will it hurt me if my current salary is much less than a job’s posted range?

A reader writes:

You’ve made clear your thoughts regarding employment applications that request the applicant’s current salary. One concern I saw mentioned frequently in the comments is the fear that employers might reject a candidate applying for a lower-paid position, thinking that person will be out of their price range. I have the opposite question.

I had a recruiter contact me with an opportunity, which included the salary range. The application includes salary requirements, as well as current salary. The bottom end of that range is double what I make now. There’s every possibility I won’t even include my current salary, as you’ve often advised, but if I do, I’m concerned that the employer might see how little money I make now and think I may not be as qualified as they originally surmised. Is that a viable concern — something that employers take into consideration — or am I worried about nothing?

Yes, you’re right to worry about it.

Some employers look at your current salary as a proxy for your value and the level of your role. Some will assume that if you’re making significantly less (not just a little less) than their budgeted range, that’s a sign you don’t have the level of professional responsibility and expertise they’re looking for. Of course, this doesn’t hold up in the real world, where people take pay cuts in exchange for great benefits or short commutes, or when someone is coming from a field with a wildly different pay scale (for example, many nonprofits), or when someone is leaving specifically because their pay is spectacularly under market (and if they’ve stayed in that job for years, that discrepancy can be large).

A little of this is understandable. It’s human nature to assign meaning to the facts we learn, and if you see someone has been earning $35,000 as a llama groomer, it’s natural to wonder if they really have the depth of experience for your $150,000 llama grooming job. (You might think a resume should tell you that, but resumes don’t always make it clear how much responsibility someone truly had, or with what type of workload or clients or so forth.) Ideally you wouldn’t reject that person outright but would explore those questions in an interview — but if you’ve got eight other strong candidates who seem well matched, you might not bother.

So yes, it can hurt you.

This is one of the many reasons to welcome the increasing trend against requiring applicants to provide their salary history (along with the ways it’s been shown to harm the wages of women and people of color).

But since you’re still being asked, try to refuse if you have that option. Ideally you’d sidestep the question entirely by focusing on what salary you’re looking for now. If you’re still pushed to give a number, you can try the advice here and here for declining. But if the employer holds firm and you feel you have to answer, you can try something like this. (That’s much easier to do in person, so ideally you want to be able to hold out until you meet. That’s not always possible if it’s a required field on the application though.)

{ 81 comments… read them below }

  1. Snarkus Aurelius*

    At first, I was disappointed because this employer was asking for the applicant’s current salary.

    But then I was happy because a salary range was even posted at all!

    Seriously, I work in government where a salary range is rarely posted or if it is, it’s the official payband like $45k-$100k instead of the range for the advertised position. (Not kidding. That was a real range.)

    My feelings are cancelled out today!

    1. Door Guy*

      Interviewing for my current job, the salary was not on the job posting, and when I asked in my first interview I was told it would be discussed in the second interview. Got into the 2nd interview and it still wasn’t named, although he at least asked me what my range was. When he heard it, he just said “Sounds right in our range. Our range might even be a little bit higher.” but STILL didn’t give me any numbers. I had a 3rd interview and was asked my range again and he just said “Okay” and moved onto the next item. (They never asked what I was making though)

      I was going batty because I desperately wanted to leave my (then) current job after they made a serious shift in priority and policy that I both didn’t agree with and was being worked to the bone on top of it but still needed to provide for my family (12+ hour days 6 days a week, sometimes as long as 15+ hour days, and salaried to boot so no overtime. Plus our work computers came home with us as well as a requirement to be available on company provided mobile phone. I was working basically “always”). Combined with we were underpaid. The C-Suite acknowledged we were underpaid. The pitch when I took the promotion was that they knew the salary was lower than I was currently making, but there were tons of bonus buckets to get money in every quarter, which sounded good until you realized that those buckets were a horribly convoluted mess and little random things could completely derail any money as they were all weighted differently. Then we got bought out and new owners changed the rules making those buckets even harder to hit (they shifted everything because “they didn’t want to pay extra for where we want you to be” so what was ‘bonus’ was now ‘required’ and what was ‘big bonus’ became the new ‘bonus’).

