frequently asked questions about

Topics including:
Divulging salary history
Entry-level salary
Taking a cut
Back to FAQ Categories

Q "Divulging salary history"
I am in the process of looking for a new job. One of the things I frequently see in various advertisements is a request for salary history. I am hesitant to give out my salary history because I am looking for an increase in salary. Also, I am not sure how to include salary history. If I provide a prospective employer with this info, do I include it on my resume or in the cover letter?

A  You've brought up one of the more serious flaws in the Employment System.

Employers have no business asking for your salary history. It's confidential. It has nothing to do with hiring you. Imagine what they'd say if you asked to see the history of salaries they've paid for this job over the past ten years. Or, if you were to ask the manager what his current salary is. Sorry, Mr. Manager, but what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

The excuse employers make is that your past salary helps them determine your experience level, it pegs your value, and it helps them establish a new salary for you.

Hogwash. By that logic, they don't need to interview you. All they need is your salary history and you're off to the races. By using the figures other employers have used, they'll know what their job is worth and what you are worth. And they'll win the lottery, too.

Salary is a judgment of value. It's incumbent on an employer to figure out what the job he wants done is worth, quite apart from who you are, what you've done, or what you've been paid before. In the interview, the employer factors in his judgment of how you would contribute to the success of that job. That's how an offer should be derived. It shouldn't matter what you were making at your last job, especially in a world where 17-year-olds who were earning five bucks an hour flipping burgers last year are earning $40k this year designing web pages, and where $100k executives are seeking $50k sales jobs.

Bottom line: when you divulge your salary history, you put yourself in a corner that's very difficult to negotiate your way out of.

Here are my suggestions about how to deal with the "salary history" problem...

Learn how to stop employers from using your old salary to put a cap on your new job offer...

Learn More!

You've just read a short selection of the
most widely-acclaimed Answer Kit on
Ask The Headhunter!

Now read the complete
Ask The Headhunter Answer Kit:

Keep Your Salary
Under Wraps

Myth-Busting Answers For Fearless Job Hunters:

  • Who says your salary history is anybody's business?
  • Why does HR really want to know what you get paid?
  • Can disclosing your salary cost you a big raise?
  • How can you say NO... and get the best possible offer?

Don't let your old salary "cap" your new job offer!

  • 24 pages of insights and insider tips that expose, explain, and counter the methods employers use to control salary negotiations and minimize job offers. 
  • Learn how to say NO to demands for your salary history, politely and with authority.  
  • Prove your value, to get hired at the highest possible salary.

Keep Your Salary Under Wraps

"I love Nick's new Keep Your Salary Under Wraps. It worked for me. Nick gave me the same advice that's in the book when I was negotiating a job offer several years ago. Despite both the headhunter and the company insisting I disclose what I was getting paid at my old job, I stuck to my guns and I was able to double my salary. Plus I got a signing bonus. That would have never happened in a million years if I had caved!"

-- Bernie Dietz



The contents of this site are Copyright (c) 1995-2015 North Bridge Group LLC.
All rights reserved. This material is for personal use only. Republication and redissemination, including posting to news groups, is expressly prohibited without prior written consent. Ask The Headhunter, Fearless Job Hunting, the ATH logo and other ATH titles are trademarks or registered trademarks of North Bridge Group LLC and Nick A. Corcodilos.

User agreement, legal information and disclaimer.

Visit the Ask The Headhunter Blog and sign up for your free subscription to the weekly Ask The Headhunter Newsletter.

We welcome comments and
suggestions. Please email to
Ask The Headhunter.