James Done, Director of our Corporate Finance division, discusses the ongoing online debate around whether you should divulge your salary to your recruiter or potential future employer.

I have in the past had reluctance from candidates to disclose their package, plus there has been a flurry of posts on social media recently which has prompted this discussion. There is no right and wrong answer here. It’s ultimately down to personal choice and how comfortable you feel to divulge this information. However, whilst I wouldn’t necessarily disclose my financial earnings to an acquaintance, I would be happy to entrust the confidence of a consultant to ensure I am represented professionally with any potential employer.

It goes without saying that 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 seems little point in wasting anyone’s time in the process should the crucial component of pay, a motivation high on most people’s lists, does not meet either candidates or prospective employers’ expectations.

Trust is key

Like any relationship, the exchange you have with your recruitment consultant or representative should be based on mutual trust, with disclosing current and expected pay being one of many parts of the jigsaw which helps a consultant get the best outcome for you. The reticence of some candidates to disclose this may be borne out of an inherent mistrust of recruitment as an industry, which is an understandable but misplaced position, particularly with an increased ability to check the quality of the consultancy through review sites and customer testimonials, such as our own where we have 5 star reviews on Google.

Professional and specialist firms will be able to counsel you in your career and will act as a ‘critical friend’; someone who agrees to speak truthfully, but constructively about how to secure a positive outcome when in possession of all the facts. Our role is to understand, and be sympathetic to, the aims and objectives of the candidate and committed to helping the client to improve and succeed, whether that client is an individual or a group, by providing challenge, encouragement and candid and transparent feedback.

By engaging a specialist agency, most 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 consider; improved wider benefits, location and subsequent commute and a desire to work within a sector are a few that immediately spring to mind.

As experts in our market, we can advise candidates whether they are genuinely underpaid, or if they are receiving a proper market rate or even identify if someone is over-paid due to long-term service or other circumstances. The old-adage or perception that the recruiter doesn’t care and will always go down to the lowest common denominator i.e. trying to just make a deal, regardless of the candidate’s best interest, is a little short sighted in today’s world.

The lack of knowing such information can also cast doubt over the relationship to potential clients and can appear that the candidate is being deliberately misleading which could result in a breakdown in the relationship. Mainly clients expect this information as part of a strong due diligence process, and when a recruiter does not provide this, it can lead to a negative standing with the client. This is turn may lead the recruiter to decide to not work with the candidate.

Personally, I would always counsel transparency throughout the process, though if you don't want to tell me that is of course your prerogative.

Like any industry there is a spectrum of good quality and poor-quality companies. Good ones will act as trusted advisors to the candidates, work with individuals on a strategy to secure their next opportunity and be honest with them when perhaps expectations are unrealistic. With all this considered, if you would like to have an open and honest discussion, then please contact me on 0203 817 8132 or email james.done@aj-chambers.com