Ask The Work Buzz! Salary history

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QuestionsFrom Kathy: Hey, Work Buzz! Boring question, but necessary answer. I haven’t worked in the job force for very long. I am applying for a position that is requiring a salary history. I know what this is, but how do I present this. First job and salary or most recent and salary? Do I include the employer and job title?

Oh, salary questions. It’s the issue that arises with every job search. The first thing you have to decide if it you want to actually list your salary requirements in an application. Opinions vary…Most people say that, no, you shouldn’t list any salary information on the application. Common advice says to ignore the salary request until you’re actually in the interview or to simply write on the cover letter or résumé, “Salary negotiable.” More on that later–first to answer your question…

However, if you’ve decided to give your salary history, most employers want to see your most recent salary, which might be what you’re earning now, depending on your situation. Sometimes they even make a point to ask what your starting salary was and what your current salary is, which gives them an idea of what increases you earned and what salary trajectory you’re on. Sometimes that’s all they want, but if they’ve indicated they want a more thorough history, then work your way backwards. You’re most likely earning more now than you did in your first job, so this build a narrative for your income. You should also list the job title and company with each salary. Because this information will line up with your résumé’s job history, it makes the most sense.

But back to whether or not you want to offer this information early in the application process…

Now, if an employer is really strict and they are demanding salary information at this stage, you have to realize that you  might be removing yourself from consideration for the job. That is a risk you take, and if you’re not willing to make the move, then go ahead and list the salary information.

Why do so many people suggest you don’t give salary information, then? Salary information can take you out of the running for a job, too. For example, if you say your last salary was $50,000 per year, the hiring manager might think you’re not going to take the job if it only pays $40,000–so she passes on your application. Or maybe they’re prepared to pay $75,000 and your low salary makes you appear cheap, as if you’re not worth much. Or you could be locking yourself into that salary. If they’re willing to pay more but they see that you’re making $25,000 less than they were going to offer, they think they can offer a similar amount to your current wage and still woo you. You get a tiny pay bump; they save thousands of dollars. All the power goes to them when you put the salary information on the page. (To be fair, at this stage in the job search process, they are the decision makers–regardless of what you do.)

When you push the topic away until you’re at a good stage in the interview (most likely when you’ve been offered the position), you can have an actual conversation where you give your requirements and they offer theirs. It’s easier to find a common ground verbally than via text.

8 Comments
  1. I’ve got more than enought years of work experience than I care to admit, but one thing I am finding out more now than ever before is…when you apply, search (or whatever) no one pays attention (including the software supposedly set up to help you) to what you either feel most suited for or enjoy doing the most.
    Example: I have posted myself on several “employment websites.” At least two (2) that I am aware of have been giving me information that I know I am not qualified or just not interested in, consequently I am getting e-mails, etc., that waste my time for nothing.
    Good point: I am really interested in Alpha-numeric data entry in Administrative/Office Support. So why do I keep getting postings and e-mails related to Sales, the one thing in this world that nauseates me more than anything?
    Somewhere in the midst of programming and marketing the various firms involved in trying to make a profit while trying to help others find a job have forgotten their priorities.

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  6. How do you feel it would go over, if one put in the salary history “Impertinent question” or “Non of yur business”?

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