What is your current salary?

  • Edit 1: Don’t share this with anyone, I don’t want recruiters knowing that we know how to thwart them.
  • Edit 2: Nevermind, they know now. Dammit. Might as well let everyone know so we can be on the same footing.

I have had many talks with recruiters. By and large they are pleasant and rarely make me want to throw up in my mouth. That doesn’t mean I “like” them or want to “hangout” with them, except one…I have found one that I liked and he is still my friend, it’s just that I have learned to read their *speek and dissect it for my own clarification.

There is one question that I get asked a lot, usually within the first 1–3 interactions with recruiters that really pisses me off.

It comes in various shades and hues but is roughly:

What is your current salary?

Ok, let’s stop for a second. Is it wrong to talk about how much you make? I don’t believe so as long as you are not bragging but doing it for honorable reasons like helping others in your field gain a better perspective on what they should be making. Or doing in an effort to kick start more transparency at your company.

But the conversation with a recruiter about coming to their company is at its base a power dynamic that must managed if you are to effectively get what you need or want out of a new job.

Exposing your salary to someone you don’t know but that has the power to keep you in it or lower it is not a practice you should get into.

I have done it before and it always ends up making me feel really bad. I don’t know about you but I am not my salary. I am something bigger than that, the output of which is my work. My value is not contained in the dollar sign someone slapped on me.

But here’s the thing, I am not good at negotiating.

I suck at it.

I just want to work on exciting projects and solve problems and the confrontational element of talking about salary is so pesky that I just try and wave it away and in the end I wish I hadn’t taken the job in the first place because money became an issue.

So after a lot of trial and errors, here’s how I handle that question:

Recruiter, “So as a way gathering data about the market, so we can make sure we are paying top of market rates for employees, could you let me know what you are making now?”


Me, “Ah, that’s a good question. I like that you are trying to benchmark your rates, it shows that you care. I think a better measurement and one that I feel comfortable sharing with you is more of a range of what I am looking to make”


Recruiter, “Oh ok sure, what is that range?”


Me, “The range depends on how much and what kind of equity I would be granted but it roughly equates to X-X, or x-x+equity”


Recruiter, “Great, thanks for sharing. I will share that with the team.”


Me, “Np”


This should work for you if you:

Know your range (try saying a number and increasing it till you smile at your self and then go back one).

Practice saying your range without smiling.

Deliver with confidence

Don’t be a dick.

Happy hunting.