whether they’re in-house or agency, may be representing an amazing brand that would be great for your career.
Keep them onside, but take control of the salary negotiations.
There are many variables that come in to play with someone’s current package. What if you’re currently overworked and underpaid? Maybe you took a pay cut to join your current company? Maybe you’re on a career break and you’re not earning anything right now? Maybe the bulk of your current package is tied up in shares? The list goes on.
Your current salary shouldn’t matter at this point, what matters is that you’re paid what you’re worth in this next role. Heck, what you’re happy to be paid may not even be enough!
You need to know your worth. Before going onto the job market, do your research. What does the industry pay others in your role and location? This information is widely available and many companies (usually recruitment agencies) will release updated information yearly for free. Just Google “Salary Survey.”
Once you have an idea of what the market pays, politely ask the recruiter what the range for the role is. Have this conversation early on in the process. The last thing you want to do is to go through 2/3 rounds of interviews only to find out it’s paying £10k less than what you’re looking for.
With this small bit of information you’re now in the driver’s seat when it comes to negotiating your next salary.
I hope that helped.