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Providing Your Salary History

The Dilemma of a Salary History Request

Most career experts agree that it's not a good idea to volunteer your salary history (or salary requirement) right up front. You might price yourself out of contention or sell yourself cheap, before you even get to the salary negotiation stage of an interview.

Instead, it's better to play the "salary game" by politely sidestepping the salary issue altogether, until you sense that an employer is interested in hiring you; otherwise, you won't have much leverage to negotiate salary.

But employers (and recruiters) might boldly ask for your salary history right off the bat. If you comply 100 percent, it thwarts sidestep techniques and handicaps your negotiation stage, especially if you're looking for a significant increase.

For example, if your most-recent salary is even slightly higher than the top of the range that your potential employer is willing to pay you, right off the bat it might blow your chance to land the job, even if you'd accept less than what you've made in the past.

However, if your potential employer requests a salary history and you don't provide at least something, then you could jeopardize even getting to an interview. So, you might be tempted to beef up your salary history to avoid getting locked in, yet "appear" to be complying.

But, if do that and your potential employer contacts your former employers during a background check to confirm your salary history, then you're likely out of the running anyway for lying. Extra-nosy employers will even go so far as to ask you to verify your most-recent salary with a paycheck stub.

Subsequently, it's better to tactfully sidestep the issue, than to beef up your salary history. The next page includes tips and links to sample salary letters for doing just that, along with samples for complying 100 percent.

Salary History vs. Salary Requirement

Your salary history is a written record of your past, annual salary or starting and ending range that you earned from each employer you've listed on your resume.

Your salary requirement is the minimum, annual figure or range that you will accept when landing a new job. Employers ask for it verbally or in writing. Either way, you might want to first do your homework, as your minimum salary requirement might become the employer's maximum offer, give or take a few bucks.

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