Should You Tell A Prospective Employer Your Previous Salary? The Pros and Cons
You’re reading over a job description that looks ideal for you—and then you see it listed at the end: salary history required. What should you do? Salary history might be valuable information for employers who want to know how cheap they can get new workers for—but listing that information can hurt prospective employees. Still, in some cases, you’re undermining your chances by not listing it.
Here’s a look at the pros and cons of revealing your previous salary history or your current requirements.
Sometimes automated software will cut your resume out if you don’t
Sometimes, automated software sorts through resumes before a recruiter gets to see them—and if you don’t include all the requirements, your resume could get sorted out initially. If the recruiter set the software to look for salary information, yours could get automatically deleted if you didn’t include it.
It can show a positive work history
Showing and ever-rising salary history shows that you have steadily increased your value to employers. This can reflect well on you, depending on what the recruiters are looking for.
It keeps you from wasting your time
If the employer isn’t willing to pay you what you need—or what you want—listing your salary cuts them out for you, too. You don’t have to waste time interviewing and negotiating only to find they don’t have the budget to pay you what you want—and working for them will entail a substantial pay cut. Listing your salary requirements could assure that you attract only employers willing to pay that much.
When you’re searching for jobs, it’s crucial to know what the typical salary is for someone in your field and industry, at your level, and in your geographic area as well as the area of the company you’re applying to.
It weeds you out
This is a major drawback of listing either your previous salary history or salary requirements in your resume. If the company thinks you’re too expensive, they won’t call you in for an interview. And if they think you’re too cheap, they might assume there’s something wrong. It’s a situation where you don’t know what the right number is, and it’s easy to go wrong in one direction or the other.
It can undermine your negotiations for a higher salary
On the other hand, if a company thinks they can get you cheaply, they might eagerly call you in for an interview—and offer you a salary significantly less than what they were originally planning. If you try to negotiate, you’ll be negotiating off that low initial offer instead of the going rate for people in your profession. This could hurt your future earning potential at the company.
Your previous salary may not accurately indicate how much you’re worth
This is especially true if you just graduated from school with a new degree or if you’ve recently changed careers. In addition, it doesn’t include other benefits you had at previous jobs that were all part of your compensation—such as bonus programs, profit-sharing, child care and extra vacation time.
When you’re searching for jobs, it’s crucial to know what the typical salary is for someone in your field and industry, at your level, and in your geographic area as well as the area of the company you’re applying to. Chances are they’ll know that information as well. You’ll also need to sit down and look at your own finances—and determine the minimum amount you need to earn in order to maintain your current lifestyle. If you have those two numbers fixed in your head, you’ll know the minimum offer you can accept—and you’ll also know whether your previous salary history or requirements make you too expensive or too cheap in the eyes of the current market. Knowing this helps you see how recruiters might be perceiving that number—and whether or not it’s to your benefit to reveal it.
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