Don’t Keep Your Salary a Secret

By DEBRA HOLDEN on FEBRUARY 18, 2016

Co-written by:
Debra Holden and Debbie Eckart

It is important to share your salary expectations with your recruiter. In order to establish a professional relationship with an executive recruiter like Kimmel & Associates, which will enable you to find that perfect position, you have to be candid and forthright about your salary expectations.

Your Recruiter Needs to Know

All partnerships rely on trust, good faith, and candor. If you expect your recruiter to assist in negotiating a compensation package for you, it is imperative that you fully disclose your past and present compensation and benefits package.

You have to know what you’re worth by industry standards, and what is reasonable in crafting your salary expectations. Your recruiter is your partner, your agent, and your advocate when contemplating making a job change. While it’s true that the recruiter is also developing relationships with employers, he or she wants to arrange a win-win-win situation, in which:

  • You secure a great new job with a competitive package

  • The employer secures a talented, motivated employee (you) and,

  • The recruiter builds successful relationships with both of you

Your recruiter can accomplish this ultimate goal only if you’re upfront with your salary history and salary expectations. Armed with that information, your recruiter won’t waste your time with positions that don’t fit your goals, and you can focus your time on those worthwhile opportunities.

Recruiters Prepare You for the Job Market

Another service offered by your recruiter is to educate you about your true worth in the marketplace. In order to do that well, you have to share your salary and benefit history. If your salary expectations are in line with your experience and with the industry in which you’re working, then you can be confident of finding a rewarding position. However, the job market remains fluid, responding to the overall economy and the laws of supply and demand. Recruiters often educate candidates on many issues — especially market value and market dynamics.

If you have an inflated idea of your worth, this news may be disheartening, but it is critical information to have so as not to price yourself out of compelling opportunities that will bring professional growth and development. It also prevents future disappointment, as job offers are more likely to align with reality than with your idea of reality.

Forming a Partnership with Your Recruiter

A partnership with an executive recruiter means openly engaging and building a trusting relationship. That trust includes a shared agenda and a two-way street of honesty. You have to be candid about your past employment history and your future goals. In return, your recruiter will be in a much better position to more effectively screen opportunities on your behalf, at which point he or she will be able to introduce to you said opportunities that you may not otherwise have a chance to fully explore.

A successful collaboration is grounded on a foundation of trust and honesty. Be sure to provide all the relevant information, and you’ll ensure a successful transition to another job, or be in a position to more effectively negotiate a lateral increase.

Salary Expectations = More Than Pay

The base salary is but one element of a comprehensive compensation package. It is important to consider the health care package and retirement plan you’re currently receiving and what you will receive as part of the compensation package in your next job. Your recruiter can share valuable information regarding benefit packages and how it relates to your job search.

Recruiters actually invest a significant amount of time and effort trying to understand your career goals and objectives. In addition, your recruiter wants to discover what makes you truly happy, so he or she can deliver it in a single package. For example, some candidates:

  • Prefer to be challenged rather than to be well paid for a less than satisfactory job

  • Prioritize a robust health insurance plan over other options

  • Do not want to relocate and will take a lesser salary to stay local/regional

  • Wish to leave their current employer and just want a comparable job

As you can see, people look to change jobs for a number of reasons. Your recruiter looks for a position that meets your criteria, including salary. But this is possible only if you share your salary history, salary expectations and job priorities.

Recruiters Want to Satisfy You

What are your salary expectations?

Your recruiter doesn’t want to waste your time with opportunities that aren’t appropriate. So, from the very first telephone conversation, your recruiter is trying to determine where you fit into the industry you’ve chosen.

Trust your recruiter to know what you’re worth in the marketplace. The information your recruiter shares with you comes from years of market focus and a deep understanding of the industry. If you want a salary that your recruiter doesn’t think is possible, you may need to have a conversation with an open mind and an honest perspective.

Negotiating Your New Salary

With realistic salary expectations in mind, your recruiter can advise you about opportunities and help you negotiate better terms. When your recruiter discusses the current state of the industry with you, use that knowledge to make an informed decision about your career, both short-term and long-term.

When you get a job offer, consider the total compensation package, and not just the salary. You should analyze how you fit in with a new company’s culture, mission, and goals, in addition to how closely the new position aligns with your professional goals. If it’s a match, jump on board.

Trust Your Partner

All job seekers should know that the best recruiters — like the ones at Kimmel & Associates — advocate on your behalf. Treat your recruiter like a valued partner, honestly sharing your salary expectations, and you’ll receive the same honest treatment in return.

The Author

Straight from the desk of

Debra Holden

Debra Holden

Market Leader

Debra Holden began her career with Kimmel & Associates in 1994 as a recruiter in construction. In 2003, she was named an associate in our Curtain Wall/Cladding Division.