how to handle requests for salary history

A reader writes:

I am searching for a new position and more than half of listings require salary history. Not even requirements but history, which I think is completely unjust and I typically do not give out because a) it’s confidential, b) it’s excessive in wanting to know about the applicant and c) if my future salary is to be determined by my past salary, I would be broke for the rest of my life because I was grossly underpaid!

But some companies insist on it, including a few companies I badly want to work at. And since I can’t be unemployed forever, should I: a) surrender my principles and submit a history and b) if I do, can I slightly exaggerate the numbers? Like I said, it’s confidential and the company cannot ask others about my financial record so they wouldn’t be able to find out.

Well, there’s how things should be and then there’s how things often are.

Personally, I believe that your salary history is no one’s business but your own, and that employers should pay based on their assessment of your value, not what their competitors thought you were worth. And I think that insisting on salary history is the mark of a lazy HR department.

However, the reality is that many, many employers do require it. And some will discard you immediately if you don’t provide it. So you have to decide if you want to hold firm on not giving it out and risk not being considered, or whether you’re willing to compromise in order to possibly get the job.

If you decide to hold firm, Nick Corcodilos has a lot of advice on how to do it (as well as some impassioned treatises on why you should). You can also try saying that you committed to your past employers to keep your salary confidential, and you need to honor that.

But some employers will end things right there, so you need to be prepared for that. It’s possible that this is a sign of an employer who you don’t want to work for anyway, but it’s also possible that they just have a bureaucratic HR person. So you need to decide how important this is to you and how much risk you’re willing to take on.

But one thing you can’t risk: lying about the numbers. If you give numbers, they must be accurate, since if they find out later that you lied, employers can and will yank job offers over that, because it speaks to your integrity — in fact, they can even fire you after you’ve been hired if they find out you lied in your application materials. And they can indeed find out; some companies actually ask candidates for W2s or other documentation of the numbers they gave, as part of the offer paperwork. So either tell or don’t tell, but don’t lie.

{ 49 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    Funny, I just applied for a job that asked for my salary history. I supplied it, as well as my desired compensation for the position offered. There's a significant increase between my current salary and what I think I'm worth (based on online research), but now I'm wondering if I should log back into my employment profile with the company and adjust the range so as to not to appear too demanding…

  2. Anonymous*

    My current employer asked for my salary history, and I gave them the truthful answer. It turned out to be a good thing, too, because I was able to use it to my advantage.

    When they offered me a job, they low-balled the salary. They offered me less than I was currently making. I rejected the offer point-blank. I told them there was no way I was accepting an offer that is less than I was currently earning — reminding them that they knew that amount — nor would I accept an offer that that did not factor in the significant difference in cost of living (since I would be moving to a high-cost location). (Cost of living figures are easily found online.)

    They asked if they could call me back in two days. They did, with a very sweet offer that I ultimately accepted.

  3. Evil HR Lady*

    This is true. My husband had a job where a condition of hire was that he produce the last 5 (!!!!) years worth of W2s.

    He wanted the job, so he did it. Turns out the company was as lame as one would expect. (Although he did learn a ton there.)

  4. Magpie*

    Even though I am not "entry level", I still find myself having to fill out applications that have a space for salary history. I usually leave them blank (along with SS#, I can't stress that one enough. No one needs your SS# unless you are employed by them, keep that private!), but on a recent interview I was told that their legal department needed a "complete application without any blanks" otherwise they couldn't process it. Riiiight. Being unemployed, I had no choice but to comply and scribble it in.

    Given my experience, I asked for salary at the top of the range they were giving (which is way more than fair for what the position entails) and they didn't scoff at it. Went back for a second interview and now have to play the waiting game.

    Its BS that its "OK" to ask for this type of information. This and credit checks really get my blood boiling. I happen to have great credit, but not everyone with a less than stellar score are going to steal your money or stupid office supplies.

  5. Anonymous*

    I can't tell you how embarrassing and humiliating it is to have to fill in those salary blanks on those applications. And I know it might be a deal-killer.

