So I've been looking for a new job over the past month or so and have received both solicited and unsolicited calls about potential opportunities. Of course the conversation usually ends with a recruiter asking how much I earn. I understand both sides of this equation: on the one hand, it's unwise for me to lay my chips on the table first because most companies will try to pay me as little as possible, rather than what I'm worth. On the other hand, it is a waste of recruiting resources to offer a position to a candidate looking for 25% higher compensation than the company is willing to provide.
I generally answer with something along the lines of "I'm aware of your company, this type of position and the market range for someone of my experience level and compensation is not why I'm looking to move from my current job. I am certain we can come to an agreement about salary and benefits later, if the opportunity is an appropriate fit."
Sometimes, that is sufficient, but it seems lately that most recruiters will press for an exact number, not even a range. Could I be disqualified immediately for refusing to answer? If I do answer honestly, I feel like I could very well be leaving thousands in salary on the table. I could exaggerate a bit, but feel uncomfortable doing so.
What do you do in this situation?