What to Do When Asked About Your Previous Salary

Posted by in Career Advice

Score! You’ve landed an interview for the job of your dreams. You meet with the boss, and all goes favorably until you are asked the dreaded question, “Tell me about your salary history.” Or maybe you’re reading about an opportunity that you’d love to pursue, but the ad states that resumes without salary histories will not be considered.

Naming a low salary can cause a potential employer to write you off as not being worth what the company is willing to pay. Instead, it may get you the job, but at a lower price than they were going to offer. If your previous salary was higher than the company is willing to pay, you may not get a call back on the assumption that you would not be interested anyway. What to do?

One thing not to do is lie. If your previous salary is not what you are willing to accept now, don’t be tempted to simply beef it up a bit. It’s not worth the potential hassle that lying can cause.

You could try offering your salary requirement instead of your salary history. Tell the hiring manager what you are expecting to make instead of what you have made in the past. If that doesn’t work, you could attempt to convince the hiring manager that your previous salary has nothing to do with the present opportunity. This is true, of course, but may not go over well.

In the end, you may end up needing to give out the info or risk losing out on a job offer. In this type of situation, it’s good to have a plan, and to know your bottom line. If you know that your previous salary was higher or lower than what you expect from the new position, then say so. Let your salary history be a part of where you were, but don’t let it necessarily determine where you are going.


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  • Stephanie B.
    Stephanie B.

    Dana N. Did you get the position and the salary you wanted?

  • Parmod D.
    Parmod D.

    its something you selling and HR manager buying and all depend on conditions

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Noe - thanks for your insight. Knowing what the market is paying is a good way to go in. Do your research ahead of time so that you give the hiring manager a range. He/she will appreciate that you have done your homework and will be happier to accommodate you. Good luck!

  • Noe M.
    Noe M.

    Focus on you highest recent pay. Know the National and local salary averages and add 5-10%. Know an per hour and annual salary ranges. Ask the hiring manager "What is the value you place to the position?"

  • Dana N.
    Dana N.

    I said to the employer "This is what I need to live on. "Anything less I can't accept the offer.

  • Lorna B.
    Lorna B.

    Good information


    Good info.

  • Jimmylam H.
    Jimmylam H.

    Thanks for good avite.

  • Pamela P.
    Pamela P.

    This subject is difficult. I see there is no easy fix.

  • Vivian S.
    Vivian S.

    Thank you for the information, I am sure this will generate a great concern.

  • FERAS A.
    FERAS A.

    I think you should make your own research to figure out the actual salary range for your profession, and always add 5 to 10% on that range. In this case you will give the recruiter a reasonable range to let him accept it, or he will try to offer you something will be exactly matched with national salary range.


    This is very useful! Thanks a bunch!

  • Evarist S.
    Evarist S.

    This is not an easy one. I was at a job interview I was asked how much I was looking for? I asked the interviewer, how much does the job pay? He threw the question to back me. Asked me, "how much do you think you worth?" I gave him a range and he said, "give me a figure". I gave him a figure and that was what I was offered. A co-worker who was hired the week for almost the same position was offered $15,000.00, more than I was offered because that was what he requested for. My job was even more technical than his.

  • Linda Small
    Linda Small

    Thanks for this is very helpful because when you work overseas this is the problem that you run into..I am not look to make what I made overseas for all I wanna do is be able to pay my mortgage and give my best on the job that I am hired for.


    This is very useful, thanks!

  • cindy h.
    cindy h.

    thanks for a good information

  • OKEKE B.
    OKEKE B.

    Actually, saying what your not earning can destroy your reputation.

  • joan S.
    joan S.

    Thank you for this useful information.

  • Shalom K.
    Shalom K.

    Thanks for the information. I was missing on it. this tip is going to be very helpful to me.

  • veronica j.
    veronica j.

    I strongly agrees with Rhodes June 21/2010 by asking what is the salary range for this job.Then in my opinion you can negotiate according to your value,taking into consideration your experiences skills and qualifications.Above all be honest.

  • DARRYl P.
    DARRYl P.

    When do I ask ?

  • George C.
    George C.

    If you are Truly Good at your chosen Job/Profession you should know what you will accept at your 2nd interview. In the Texas construction industry Salaries often vary +/- 10-20 K They Know answer before they ask you the question, Be Prepared.

  • Jason Marcus
    Jason Marcus

    Richard Wood pet peeve posts that are really just bragging not useful for us

  • Jason Marcus
    Jason Marcus

    I am going from 180k as an attorney to possibly 10k as a mailroom person.


    This is a question that has posed troublesome for me because the company I previously worked for was very generous to long time loyal employees. I made almost $15,000 more a year than what jobs are now offering for the same thing. So I say that I understand it is a different market and ask for what I think is fair.

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