      A week after my last interview I got their offer, and their number was not what I expected, in a good way. They came in at 7.5k over the high end of my range, and a full 10k over what I had been currently earning. Currently in month 5 and seriously loving it.

      1. HappySnoopy*

        Congrats! And it is interesting and unusual the salary band convo was in applicant favor when being held closely

        1. Door Guy*

          Thanks! From working with them (My 3 interviews were with the 2 VP and the Pres/CFO) they all wanted to speak together before they got numbers lined up. My last interview was with President/CFO who has final say on numbers, and my interview with him was literally last second and unplanned (I had my 2nd interview, left, and made it about 4 blocks before I got a call saying the Pres had just come back early as an off-site meeting had cancelled and wondered if I had time to come in and talk to him).

          From the way it sounds, I’m the first person in my current position who wasn’t promoted from within (company wide), which has been it’s own challenge in and of itself. No one at my current office wanted the job when they talked to the few who would be eligible (2 didn’t want to switch from field to office work, and the last wanted to stay in sales as that’s where he thrives, and he is dang good at it too!). Anyone eligible from our sister offices declined based on the commute as we’re over an hour away from the next closest office and 2 hours from the main office.

          It’s not perfect (what job is) but it lines up so well with what I needed/wanted to fit in with my life at the moment. Just had my first review last month with all 3 officers in attendance and they had nothing negative to say about my performance so far (the closest would be that I’m still learning, and based on prior interaction as well as seeing it done with others, they have no problems letting you know if you need to fix something).

      2. Cat Meowmy Admin*

        Wonderful! Wishing you many years of continued success- you’ve certainly earned this!

  2. carrie heffernan*

    I recently ran into the opposite issue where I priced myself out of the job – my current salary was outside of their range even though the going rate is around what I asked for. *shrugs*

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I think that’s part of my problem where I live now — Exjob is known to pay very well for the area, and most of the employers here are smaller businesses who pay much less. They see it on my resume and go, “Pffft, she won’t stay.” Well nobody else does either, judging by how many times you’ve reposted that job in the last three years, Optimist Prime! >:P

  3. Anonymous Educator*

    I think Alison once shared a story in which she told her future employer she was looking for a job specifically because she was under-compensated at her current position (not her exact phrasing—hers was better). So if you know you’d be doing the same kind of work and just making more, that might be worth bringing up.

    1. No one you know*

      I moved from a very inexpensive town with a stagnant job market to a large, booming city with a much higher cost of living. I made a point to mention this to the places that asked for my current salary. It worked out in that I was able to phrase it as “of course you know why that was a perfectly respectable salary in a town where an average, nice house is $100k and you agree that the same job with the same skill level would quite a bit more here where you can’t buy a trash-covered empty lot downwind from the sewage treatment plant for less than $300k”. It worked out pretty well.

      1. Librarianne*

        That’s a good way to phrase it. I always check the CNN Cost of Living Calculator or other similar tools when investigating a move to a new city to be sure the posted salary range would allow me to at least keep my current standard of living (or, hopefully, improve it!).

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yes! This is what happened to me when I moved to Seattle. Nobody blinked an eye at it because of course back-home where my rent was $600 verses moving here that is literally doubled, for 1/4 of the size of a apartment…lol but whatever, I accept my shoebox because I still never had any roommates outside of my parents.

    2. OP*

      I am doing the same kind of work, and would be making more. I had a call with them prior to being sent the form including current salary, and said that although I wasn’t looking, compensation might be a reason for me to consider leaving. So I’m sure they were expecting my current salary to be lower than the range they posted. Just, you know, maybe not *that* much lower.

  4. Emily K*

    I know those forms usually force you to enter only numeric characters, but I would be tempted to just write “rude” in the box requesting my salary.

