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Disclosing Your Previous Salary Is A Judgment Call
One of the touchiest situations to deal with is the question of disclosing your previous salary history. Potential employers often like to have this information because it gives them an advantage, while job hunters are reluctant to disclose the information at all. Sometimes a potential employer will push hard for salary information, so you then have to make a judgment call about whether and/or how much to reveal.
Reasons not to disclose your salary history
There are many reasons why you should not disclose your salary history to a potential employer. The most common of these include:
Potential to be weeded out - If your salary history is quite different from the range of the open position, you run the risk of being excluded from the interview round because you may appear either over or under qualified
Reduced negotiating position - If a potential employer knows your salary history then your negotiating position is weakened when it comes time to discuss salary
Diverts attention - During the interview process, you want the focus to be on your skills and qualifications. It is your opportunity to show the interviewer why you are a good fit for the position and for you to determine if the company is a good fit for you.
Reasons to disclose your salary history
In some cases, though, there are reasons why you should disclose your salary history. Some of these reasons include:
The employer requires it - Some employers have very firm requirements about applicants disclosing their salary history. The strictest will not even consider a person who does not abide by the stated requirement
The interviewer pushes for it - Most interviewers will ask for some information about previous salary history, and you can often finesse your answer in a way that does not give a specific dollar amount
How to finesse the question
There are several ways that you can finesse an answer to the salary question. If the job posting states that salary history information is requested but does not state that it must be included in order to be considered for the job, you can deal with it by including a statement in your cover letter that you are willing to negotiate salary based on job requirements.
During the interview itself, it may take some assertiveness on your part to resist giving a direct answer. You may try to get the interviewer to reveal the position's salary range first, or you can answer salary questions by giving a range rather than a specific dollar amount.
What is the right choice?
Unfortunately, there is no single right answer for this question. In general, you should avoid revealing previous salary information if at all possible, but there are times when not providing requested information will hurt your chances of getting the job. In these cases your best strategy is to use common sense and your best judgment. While you may make a mistake at some point, the important thing is to make the best decision possible at the time you need to do so.
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