Question: In an earlier column, you advised against divulging past salary in an interview because it might prejudice an employer’s offer. I disagree with you. After going on over 25 fruitless interviews (most were 2nd or 3rd round) in the past 9 months, I suspect most people would gladly reveal their salary history if required, as a sign of cooperation, and so as not to be disqualified. What do you say to this?
Nick’s Reply: I would suggest that you’ve had 25 unsuccessful interviews because you’re too concerned about appeasing an interviewer. Instead, try to focus on projecting a clear impression of what’s important to you and what you’re worth. That’s the message behind my advice to withhold your salary history. It forces a candidate and an employer to negotiate based on the candidate’s future value. Why get stuck defending what your last employer paid you? (I’m sure you’d like to earn more in your next job than in the last, so don’t start with a disadvantage.)
This salary issue is more than a question of being cooperative. It’s about making sound judgments. In my opinion, an intelligent disagreement and discussion about salary reveals integrity and it stimulates an important dialogue. Employers who rely on salary history to judge you are trusting another company’s evaluation. Think about that. It’s almost insane. What really matters is what you can do for this company now and in the future. Is the company able to make that judgment? Why does it need your last employer’s judgment about your salary?
Declining to divulge salary history is not about being uncooperative. It’s about shifting the interview to a higher plane. Don’t worry so much about getting disqualified. Any candidate can be cooperative, but few can demonstrate their value and get paid what they’re really worth. Your value lies in what you can do next; not in what somebody paid you to do last year. If you learn to hold your ground properly you will earn a manager’s respect, and maybe the offer you deserve. Check out these 4 steps to win the job offer based on your value.
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About The Author:
Headhunter Nick Corcodilos is the host of asktheheadhunter.com where he has answered more than 50,000 questions from job seekers and employers about hiring and getting hired. Nick conducts job-hunting workshops at business schools including Wharton, UCLA, Cornell, Northwestern and Harvard, and is author of the e-book, Fearless Job Hunting: Overcome the daunting obstacles that stop other job hunters dead in their tracks. He offers limited one-on-one troubleshooting to job seekers, employers and recruiters via his Talk to Nick service.