    I have gone from making a very comfortable salary to making barely above minimum wage at a series of part-time jobs, and I know that at least some potential employers will not get past that to see my ability and willingness to hustle (in a good, legal way) to support myself and keep my resume active, my great references, past award-winning work experience, volunteerism, etc. To them, they will see $10 an hour, and conclude I am not a worthy and serious candidate for consideration. That's just the reality, and I don't know what to do to overcome this hurdle.

    And I don't think leaving the info off those applications is an option, either. You have to follow the rules if you want to be considered, even if they are questionable (which this certainly is) and it potentially hurts you, especially in this economy. It is totally a buyers' market. Best to take my chances and fess up than get disqualified from the outset.

    Some people will, consciously or unconsciously, judge your worth on what you make (it's like ageism, lookism, etc. – the bias is sometimes there, but you can't prove it). It's just a sore fact of life.

    I feel with the poster; it's a terrible practice to ask for salary history. But he/she needs to be honest and hope for the best, if they really want the job.

  6. dearro*

    some companies ask for W2s?!?!?!?!?! just when i thought asking for the salary history was wrong!!!

    is this practice even legal????

    1. Adrienne*

      Only if you are the President of the United States, or want to be. Any company that does this I would just walk..

  7. Anonymous*

    I'm so glad someone asked so I didn't have to. I'm in a similar situation in that I run a non-profit for next to nothing and have interviewed for lower-level positions at larger organizations that would start 33 percent hiring than my current salary. Not to mention benefits! So I'm always worried about the salary history part because, pshah, I'm clearly undervalued for the market!

    Okay, rant over.

  8. Pali*

    I HATE this practice. HATE.

    Sometimes, like in this economy, you have to take a pay cut if it means getting employed. Most people switch jobs so they can increase pay; when potential employers see that you were willing to go down in salary, I think they see it as a green light to low-ball you and not offer any room for negotiation. "Oh, he/she took a pay cut before, I'm sure they'll be more than happy with ___.".

    I feel like putting your salary history out there keeps you in the same salary bracket for years. As if wanting to significantly means you're "demanding" or "greedy". No, it just means that you don't want to live paycheck to paycheck for the rest of your life.

    (Of course, this is assuming that you're actually good or great at your job and are consistently bringing the heat)

  9. Richard*

    I think that one of the things that people forget is that if they do offer you the job, you are under no obligation to accept it: If they lowball you based on your previous salary, you can start to negotiate: You can tell them that the number that they're offering is far below the industry average, perhaps mentioning that one of the main reasons that you are currently seeking employment elsewhere is that due to the fact that your current salary is so far below the average for someone in your position and with the level of responsibility that you currently maintain. (This all, of course, assumes that you are currently in employment!)

    If this is just a case of lazy HR, then they may go away and come back with another, better offer, or they might retract the offer and try to pass it onto someone more naive. Either way, if you were unwilling to work for the salary that they offered, you're not losing anything from the deal – you either get a more attractive offer, or lose out an offer that you didn't want anyway.


  10. Anonymous*

    Well, I'm using this situation to my advantage.

    See, at my company, I'm an exempt employee, but I get paid for each hour I work. When my company makes offers, they give you an annual figure based on a 2080 work-year. Take the offered salary, divide it by 2080, and for each hour you work beyond that, you get paid accordingly.

    When I have to move on (hopefully not for a long long time) I will not report my hourly wage. I will report my total earnings for the year (which even on a 50 hour work-week is a 25% increase). I will have paystubs and W2's to back it up. And if a future employer is going to take issue with my choice to report annual earnings, then I know they're the cheapest you-know-what's and that I would be better off not working for them.

  11. Bohdan*

    This is where the cover letter comes in handy.

    If what you've made previously is very different from what you're looking for (low or high)explain why what they're offering makes sense for you.

    The resume (including salary history) is just facts. Use a cover letter to tell the story.

  12. Anonymous*

    I have over 20 years of HR experience and have hired hundreds of people.

