How to Handle a Salary Request

Posted on March 21st, 2013 by

By E. W.,  3/21/13

At some point during your working life, a potential employer might ask to see your salary history. This is obviously used by the employer to screen candidates who might demand too much money. However, this request puts you in a very awkward position: you don’t want to get paid for less than you know you’re worth, but at the same time, you really want this job. Luckily, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has a few tips to help you sidestep this difficult question.

1. Do not include your salary history on your resume

2. If you are requested to give your salary history, put it at the end of your cover letter. By this point in your letter, you should have already highlighted your skills and why you would be an asset to the employer.

3. Be vague. Never give an exact number. If you earned about $33,500 a year at your previous job, write that you earned in the mid-30s.

4. Make a point that the salary is negotiable.

5. Use the NACE Salary Calculator to figure out what the market value is for someone with your skills and experience. Give a $3,000-$5,000 range.

6. Be prepared to answer this question in an interview. Starting with your latest job, be able to go back and list what you made (remember to be vague; don’t give an exact number unless they ask specifically for it).

7. Whatever you do, don’t lie. An employer can find out how much you made through reference checks. And if they catch you lying, it is likely that you will no longer be considered for the position.

8. Try your best to shift the focus from what your past salaries were to what you are looking for now as a competitive compensation.


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