JOB SEARCH / JUL. 01, 2014
version 7, draft 7

How to Respond to Salary History Requests

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After interviews, companies call back short-listed candidates to examine them and come up with a final list of employees. These short-listed candidates have to present more information about themselves for the company to better assess their suitability for respective job vacancies. And in many cases, you’re likely to be asked for your salary history. However, it’s important to handle this request carefully because the salary history alone can single-handedly turn the job suitability against you. And just like varying job opportunities, we shouldn’t handle such requests in a similar way, but instead, assess the situation on the ground first. Therefore, in light of different job circumstances, we should ask ourselves, how does one respond to salary history requests?

#1 Boost your bargaining power through background checks with salary history

When a company requests for your salary history, you can never be really sure what game plan they have in mind. For instance, a company can indicate a particular salary in a job placement advertisement and you might successfully clinch it thanks to your strikingly similar salary history. However, once you’re employed, you realize that employees in similar jobs are earning much more than you are. Though you may be disgruntled; you realize that you have already signed the contract so there’s nothing much you can do. It would actually be unfortunate to realize that you were the suitable candidate because you were the cheapest option for the company. It’s therefore important to use your career connections and acquaintances to inquire through previous and current employees regarding the amount earned from a particular job. That way, you’ll have the bargaining power to reduce the chances of being taken advantage of.

#2 Kindly decline if salary history will intimidate the company

Let’s say you worked in a big city and you’ve decided to settle in a small up country community. While you worked in the big city, you salary was quite impressive to the point where small country companies can’t afford you at that rate. And now your prospective employer is asking you for your salary history. You’re also aware that the sight of the previous figure will send shivers down his/her spine. Then you remember that you want to settle down and raise your kids in a small and healthy community. So you’re willing to do whatever it takes, including taking a smaller salary, for the sake of enjoying the benefits of a small and quiet community. It would thus be wise for you to kindly decline the salary history request and instead compensate that void with milestones you achieved in your prior work experience which saw a trend in larger rewards from multinational companies. That will definitely help your prospective employer come up with a realistic figure according to the economic situation on the ground. Otherwise, your impressive salary history will trigger a rash conclusion that your services are unaffordable.

#3 Showcase your salary history threshold in the risk of underpayment

Not all companies have the best interests of their employees in mind and there are times we come across companies that literary slave their employees with meagre salaries. However, there are times when such companies will express interest in your skills and would like to employ you with a negotiable salary offer. Since the company is used to playing hard ball when it comes to awarding salary, you’ve also got to be firm yet courteous about your salary expectations. Indeed, a salary history will be the best warning sign for the company to avoid ’insulting’ you with ridiculously small salary proposals in comparison. If the new recruiting company has not requested your salary history and yet you’re aware of the underpayment tendencies within the company’s quarters, then it would do no harm to slip in a few copies of your salary history to keep the company in check when salary negotiations commence.

#4 Cease sharing salary history with prospective companies that won’t employ you 

Before you’re quick to respond to any salary history request, you should first assess the job itself and weigh it against potential candidates that you’re competing with. Reason being that in case you don’t get the job, you’ll have given the company a bargaining chip as an added advantage in case you’re called again in future for an interview regarding a certain job vacancy. Chances of being paid less are magnified. On the other hand, if the company gets intimidated by your salary history, then you can be assured that a big ’X’ will be put on your CV and you’ll never clinch a job in that company.

#5 Submit income statement copies as proof to doubting companies

As I said earlier, the possibilities of being underestimated by military minded companies is high and in fact, some companies don’t simply believe in the history indicated on the curriculum vitae. There are also companies that assess factors such as your credit risk score, tax payment record, student loan repayment and so forth. This is particularly important if your job will involve handling of the company’s finances and/or valuable assets. It’s therefore important to prepare yourself with contingency measures during salary negotiations, one of them being copies of income statements from previous jobs as proof of financial discipline and salary worth.

#6 Inquire into the motives behind the request

There are numerous complaints today regarding companies sending skilled curriculum vitae’s to other recruiting companies at a ’small’ fee. This trick is used by rogue companies that want to benefit from the hustle of advertising and interview costs. There are also companies that want to decide a salary beforehand, especially if they’re looking for the cheapest candidate available and you might ironically be called for such job placements ’from nowhere’. It’s therefore necessary to inquire about the company’s confidentiality clause and give a copy to your lawyer should you feel exploited. That way, the company will be mindful and you’ll sue them in case such information falls into the wrong hands.

#7 Include prior financial perks and compensation benefits

It is also important to indicate any financial perks and compensative benefits which you’ve earned, if you’re bargaining with a company that doesn’t offer any. This will help the company decide on the rate at which compensative benefits will be paid depending on their scope of work parameters and other related costs. There’s also the issue of family benefits that one is entitled to, especially if your salary can’t single-handedly deal with household costs. However, if you have no clue as to how one should handle negotiations regarding perks and compensative benefits, then it would be wise to consult colleagues and acquaintances to get a better angle of how perks and compensative benefits work.

Unfortunately, many career newcomers have no salary history. In fact, most interns are given cash handouts to keep them going. It’s thus essential to have a good record of milestones and work experience you’ve achieved by compiling the relevant references and recommendation letters as proof of your career streak. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that there’s more to a successful careers than an impressive salary. Advantages such as better exposure, elevated skills and innovative challenges will take you further than any impressive salary could.

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