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I have been contacted by a recruiter for a potential position. At the end of the email, she asks me to "reply with my CV, detailing your current situation and salary levels".

From my understanding (I am not a native english speaker), she is asking for my current salary. However, it strikes me as odd. Is that what she is actually asking for? Why would she need my current salary, rather than my salary expectations?

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Why would she need my current salary, rather than my salary expectations?

Ideally she wants both.

When people are asked their "expectations" they sometimes respond with their "wishes" instead. Everyone wishes to get as much as they can possibly get. Most candidates are realistically expecting to actually settle for more than they are currently making, but less than a huge increase.

Your current salary tends to indicate what you were willing to settle for in your last position. It also indicates what at least one other employer was willing to give you.

And your current salary can be verified independently (while your expectations cannot).

Many employers don't want to give you a huge increase from your current salary, even if that's what you would wish for.

Knowing your current salary tends to indicate to the potential employer if you will fit into the salary structure at their company, or if you won't.

My strategy has always been to avoid giving my current salary when I can. And when I can't avoid it, I usually give my current salary in addition to my expectations. I might say something like "I'm currently making $X with a Y% bonus, but I'm looking for a bit more in my next position" (if that's actually the case). Or I might say "I'm currently making $X, but I'm open to all salary offers" (if I might be willing to take less than I'm currently making).

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  • How can your "current salary be verified independently??" – Brandin Aug 17 '14 at 14:33
  • Thanks a lot, that was very helpful. In this case, I don't think I can avoid giving my current salary, but at least, it all makes sense now. – Stilltorik Aug 19 '14 at 7:37
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The recruiter is fishing for information that would be useful for the employer in a potential salary negotiation or to discard your application right away.

I found that this article may be useful to your situation and I believe that the following excerpt explains why the recruiter is seeking your salary history information:

Most often, the simple reason is that employers want an easy screening device to help sort applicants, and those applicants with a salary requirement too low or too high are discarded. Other times, the employer is looking to save money by hiring a job-seeker at the low end of a salary range. In either case, it's not really fair to the job-seeker. With a salary history, employers also want to see frequency and size of raises and promotions.

I think that "detail salary levels" means history, frequency and sizes of raises.

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