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.

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.

ADRIENNE S.
ADRIENNE S.

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.

Jim A.
Jim A.

Very helpful, sometimes i don't want to give out about my salary.

Katrina Perez
Katrina Perez

I've encountered this questions a lot. I never know what to say. How do you find out how much they are willing to pay, without asking?

GAIL NELSON-HOWELL
GAIL NELSON-HOWELL
I only offer my salary requirement, not my salary history. I've noted that this question is widely used online, making it hard for you to get around answering it.
 Kathryn Kinsey
Kathryn Kinsey
Good information to have for interviewing.
Umar Black
Umar Black
Very helpful, something I wondered how to handle.
Rosina Valvo
Rosina Valvo
How do companies view age when considering salary? If you are 50 or over will this affect the salary?
FREDERICK Horsley
FREDERICK Horsley
Thanks I will take this in consideration.
JOAN REICHERT
JOAN REICHERT
Great info!
Carmine Braccia
Carmine Braccia
Great advice,lieing is never the way to go. Thank you, C.B.
David Svedman
David Svedman
helpful considering that I haven't had to interview for a job but once in 30 yrs
Patrick Robinson
Patrick Robinson
I do not think it is ethical for a hiring company to bring up your past salary or even your  salary history.
Sam Harris
Sam Harris
I have to disagree with this article because sharing your salary isn't anyone's business. That is like asking for them to see your wallet and question a company's ethics when they do. The reason being is that I met with a job services specialist who talked about this subject in a interview skills workshop and I completely agree they won't ever ask you to your face but will ask you online. It's just a very unprofessional thing to do in all honesty.
John Phillips
John Phillips
Very helpful
MUITA NYAWIRA
MUITA NYAWIRA
Very knowledgeable
 Kathleen Botten
Kathleen Botten
Very helpful
Adeil Khaleleyal
Adeil Khaleleyal
it  is  a good  advice  -  but  I think  it  is  better  to  give    the  salary  range ,  and  straight  forward  tell  the recruiter  that  yu  are  looking  for  a better  opportunity  and  much  better  salary -  and  yu  shd  state  clearly  what  salary  yu  are  looking  for, and  be  prepared  with  all  yr  supportive  docs which  show  that  yu  are  worth  much  more  than  what  yu  are  currently  being  paid .
Sidney Lanier
Sidney Lanier
This is a good analysis. It doesn't deny the complexities involved.
Misganu Enkossa
Misganu Enkossa
It is good advice.
 Mark Heitman
Mark Heitman
Give them a salary range. Tell them you are worth much more than you are currently being paid. That answers the question as to why you are looking. Be prepared to back it up.
JORGE FRANCIS
JORGE FRANCIS
Not bad advice but then again the salary negotiation in this type of economy is to delicate to really be able to give solid advice on. It could just blow up in your face at the interview. I say stick with the program truth and value.

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