should recruiters disclose salary range when they reach out to you, “seeking new opportunities” on LinkedIn, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. Should recruiters disclose salary range when they reach out to you?

How common is it for recruiters to disclose salary range for positions when they reach out to you? I’ve heard colleagues who have professions that are highly technical and in demand talk about how recruiters have disclosed salary ranges to them for the openings they are recruiting for. This has helped my colleagues ask for more money. One even told his boss, “I have recruiters on LinkedIn offering me $XX more.” This helped him get a substantial raise last year. I, however, haven’t had much luck, and while my professions isn’t as highly in demand as theirs, it’s still pretty hot. I always get the typical “it depends on experience or we’re focused on finding the ideal candidate,” etc.

I think it does indeed vary by industry; there are some industries where it would be laughable to approach a passive candidate without talking about salary, and others where the coy kind of line you talk about is still accepted.

But in general, when a recruiter is approaching you (as opposed to you applying for a job), they should be prepared to talk salary. It’s pretty obnoxious to try to entice someone to spend time interviewing when they weren’t actively looking if you’re not even willing to tell them what the job pays … and it’s perfectly reasonable to say to a recruiter who contacts you, “I’m not actively looking, and I’d need to know the salary range before spending time talking further.” But like everything in job searching, it also comes down to how many options you are and how willing you are to walk away … if you know that you’d secretly want to interview regardless, then it’s more difficult to take a hard line.

2. I thought I was a finalist for a job, but they’ve just reposted the job ad

Just as it was becoming clear that it is time for me to get out of my current company (very poor management, junior employees that I greatly outrank and outperform being paid a significant amount more than I am, a new and potentially unsafe environment), I spotted an ad for a very reputable national company for a dream position in a very swanky (and totally safe) office with much better pay. Hooray! I polished up my resume and immediately applied–and got a call back within 30 minutes. I’ve since had two in-person interviews with the manager I would be working under and a phone interview with HR, all of which seemed to go really well. Afterward,s the manager I would be working under called me to schedule a final interview with the person above her (who will decide between the final candidates) and even gave me a few tips on how to impress this person.

I felt like my chances were really good–and then a fresh round of ads went up for the position on a few different job sites. I was told it was down to just a few people and that they were looking to choose between us fairly quickly, so seeing a blitz of new ads was kind of disconcerting (and heart-sinking). Does this mean that the other candidates and I are already doomed?

Nope, not at all.

Many employers keep ads fresh until they’ve made a hire, just in case things don’t work out with the current candidate pool. In fact, it might not even be the doing of the hiring manager at all; for all we know, it could be a junior HR person who’s totally out of the loop on how the hiring process is progressing but knows that the position is still open and thus is freshening the ads for it. Or, sure, it’s possible that it does mean that they decided they wanted a new influx of candidates. But there’s no way to know from the outside, and you shouldn’t read anything into it.

3. I applied for a job directly and through a recruiter and got different answers to each application

I had applied to a position directly through a company’s website a few weeks ago. I really want the job and I feel I am a very good fit for the position as I meet all the minimum requirements and I have experience in 90% of the responsibilities of the position. The role requires specialized knowledge in a particular industry, so I don’t expect that many people will meet the requirements. I customized my CV and cover letter to the job specs so that all the relevant information is highlighted.

I hadn’t heard from the company all this time, and fearing that my application had been lost in their application tracking system or that I had been rejected without it being communicated to me, I applied to an external recruiter recruiting for the same position. The next morning, the recruiter phoned to say he has received my application, I am exactly who he is looking for and he is excited to present me to his client. But we would only hear in a few days since the HR manager is on leave.

Later the same morning, I received a pro-forma rejection letter from the company sent through their ATS, saying that unfortunately I have been unsuccessful. I have been reading advice online about whether candidates should send an application through a recruiter and also directly to a company for the same position, and the general consensus is no because of the potential bun fight over commission or introduction fees. People talk about duplicate applications going straight to the round file to avoid these problems.

I would like to know whether you think the issue over commission might ever be a problem if I progress further with the recruiter since I was already rejected. Did I sabotage myself? What do I do now to salvage the situation?

You should tell the recruiter what happened — that you had applied directly earlier on and just received a rejection, and ask what he thinks you should do.