    I do not want "salary desired." Most, if not all, candidates have no idea what market conditions are and will go high so as not to shoot themselves in the foot.

    So, sorry folks, but I ask for salary during the first conversation on the phone. If it is too high, I cordially thank them and move on.

    If it is "ballpark," I tell the candidate so, and we don't revisit salary until they are a final candidate and we're discussing the "pre-offer" (sets the stage for the formal offer).

    A reputable company knows the market (internally and externally) and will not use the information to "low-ball" you. This is counterproductive. If they hire you low, you'll just keep looking.

    So, don't blow the chance at a job by insisting you won't give your salary history. If you feel it was under-market in the past, give the recruiter an explanation along with your salary.

    I've hired from entry-level to VP, and EVERYONE gives me their salary history! It's just the way it is.

    1. Abpositive*

      I apologize. My head doesn’t work quite like anyone else (my disclaimer). But this practice of asking for salary history is a joke.
      Lets run through it.. 1-Are you going to show me the W2’s of the person I’m replacing (or yours)? 2-salary history is just that, history. Anyone still looking backwards is going to run in to something (old adage, you get what you pay for, if you want to be rehiring every 6 months because the ppl who will settle for less,suck, you’re losing more than you gaining). 3-this is like the used car salesman’s “smoke-n-mirrors”..”don’t worry about how much you have to spend, what can you afford per month”. 4-it’s far too easy today, to find out what your worth (glassdoor, indeed). 5-you’re willing to pay what you’re willing to pay, stop playing. Saturn may be out of business (more for what the car was, tham business practice), but their model was brilliant! The car is worth what it’s worth, no haggling.

      1. Another HR professional*

        Oh Please! I also work in HR as an HR generalist for one of a fortune 500’s business units. At my company we do not engage in such shameful practices. Anyway, in the HR world recruiter are at the lower end of the totem pole. They could not make any of the specialties like benefits or even payroll. They usually carry a chip on their shoulder. By the way, as a generalist I also recruit.

        Anyway, I was once interviewed by someone who asked for my current salary I politely brushed them of by telling them that we should leave money negotiations out of the early phases. They were impressed by my experience and what I was bringing to the table. They then arranged for me to interview with the line manager for the business unit I would be assigned to. Best conversation I ever had. This line manager was so impressed with me and wanted me to fly and meet with him in a week’s time. Said he was going to tell HR to bring me in ASAP.

        Following day got a call from same HR person I had phone interviewed with and brushed off. Said before I can fly you in I need to know your current salary and your expected salary. Told them that I would be more than glad to give my expected salary or they can give me their budget. They told me that their company’s salary info was proprietary info. What a joke. The person started to be confrontational and giving me ultimatums about either I give my current salary or the conversation ends. Guess what, I chose the latter.

        Following day this company contacts me again but at that point I had already made up my mind that this is not the type of company I wanna work for. You can not start a relationship on ultimatums (be it a work relationship or romantic relationship). I thanked them for the opportunity but declined to go further in the selection process.

        They have just lost out on a great candidate. I am not desperate for a new job as I am already employed. They forget that an interview is not just an opportunity for an employer to assess a candidate but also a chance for a candidate to assess an employer. The biggest insult was that they were recruiting an HR professional and not an accountant or engineer, yet somehow thought those head games would work on a fellow HR person.

  13. Anonymous*

    I was "early retired" (a soft layoff for 50 year olds) after 25 years with the same company. The early retirement was to get rid of who had received so many annual raises that we were overpaid for the current economy. In the interview I didn't want to tell my salary for fear the interviewer would dump me as old and expensive. He wouldn't offer because the job was new and he wanted to level-set first. Yeah, I started out underpaid and had to work up. When you have to relearn the ropes a new company, that's paying dues. But I'm with those who hate salary history.

  14. Anonymous*

    Interviewer says: "What are your salary requirements?"

    Interviewer means: "I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 10, guess wrong and you're out, what is it?"

    … this is what it feels like to me, anyway.

