“It is my belief that one’s salary is between the individual and the IRS.”
From requesting you provide your salary requirements in your cover letter to flat out questioning you during your interview, potential employers have a found myriad of ways of getting you to disclose your salary history.
Having worked as a recruiter, I’ve proceeded to coach many job seekers on how to handle this very situation, and my answer has always been the same: delay talking about money until after an offer has been made.
Three reasons not to disclose your salary history prior to an offer
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
You risk being labeled overpriced
A great reason to delay the topic of money until after an offer has been made is due to the fact that you may actually price yourself out of a job. If a potential employer knows that you’ve made a substantial amount more than what they’re capable of offering, they may just choose to rule you out as a potential candidate on that alone.
You reduce your power to negotiate your starting salary
Much like you can rule yourself out of a job for being overpriced, you can also rule yourself out of a huge pay increase if your potential employer knows that you’ve made a substantial amount less than what they’re currently offering. By choosing to keep your previous salary a mystery, you greatly reduce the risk of receiving any lowball offers.
You’re not required to
Although it may seem like your interviewer is pressuring you into disclosing your salary history, know that you are not required to answer their question right then and there. Remember, the goal here is to delay, delay, and delay some more.
Tips to delay disclosing your salary history
A great way to delay disclosing your salary history is by choosing to leave the “previous salary” portion of your employment application blank. Another is to write “negotiable” or “open” when discussing salary requirements in a cover letter.
If during your job interview, however, the person interviewing you continues to insist that you provide this information, never appear to come off as standoffish. Simply reply by saying, “Honestly, I’d feel a lot more comfortable discussing the topic of salary once an job offer has been made.”
Martin Briceno, author of the My Career Development HQ blog, is a former recruiter and freelance resume writer. He is a lifelong resident of New York City and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communications.
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