Career advice??? Compensation

When a potential employer asks you in a job interview how much you currently make…What is the best way to tell them: “That’s not important, make me an offer and if it up to my standards we can continue this conversation.” I think I just answered my own question but I am trying to figure out the most appropriate and polite way to get through that situation.

I don;t think you have much leeway in witholding your current compensation. They will always write down what you tell them and double check with your HR dept if things work out and they decide to take you on. I feel the only flexibility you have is to tell them your OVERALL package, or to break it up into Salary + Bonus. Beyond that, any further witholding of info makes you seem elusive if not evasive. If you are a newcomer, then the advantage is with the employer… if you have alot of experience (which I doubt because you r asking for advice) and are being headhunted, then the tables are turned more in your favor…

I don’t know - I think my contract says that I am not allowed to reveal my compensation. Check if this is the case, then consider saying that you are not happy discussing that until the offer stage.

Last night I had a conversation with a head hunter who is working for an investment firm and initially contacted me out of the blue as my name was on an “analyst list provided to her by a third party.” I have worked with the company that I am with now for 4 years and it has been my introduction to the industry as this is the only job I have had since graduating college. That being said, it is just me and the portfolio manager and I have gained a great deal of hands on experience, have traveled the world, met with CEO & CFOs of large companies within emerging markets. When disclosing my current compensation to the headhunter, she informed me that I currently was not making market value for a person with my level of experience. She said that if I were to interview with the company she is representing, I could fetch at least 2-2.5x what I am currently making. Her advice was that I do not disclose my current compensation as she would expect the company would make me a low-ball offer. She recommended that I should allow them to establish what they were willing to pay inititally. I think I am going to take her advice…any thoughts?

I believe you should not disclose any info on your current salary. You can say that you current contract prohibits you to reveal this particular info. If they insist, then answer their question with the question, i.e. what is the range for the position and inform them that your expectations are within a range. In my experience, potential emploer does not talk money directly to you if you work with head-hunter. If I were you, I would not worry about this particular issue, focus on the interview.

It’s a mistake to assume your current comp compares with what you’d get at a new place. There’s nothing wrong with making X and not switching unless you’re paid 1.5X, or whatever. At a minimum you need compensation for risk of the change. You need to decide what you’re worth in the marketplace. Best approach is to start a bidding war, either with two prospects or with one prospect and current firm. So divulge or not your current salary; you should not let it be a factor in determining your next one.

Thanks alot for all the advice…I believe that all of the suggestions on here are valid points and have helped me immensely already.

I was asked that question (always by wank_rs) a couple of times. My response was always “I’d appreciate discussing that further on during the process if and when you do wish to extend me an offer.” I do recommend retaining a lawyer for your contract. Best $$k I ever spent. You won’t regret it. A good lawyer will make sure you’re not an “at will” employee, and make sure you get a minimum guarantee on your $$$. And a whole lot of other stuff.

Whatever you’re paid, you want a “market rate for the responsibilities of the job you will be performing.” Unless you’re presently overpaid of course, in which case you want some factor above present compensation.

what’s wrong with telling them your salary? if you went through a head hunter the company can ask the head hunter anyway. i have always answered the question straight up as it’s eventually going to be talked about anyway. if you’re too expensive for the company in the beginning you will still be too expensive for the company in the end. might as well get it out of the way early and talk about other stuff. if a company wants to hire you but can’t afford you then it won’t change a thing when you disclose your salary. if a company wants to hire you but wants to pay you below your current salary you probably won’t jump anyway. anyway my point is that there is no need to ‘hide’ your salary. if you think you got lowballed, tell them so (ie: the mkt rate) and if they think it’s reasonable they will up your offer. i actually don’t like people who don’t answer the question when asked because a) it tells me that they are underpaid now for a reason or that’s what the market is willing to bear for their skills b) why delay an important point until the end? it’s like if you ask the company to give you a snapshot of the job and they tell you that they’ll discuss it at the last round of the interview. bottom line is you are paid what you are worth to the market. if you are currently underpaid and thinks so, say it and let them decide whether that’s the case. if you think so but they disagree then you ought to find a new job elsewhere anyway.