Dear Jack: I am in the final stage of a job interview and I just received an email from the recruiter who wants to know my current salary and my salary expectations. Please advise.
Hello, Recruiters are an exception to the rule of "postpone salary talk until there's an offer." You actually score points, so to speak, with them by being candid about salary. On the other hand, you don't want the recruiter's expectations to be low. If you're currently underpaid in your job, you don't want that to diminish your salary.
Here's what I suggest. Don't do this by e-mail. Start by calling the recruiter and saying, "I'm glad we're in the final stages, and I'd be happy to fill you in on my current salary and my expectations. However, I'd like to get a little 'competitive value analysis' from you before I do this. I hope that's okay with you."
Then explain that you trust the recruiter's opinion because he/she has interviewed a number of people and has a good basis of comparison. Given that, could he/she share with you the highest level of responsibility you be qualified for, and the highest possible salary that level would pay. And, as always, check Salary.com's Salary Wizard to see what the going rate is for the job in question.
Once you have the opinion from the recruiter, you're free to give them the full information preceded by either of these two comments:
"My salary is lower than that, and that's one of the reasons why I am in the market and considering a change. I want to get my compensation closer to its real value." Or --
"My current salary is higher than that, but the actual financial compensation is only one of three or four things I'm considering in making the move."
When you do disclose your current information be accurate about it. Don't fudge or embellish.