Consult Recruitment NZ > Job Search  > Mind Your Damn Business! Why Recruiters Want To Know What You Get Paid

Mind Your Damn Business! Why Recruiters Want To Know What You Get Paid

If you’ve ever worked with a good recruiter, you will doubtless have been asked at some point what salary you’re on.

Your initial response might have been something along the lines of “I don’t even tell my best friend what I earn – why the hell should I tell you?”

Believe me, I get that. No-one relishes talking about their salary. But there’s a reason we ask the question, and it’s a very good one:


For a skilled recruiter, it’s a sin and an embarrassment to get all the way to the end of the hiring process, only to have a mismatch between salary expectations result in a job offer being rejected.

No-one – not the hiring manager, not the recruiter, and certainly not you – wants to waste their time with interviews, background checks, and hours of discussion, only for it all to come to nought.

We work very hard to understand both you and the hiring manager well before we even get you together in the same room. And we simply never arrange an interview unless we know in advance that your salary expectations are a match.

Right about now you might be thinking “That’s all well and good – but why can’t I just tell you what I’d like to get paid in my next job, and leave it at that?”

That’s actually an easy one to answer:


Sometimes people walk into our offices with a very clear understanding of why they’re leaving their job, what they want in their next job, and what their value is in the job market.  

Most people though, aren’t blessed with that kind of clarity. As with all big decisions in life, often it’s when you start talking things through with a good listener that you get a better understanding of what’s really right for you.

The thing is, you’re not just a bunch of skills on paper and a dollar figure – you’re a complex mix of motivations, history and personality. It’s our job to understand all of this – and to do that, we need to get an open and honest conversation happening.

It might look a little like this:

What’s actually important to you in a job? Why do you want to leave your current job? Is it really the money, or is it because you’re bored where you are? Is it really because you’re bored where you are, or is it the money?

What are you being paid right now? Are you being paid less than you should be, compared to the market? How much less? Do we need to revise your salary expectations upwards?

Or are you being paid very well where you are right now? Might you even need to consider a pay cut if you want to move? Is that OK with you, or would you be better off staying put until you get the experience you need to get to the next level?

Is the security of a good base salary less or more important to you than a shot at a more generous bonus? What matters most: An increase in salary, or other benefits (better location, more training, more flexibility)?

You get the picture. It’s pretty in-depth, and it’s a crucial exercise if we’re going to honour the time you’ve invested in us.  

And it doesn’t stop there. There’s  an equally important part of the equation:


We go through a mirror process with a hiring manager when they list a vacancy with us:

What skills, experience and personality traits are really important to you in your next hire? How much have you budgeted to pay someone who fits that description?

How did you arrive at that figure? Is this role already being performed by someone in the company? How much do they earn? What’s their background? Do you want someone with a similar profile, or someone different? Why?

How does this role pay, compared to the market? What benefits are you offering? What makes your role more (or less) attractive than your competitor’s roles? If we found you the perfect person, but they wanted $10K more than the figure you’ve given me, would you stretch to that?

And so on. We work together to come up with a realistic salary, and we gain the hiring manager’s commitment that they will offer that salary to a person who delivers what they’re looking for.


Having these in-depth, honest conversations is certainly more work than just asking what you want to earn, and what the hiring manager wants to pay, and stopping there. But it means we know with 98% certainty* – before the process even starts – that if an offer is extended to you, it will be a good offer, and you will be thrilled to accept it.

We know that both you and your new employer will enjoy the experience. There won’t be any nasty surprises at the last minute, followed by uncomfortable negotiations where one person inevitably walks away feeling they’ve given something away. You’ll finish the process feeling valued and respected and excited to work with each other.

And isn’t that the best possible way to start a new working relationship?

*That 98% isn’t a guestimate – in the last year, just 2% of the job offers our clients made were rejected. We’d like it to be 100%, but after all, we’re dealing with people here, not widgets – and that’s what makes this job so interesting!

We take salary discussions so seriously, we had a whole website built to support them! During our first meeting with all of our candidates, we ask them to enter their salary details on so they can see in detail how they compare with other accounting & finance professionals. Then we examine the results together. If you haven’t already, check it out!

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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