Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova
When you’re looking for a new job, your potential employer might ask you to share your salary history. Learn what you need to do if you’re asked for this information.
In most states, providing salary history to a potential employer is not a legal requirement. However, some organizations request potential employees to provide this information either at the time of interview or when they’re submitting their resume as part of the job application.
If your employer wants you to mention your salary history, you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll discuss:
Why an employer might ask you to share your remuneration history
Tips on disclosing your salary history to an employer
When an employer asks you to disclose your salary history, it’s probably for the same reason they’d ask you to share your salary expectations. Here are a few reasons behind this request.
Your salary history, especially your remuneration package at your existing employer or at your most recent job, helps your prospective employer evaluate your level of experience and the value you’ll bring to the company.
Organizations typically have a budget for each role they’re looking to fill. An employer might ask you to disclose your salary history to determine whether they will be able to afford your services with their existing budget.
If your salary history exceeds the budget the organization has allotted for your job role, and they really need your services, they might revise their budget to ensure you’re fairly compensated for your services and that you’ll stay for the long haul.
Some states in the US have a salary history ban that prevents employers from asking employees to share their salary history. However, in the states where this ban is not applicable, an employer is within their legal right to ask you this question.
You don’t have to disclose your salary history to an employer if you’re not comfortable, even if there’s no salary history ban in your state. You can politely dodge this question by saying something like, “I would like to learn more about my new job role first before discussing my salary history.”
There are different ways you can disclose your salary history to a potential employer, such as adding it to your resume next to each job title. Here are three other methods to consider when sharing your salary history with a potential employer.
If you’re not comfortable disclosing your actual salary, but you don’t want to make a bad impression on your potential employer, you can provide a general, vague number. For instance, if your current salary is $77,000, you can say, “My current salary is in the mid-seventies.”
If you’ve received multiple promotions and your salary has been revised quite a few times during your recent role, you can provide a salary range. This way, you can fulfill your potential employer’s request as well as showcase your ability to add value to an organization that warrants/justifies a pay raise.
For example, if your salary was revised from $40,000 to $50,000, you can say, “I was earning up to $40,000 per year, but then my salary was revised to incorporate a raise of $10,000 to reflect additional job duties and responsibilities.”
You can disclose your full salary to the employer if you’re comfortable sharing this information. In this case, you can also round off your salary to the nearest whole number. For example, if your salary is $75,750, you can round it off to $76,000. Just make sure not to exaggerate the number.
When sharing your salary history with a potential employer, make sure to mention your gross salary. This is your total annual salary for the year before making any tax deductions, retirement plan contributions, or benefit plan payments. Because your gross salary is higher than your net (after-tax) salary, it’s a much better number to use in your salary negotiation.
With very few exceptions, employers are not required by law to ask a potential employee to disclose their salary. However, some organizations do ask this question on a job application or during an interview. They typically use this information to determine your new payscale.
There are multiple ways you can disclose your salary. You can provide a general number, a salary range, or the exact figure - depending on how comfortable you are disclosing this information.
You are well within your right to respectfully refuse to provide your salary history if you’re not comfortable and it’s not legally required. No one can force you to share this information or make this a valid reason to not hire you.
Asad's writing expertise lies in the fields of HR and marketing—putting him in the unique position of understanding the job-search process: both from the side of the applicant, and the side of the hiring managers. With this valuable blend of perspectives, he’s able to help his clients position themselves as top candidates for their desired roles.