However, be aware that he might not be able to present you at all at this point; since you had applied on your own earlier, the company “owns” your candidacy, and the recruiter likely wouldn’t get paid if they hired you — which means any work he does on your candidacy would be him working for free. I know that’s not always intuitive to candidates (it’s kind of an insider baseball thing that you shouldn’t be expected to know), but those are the rules he’s going to have to play by.

Still, though, you really do need to explain to him what happened and let him decide how to handle it from here.

4. Announcing on LinkedIn that you’re “seeking new opportunities” when you’re currently employed

I’ve seen a lot of LinkedIn profiles where the user has “Seeking New Opportunities” on their profile. I am just curious if you had any ideas of how this works exactly. Are these people not connected to anyone that works at their same company, or do they just not care that someone could see this and realize that they are perhaps looking around for new opportunities? I know there is a way to have LinkedIn not notify everyone on your network when you make a change to your profile (such as this one), but there is always the chance that a coworker could come across your profile and find out that way.

Are you sure they’re currently employed? You most commonly see that with people who aren’t, but if you’re seeing it from people who are current employed, I’d assume that they either (a) don’t care if their company sees it (possibly because they’re being laid off soon or have other reason to be open about their search) or (b) don’t think about the fact that their company could see it.

{ 54 comments… read them below }

  1. Eric

    Re #4,LinkedIn Porfiles, option C) is that they had it set like that when they were unemployed, and never thought of or bothered to change it when they found a job.

    1. T3k

      Or option D) the company is very small and no fellow coworkers or even the boss are on LinkedIn (like where I am now)

    2. MK

      Is it really so very odd that some people might be open about their job search and their employer is ok with it? I realise this is probably a culture thing, but in my country, unless there are exceptional circumstances, most employers would take the news of an employee searching in stride; it’s understood that it can always happen at any time.

      1. Liane

        Yes it is odd in many places. This seems to be a big issue in the USA (and probably other countries as well). There are accounts on this site of people who have lost (or almost lost) their current job because it was learned they are job searching. That is why it is considered bad form to contact a current employer/manager, unless the candidate has specifically okayed it.

      2. AnotherFed

        Good employers and managers should be reasonable about it, but just from the number of letters and storied here on AAM, it’s obvious that there are some truly terrible workplaces and a ton of mediocre or worse managers who come up with unreasonable actions or requests when someone is leaving.

        And in some industries, even good employers have to consider trade secrets, proprietary information, confidentiality, etc., so if someone is known to be leaving, it’s standard practice to revoke their access to those sorts of things to 1) protect the company and 2) comply with contractual and legal obligations.

        1. MK

          I do understand that there are cases when it makes sense to keep it a secret. But I still don’t think it’s so very weird to have X number (presumably we are not talking thousands here) of people in LinkedIn who have no reason to hide their search. After all, there are many jobs where the employer knows they can replace you fairly quickly with an equaly competent worker; and these are usually the kind of jobs where an employee leaving won’t disrupt the work too much (no ongoing projects, etc).

          1. Colette

            I think there’s a difference between letting your direct manager know and announcing it on the internet where anyone from your company could see it.

            1. CMT

              Just as one example of a situation where this wouldn’t be weird: I currently have a job in my home state and my boyfriend lives 2,000 miles away. I’m very good at my job and don’t slack off, even though it’s obvious I’d like to move to be closer to my boyfriend. My boss and the people I work with all know I’m looking to leave in the next year, and they’re all supportive of my job search. I haven’t put anything about being open to new opportunities on LinkedIn, but frankly, I didn’t know that was a thing people do.

              1. Colette

                Sure, there are situations where it makes sense, but there are other situations where you trust your manager but not everyone in the company to know you’re looking.

      3. Parcae

        I’ll second what’s already been said. Also, there are consequences to having your employer find out about your job search short of losing your job. My boss is a very reasonable person (thankfully!) and would likely take the news of my job search calmly, but she would also probably stop sending me to extra professional development opportunities or advocating for my advancement. If an employee isn’t going to stick around for the long term, it makes sense that the company would be less interested in investing in the employee. That’s not a big deal when you know you want OUT, but if you’re also open to staying with your current employer, you have to weigh the costs of your boss thinking that you’re less than 100% committed.

