This is such a perennial issue in the headhunting world I’m surprised it’s taken this blog so long to get round to covering it. Before I became a headhunter, I would never have dreamed of asking someone how much they earned – it just isn’t done in polite conversation. Now, I have to do it dozens of times a week. The vast majority of candidates answer without batting an eyelid, but a handful still bristle at the question, or refuse to answer whatsoever. This is understandable, but ultimately misguided.
The most common reason given for the refusal to disclose salary is that candidates fear putting themselves in a weaker negotiating position when it comes to the offer stage. In a decade of headhunting, I’ve never worked with a client who would even agree to meeting a candidate without knowing their salary. Far from putting you in a stronger negotiating position, you’re more likely to remove yourself from the table before you’ve even started.