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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  • Marion C.
    Marion C.

    Thank ypu!!!

  • Soichy H.
    Soichy H.

    Thanks for the advice!!

  • Sam DeLeon
    Sam DeLeon


  • Maria S.
    Maria S.

    Thanks for the exellent advice .

  • Barbara Roberts
    Barbara Roberts

    this is something i have always wondered about how to gat to this point and what to do , So thanks

  • Sylvia N.
    Sylvia N.

    Thank you I really do appreciate this advice.

  • Nicholas F.
    Nicholas F.


  • Dorothy N.
    Dorothy N.

    Excellent advice. It also helps to have another offer to use as leverage when stating your salary requirement.

  • Lakesha Washington
    Lakesha Washington

    Thank you.



  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @John thanks for your comment. So sad. All you can do is keep applying and explaining your situation. I can understand a company's hesitation. Sure you are saying now that you can live on a much lower salary but you haven't really tried it yet. You could get into a position, with a lower salary, and be miserable - maybe not because of the salary but unhappy with a position that is less than what you are used to. It's like taking a CEO and making him a customer service rep. I am guessing that's how companies are viewing it.

  • JOHN W.
    JOHN W.

    I am living this situation currently,relocated from an A market making 6 figures a year to a C market where the average salary base is a little above half that. Been on numerous interviews and the feed back I get is I have too much experience or I would be happy enough to stay based on compensation, even though I discuss the understanding of a different market and cost of living base.I even explain why we relocated for those reasons and that once my house sells my financial needs will change to much lower level of the market average salary base. Still no offers or opportunities

  • Geralde M.
    Geralde M.

    Great article, thank you for sharing.

  • colleen c.
    colleen c.

    That was then but now I m expecting better pay! Thanks a lot!


    excellent thank you

  • sudha v.
    sudha v.

    Thanks fr ur advice
    Thanks fr ur advice

  • Carmen M.
    Carmen M.

    Thanks great idea and very helpful

  • carmen R.
    carmen R.


  • minni F.
    minni F.

    Thanks that were very helpful

  • Greg Severson
    Greg Severson

    Thanks helped a lot

  • MARK C.
    MARK C.

    Thanks much great idea

  • Susan B.
    Susan B.

    Thanks that's great advice!!!

  • gregory t.
    gregory t.

    Good things to know

  • Dennis H.
    Dennis H.

    Thanks for the info.

  • Guy Taylor
    Guy Taylor

    Thanks for the advice.

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