    1. Watermelon M*

      Lol. I’ve also just put $1 in the requirements. Like y’all are gonna get a equally rude answer back.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Hahahahaha! I’m gonna try it!
          I usually put $0.00 if it will let me but it doesn’t always.

      1. Everdene*

        I do this when an online application won’t let you continue without a numerical entry. I put £1 for all paid roles and £0 for all (relevant) volunteer roles. Never had an issue.

        (While I’m fairly compensated now that hasn’t always been the case. Moving to this role was a 50% (with further 10% rise within 6 months) I’m sure I would not have been considered if they knew how little I was working for in my last post)

  5. Summertime*

    OP, what is the difference in responsibilities between your current job and the one you are applying for? Are you switching to a higher paying field? If providing a current salary is unavoidable, it will be good to be armed with information on why the salary difference is so large and then spin it around to emphasize your strengths and why you are worth the higher pay!

    Very good luck with everything OP!

    1. ACDC*

      Or it could be that OP is overqualified for her current position and is looking for something more in line with their current skills. This happened to my husband. He was at his old job to gain experience while he started his Master’s, then he got his Master’s and the company couldn’t (or wouldn’t) even give him a raise. So he, too, was applying for jobs that were double his current salary.

    2. Vermonter*

      I was a llama groomer at a farm in City A, then moved to City B and got the exact same job title with very slightly more responsibility, and my salary doubled. I didn’t get my llama grooming certificate or anything. Sometimes, employers are just cheap, or it could be a cost-of-living thing. (City A rent is less than half of City B rent.)

    3. Gymmie*

      I was recently applying for a very lateral move in my specialty. The salary pay band STARTED $40k higher than my current salary. I’ve just never moved companies in my 17 years of work, and I definitely think that has hurt. It’s quite demoralizing. Unfortunately, I like working in my specialty and there aren’t many opportunities (this one I turned down because it wanted a lot more travel than I was willing to do). And yes, I did ask for more money this year, and while I got a teenie bit more, it obviously is out of what the market is paying.

    4. ThatGirl*

      My husband is a master’s level licensed therapist who is paid a *pittance* at the university he works at and hasn’t ever gotten a raise. Should he ever move on, he has plenty of rationale for why he should be paid more, but it would be even easier if he didn’t have to disclose his current salary. (Which, actually, he won’t – Illinois just passed a law making asking about it illegal.)

    5. Jules the 3rd*

      Just keep in mind that recruiters often ‘shotgun’ their hunt, and OP may not actually be a good fit. Look hard at those job requirements.

    6. OP*

      There would a slight increase in responsibilities, but it’s the same kind of job I have now. The salary for the new position is much closer to what you would expect in the industry; mine is just way on the low end because A) I work for a small company with a limited budget and B) I switched fields to take this job, and my previous field is known for paying depressingly little (and I’d been stuck at a company that didn’t believe in raises to boot).

      I did have a call with the recruiter prior to their sending me the application, so they know a little bit about why my current salary would be so low. Though I didn’t discuss that point in detail because, at that stage of the game, I didn’t know they were going to ask for my current salary. Not least because they’d already given a salary range.

  6. boston project manager*

    I was in a very similar situation, making $35k in non profit and looking to move into a somewhat lateral/slight bump in title in for profit, where the starting salary was $55-65k.

    I wasn’t required to disclose my salary and so didn’t, but I did make it clear that part of my desire to leave my non profit position was because I was performing above and beyond my goals and responsibilities, and there were little to no opportunities to be compensated. I think this context more or less made my current salary meaningless, and ultimately my skills and experience/accomplishments indeed laterally translated to the for-profit position. I even successfully negotiated for 5k above their offer (55k to 60k, so still within their original quotes range), despite the fact that their original offer was a good 20k more than I currently made. My reasoning was that 60k is much more aligned with a competitive rate for THEIR sector/industry…it has nothing to do with my current one. Moreover, I didn’t want to be immediately behind the curb like I was with my old job. I’m glad I wasn’t afraid to see things this way.

