The One Thing You Should Never Tell A Recruiter

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If you asked me to throw together a blog telling you what I hate about the recruitment process, the damn thing would be a book in no time.

If you put the proverbial gun to my head, though, I could probably whittle down my rant to tell you that, in general, not only is the whole recruitment system broken, but it’s bloody lazy, too.

How do I know this?

Because of the same damn questions being asked upon application and at interview. Every time.

And the laziest and most sneaky of the questions?

“What’s your current salary?”

Please, if you take on board just one piece of my advice during anything you read or listen to of mine – let it be this:

Never answer that question.

Now, nobody’s really expecting that someone will go through all the hard work of navigating the recruitment process to find a bigger and better job for a like-for-like salary, so that’s why the hiring manager in front of you is going to offer you a nice little 5 % increase. Sorry, that’s a dirty little HR secret I shouldn’t have told you, but it’s out now. Oh, and when I say ‘nice little’, that’s their terminology. I don’t think it’s particularly nice at all. It is little, though, I’ll give them that.

Let’s paint a picture, shall we?

I’m guessing that one of the reasons you’re pushing for a new job is because you feel unfulfilled and undervalued at your current one, and though there will be lots of factors affecting those feelings, your salary will be a huge part of it. That money isn’t just a monthly transaction – it’s a statement of how much you’re valued by the people signing those cheques.

So, if you feel underpaid already, then a 5% increase on that exact figure isn’t going to make you feel any better in a new role where you’ll likely have bigger responsibilities and higher progression on what you were already doing, is it? 

And so, I repeat: Never answer that question. Ever.

Now, I’m a coach and strategist, so I’d be fairly dreadful at my job if I just gave you that advice and walked off into the sunset. Instead, I’m going to let you into MY little secret.

First? Deflect with a smile… 

“Apologies, my current company doesn’t allow me to share that information with you. It’s also irrelevant because I won’t be doing the same role for you here, so I’d like to talk about that instead. What’s the budget you have for it?”

Wow, you are going to feel EPIC saying that! But, you’re going to feel terrified and all-round adrenalined-up to the eyeballs in saying it, too (what a RUSH!), so be ready.

‘But what happens next, Wies?’ I hear you cry. Well, I’ll tell you!  

Disappointingly (and fucking predictably), they will absolutely insist they must have your current salary. Remember, they are trained at hunting this information down because the answer you give is highly profitable for them (well, that’s what they think, although my TED talk blows that motherfucker out of the water). 

So what do you do next?

Smile (god I hate smiling sometimes), and repeat your first answer. Obviously mix up the language a little if you wish, but the sentiment and tone should be the same: “Let’s talk about the new role and what fair pay for that will look like.”

And if they ask a third time? Please, do yourself the biggest favour possible, and remove yourself from the application process – and ideally, from the recruiter’s rolodex, if that’s the point in the chain where this conversation creeps up. If these people are not only pushing you but actively ignoring you and your wishes, it’s not really going to be a great place to work, now is it? 

Try it. It’s something you’ll only ever get stronger at, until you find the company of your dreams that not only respects your wishes, but honours you with a salary that sees them put their hands in their pockets – not one that sees them put their thoughts in your head. 

And if you end up having to walk away? Give me a call. Seriously. Actually, email me your story – and include your address. I will personally ship you a bottle of Champagne, because although you’ll feel like shit, you know deep down that this is a celebration. You’ve shown your power and you’ve dodged a bullet. Can you imagine what those same people would be like to actually work for??

If my advice works for you and get the job with a great salary? Let me know – I want to hear those WINs. And if you walk away and need that drink, the Champagne’s on me. All you need to do is tell me

Book a call with my team for a free coaching session and let’s see what we can do for you!