Job Search Tips

Should recruiters know your salary history?

Written by Eric Titner

Throughout your professional life, you’ll likely go on a wide array of job interviews, and each one will be a different and unique experience. But if there’s one common element of all job hunting processes, it’s that they eventually must include a salary discussion.

If you make it to the finish line and reach the point where a job offer is made, congratulations—but the process isn’t over yet. After you learn the position is yours, you’ll likely be given all of the key details regarding the position, including the salary. At this point you may be wondering, “Do they need to know my salary history in order to make a fair and accurate offer?” Great question—let’s take a closer look.

It’s fine to offer it if asked at the start…

The decision of whether or not to disclose your salary history might come up at the very beginning of the process, when you’re crafting your targeted cover letter and resume for a specific job opening. Current conventional wisdom holds that you shouldn’t detail your salary history unless requested to do so by a prospective employer. And if you are, you should always be honest—remember, if they do a thorough background check they may find out the truth, and it won’t look good if what you told them doesn’t add up.

…but it’s not absolutely necessary.

Okay, so if conventional wisdom holds that you shouldn’t disclose your salary history unless asked to do so, how do you know if you’re going to be presented with a fair offer if you make it through the hiring process and have not given them a sense of what you’re worth? The truth is, effective recruiters and hiring managers have thoroughly researched competitive salaries for any and all positions they’re hiring for in their given geographical area. Remember, they’re competing against other companies for talent, so it’s in their best interest to make salary offers that will attract the best and brightest talent.

They already have a final number in mind.

Furthermore, recruiters and hiring managers don’t need to know your salary history because most companies have a pre-determined salary range for any given position they’re hiring for. This predetermined range can be based on a variety of factors, including a company’s budget and industry trends.

This range typically means that there’s some room for you to negotiate if and when an offer is made. If you’re presented with a job offer and salary that meets your expectations, then great—congratulations on your new job! However, if you receive an offer that’s lower than what you’re looking for you can use your salary history as a negotiating point, but be sure to handle this delicate situation carefully.

Now you know the facts—good recruiters don’t need to know your salary history in order to hire for a position and make an offer, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to provide it unless asked specifically to do so. However, you can always use this information during the negotiating process, if you make it that far, in an effort to get a new position that meets your needs.

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About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.

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