If it was not for the “covert” practice of potential employers using a candidates current salary as a way to determine what offer the candidate will receive, I may not have had a problem with the question “So, what is your current salary?” This topic has recently gained prominence and there seems to be polarizing views between job seekers and recruiters. I find that, in disclosing current salary, there are potentially discriminatory consequences for candidates who are currently being underpaid or in low paying industries. Candidates lose most of their negotiating power when they give up their old salary. If a company determines a candidates skills, competencies and experience matches what they are looking for and they have budgeted e.g. between R600,00 -R700,000 for that position, I would argue that it is immaterial if the candidates salary increase from their previous job is as much as 50% (or 100% for that matter).
With this in mind, here are 6 ways to safely answer this question without disclosing your current salary.
- Answer 1: This position is not exactly the same as my last job. So let us discuss what my responsibilities would be here and then determine a fair salary for this position.
- Answer 2: Before I answer that question, I would like to ask what you typically pay someone with my experience and education in this type of role? Could you could tell me what is budgeted for the position?
- Answer 3: It would be very difficult for me to compare my last salary with this position because the circumstances (e.g. type of industry, salary structure) in my previous role are not comparable to that of the new role. Can we discuss the package you are offering before an offer is made?
- Answer 4: I had an unusual situation in my last job where I took less salary as the role was very close to where I lived and enabled me to work flexible hours and remotely at times. Seeing as this new role is limited in that regard, I would have to look at the entire package that you offer.
- Answer 5: While my highest career value is not money, it is important to me that I be fairly compensated for the work I do. I would be willing to listen to a fair offer based on what I bring to the position in terms of experience and education.
- Answer 6: I am currently focusing on roles that are within the R500,000 range. Is that going to work for this opportunity? If not, then it might not be a good fit and I would not want to waste your time.
Job seekers are increasingly becoming aware of their prerogative to withhold current salary and it would be interesting to find out if any candidates have been eliminated from the recruitment purposes for not wanting to disclose the same. Beware, recruiters are very persistent on this matter!