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Should you disclose your salary?

I recently had an instance with a candidate who was reluctant to disclose their package details during an interview process, which prompted a discussion on this very sensitive area.  Moving jobs is up there with the most stressful events in our life, and the process we go through to reach this decision relies heavily on a great deal of trust from both parties. There is a crucial part to be played from both the employer and candidate by means of selling themselves in an honest, transparent and meaningful fashion, including pay and reward.  This remains a key aspect when considering a move, covering both the base salary as well as the wider additional benefits. There seems little point in wasting anyone’s time in the process should this crucial component not meet either party’s expectation.

I’ve read several articles and LinkedIn snippets on this very topic – with strong and opposing views on this delicate matter. Throughout my time in recruitment, the vast majority of candidates have been willing to disclose the full break down of their remuneration, as they get a full and comprehensive view of the package on offer from the client in return. 

You are under no obligation to disclose your salary details, but do stop to think what impression this gives the interviewer and potentially your new employer. Should you be successful in the process, this will ultimately become apparent at the time you need to provide a copy of your P60 and nobody likes the feeling of being misled. 

The immediate and natural suspicion will be to assume you are currently feeling underpaid and looking to make a step up in terms of your earnings. It is often perceived that some recruiters and hiring managers will focus a proportion of their decision making based purely on salary – too low a current base salary and they may think you are too inexperienced for the role and conversely too expensive and they may question your motivation and commitment to the role in the long term. 

By engaging a search agency the majority of these issues should get ironed out throughout the candidate engagement and assessment process, by focusing the attention on evidential skills and expertise, versus pure black and white monetary facts. Not everyone is motivated by remuneration alone and there are clearly other considerations to take into account; improved wider benefits, location and subsequent commute and a desire to work within a particular sector are a few that immediately spring to mind. 

There is no right and wrong answer here, it’s down to personal choice however; whilst I wouldn’t necessarily disclose my financial earnings to my neighbour or colleague, I would be happy to entrust the confidence of a search consultant to ensure I am represented professionally with any potential employer. 

Richard Guest is a Principal Consultant at Berwick Partners, specialising in senior leadership roles within the Procurement function

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