Previous or current salary information is used by employers to weed out employees who will cost them too much. This practice can be a detriment to employees who are willing to work for less than they have received in the past, or if they have been getting paid less than what they are worth. The employer gets most, if not all, of the salary negotiation power when a job candidate reveals his past salary information. When this question is asked on a job application or is required in a cover letter or as part of a job application package, it is wise to answer the question honestly, but carefully.
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One way to answer the question is to indicate that you are willing to talk about your past salaries in an interview. This gives you the opportunity to let the employer meet you and form an opinion of you from other than your resume. You can also give a salary range you are willing to accept. However, some employers may view this as sidestepping the question.
Come Straight Out
Tell the employer openly and honestly what your previous salaries have been. An employer may appreciate your openness about the topic, but answering openly can also land your resume and job application in the trash if you were paid too much for the employer's liking. Your application could even be tossed if you made too little money in your previous jobs.
Another option is to give the percentage of salary increase you have received over your last few positions or years. This indicates to potential employers that you are an employee who merits raises and who does good work. You can give this information in the form of a graph showing the increase over time if you have the flexibility and room in the job application to submit the information in an unusual format, or you can write the percentage increase on the application.
No matter how you frame it, it is vital to be honest when answering this question. Tell the truth about what you have made in previous jobs. The employer will check out your references and job history. Being dishonest about your salary will most likely end your candidacy.
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