    There are unfortunately a million dumb reasons why a prospective employer might reject your resume outright, and sure, current compensation is one. But ultimately, in my experience, if you’re truly qualified for a job and your resume highlights this appropriately, a reasonable hiring manager/employer will not care about previous salary.

    1. Woman in tech*

      It’s now illegal in Massachusetts for potential employers to ask about applicants’ salary history before making a job offer. I hope other states follow suit. The practice of asking what you make is harmful, especially to women and others who are earning less due to discrimination.

      Unfortunately, it’s a bit late for me. I was asked my salary at interviews early on and it really hurt me. To this day I don’t earn what I should.

      I always thought it was incredibly rude, if nothing else, to ask what I make. Not only is it no one’s business, but the potential employer should make an offer based on the requirements and the applicant’s qualifications, period.

      1. boston project manager*

        Huh! I only just found out that fact about MA law in this thread, and I DEFINITELY was asked this (usually on web applications) during the job search that led to the job above – this was December of 2018, so I believe after the law passed. Wonder if it will take employers a bit to actually catch up.

  7. lyonite*

    Slightly OT, but this seems like a good place to bring up a success story I had with a similar form. This one didn’t ask my current salary (I’m in CA), but it did ask for the salary I was looking for, and leaving it blank wasn’t an option. So, mindful of Allison’s advice about not undervaluing yourself (and a little annoyed), I put in the top of the salary range that I was seeking, 20% above what I had been making. Long story short, I got the job, and while the salary I asked for was outside of the range for the position, they did offer me the very top of that range (still 5% above my previous job). So here’s to not selling yourself short!

    1. PantaloonsOnFire*


      Think about the fair market salary for the position and then add at least 10% to that.

      Just snagged a new job where I was similarly irked to be asked what salary range I was seeking (luckily no one asked me about current salary). So, I requested a range that was 25%-55% above my current position and more in line with the market. Ended up with a 50% pay bump. If you end up shooting too high they will often tell you what the discrepancy is, giving you a chance to backpedal if you desire. But hopefully if enough applicants ask for fair-to-competitive wages it will help re-calibrate an org’s idea of what that work is actually worth. So you’re helping all future job seekers by asking for more money!

      1. irene adler*

        lyonite and PataloonsOnFire- so they aren’t rejecting you outright when you indicated a salary above their hiring range? This is very useful to know. Thank you for posting this.

        1. Jadelyn*

          It’ll depend on the company and just how far above the range your number is, tbh. I work at a nonprofit and, well…we pay at nonprofit rates. If someone is currently making $80k and applying for a role where the top of the range is $70k, I’d still consider them, at least to the point of having a conversation about salary expectations. But if someone making that amount applied for a position where the top of the range is $40k, I wouldn’t continue with them. That’s such a huge disparity it rarely makes sense to continue on, unless the candidate proactively indicated (such as in a cover letter) that they were aware of the huge disparity and looking to make that kind of change.

          1. PantaloonsOnFire*

            Agreed, it probably depends some on the level of disparity. If there’s only a $5,000-10,000 difference, they’re probably still willing to discuss (since you might be willing to go a little lower) if there’s a $20,000+ difference….maybe not so much. Of course, this is based on my experience with salary conversations…not sure whether this holds true when you indicate desired salary on an online form. Does the online form automatically screen you out if you ask for too much? No idea here.

            1. Jadelyn*

              Depends on what ATS they’re using for their recruiting and how they have it configured. Most can be set up with auto-filters/disqualifier questions like that, but it’s pretty terrible practice to outright hide applicants due to a single disqualifier question, since they may be perfect in every other way and there might be an explanation for that one question.

