Should you disclose your salary?

Should you disclose your salary?
Berwick Partners

I recently had an instance with a candidate who was reluctant to disclose their package details during an interview process, which prompted a discussion on this very sensitive area.

Moving jobs is up there with the most stressful events in our life, and the process we go through to reach this decision relies heavily on a great deal of trust from both parties. There is a crucial part to be played from both the employer and candidate by means of selling themselves in an honest, transparent and meaningful fashion, including pay and reward.

This remains a key aspect when considering a move, covering both the base salary as well as the wider additional benefits. There seems little point in wasting anyone’s time in the process should this crucial component not meet either party’s expectation.

I’ve read several articles and LinkedIn snippets on this very topic – with strong and opposing views on this delicate matter. Throughout my time in recruitment, the vast majority of candidates have been willing to disclose the full break down of their remuneration, as they get a full and comprehensive view of the package on offer from the client in return. 

You are under no obligation to disclose your salary details, but do stop to think what impression this gives the interviewer and potentially your new employer. Should you be successful in the process, this will ultimately become apparent at the time you need to provide a copy of your P60 and nobody likes the feeling of being misled. 

What will the employer think?

The immediate and natural suspicion will be to assume you are currently feeling underpaid and looking to make a step up in terms of your earnings. It is often perceived that some recruiters and hiring managers will focus a proportion of their decision making based purely on salary – too low a current base salary and they may think you are too inexperienced for the role and conversely too expensive and they may question your motivation and commitment to the role in the long term. 

By engaging a search agency the majority of these issues should get ironed out throughout the candidate engagement and assessment process, by focusing the attention on evidential skills and expertise, versus pure black and white monetary facts. Not everyone is motivated by remuneration alone and there are clearly other considerations to take into account; improved wider benefits, location and subsequent commute and a desire to work within a particular sector are a few that immediately spring to mind. 

There is no right and wrong answer here, it’s down to personal choice however; whilst I wouldn’t necessarily disclose my financial earnings to my neighbour or colleague, I would be happy to entrust the confidence of a search consultant to ensure I am represented professionally with any potential employer. 

Richard Guest is a Principal Consultant at Berwick Partners, specialising in senior leadership roles within the Procurement function.

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Comments (5)

  • Matt
    Mon, 5 Mar 2018 1:42pm GMT
    An issue we recruiters sometimes face is candidates who are looking to take a step back in salary, maybe because they're having a bad day, and then when push comes to shove can't afford to make the move. Or others that apply for a job knowing the package but believe that 'if I get in front of the right person, I can make them realise I'm worth more then they're offering', even though the client literally can't offer any more. The repercussions of this time wasting can be severe - deadlines missed, business lost, relationships damaged, money wasted.

    By qualifying a candidates package we can address those potential issues early in the process. For example, I always ask a candidate who is looking to take a pay cut whether they have really thought this through? i.e. spoken with their partner, considered their outgoings etc. I do the same if someone is talking about relocating. On this subject I ask them to go away and look at house prices and schooling if they haven't already done so. You would be surprised how many people pull out of the process having done some due diligence and realised they actually couldn't make the move. I'm a Consultant and my job is to Consult, using my expert, time serviced experience to match compatible companies and candidates. I can't do this without all the critical information.

    Some people may see this as unnecessary but at the end of the day if I'm going to put a lot time (and money) into helping someone find a job, I want to make sure I'm not wasting my time as well as the clients, or unwittingly the candidates. I have done recruitment for a long time now and have been on the receiving end of almost every conceivable way things can fall through. As a mature recruiter I have learnt from these and try to make sure that for everybody's sake they're not repeated.

  • Marie
    Wed, 28 Feb 2018 2:04pm GMT
    Personally, I don’t think current salary disclosure is necessary. If all roles were advertised with the salary on offer by both companies and recruiters, the candidate is aware of the benchmark and makes a decision as to apply or not. Sometimes people choose/need to reduce responsibilities, improve work life balance, or may find themselves redundant and needing to secure another role so current salary shouldn’t be an indicator of someone’s capabilities.
  • James
    Mon, 26 Feb 2018 1:22pm GMT
    I have personally never had a 'good' experience disclosing my salary/package details during a recruitment process. In my experience it is only ever used my the prospective employer to limit their offer.

    Personally, whenever I am asked for my salary or package info I simply state that it's a personal policy not to say, although I am more than happy to discuss what I am looking for. The only two questions that the recruiter needs to consider are then whether I am the preferred candidate and whether they are happy to pay the salary that I am looking for.

    If I am ever asked for a reason I say that I do not think the salary I am paid by my current employer for my current role has any bearing on what I should be paid by a new employer for their role. I think this is an entirely fair and mature conversation to have and does not lead on to any awkwardness when I present my P45 to payroll. A confident but polite initial negotiation may even present a good impression to a recruiting manager.
  • Chris
    Wed, 21 Feb 2018 1:02pm GMT
    Surely someone's current salary is irrelevant - skills experience and adaptability are key. In other words what does this candidate offer and what is their future potential. Using their current salary is a blunt instrument and doen't really teally indicate their value to a potential employer
  • Mandy
    Wed, 21 Feb 2018 9:23am GMT
    I'm not sure I fully agree that an employee needs to disclose their salary in order to make a good impression and I do think that it depends entirely on the situation.

    However to correct a point in this article, there is no requirement for an employer to ask for someone's P60 - if there were then this would be a moot point. A P60 is a statement of earnings that is personal to the individual - the employer should not be asking for a copy of this. P45 or new starter declaration will suffice.