Should You Discuss Your Income?

Should you be prepared to discuss your income?  My answer as a veteran headhunter is that you should discuss your income only if you want to get an interview.

I have placed 100’s of applicants with dozens of companies. I never referred an applicant for an interview without first knowing that person’s income.

What are you really keeping to yourself?  At one time this advice may have had some basis for negotiation purposes, but today there are plenty of websites that have nailed compensation for every possible position in every possible location.  Right here on, I provide employers and job seekers with a free salary custom search feature built on a database of compensation sites.

For nearly every job seeker, discussing income is private matter.  Many employers have a company policy that instructs their employees never to discuss their income with anyone inside or outside the company.  These are solid, meaningful, valuable policies that benefit the company and benefit the employees.

However, if you intend to leave your current employer, you will need to work with hiring managers and perhaps with headhunters who will need to know your compensation.  Many of these hiring managers work for companies that have policies that require applicants to provide a truthful statement of their income.

Why burn bridges?  The interview process can be costly to recruiters and to hiring companies.  If you make $150,000 a year and you require $300,000 to accept a job, put that information out there before you have your first interview. If you plan on running a lot of people through an expensive, time-consuming process to spring a fantastic compensation negotiation on them at the finish, you are more likely going to burn a bridge than double your income.

You can double your income.  I have placed people in positions where these people have doubled their income.  Small growth companies often offer large performance-based and stock-connected compensation packages.  I have helped a lot of people pay off their home early.  The way to go about doubling your income is to work with a recruiter who has the connections that will enable you to accomplish your financial goals.  The best way to help that recruiter is to start by telling the recruiter where you are financially and where you want to go.

The people to whom you discuss your income needs to be people you know you can trust to keep that information to themselves except when you have given them explicit direction to discuss the information with a specific employer or explicit circumstances.

If a hiring manager or headhunter calls you and you have no interest in making a job change but would like to begin to develop a relationship so that you can have people to contact for future needs, you are smart to avoid a discussion of income. These people have no need to know your income until you get serious about making a job change.


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