              In my experience, it’s more likely that it “scores” you based on a rubric the recruiter set up in the backend, and when it presents candidates to the hiring manager it’s listed in order of score highest-lowest. So if you reply with a number way above the range, the system might count that as 0 points for that question, but if you scored highly on all other aspects you’d still show up in the top 20% or so; or, if your application was okay but not great, it might drop you down into the bottom 20% and while your resume is technically listed, odds are the manager won’t get that far down the list (at least not for more than a real fast scan to make sure the system didn’t screen out any gems by accident) before they find someone they want to move forward with.

        2. lyonite*

          What they said. In my case, I think it helped both that the number I gave wasn’t out of line for the market, and also that I had skills that were very well matched for that particular job. If it had been a position that I felt was more of a stretch, I probably would have been more conservative in naming my number.

  8. AndersonDarling*

    When I was job searching to leave a non-profit, I would enter $1.00 in the salary box if I was required to do so. When I had the phone screen, I would tell the interviewer my current salary but I would explain that I was coming from a non-profit and I was seeking the current market rate of $XX,000.
    Honestly, I never had an issue with recruiters once I started using this method of explanation. And I had a detailed resume to show my level of work.

  9. Stephanie*

    I was in sort of a similar position–wasn’t making a great salary. I went back to school full-time and ended up recruiting for new grad roles anyway, so salary ranges were pretty set based on that. I usually do avoid listing the salary from that job, if I can.

  10. Mouse*

    Illinois just passed a law against asking for salary history that goes into effect at the end of September. I’m just pushing off a potential job search until then.

    One downside, though, is that if you’re being promoted, your current employer obviously knows your current salary. I’m potentially about to jump a few title levels and I guarantee my salary will be lower than someone external’s would be, because I’m already underpaid. You really do have to leave for fair pay.

    1. tamarack and fireweed*

      Not always, and I’ll always keep it in mind as how management should go about running their organizations. My first corporate job for a software company was when I was changing fields and countries, and had basically no idea at all what a fair salary was, or what I could expect. I was also desperately in need of a job. I was offered a salary was above what I had calculated I could live on while living in a shared house in commuting distance with public transport in a city that has a tight housing market, especially at the low end (ie, couples can afford a 2-bedroom rental much more easily than single people anything better than a dump). My job was an entry-level technical job. Within 6 months, I was promoted to team lead with a 25% raise. I received another 20% raise a year or two later, followed by smaller raises. Another promotion step up. And I ended there at exactly twice my starting salary 5 years later. (Then I was laid off, but that’s another story. That was after the managing director, who had made sure compensation bands were homogenized and those hired way below band were lifted into the band, was fired. Not for that reason, though – the mother company, too, had made an effort to stratify and standardize job titles and compensation levels.)

  11. Jessen*

    Part of the worry I’d have is salary is usually only part of total compensation. It’s something I hear about a lot talking to other government work people. Salaries are typically lower, but it’s common to have better benefits than are offered in private sector (I personally adore the comp time rules, which would not happen in private). But I have concerns sometimes that trying to move from government to private, the lower on-paper salary could end up hurting people.

    1. Lynca*

      I think it’s really dependent on the field. In my field it is not uncommon to have people go back into the private sector or have people hired from the private sector into govt (this is a little rarer but has happened).

      But I work in a job with decent demand so if you got a low ball offer it would not be difficult to find someone with a better offer.

    2. Brett*

      The comp time rules are often a nightmare in practice. Employers will cap accrued PTO and then write off time off against comp time before PTO, resulting in the employee functionally working overtime for nothing.
      For exempt employees, it gets even worse because of the same pay period cap, making comp time almost unusable unless there are dramatic shifts in workload week to week.

  12. Goldfinch*

    I am very much not allowed to disclose my salary to another company; it’s part of my confidentiality agreement. (To be clear, nothing is said about salary discussion amongst colleagues.) I’m not currently looking, but I imagine that will eventually make for an interesting interview situation.

  13. LargeHippo*

    When this question comes up do you have to tell the truth? Is an employer allowed to tell someone your salary if they call up asking to confirm?

