I have been working with an external recruitment agency (they don't represent one company in particular). The other day a recruiter contacted me with a job opening they needed to fill quickly. He asked how much I make at my current job and I'm pretty sure he just added a small amount to it and say that's what the new company pays.

I kind of thought the recruiter was "on my side" but I guess it's in their interest to find the lowest cost candidates to fill a position for a company? Should current pay or salary expectations be given to recruiters at all? I normally wouldn't give it to an internal recruiter of a particular company but I guess external is the same.

In my area it seems the use of external recruitment agencies is very popular. On one hand they act like they are there to help you get a job, on the other hand they are assessing your skills to see if you would fit the position. I find it hard to tell whether to let recruiters know about my weaknesses so they can help prepare me for the interview, or if I should treat speaking to them like an interview itself and only highlight my strengths.

  • Their primary interest is getting any candidate (not necessarily you) hired for any position, and ideally have the candidate stay there for at least long enough for them to get their full cut. Their secondary interest might be maximising your salary, if that means a bigger cut for them (it depends on how they're paid), but they're unlikely to do this to an extent that it potentially goes beyond what the company's willing to pay. Oct 20, 2017 at 8:30
  • There is quite a difference between diclosing current pay or salary expectation (unless you're lying about the first one) - as Kempeth's answer shows. You should have made this two questions.
    – user8036
    Oct 20, 2017 at 9:35
  • Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/5556/…
    – user8036
    Oct 20, 2017 at 9:37
  • And this one is asking for both too, but then not through a recruiter. Valuable insights though. Looks like you did not do much homework.
    – user8036
    Oct 20, 2017 at 9:40
  • it's in their interest to find the lowest cost candidates They kinda minmax it: lower salaries might have more chances to be accepted, but higher salaries bring them taller paychecks.
    – rath
    Oct 20, 2017 at 9:46

4 Answers 4


The only "side" a recruiter is on is their own and there's nothing wrong with that. Depending on how the fee structure they have with the company offering the role they may be incentivised to get the candidate a higher wage as many operate on a commission basis where they get a percentage cut of the new employee's starting salary.

To answer your main question no you shouldn't reveal your current salary information - there's basically no upside to you in doing this. Salary expectation however is another matter, this is useful information when it comes to allowing a recruiter to match you to openings that are in the right price bracket. It's a waste of everyone's time for them to send you across for a role that is only ever going to pay £10k less than you would accept.

Some people would prefer not to say as they feel that they will miss out in the event a company would be willing to pay more for the role since knowing you would accept less means they have little incentive to offer any more than that. Really though that's just an excuse for people who haven't been bothered to put some effort in to determining what they are worth in their particular job market.


The only person on your side during job hunting is you.

Should you disclose current pay?

No. There is nothing to be gained from this. Job switches are generally the best opportunity for significant salary increases. Stating your current salary can as you suspect lead to low-ball offers because the other party thinks: "Well he worked for that salary before so this will be good enough". But even if there's no conscious effort to push down your salary, the anchoring effect can lead to it anyway.

Should you disclose your salary expectations?

You simply cannot avoid giving a number on this subject. Every first interview I've ever done included a question about my salary expectations. So I'm not too concerned of giving a number in advance. There's no point in going through the whole spiel of an application procedure only to find out at the end that you have wildly different expectations about salaries. It does carry the risk of lowballing yourself or overshooting, especially if you apply to different locations or industries that may pay noticably more or less than what you're coming from. I'm not really an expert on how to do that but last time I've always given a small range and it's worked pretty good.


General rule of thumb is 'Trust no one'.

Always show your best side to anyone including recruiters. Don't disclose how much you make, but how much you would need to be offered to move. How much you actually make is irrelevant and giving that information away weakens your negotiating stance.

The recruiter is on their own side.


Recruiters get a cut on the salary being offered in India. So its not in their interest to offer you a low salary. I think it is fine to disclose the expected salary to the recruiter. They will look for a job accordingly. Regarding your current, its totally your call. If you feel comfortable discussing the same, by all means go ahead. However, you have to be prepared to discuss why you think you deserve the hike you are asking for. Salary surveys, if available, will be a nice way of justifying. e.g. on Monster, I can see that the average salary for this position and experience is X and this is why I need X+ a small amount.

Assessment by recruiters is usually at a very high level. Most of them are not technically qualified to hold interviews and just read out a set of questions given by hiring manager. They have defined answers, if you meet the bare minimum criteria, then you are through.

Telling a recruiter your weaknesses is again your call. I would suggest not to do it. Instead, you should try to get as much information about the job as possible. Who would be interviewing, what is the exact skill set, is this a generic recruitment or for a particular project. Try to determine what would be needed for the interview and prepare accordingly.

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