Salary requirements and salary history are a quick way for employers to disqualify applicants who are out of the job payroll range. Having this information early in the interview game provides employers with the advantage of knowing if a qualified applicant is available at a deeply discounted rate, based on their previous salary.
Through the payroll, employers look for the frequency and percentage of increases and promotions over the applicant’s career in order to gauge their growth potential. The problem with this is that not all organizations offer salary increases based on merit or achievement.
Many of us tend to think of personal income as a private matter. A person’s worth is not determined by how much they earn – so why would a potential business owner think otherwise? Despite this, some job seekers get an unpleasant surprise when the interviewer raises the issue of past salaries – and it’s important to know how to respond in a way that maintains your bargaining position without compromising your chance at the job. Understanding why some employers ask this question can help you provide an answer that keeps you safe on both fronts. Here’s how to handle your response.
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Why do employers require a salary history?
When an employer asks you to share your salary from previous roles, it is likely for the same reasons they might ask for your salary expectations. These causes generally include:
- They want to determine your market value. Your salary history – and specifically the salary you earned in your most recent position – is one factor that an employer can use to gauge your level of experience and the value you will bring as an employee.
- They want to make sure your expectations match their budget for the role. If your last paycheck was much more than just an employer if he was ready for the offer, this is an indication that you may be overqualified for the job.
- They want to make sure they are offering a reasonable amount for the job. For example, if the majority of job applicants provide recent payroll records that far exceed what they budgeted for the job, they may need to increase their offerings or modify the job description to target more entry-level professionals.
Do I always have to share past salaries with employers?
Not all employers will require candidates to share their payroll, and depending on your state’s employment laws, you may not encounter the question at all. If your employer does not ask you for this information, there is no need to include it in your application or during any other stage of the recruitment process. If your employer doesn’t ask you about your salary history, they may ask you for your preferred salary range instead.
If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your payroll or salary requests with the employer because you don’t feel you know enough about the job yet or prefer to discuss it in person, you may choose to dismiss the question or politely remove it. In this case, you may want to provide background on your thinking.
Try graceful rejection
No law requires you to disclose your past wages to a potential employer – in fact, some career coaches strongly support a polite rejection, regardless of the amount of pressure the employer exerts. When you disclose your salary history, you put yourself in a very difficult angle to negotiate. “ This is because once you tell the employer how much you have paid in the past, they won’t have a real incentive to offer much more – even if they already have the budget to offer you, say, twice your last paycheck.
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It is often possible to address the question without appearing elusive, but still it is clear that you will not reveal your salary history. Let the employer know that you know the company has a budget range for the position, and you’ll be happy to talk about the pitch number. This protects you from being the first to call a number – which is critical if you want to know how much the company is willing to pay.
How to write salary history /How to provide a salary record
What’s the best way to provide your salary history? You can include your salary record in your cover letter without detail. For example, you might say, “I’m currently earning in the 50s.” This gives you some flexibility when it comes to discussing compensation if you get a job offer.
If you are concerned that your salary is high enough to take you out of the row over the position, then what you might want to do instead is include the salary range rather than a specific amount. For example, you could say “My salary range is between $ 40,000 and $ 50,000.” Here is an example of a cover letter with a salary range. Or, your salary record can be listed on a separate Payroll page and attached to your CV and cover letter.
What should be included in your salary record?
If you are asked to provide a salary record in a written letter, it may be easiest to use a form to provide this information. Some apps provide one for you, so you can fill it out easily. If one is not provided, you can use the following form, which documents a specific salary:
Confidential job salary history
- Salary earned at the start of the job
- Salary earned at the end of the job
- Additional compensation details (commissions, bonuses, or perks – such as a car allowance)
Keep listing all of the jobs you have worked for that you’d like included. If you do not want one to be listed, because it is a short or below-average pay opportunity, you can choose to leave it. Note that if you include a company on your application, resume, or resume, you may be required to provide salary information for the position. If you are not comfortable sharing a specific salary, you can also submit salary history using this form:
Confidential job salary history
- Salary earned at the end of the job, rounded to the nearest five or ten thousand dollars, and shown as a range (example: $ 55,000 – $ 65,000 per year)
If you have a big difference between your starting point and your earnings when you left the job, feel free to list the amount you want to take into account in your job offer.