Tell Your Recruiter What Your Honest Salary Expectations Are

May 4, 2017


We’re doing a new mini-series on our blog laying out a few things you absolutely need to tell a recruiter before they represent you for a role. Not just to make your recruiter’s life easier, but to make your own life easier. Lots of people don’t realize that withholding certain information when working with a recruiter can scuttle the process and actually harm your reputation, especially in a tight-knit business vertical like Procurement and Supply Chain. It can make you look negligent at best, and dishonest at worst.

When it comes to working with a recruiter, honesty is the best policy. So what are the top pieces of withheld information that mess up our ability to represent an otherwise-great candidate again and again? 

Tell Your Recruiter What Your Honest Salary Expectations Are:

There’s some controversy about sharing your salary information with your recruiter. Some have pointed out that you’re under no obligation to share how much you’re currently making, only what your expectations for salary are: maybe instead of telling a recruiter about your salary history, it’s better to tell them your target salary, let the hiring manager evaluate your skills and experience, and let the chips fall where they may. Which is fair: but one thing that’s not in dispute is that you need to be honest about how much salary you’re actually targeting for an opportunity. Instead of trying to do a bait and switch.

It happens surprisingly often: a recruiter tells a candidate about a role. The candidate says they’re interested. Then the conversation turns to the all-important question of salary. The recruiter asks what the candidate’s targeting. The candidate says, say, 90k. Perfect, the recruiter says, our client is targeting between 90-95k for the role. This could really work out.

Cut to two weeks later and the recruiter gets a phone call from the client saying that “the candidate just interviewed, and did great, but she’s asking for 110k. Isn’t that a bit outside the salary range we discussed?”

Just because an interview seems to be going well doesn’t mean you should raise your salary expectations by 20k. But this happens again and again. It’s not just a headache for us recruiters. It also sinks the candidate’s prospects at getting the job. When it comes to salary, it’s also a matter of being honest with yourself. If a job sounds great, but the salary is too low, don’t interview! Wait for the next opportunity to come along instead of going along with the process, pretending your expectations are less than they actually are until you’re in a position to get the job. Because so often when that time comes, if your expectations are higher than you initially said they were, you won’t.

Negotiation is one thing – and Procurement is all about negotiation, so we get it – but you need to be up front with your recruiter about salary expectations instead of hoping you’ll be able to sweet talk an employer into going above their budget. Because when you come in with all-of-a-sudden inflated salary expectations, here’s what the employer is thinking: if they’re willing to do an end-run around the recruiter and misrepresent their expectations, what’s to stop them from doing an end-run around me if I hire them? 


  1. kiran sahu

    Great article helped me to know my salary expectation I was confused that how to convey my expectation in interview thank you for your article very helpful..
    Thanks a lot…do keep posting..!!!

  2. P Erik Mathisen

    Now what about a recruiter that presses for an expectation when a range has already been set? After sending my CV in response to a posting with a wide range, received a call back asking my salary expectations based on just the outline. No interview with the company, limited information on the role/goals/expectations, just my expectation.

    Trying to defer until after meeting for an interview to discuss a salary expectation appears to have been a mistake. No further contact has been received from the recruiter. Is this what ghosting is like?

    There is more to a role than the base salary to be considered. Benefit information needs to be made clear, potential bonus structures and company perks are all involved. ie: Take less weekly salary in exchange for additional time off or a fully paid well funded benefit package. Sadly, I’ve been with organizations that indicated a benefits plan that was more expensive than I could purchase directly with better coverage.

    Not all compensation packages are created equally and picking a number in advance could lead to an unfortunate situation.

    • Argentus

      Thanks for your comment, Erik, and those are some really good points!

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