Why do recruiters ask you for your preferred salary?
Because recruiters are inundated with so many applications, this question is often used as a screening tool. As a candidate, this makes it tricky for you not to under or over sell – even more difficult when you don’t know the salary range.
If, however, you have impressed, and the company decide you are their ‘person’, any salary disparities – ie between what is on offer and what you say you want – will likely be ignored and negotiations will start. During this process, you as the candidate will have also learnt more about the role and the company which will help you to decide if you wish to pursue the opportunity further, including revising down your salary expectations if necessary (we doubt you’d have concerns about revising them up if the offer is greater!).
Probably one of the best responses ever heard in an interview was from a gentleman who had applied for a mine site safety management role, but who was at the time earning significant tax free dollars in a global role. As you might imagine, there was a major gap between what he was earning and what was being offered. His answer was; “I have applied for the role because it really appeals to me and I think I have something good to offer. Given I’ve taken the time to research your organisation, I feel confident that you will offer an appropriate package commensurate with the job responsibilities”. During the interview process, it was also clear that money was obviously not the driving force, so the organisation continued to pursue the candidate knowing they could likely negotiate a win/win.
If the recruiter pushes, you can say what you are currently on and that you wouldn’t want to go lower than this. Everyone can appreciate you won’t necessarily want to go backwards – although depending on how badly you do want the position and if it is in line with your greater career picture, sometimes it can pay. It’s certainly something to consider.