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It’s no longer socially acceptable for a company to ask an interview candidate how much money they currently make. It’s also not terribly good to ask the candidate how much they want to make. These days, the standard is to share the pay range for the role. Then, the candidate can decide whether or not the range is acceptable.

In the past, recruiters would argue that asking questions like these made sense. They wanted to know if the candidate was “within their budget” for a particular role. In reality, if the candidate provided a salary number at the low end of the range, they would be paid on the low end of that range. And, they might not ever know it.

Fortunately, many states across the U.S. have agreed that this practice is not okay. It’s not fair. And, it allows pay disparities to continue, and to grow. In other words, if you are currently underpaid, and your future salary is based on your current salary, you will continue to be under paid in the future. If a company pays a fair market rate, then you have a better chance of making what your skillset is truly worth.

Unfortunately, not all recruiters have gotten this message. When a recruiter shares that they have been working as a recruiter for over thirty years, you can bet there’s a decent chance they aren’t playing by the current rules. They will continue to ask questions they should not.

Unfortunately, as a candidate, there’s not much you can do about this issue. If a recruiter asks your salary and you don’t provide it, you’ll likely be eliminated from consideration. You’ll be perceived as difficult, because you aren’t willing to go along with this outdated line of questioning.

The good news is, you can decide not to work with a particular recruiter. You can decide you won’t participate when something like this occurs.  There are many recruiters who will care about the candidate experience, and who are willing to follow the laws and this current way of interviewing candidates.

In addition to questions that a company is not allowed to ask, there is a question that candidates are allowed to ask. In certain states, it’s the law. A candidate can ask the company what the pay range is for a certain position. The company should be willing to provide the range. This gives the opportunity for the candidate to share with the company whether or not the range provided is one they are interested to pursue.

Sadly, this is another area where some recruiters are trying to do their own thing. When asked for the range, it is not uncommon for the recruiter to respond with, “My company hasn’t set a range for this role. We’re trying to see what the market will bear.” As you can imagine, this is most not likely accurate and is an antiquated way of interviewing candidates.

I hope these tips have helped you. Visit to find more tips to improve your job search. If I can be of assistance to you, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here.

Also, be sure to subscribe to my Copeland Coaching Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher where I discuss career advice every Tuesday! If you’ve already heard the podcast and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review in iTunes or Stitcher.

Happy hunting!

Angela Copeland


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