      4. Adam

        While I definitely wish I worked somewhere else, I am very thankful that my manager is on my side. He really doesn’t want me to go because of the enormous vacancy I’d leave (I hope my departure gets them to think about restructuring the pay so it’s better for whatever poor soul takes my place), but he’s only hanging on for another year until he reaches a retirement milestone so he totally understands. Even offered to be a reference on the down low since the organization’s official stance is that all reference requests go directly to HR.

        Job hunting while employed kind of feels like being a secret agent. Posting anything on social media is a risk of it getting somewhere you don’t want it to, so much of your hunt and networking goes directly to word of mouth. While I certainly don’t want to be on the unemployed side again, it is a lot easier from a communication standpoint to just announce from your virtual soapbox “Hey, I need a job!”

    3. Kelly O

      This is what I was thinking, actually. When the account was set up they checked the box and never thought about it again, even when they update, because that field is way down near the bottom in scrolling, and gets forgotten.

    4. Jozie

      I’ve seen it too for plenty of employed folks, and I chalk it up to either not knowing how to remove it/not realizing it’s there or just simply being out-of-date. I guess since I’m not recruited or contacted through LinkedIn and do not use it in any formal capacity, I’m surprised anyone truly pays attention to that section. I regard it as irrelevant and extend its meaning to seeking new opportunities beyond just a new job, such as a new collaboration or partnership.

      1. Jozie

        Oh! Should add: I see so much old and incorrect LinkedIn information on profiles that I take almost everything they say with a grain of salt. There are inconsistencies with company names, informalization of titles, incorrect and outdated contact info, odd photos, and wrong/excessively marketing language driven headlines (Driven industry professional experienced in large-scale social media campaigns, etc…) that I just meh like I meh on anyone’s social media profiles.

    5. Yes

      Option E) which could overlap with Alison’s or your options: The person checked off all the “contact me for” options without paying attention to the one that says seeking new opportunities.

    1. AnotherFed

      This is what I immediately thought, too. If it’s a national company, it’s probably pretty big and needs multiple people for many mid-level jobs. Depending on how they are organized, even if it’s the same office, it might not even be the same department or hiring manager.

    2. Switcher

      OP2 – If you are finding the add popping up on numerous websites, I would guess that those websites are routinely adding job postings that it finds itself. This often causes old job ads to get added as ‘newly posted’ on different websites, sometimes after the job was filled. Most employers will post on a small handful of websites, we post on 2 only. We often find out that candidates are seeing our ads pop up in job search websites we have never heard of.

  2. Artemesia

    sometimes when advertising a position you contract for a period of time and the post re-freshes automatically. I would not worry about the job posting while interviewing is happening — it can spell doom but probably is just mindless bureaucracy grinding along and has nothing to do with the actual recruiters.

    1. Rachel

      I came here to say the same thing. I’ve also seen promotions such as “pay once, run the ad until the position is filled,” where the ad automatically renews until someone from that company calls to cancel it. I wouldn’t worry about it.

  3. JM in England

    RE: #1

    I’ve always believed that both recruiters and employers should be open about salary ranges from the get-go. It is the most important piece of data you need when making a decision on whether to apply.

    1. katamia

      I’ve never worked with a recruiter, but since the general theory is that job postings and employers should be open about salary range, I don’t see why things should be any different for recruiters.

  4. Not Today Satan

    If a recruiter contacted me about a job I haven’t applied for and tried to be coy about the salary, I would laugh so hard.

    1. BRR

      I think I might care more about the salary than the actual job. I wouldn’t take a 20% pay cut for most jobs no matter how interesting it was.

    2. AdAgencyChick

      Happens ALL THE TIME in my industry. They call you and they want to know if you’d be interested in a new opportunity. Then they try to find out how much YOU make.

      I always respond with a “thank you, I’m not interested” at the beginning if I’m truly happy, and if I’m even a little bit interested, I ask about the salary first thing, because c’mon. You called me, dude.

