How should I respond to a recruiter who just asked me what my desired salary range is via e-mail?

Our correspondence has been limited to two e-mails: Her asking me if I am available and me saying yes.

I understand why she is asking me this, but I am uncomfortable answering this to a person I have never even spoken with.

What would your reply be? I think I should just answer the question???

jhack's picture

Talk to her on the phone.

If this is not the hiring firm's employee / recruiter:
- Listen to the "how to handle recruiters" podcasts before you talk to her (
(You can't even be sure this email correspondent is the recruiter - could be a "telemarketer" who is working for a contingency recruiter.)

Nothing wrong with setting salary ranges/expectations early in a discussion. It's a matter of making sure you know who you're dealing with and how their interests are different from yours.


maura's picture

Push for a meeting, and make sure this is a skilled recruiter can really help you. It sounds like they are trying to use salary as a way to narrow down possible roles, and see if they should consider you for them, but what they should be doing is matching skills, and talking salary later.

To be clear - the recruiter is asking what you're looking for, not what you're currently making, right? I'd think that your expected salary range should depend greatly on the details of the job you are discussing. Unless you are speaking about a particular role, at a particular company, I'd try to postpone the salary discussion if possible.

If the recruiter really tries to pin you down to a number, I'd give a cautiously high estimate, since you have no idea what kind of benefits might be available.

I assume you already have a number in mind. But for the other readers here who might be interested, I'm going to take this opportunity to practice my "C" communication style. Heres what I think should be taken into account when deciding on a number:

[b]1. Figure out what your bare minimum is, irrespective of role:[/b]
Start with your current total income (last year's salary plus bonus or other cash awards), then add the cost to pay for all of your own benefits, assuming the new company offered none. Then add 5 to 10% to give yourself a small bump, assuming you may not get a year-end raise at the new company if you start mid-year

[b]2. Figure out a fair wage for you in the type of role you want:[/b]
Start with the average salary for the type of role you're looking for, in the geographical area you're looking for (I like for this info, if you need a reference point). Then adjust up or down based on how well your current skills fit to the new role. Be real about it - if you've got a lot to learn, don't expect a median salary from the get-go.

[b]3. Compare numbers and quote the higher one.[/b]

[b]4. [/b](This part is optional based on how much you trust the recruiter. Given that this one is trying to get you to state a number without even the courtesy of speaking to you in person, I'd do it:)
[b]Add 10 to 15% wiggle room[/b] because if you say $A, they will come back with offers of $A minus 10%, since it's in their best interest to get good people.

MattJBeckwith's picture

As Mark and Mike talk about, until the recruiter has a bona-fide opportunity that for which you are a candidate, there is no need to give your salary. Handle yourself professionally and gracefully and they shouldn't blink at you not answering.

The 'cast that John references is a phenomenal resource - be sure to listen to it regularly.

US41's picture

"What is your current salary?"

"I'm hoping to find an opportunity that will let me practice my deep interest in managing a team of people. Do you have an opportunity that you would like to discuss? If so, when can we meet?"

That is how I would answer that question.

Your example doesn't sound like an executive recruiter to me. Sounds like a sweatshop guy that wants to fax your resume to everyone in town and do no work. Go elsewhere.

TomW's picture

This person was asking about "desired salary", not current, folks. Big difference.

I agree with the others, it sounds like a telemarketer/waste of time. For people like that, I tell them I want $250K.

If they have something, great. If not, maybe they have something that requires a little more work on their part to match me with.

lefonquey1's picture

Forgive me for not wording my original post better...

The recruiter is an employee of the hospital. Her e-mail address and SIG confirms that she works in the HR department with the title of "recruiter".

Here is her original e-mail... it mentions a job that I am not terribly interested in, but there is another on their site that I am.

[i]"I know you applied for a position with us some time ago and may no longer be in the job market, but I wanted to reach out to you to see if you were still available.

We have a Systems Analyst position open in our Information Services department supporting financial applications, specifically enterprise resource planning.

Would you be interested in learning more about the job? If so, I'd be glad to talk with you further.

Thank you."

A synopsis of my reply is that I am still in the job market and I summarized what I believed to be the posting on their site corresponding to Systems Analyst position... to make sure I know to which position she is referring.

Then, I said that "In addition to this, I am interested in the Data Architect position you have posted on your web site."

I'm not terribly interested in the job she mentioned, but would love to hear about the Data Architect position.

To this, she replied:

[i]"I also wanted to ask you about your salary range?"[/i] And didn't answer my question or address the Data Architect job.

How should I respond?