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I'm currently in the process of applying for a job through a recruitment agency. They've asked me for the current and expected salary, but I have not specified any; they're even asking for a current payslip to be sent through email.

Now, I'm trying to run away from these questions, but the agency's website is listing the job vacancy I'm applying for, as well as its salary (with a "negotiable" note). I'm currently underpaid, and the listed salary is 3.5 times more than what I'm earning right now. So my question is: is it safe to tell them my current salary and that my expected salary is the listed salary? Or should I just mention the expected salary? Or not mention anything at all? Can a recruitment agency offer me less than what is mentioned on the website once I mention my current salary?

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Normally the purpose of discussions like this is to establish that you aren't going to require a salary that is more than they are willing to pay, resulting in a wasted interview process. If you've seen a salary range, I would respond "I've seen this job posted with a salary range such-and-such, and I'm sure we can find an acceptable salary within that range".

How to deal with being asked for your current salary has been covered in plenty of other questions.

Under no circumstances send a payslip. A payslip contains confidential information which they have no business seeing.

  • This is useless. If the interviewer is specifically asking for the current and expected salary, what reasons could a candidate have to not comply ? – happybuddha Jul 12 '13 at 17:10
  • Absolutely @DJClayworth. – samarasa Jul 12 '13 at 17:28
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    @happybuddha There isn't nearly enough space here to explain why giving your current salary is generally a bad idea, and it's been generally discussed. . I suggest reading some other questions and answers on the topic. – DJClayworth Jul 12 '13 at 17:33
  • Without current salary information or no data to support it, how does the HR know the candidate isn't bluffing ? Ihaven't atteneded a single interview where some how I could avoid discussing my current salary. It may be that for negotiating leverage you want to withhold for sometime, but sooner or later this information will be given out – happybuddha Jul 12 '13 at 18:24
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    @happybuddha, guess my comment wasn't clear enough. DJClayworth is suggesting not to send a payslip nor mention the current salary. You ask: "Without current salary information or no data to support it, how does the HR know the candidate isn't bluffing?" Bluffing about what? I would not have told them the current salary in the first place. – Alaa Ali Jul 12 '13 at 18:41
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is it safe to tell them my current salary and that my expected salary is the listed salary?

I wouldn't but it could be safe. Some places would pounce on that if you are really underpaid so much, that they could make a killing off of representing you as companies may pay quite a mark-up that you'd be OK given you get a bit of a bump up and the company takes a major cut of the profits here. Think about this way: If the company can bill you out for $200/hour and give you $40/hour, they make a mighty nice profit off of you in contrast to someone that bills out for the same rate but takes $140/hour instead.

Or should I just mention the expected salary?

Yes, just mention the expected salary as that is something to note in most employment agreements. I agree to be compensated at $x/hour or $y/year generally. This is useful in positioning where you are generally. Are you on the higher end, the lower end or something else.

Or not mention anything at all?

If you want to appear difficult, you could go this route. The company wants to know what kind of rates you expect so that you aren't sent on jobs you'd turn down because they don't compensate adequately. If you make $60,000/year and a job comes up that pays $15,000/year there is little chance you'd want that job and though this is why they need to know an expected salary.

Can a recruitment agency offer me less than what is mentioned on the website once I mention my current salary?

Yes, it is possible to be offered less than what is on the website as they could claim that the client isn't willing to pay what they thought given your background. Some jobs may advertise $80-100K and yet if the person that makes it through the interview isn't quite thought of that highly, a company may only be willing to offer $65K in which case you then have to decide what are you thinking. The other possibility is that when you mention your current salary that the recruitment agency send you out the door given the pay difference between where you are and where you want to be. Some places may well try to talk you down a bit since this is such a jump. There can also be the question of how well could you handle the potential job in responsibilities if it pays so much more that they may expect more? Not guaranteed but it is possible.

While I have had some places where I worked that had a bit of a pay cut, it is a tricky thing to present in a way that doesn't place one in a bit of a corner. In taking the low rate previously, this opens the door to wonder, "Why wouldn't you do that again, hmmm? Maybe we could work something out..." kind of thinking that isn't likely where you want to go.

  • Nope, that's not where I want to go. So bottom line is never mention my current salary, especially when the hike in salary is this much. – Alaa Ali Jul 12 '13 at 19:20
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One thing that people using recruiting companies should be aware of is that many of these companies are actually subsidiaries of larger multinational corporations. The recruiting process provides them with a wealth of personal data that can be mined sorted and parsed into demographic sets that provide your non-protected information to CRM services. Your information can be sold for over $10 on some lists and sold to hundreds of marketers, bill collectors, and other companies.

To best protect yourself from these type of scammers you should never provide any specific information unless you are ready to have them submit you for a job and they have a job they intend to submit you for. Find out what they need from you exactly and if any thing seems hinky it just might be. Tell them you will not be able to provide them with it. You do not have to give them a reason why. Do not be afraid to walk away. There are other recruiters and other companies. I would never give my paycheck stub to an employer unless a firm offer was on the table contingent on proof of my former employment and then only after I had negotated my wage with the new company.

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    Yeah, thanks for the tip. They're also asking for references, and a passport and visa copy. Not sure if this is the norm elsewhere, but I guess (in this part of the world) they need the visa copy just to make sure that I am actually employed by a company and under a work visa. But "do not be afraid to walk away"; I think I would be if the pay is 3.5 times more =). – Alaa Ali Jul 12 '13 at 18:48
  • @alaa - I would tell them that when you accept a firm offer from a company you will be happy to provide those documents. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 12 '13 at 18:49
  • The problem is, I don't want to play tough to get and chase the opportunity away. If there's no direct harm to me or my chances of getting the job/an interview, I guess I see no harm in providing those documents. Although, can you elaborate on the "selling my information" part. What would those CRM services, marketers, and other companies do with the information? – Alaa Ali Jul 12 '13 at 19:16
  • @Alaa - If they have an opportunity they can place you at they will. Generally recruiters will make a significant portion of the salary of a person who is placed. Do not underestimate your position,. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 12 '13 at 19:20

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