  14. Sprinkles*

    Is asking for current salary common practice in the UK hiring process? I’ve never encountered it, but also only ever been to 2 interviews.

    1. Everdene*

      It is often on application forms but since entering the professional workforce I’ve never answered. It does depend on industry too, some professions are much worse at listing ‘competitive’ as the range which could either mean minimum wage or very high. From reading here I think generally in the UK employers are better about listing salaries.

    2. Blossom*

      I’ve never come across it here in the UK, though I suppose this might differ by sector. It’s more likely to come up if you’re going through a recruitment agency, though. I was hiring recently and used a recruitment consultant to bring in candidates. He would send me through their CVs along with his notes like “Currently making £45k but would consider less in return for flexitime”, or “Currently making £30k but could easily be earning £37k at a better paying organisation doing the same”. In this case, we were advertising the job with a set salary, so we weren’t interested in negotiating downwards, and weren’t expecting to negotiate upwards either. I actually didn’t ask the recruiter to provide their current salary info. But I suppose it might have been somewhat useful context anyway – e.g. a good candidate who is earning well already might be someone we need to be prepared to move fast on, as they have a demonstrably high market value.

    3. londonedit*

      I have seen it on a few job adverts. Or often you’ll see ‘please apply with your CV and cover letter stating salary requirements’ or something like that. I work in an industry where job applications are mainly still done by emailing your CV and cover letter in, rather than filling in an online application form, so I don’t know whether that makes a difference. It is quite rare (in my industry) to see a salary range listed in a job advert, which is annoying – you’re more likely to see ‘competitive salary’ or ‘salary commensurate with experience’. I never usually put salary requirements on my cover letter, and it’s never been a problem – salaries are pretty standard (and low, but that’s another matter…) across the board and you can usually take a pretty good guess at what the salary for a particular job will be.

      1. Media Monkey*

        most jobs in my industry are through recruiters. you would normally disclose your salary to them but they will understand that you want to be paid more (and will often point out to you if you should be earning more!). i’ve never had a job that i have been put forward for without knowing the salary to within a fairly tight range.

  15. Goya de la Mancha*

    I think salary should ALWAYS be posted in a job posting, but I loathe when it’s required to apply.

    1. No one you know*

      The whole charade of pretending that candidates just want to work for love of the company and salary is a dirty little necessity is bonkers.

      I love my job but I wouldn’t do it for free and I wouldn’t take a lower salary for what I do.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Also, the whole charade that there isn’t already a pre-determined range for the salary is bonkers. Companies, schools, and non-profits have budgets for salary. The budget may be a range, but there is a range budgeted.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      That listing includes states that haven’t fully banned it (but where, for example, it’s banned in government hiring). But I believe there are now 15 or 16 state-wide bans.

    2. Helena*

      I’m curious if the bans are based on where the employer is, where the applicant is, or either/or? What about employers that have multiple sites, or employees working out of state?

  16. Elizabeth West*

    I’d just look them in the eye and say in a very Joker-like rasp, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free!”

  17. Zapthrottle*

    Hmm….I have that same issue when I make my first big seniority leap. I thought that the salary was such a big leap from where I saw that I wondered if it would count against me.

    A colleague told me to think of my pay not as a measure of me but as a measure of my employer. I was severely underpaid by and it’s on the employer (mostly) for not paying people a competitive rate but also a bit my fault- because I stayed and let it happen.

    She challenged me to change my mindset about my status and own my situation. Essentially…if I was that good, had valuable skills, and WAS worth $80,000 (at that time), I should be able to find a job because I have the skills. If I couldn’t find a job…it wasn’t because of my salary or anything else outside my control, it’s because I didn’t have the skills/qualifications to get the offer.

    So I re-framed the situation as she recommended. I took responsibility for my portion of the teeny, tiny salary and I found a job with a company that needed my skills and experience. It was a bit of a grind because my title wasn’t great…I was doing the work that was two or three levels above my title and it was hard to get a foot (even a toe) in the door.