  15. Anonymous*

    To the Anonymous poster with 20 years of HR experience:

    You said you ask for salary during the first phone conversation – unless the answer somehow affects what your offer will be, how is salary history IN ANY WAY RELEVANT? Also, why is the candidate going to 'blow the chance at a job' if they insist on not giving salary history?

    It's okay, we already know why – it's the same answer for both questions: The first rule of negotiation is that whoever mentions numbers first loses, and if the candidate goes first, you can offer them five or ten percent above their current salary and they'll think it's a step up, even if that's below the bottom of your budgeted range. Great job – you got the candidate for a discount!

    There seems to be an assumption that 'hiring hundreds of people' equates to 'hiring hundreds of great candidates at a fair salary', but this doesn't take into account that a top performer who was “low-balled” like this (let’s not quibble over verbiage – if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc.) and accepted out of necessity is likely to leave sooner than expected and go to another company that will pay them based on what they’re worth instead of what they were being paid by someone else

    Over time, this means it actually costs the employer MORE than they saved by getting that “discount”, since most non-entry level positions require significant investments of time and resources in getting new hires up to speed, not to mention the non-quantifiable opportunity cost of losing top performers

    (yes, true story, but I learned a very valuable lesson)

  16. raskal*

    dearro, asking for salary history and proof of said history (W2) is legal. It's also up to you if you want to comply with the request.

  17. Anonymous*

    I used to think it is "none of anyone's business" when asked for salary history. But now I use it as a test on the potential employer — how do they value me. If they come up with a "low-ball" offer, goodbye. It is not worth your time to serve them. All they want is a cheap labor and you certainly will feel miserable after working there.

    I also give out salary requirement, better they ask me in the screening interviews. It is like selling a piece of your property. Will you approach the buyer and say "I don't have a price, and you make me an offer?" I don't think you will do that when you sell your house. You always give out the price and work with the ones who are interested and CAN afford it. Same with the salary requirement. It saves both you and the potential employer's time.

    Do they NEED to know your salary history? Probably not. I don't think they are useful other than satisfying curiosity. But hey, what you earn before depends on economic condition and other things out of your control. Everyone can have the right to know a house's value two years ago. But they should understand that the value can appreciate after your remodeling and a heating economy.

    In all, you don't need to be afraid to disclose either your salary history or requirement. You can always walk away.

  18. Anonymous*

    nice blog! I've worried about this – I disclose my pay, only with hesitation. I work in a field where in my area their not alot of places who do what I do. And I am fortunate to have worked for companies who are willing to pay for a good employee and someone who keeps their customers satisfied. Unfortunately jobs have left our area and I may have to relocate. There are only 1 or 2 places that I am willing to relocate to. After reading a few comments, I may now include in my cover letter " I know I am paid better than most people in the area and i am willing to work for less because I love the area and I think you will be a good company to work for, and I know this job will be beneficial for both of us. I have alot to offer and I know you want the best person for the job.

    HR people – what do you think?

  19. Anonymous*

    This doesn't usually happens in Europe but seems to happen a lot in USA, i don't see any point on doing that, you will just piss off your employee from the beginning and that is not good for productivity and motivation believe me.
    Asking for your salary history is just backwards mentality where kings and lords where ruling the world and nothing to do with an open market system.

  20. Anonymous*

    Why do employers ask for these things. The simple reason is that employers want an easy screening device to help sort applicants, and those applicants with a salary requirement too low or too high are discarded. Other times, the employer is looking to save money by hiring a job-seeker at the low end of a salary range. In either case, it's not really fair to the job-seeker and its a good sign they are not a good employer or manager. Never give out salary information it can hurt your job career forever.

  21. Anonymous*

    NEVER EVER divulge prior salary history. Period. Personnel departments use it as a screening device to help low ball applicants or find a low paid sucker to take the job (just over broke).

    many companies in america do the low ball dance. it is ok for C-class do nothings to collect high 6 and 7 fig salaries, but ask for market value, and you might as well be speaking chinese.

    terry nickell dime the employee, do the low ball shuffle. high sheeple for very low ball salaries and thanks to a horrible american economy, the hamster wheelers take any offer. sad. true.

