How much do you earn?

This column in the Seattle Times says that you should resist all attempts to get you to disclose your salary during a job search.

A number of reasons are given but really it boils down to one: If you give out your salary the offer will be based on that rather than your ability.

This has some truth to it but unless you feel ashamed about how much you earn there should be no reticence on your part about disclosing it.

Many candidates I have dealt with were uncomfortable telling me what salary they earned. One actually told me it wasn't any of my business. I hung up on that candidate.

Look. You shouldn't give your salary out to your friends and neighbors but headhunters are like career doctors and just like you wouldn't drop your trousers for your neighbors but would for your doctor you should be willing to be frank and open with a headhunter about salary expectations.

There are only three scenarios:
1 You are overpaid. If this is the case you wont get an offer from many companies and also the recruiter should tell you if you are priced above the market.

2 You are paid the going rate (and trust me most headhunters have a rough idea what you should be making - so we aren't surprised). If you are paid the going rate then your offer will be competitive.

3 You are underpaid. This is the only reason people should feel uncomfortable about divulging salary is if they think they are underpaid. If you feel you are underpaid tell your headhunter: here is what I am making however I feel I am far below the market price. I will not accept any offer lower than this (whatever your target price is). If you are worth it and if your expectations are in line, don't worry you will get what you are worth. But this silly game about not divulging your salary only makes you look uncooperative and like you have something to hide.

In addition many compensation packages today go far beyond base salary. Unless a headhunter is completely aware of all the factors surrounding your total compensation it is very difficult to structure a competitive offer.

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