    But ultimately, as I realized later on when I started hiring people, employers search for the skills they need to plug a hole FIRST. Then the evaluation of the candidate’s other information is looked at…but first…does this person have X, Y, and Z skills? So make sure you focus on conveying what you can do because that is what employers want to buy. Later on, they may deliberate between a couple of candidates and some might be weirded out by your salary history but others might even think that they can make you an offer within their budget and will be a large bump for you, win/win. But first, they will want to see if you have the chops for the job.

  18. Piping In*

    What would your recommended course of action be if applying for a job online at a large company with presence in multiple states, that asks for current/previous salary info, BUT you live and work in a state that bans this question?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      The law for California says:

      (f) This section applies to all employers, including state and local government employers and the Legislature.

      One law firm (Duane Morris) elaborates on it with:

      All businesses that employ even a single employee in the Golden State must comply with the legislation with respect to employees in California. This includes companies that have out-of-state headquarters and maintain only minimal contacts with California, such as a remote employee living and working in the state. State and local government employers must also comply.

      Don’t know if you’re in California or somewhere else, but I believe it should apply even if the headquarters is outside of your state. Look into it, though, for your state.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      This may vary depending on which state you’re in that has banned it since the exact language in the laws is probably not identical. But, where I am my understanding is:
      If the company is in multiple states, including yours
      And you live and work in a state that bans the question
      And the position you’re applying for is in that same state

      Then they can’t ask you.

      If they’re in multiple states and you’re applying from a state that bans the question, but the position you’re applying for is in a state that has not banned the question, they may still be able to ask you because the laws that apply are the laws where the work will be done, not where you are right now while applying.

  19. Washed Out Data Analyst*

    Ugh I hate everything. Some companies, such as my own, are terrible at rewarding their employees fairly. Just pay them what their worth! You have the money budgeted, don’t play me a fool.

  20. Happy Pineapple*

    Have hope! I was making about $36,000 when a recruiter reached out to me about a job opening. I looked up the hiring range on Glass Door and saw the offered position was usually $48-68k. I didn’t want to give away how low my current salary was, but also didn’t want to price myself out of the running, so when interviewed I simply said that I was looking to make “mid to upper $40s.” They offered me the full $68,000 right out of the gate!

  21. OP*

    In case anyone’s curious, what I was sent was a downloadable form to fill out and send back, not a form on a website with a “submit” button. So there weren’t really any required fields, at least in the strictest sense of the word. I did end up leaving the “salary” box blank — whereupon the recruiter contacted me again to say, no, you have to fill out this section, because reasons.

    In the end, I did give the information they requested. I didn’t make it clear in my original letter, but I’m not actively looking right now; the recruiter reached out to me, and the salary range was high enough that I figured it worth exploring. So, worst-case scenario, I don’t get the job and have to stay at my current job, which I enjoy and have few complaints about.

  22. Ripley*

    Last year, I interviewed for a job that would have been a bump in title for me, but the tasks and job responsibilities were exactly what I had been doing for the last 7 years at another company. I felt I was a great fit, and so did the manager who initially interviewed me. During my second interview with the grandboss, he kept pushing to know my salary, and I tried to divert the question to my salary expectations. I had done the research to know that the position should at least start at $10,000 more than what I was currently making. He balked when I told him my salary expectations. He said I would NEVER pay that much for this role. That jerk wasn’t willing to pay me industry standard rate for the role. He wanted to pay less than what I was currently making. That told me everything I needed to know – no way would I work for someone who doesn’t pay people fairly or the industry standard/market rate.

  23. L.T.*

    I used to work in state government where the salaries were pretty low, and when I left to work in the private industry, I got a 60% salary increase. I worked in a state where civil service salaries were publicly available information (there’s a website where you can see how much a specific person made), and had it not been for Alison’s advice on how to figure out what “market” rates were for my position, I would’ve been wildly out of touch when they asked me what my requirements were for salary.
    It’s a relief that they didn’t ask me what I was making in the government role.

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