  22. Jeremy*

    I feel as if people are taking what is quite obviously a very competitive job market and making excuses for why they are not getting jobs. I do not understand why giving your past salary is such a terrible thing? I have experienced on numerous occasions where an offer was made to a candidate and they declined the offer because salary was way less than they were accustomed to. It just makes good business sense to know what salary your candidates are used to, as it would be a waste of time to offer something lower, in most cases. Also, most people will low-ball their expected salary, because they are not sure what to put or they think they can talk their way up once an offer is made. History is the most reliable indicator when it comes to understanding your candidates.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      But if that’s the concern, why not just tell candidates the salary range you plan to pay up-front, so that candidates who won’t entertain that range can drop out early? In other words, why is the burden of supplying salary info on the candidate, not the employer?

      1. PortiaOH*

        Thank you! I snortled at Mr./Ms. Anonymous above who wants job candidates to be transparent, but whose “reputable company [that] knows the market” is holding their own cards so close to the chest & Jeremy who thinks that salary history is “the most reliable” tool when assessing a job candidate.

        Those of us who are managers/supervisors and part of the hiring process in the government sector — where there is little “wriggle room” on salaries — can attest that including salary info in the job posting is a win-win situation for all concerned.

  23. saro*

    I worked at a $10 an hour job (could’ve been less) before my previous job. I took the job because I had to move to the area and had no other options. I just flat out told the future employer that I would not accept anything on that scale, and I only took that position due to the economy and the region. But that if the new person wanted to hire me, I would have to be paid much more competitively.

    I was very, very polite but I made it sound like it wasn’t even an option to pay me anything close to that scale (which it wasn’t, I really was ready to walk away from a low-ball offer). It worked! I made 4 times my previous annual salary.

  24. JMK*

    Instead of making it such a cat and mouse game, why don’t employers put the salary range in the job announcement? The prospective candidate sees that and decides is the range is acceptable, or not. The employer already knows what he/she can pay before the job is announced. The system becomes self regulating and employers attract candidates that are willing to accept the salary offered. No need for salary history. Once the desired candidate is selected. Pay them up or down the salary range according to how well their qualifications and experience match the job requirements. That seems fair and honest.

    1. Jamie*

      If you ever run for office I will vote for you, JMK.

      I have longed for a world where what you describe is common practice.

  25. Lanya*

    Frankly, if I’m “out of the running” because my (well-researched and competitive) desired salary was too high, then I really didn’t want that job anyway and I’m happy to move on to the next interview. I’m not interested in selling myself short and I don’t want to play that game any more than the hiring company does.

  26. The Pony*

    In my experience, the companies that pay better and truly value their employees won’t ask for salary history. They will either post a range or make an offer based on what they think you’re worth. Good HR departments know this!

    The crappy companies (who also usually have crappy HR departments) are the ones who will ask for salary history and also low-ball on salary. I made the mistake of working for a few of these! Believe me when I say these types of companies are also the type who will not give raises to low and mid-level employees due to economic conditions, but still find “secret raises” for their execs.

    I have an interview scheduled with a company tomorrow. They called me up last week and did a phone interview, and asked for my salary range. I gave them my salary range (I researched salaries for that position in this area) and the figure I gave them was more than fair when it came to market value considering the position. After talking on the phone, the HR woman mentioned she would be sending me information regarding the interview. I checked my email and found a generic application form, and on the form it requested employment history, dates, and starting/end pay. Immediately the red flag went up. The first thing they asked me on the phone interview was what my range was, and obviously it was within their budget since they decided to bring me in for an in-person interview. I can’t understand why they would still need my salary history after giving them my range. Also, they want a sign release form to authorize a background check which I’m okay with, but hey, if they’re paying for a background check, then I figure let the company doing the background check do the work and find out my salary history…I won’t make it easy for them! I plan to leave the salary history area blank for the sole reason that when I started working for my current company in 2005, I only had about 1-2 years of professional experience in my field upon graduating from college. Since I was new in my career, the company I work for low-balled my salary (and yes, they asked for a salary range as well!), but I took the position to gain more experience in my field. Also, my company has not given any pay increases since 2007 (due to “economic conditions”), which has caused my salary to remain stagnant the last 6 years. Without going into detail, I am also bringing other transferable, professional skills that the majority of others in my position do not have- skills that I was not able to use in my current job due to the infrastructure of the company, but skills that I do believe will make me extremely successful in the position I am interviewing for.

