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Disclosing Salary To Recruiters: Pros & Cons (Webinar Attendee Question)

If I get a call from talent acquisition team for a job that I didn't apply to and asked for salary, how should I respond?

This question was asked by an attendee during the Proformative webinar "How to Win Your Compensation Negotiation" held on December 21, 2012.  Please join the discussion and add your insights below.

A video of the webinar can be viewed here:


Topic Expert
Patrick Dunne
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Milk Source
(Chief Financial Officer, Milk Source) |

I would always give the salary if you are remotely interested. If nothing else that establishes a floor so the recruiter calls you only if they are above your floor.

Paul Bosshart
Title: Management
Company: NetSuite
(Management, NetSuite) |

Thought I would share an experience I had with the "Salary" question, how I handled it, and what the outcome was.

First and foremost, I would highly recommend interviewing with several companies vs. being single threaded with one company. Not only will this allow you to improve your interview skills, but also receive multiple offers from various companies. For that matter, I will go so far as to say that I tend to continue in the interview process until an offer letter is received, even if I am not completely interested in the opportunity. Why you might ask? Because recruiters these days have the upper hand when it comes to the "Salary" question. Why would a recruiter ask for your previous W2's? Because they want to lowball you on the offer or they think you are not worth the market price.

With multiple offers in hand when the "salary" question comes up, you can shift the control in your favor. When asked for W2's, I always send the recruiter an offer letter I have on the table with another company. This way, a sense of competition is introduced into the hiring process, and if the company requesting your W2's really wants you, they will visually see an offer you currently / recently had on the table.

I have done this successfully with two companies to-date, and it completely eliminated further conversations about sending W2's. I never was asked for the W2's after the company received another offer I have on the table. BTW, when sending a company an offer you have from another company, make sure you "whiteout" any mention of the companies name/products/hiring manager/phone number/address. This way you don't have to worry about someone calling the other company that has extended an offer.

I know many recruiters will look down on the above idea, but my comment to that is recruiters don't always play a fair game. This has simply worked for me and it's an option all prospective candidates should consider.

Good Luck!


Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

If I did not apply for the job, I would be highly speculative on the authenticity of the call. I would not divulge my salary. To me, the only time it would make sense is if the recruiter was referred to me by someone in my Network.


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