    3. Adam

      My experience with recruiters overall has been neutral at best, but I think at least all of them have been upfront about what a job would pay, and I’m by no means in a hot field. I think the job search process would be better for everyone, including employers, if a job always stated what the pay was, but I accept that most employers aren’t going to advertise that for various reasons even if it’s the most frustrating thing for me about looking for a job. Recruiters though I think should always be open with you about pay from the get go as they add at least one more interview to the process and thus require more of your time.

  5. Seeking New Opportunities

    I currently have “seeking new opportunities” on my profile, though I am still employeed. I gave my employer 30 days notice because my husband got a job just out of town, staying at my job would have been an unbearable commute, and I was miserable at it anyway. Once my employer went public with my resignation I put “seeking new opportunities in xx town” up. I’m still at my company for another 2 weeks.

  6. Onymouse

    I always thought of “seeking new opportunities” as a flag that you wouldn’t be opposed to recruiter contact. It’s easy to leave it in place and ignore recruiters when you’re happily employed, but harder to take down and put back up when you’re actually looking and don’t want your current employer to know.

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

      Yeah. I have that line in my professional summary. If a boss ever approached me about it I would be honest and say “I”m always open to hearing about new opportunities, but I am not actively looking at this time.” But this is so common I would be surprised if a boss flagged it as an issue.

  7. Adam

    Related to #1: Is there an established etiquette for responding to recruiters who cold call you? I’m the King of Call Screening so I always let it go to voice mail, but early in my career I’d always respond with a “Thanks, but no thanks” but after a while I eventually fell into just ignoring them completely. I could never decide if I was being inconsiderate or not.

    1. Not Today Satan

      I’m only ever contacted by recruiters by email, and they’ll usually say something like, “please respond if interested.” I don’t think they expect a response if you’re not interested. If anything, taking those calls/reading those emails would just be a waste of their time.

      1. Adam

        That was my rationale. I figured they probably called so many people each day they probably didn’t even remember they contacted me specifically.

      2. Retail Lifer

        Insurance company recruiters are the only ones that don’t get the hint. I got a third email from a guy this morning, which started out with, “I have tried to contact you multiple times…” Well yeah, if you’ve tried multiple times to contact me for a job I never applied for, maybe that’s a sign that you need to stop.

  8. Diluted_TortoiseShell

    Since we are talking about recruiters, does anyone else have the problem of recruiters reaching out to you and then never getting back in touch? I’ve had at least 5 recruiters that have either gotten a resume from me and then dropped off the face of the planet, or reached out asking to talk, then when I say “sure, let’s talk” I never hear back from them.

    It doesn’t seem like a smart model. I find this pretty obnoxious and rude so if I ever get a message from other recruiters in their company again I”m insta-deleting.

    1. BeenThere

      I don’t hand over a resume until they send me a role I want. I typically respond to the cold call emails with a laundry list of my job requirements. There are three types of responses, I’ve only gotten the first two from cold emails:

      1) Close to my list but has a deal breaker, usually salary or location, so I tell them I not interested but to let me know when they have something that matches
      2) Not even close to my list or no details just a request to call and or sumbit my resume. They go on the black list, these recruiters are using filling a resume quota for their database
      3) A match on all points leading to an interview

  9. neverjaunty

    Re OP#1, it surprises me that your colleague got a raise by saying that recruiters were offering him $X. I mean, presumably he means that recruiters were fishing for him, but it’s not as though he had an offer in hand, or was able to say that the market for his job position meant he should be making $Y more.

    1. MK

      Isn’t it? What he basically said was “the market value of this job for someone with my qualifications is X”, since that was the range recruiters were quoting. But, I agree it’s not likely that the manager raised a salary simply because a recruiter contacted the employee for a higher paying job. Frankly, it’s probable the manager either knew the OP’s friend was underpaid or really didn’t want to lose him. Or maybe he was due for a raise anyway and this was one of the arguments he used to get it.

  10. LeRainDrop

    #1, I had an experience where the recruiter disclosed a range to me, I went through the whole interview process, the company loved me, but they told me the recruiter’s info about salary was wrong — real range was much lower. I honestly was surprised by the recruiter’s stated range because I knew the size of this firm, etc, and expected lower; in fact, I expected more along what the company stated directly. Unfortunately, that range did not work for me. It was very frustrating because I really liked the firm, and they really liked me, but we would never have gone down this path if we knew of the salary mis-match up front. And then I had the recruiter trying to convince me to accept less money, when I had been upfront with her at the beginning that I would not go lower than her originally stated range. At least the folks at the firm and I have a good relationship after meeting, but that recruiter was crap.