    I have a few friends who are Senior VP’s at major, well-known companies, and they have all told me to leave salary history blank. A good company knows the history is not relevant to the salary offered in the job, especially if you have already given a range. Leave it blank and if they have a problem with it, well it already tells you a lot about how the company values their talent.

  27. The Pony*

    *Correction: Snce I was new in my career, the company I work for low-balled my salary (and yes, they asked for a salary HISTORY as well!), but I took the position to gain more experience in my field.

  28. Bill Sackedher*

    This us why unions and labor law need to be thrown out. Buisness always treats people fairly and never gets personal.

  29. Missy*

    So glad I found this site! I have an interview with a company in 2 days and this is the first time a potential employer EVER asked me for my W2s ( and they want 7 years worth). I have already had the pre-screen phone interview, and I know the hourly wage and have agreed to it. It is for a 6 month entry-level contract position. I have already passed the background check, the credit history check, and have already agreed to provide my HS diploma and college transcripts at the interview. So why on earth do they need my W2s??

    If this was for a direct hire position or if I was negotiating a salary, and it was a sales or management type position, sure, I may be open to providing the info. But for an entry-level temp job? I don’t get it.

    I’m interested in the company so I plan on giving them copies of my W2s with any information I don’t want them to see blacked out (including salary history). At this point I’m just curious to see what their reasoning is. But if they won’t accept my copies then I’ll just keep searching!

  30. Bane*

    It is all about negotiation. Not all companies who ask for previous salary are bad companies. I worked for one of the top BB Investment banking firms, and they require you to list every job you have ever had and how much you were compensated. They require this before they make and offer and then they confirm it before you begin working. They pay extremely well and treat their employees like gold (as long as you give them all your time). However, I am also one who feel s this is an employer favoring practice. I don’t blame companies for asking. In a market plagued with increasing taxes and regulation many companies are hesitant to hire. If I was going to hire I would like to get my top candidate as cheap as possible. No one can blame them for asking and if enough people want to get into the firm (like IB) you can indiscriminately cast out any candidate unwilling to play the way you want.
    What drives me crazy is when companies prescreen resumes with Taleo and other software which can be programed to require you put a numerical value into the box or when HR minions won’t let an outstanding application fall under the gaze of a real decision maker without a value in the box.
    My response to the question is that I have advised many sellers in Mid-Market M&A and I never let clients talk about what they originally paid for an asset when they are selling (unless it is depreciable). It never helps the seller or the buyer. It is incumbent upon the acquirer to do the due diligence and assess the market value of the offering. Knowing what someone else paid for it sometime in the past doesn’t help anyone but it especially hurts the seller.
    Employees are assets, human assets. They are something and an employer is willing to pay for, with the understanding that they will return more than they cost. Why else would a sane company make the investment? A good human asset like a good financial asset should be an appreciating asset. As He/She develops their expertise in their selected field they should yield more and more to the employer and yield more and more to themselves.
    Would you ever ask someone selling a stock what they originally paid for the stock before acquiring it? Would you ever tell someone who was thing about buying it what you paid for it? I think a smart employer should realize that if they want to hire a future manager not some drone they should be looking for someone who is appreciating and expects to keep doing so. Employees like that raise everyone.
    I would tell the potential employer that right before you are hired, that is the very last time that both of your interests are not aligned. Ask whoever is requesting the information do they really want an employee or a future leader of others in their firm to behave foolishly in a critical time like this. Once you are hired and both or your interests are completely indelibly aligned you can only draw on the drive you already have to help their company/team. They will be able to benefit from your potent effort to maximize profit/savings.
    I would never want someone who rolled over showed all their cards a tacitly accepted anything that a counterparty offered in my company, and they certainly wouldn’t become a leader. I want someone who would be a driver in maximizing shareholder value. Human Assets and financial assets that yield or appreciate the most usually cost a little more than those that don’t.

