Full Disclosure: The Importance of Being Honest While Working with Your Recruiter

May 4, 2017

as published by the American Association of Finance and Accounting (AAFA)

Many workers feel skeptical giving a recruiter their salary history due to lack of trust or fear of unfair benchmarking. In the recent article published by Forbes, “When Someone Demands Your Salary History, Give Your Salary Requirement Instead,” it was recommended to job seekers that they never disclose prior salary history when speaking with a recruiter.  The article advocates that salary history is “confidential” and that the company should pay you what the role is worth.  The article additionally explains that a recruiter should have a strong enough relationship with a client that salary history shouldn’t be a major factor when considering candidates. The truth is that no matter how strong the relationship, the openness of salary history usually helps the process more than it hurts it.

Here are a few reasons being honest with your recruiter can improve your chances of being interviewed,  and assist you in getting your career ‘on track’. Work history and salary transparency ensure accurate:

  • Assessment of Market Value
    Typically, when a recruiter is hired to help staff a role, one of the first points of discussion is to address compensation ranges that are provided.  This initial discussion allows a company to determine if their salary expectations are in line with the market. Additionally, it helps the recruiter to determine the level of experience and skillsets that would realistically meet a hiring manager’s expectation.
  • Comparison of Experience
    Titles vary greatly and often depend upon the size and complexity of the position and type of organization.  For example, a Senior Accountant role within a large international publicly traded company could be considered a Controller role within a much smaller privately held organization.  Often, when you compare the compensation levels of the positions, you will find that the average salary tends to fall within a reasonable range since the responsibilities are very similar.  
  • Rate of Advancement
    Even the largest multi-national conglomerates have budgets related to personnel costs. Some may have more negotiation power than others and perhaps a wider pay range.  However, it’s important to recognize that departments are limited in how much they can spend.  As a result, recruiters are given a range in which the highest compensation level is often held for the individual that ‘checks every box’.  Even though those boxes vary greatly and often are influenced by more than the requirements of the hiring manager, it is still a helpful measure for the recruiter.  Hiring managers always want their team to be motivated and given opportunities to increase compensation and/or incentives. This is why they rarely bring someone in at the top of the salary range so they can receive raises that are perceived as reasonable.  Have you ever viewed a 1-2% increase as more of an insult than a sign of a great job done?  (Especially when inflation exceeds 2%…).
  • Strategic Partnership with a Recruiter
    The goal of every recruiter is to appropriately match individuals to the right opportunities that exist with their clients. Therefore, it’s a matter of client demand.  The best way to leverage a recruiter is to provide accurate and honest information regarding professional experience, including compensation.  A truly professional and ethical recruiter will advise regarding your current salary and whether compensation requirements are in line with the market.  Sometimes, recruiters will find that a candidate’s current salary is much lower than it should be. Having an expert understand your situation can open up an opportunity for a salary increase. Here’s an example:

    A company in a large metro area was seeking a Manager of Analytics to provide support to their Operational Finance group.  The candidate needed to have extensive experience in Excel modeling, Corporate Finance, as well as a background in mathematical sciences.  A recruiter found a candidate that was making 40% less than that of their peers and recognized that their skillset was a perfect match for the client. The recruiter had a discussion with the hiring manager regarding his candidate’s background and current compensation levels.  The recruiter was able to alleviate any concerns the manager would have over the candidate’s relatively low salary and also set the expectation that the candidate would not take less than the salary ranges offered.  At the end of the day, the candidate was provided an offer and acquired a salary increase of over 45%!

    Remember – it’s in the best interest for the recruiter to get you paid as much as possible since their fees are based on a person’s compensation package.  More money for you equals more money for the recruiter! (Also remember that 45% increase is NOT the norm!)

  • Providing Information to Confirm for Background Checks
    It’s important to remember that most companies perform background checks before an offer is ‘officially’ accepted.  This entails gathering specific information regarding work history, responsibilities, and salary ranges.  The information that you fought so hard to protect in the early stage of the interviewing process becomes information that you allow them to access before bringing you on board.  Note that any detail that is determined to not match with prior communications can be a potential cause to rescind an offer. If you lied about your salary, you risk the job and the time wasted by you and the hiring manager. It’s best to open this information from the beginning, so they can help you in every way able and so there are no surprises in the end.  

Take Away

You may think that keeping salary history confidential will work to your advantage when seeking potential opportunities with a recruiter.  However, not disclosing this information could work against you and also send a message of distrust to both your recruiter and potential employers.  If you do not feel that your recruiter has your best interest in mind or is representing you fairly, I think you have larger issues than salary to address! Working with a recruiter is meant to be a strategic partnership in which you are provided opportunities that match your skillsets, career goals, and compensation requirements. Remember that your recruiter is on your side.   If you can’t have a frank discussion regarding salary with your recruiter, you may want to start searching for another one!

More Articles