    1. JM in England

      When I’ve had recruiters cold-call me, the very first question is almost always “What salary are you looking for?”. My stock response to this is “Depends on the cost of living wherever the job is in the UK”. In the past, I’ve accepted jobs that paid lower than previous ones because the cost of living in its location was less and was thus affordable.

  11. LeRainDrop

    #3, oh dear, that was a really bad idea to go through a recruiter after already submitting your application directly to the company! You need to let the recruiter know right away what happened. They may drop you like a hot potato, or, if you really seem like such a good match, they may be able to work magic to get you an interview. Perhaps since the company itself already rejected your candidacy, the recruiter can still earn a commission if his advocacy is what gets you back in the door?

    1. John B Public

      I get the idea that a source “owns” your candidacy, but that relationship should terminate when they reject you. To have it otherwise (especially now, when computers can reject you without a single human assessment) strikes me as ludicrous and perverse. Their system rejected you- you should be free of any entanglement, and an agreement otherwise is a restraint of commerce.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        The idea is that the company is paying the recruiter to bring them candidates they might not otherwise know about. If they were already connected with you without the recruiter’s help, there’s no reason for them to pay the recruiter. Most recruiter contracts say that any candidates who are already in the employer’s database or who have had contact with the employer on their own in the last six months won’t count toward the recruiter’s fee.

        It’s not a restraint of commerce; no one is preventing you from applying. The employer or recruiter is simply choosing not to get tied up in a fee disagreement, which is their prerogative.

    2. Liewe Heksie

      I am OP3. I agree, I need to speak to the recruiter asap.

      My reason for applying to the recruiter as well is I didn’t know whether I had been rejected by ATS or was my application still being assessed, there was no way of contacting the company for information, and my experience has been that not many companies bother to send a regret letter. I also don’t trust ATS because sometimes I feel like I am sending applications into a black hole, and even though I am qualified for the position, my CV would never be seen by a human being unless it has been sent in a form that the system can assess without confusion and with the right keywords that it has been set up to look for.

      Now I know better…

      1. AndersonDarling

        I completely understand. My husband applied to a perfect-match position but the ATS had some goofy worded questions that automatically rejected him and wouldn’t let him apply again. I thought about finding a recruiter to get around the system. In this case, it is the employers fault that their system was rejecting qualified candidates and a recruiter needed to step in.

  12. Melissa

    OP #2, the ad for the job I currently hold (and was hired into about three months ago, and started a month ago) has been renewed multiple times on external job sites since I’ve gotten it. It was even a “featured ad” on a popular job aggregator just last week. I know for a fact that we’re not hiring any new people onto my team any time soon, so…yeah. I mentioned it in passing to someone and they seemed surprised – my team has no idea what HR is doing with the job ads.

    1. Jules

      But the point, Annie, is that if you and I haven’t talked about salary, how do you know whether I would consider the range low?

      When I get a call from a recruiter, I always ask about your salary range because I’m extraordinarily well paid for what I do, within the industry I do it in (in other industries, the same job title is much better paid), which means that although there are lots of positions that would be a good fit with my skill set, in most cases there’s no point us talking because the employer can’t begin to afford me. You might think the salary for the position you’re hiring for is top drawer, but it could still be well below what I’d consider accepting.

  13. J3

    #4. Personally I don’t at all interpret “seeking new opportunities” to necessarily mean “looking to switch full-time jobs”. It could equally mean that you’re looking for small-time on-the-side contracting gigs, speaking engagements, even just new networking contacts. I wouldn’t think twice if I saw an employed colleague checking that box off.

  14. TheaterKid

    A friend of mine once told me that she leaves “Seeking new opportunities” on at all times, because she doesn’t want turning it on to raise any red flags. And any contact from recruiters that she’s not interested in, she just says so. Based on her assessment, for industries that highly prize LinkedIn statuses, turning this off when you start a new job and back on when you become unhappy it a bigger deal that just leaving it on.

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