  31. Nina*

    My past jobs were commission based. So, apart from unwillingness to disclose, there is no hourly wage I could give her. The recruiter then asked what I reported to the IRS?! It was a sales position in a completely different field (insurance, applying for B2B wholesale now), from 2 years ago! (like I haven’t grown since then) And all I know about the person on the other end of the line is that they’re calling from CT while she’s hiding even the company she’s recruiting for. Yet she REQUIRES me to disclose eveyrthing in a 5 min phone conversation?!? Very disturbing, very bossy, was worse than dealing with my landlord. And she’s supposed to represent me?!

  32. Been Around A Long Time*

    Salary history: just say “no”. Or tell them you were already making the salary you want to earn now. Trust me on this. You can either get annoyed and refuse to answer the stupid and presumptuous questions that are often asked by the type of idiots that typically staff HR departments, or you can instead use their social ineptitude to your advantage. If you play this game once or twice, pretty soon you’ll find yourself in a role that pays the salary you’re actually worth.

    As a rule, these days I tend to avoid companies that ask for salary history, because the experience on my CV gives me enough options that I don’t need to bother with any company that doesn’t take recruitment as seriously as I do. But I’d never have got into my present position of being able to pick and choose where I work if in the early days of my career I’d allowed the type of jumped-up filing clerks that typically populate Human Remorses departments to stand between me and work I was capable of doing.

  33. z3ro*

    Sooooo, frankly, it’s A Okay for me to be asked about. what I was being paid at previous jobs but somehow youll never see a company say what they’re paying you up front. I HATE THIS PRATICE WITH A PASSION.

  34. Globetrotter*

    Having worked overseas makes the salary history question all the more complicated. For the past five years I was based in a country with a far higher cost of living than the US, and accordingly, my salary was well above what I could reasonably expect here. Furthermore, if my company gave me an expat package incl. housing allowance etc… this makes my salary history, converted into US$, look ridiculously high.
    So especially on the online application forms, where I believe I have little chance to have a human being actually read any cover letter and its explanations, I’m quite sure an honest answer to the salary history will result in my resume being immediately discarded. This is stupid, but based on my experience I really don’t expect HR people to make the connection between where my previous jobs were and the fact that it’s an entirely different market from the US when it comes to salaries..

  35. Christina*

    How do you go about listing a PhD. stipend as salary for jobs? I’m having this issue because most of the jobs I’m applying for are 3-4 times as high as my current salary but I don’t want to be cut out of the running for positions I’m highly qualified for. I had a job before graduate school with so-so pay at a university, so I also don’t want that to determine my current “worth.” What should I list as my “current salary”?

  36. Anonymous*

    If they demand your salary history: RUN.

    Hold your ground. Be willing to walk away and pursue other options. If they want you based on your experience and what you can do for them, they will bring you onto the ship. If they refuse to move forward without that info, they were looking to take advantage of you from the start. Cheap labor.

  37. Leon*

    what about unemployed people out there, who are unemployed for the last 10 months? what kind of salary history would they present?

  38. supersparticus*

    Asking for someones salary history is immoral, I don’t care what any lazy HR person says. Why don’t they also ask for johnson size and how many cheerleaders I poked in high school. Hiring managers need to do their job and determine how much the candidate is worth based on the information supplied by the cover letter, resume and interview.

  39. sweet n sour chicken*

    is it ok to provide the salary after company make an offer? i don’t care about them having my salary history, but i also don’t want them to make me offer based on my prior salary. i need a fair market price.

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