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Candidate Help & Advice

What is Your Current Salary?

Salary photo from ShutterstockWhat is your current salary?

I’m sure you have been asked early in the interview process, “What is your current salary?”

If it was up to me, I would have everyone respond indigently—None of your %^%#(& business!

However, that does not work in our current work environment.

So, how should you answer the question, “What is your current salary?”

I have a client who, just the other day, was asked this by a recruiter. It was the beginning of a series of interviews or, as I call it, she was going to run the gauntlet.

My client very politely said it was early in the process and that she would discuss salary later. It was all about total compensation, benefits, yada, yada, yada. Pretty standard response.

The recruiter persisted in wanting to know. She finally said, we need to know whether we can afford you. What is your current salary?

My client broke down and told her, but added twenty thousand. It turns out that this was in her range.

I told my client I would have turned it around.

Oh, you want to know whether you can afford me. What have you budgeted for this position and I can tell you whether you are within my range?

Make them give you a number!

What are you worth?

Recently, I wrote in a post called Managing Your Career is Like Selling a Vintage Fiat that a car is worth what someone else is willing to pay. Plus, you only need one buyer!

You are worth what a company is willing to pay you. That amount has nothing to do with your currently salary. This is particularly true if you have worked for the same company for 5 or more years.


Salaries can vary a lot based on location. Living in Austin, Texas I have had many discussions with Californians moving to Austin. They needed to understand that, if you move from San Jose to Austin, the salaries and cost of living will both be a lot lower.

Check out sites like and for salaries in the area where you plan to relocate.

Ask Around

In today’s work environment, it is perfectly acceptable to ask what someone makes. This is a big departure from when I started working in the 1970s where it was both taboo and could be a fire-able offense to disclose your salary. In fact, a few companies are making all of their salaries public.

Determine a fair salary range that you would be willing to accept.

Salary is not everything!

What else do you want? You will need to determine how much Paid Time Off (PTO) you want. How much are you paying for health insurance and is your spouse currently covered on your plan? He/she may not be when you change jobs. Many businesses are dumping insurance coverage for your spouse.

Read my recent post called Evaluating the Job Offer – What is Missing?

So what is your current salary?

If they insist on knowing your current salary, you can say,

“I am looking for $xxxx in salary, but I will be evaluating the entire compensation package, which includes, salary, bonus, and benefits.

Do not tell them your current salary, but what you want to be paid!

Marc MillerCareer Pivot

Check out my book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers

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