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Employers asking for job seekers Salary History

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Employers asking for job seekers Salary History

garym
I am currently employed by a company that probably pays its IT staff in the lower 20% of the normal IT salary range. After a number of years of not getting ahead, I am looking for a move to get ahead.

However, one thing I find is that many of the Hiring managers out there are always asking for your Salary history and it is even on their application forms.

In one interview I went on the interviewer asked me out right why I was looking for a 20% increase.

In my opinion, my salary history has no bearing on the job hiring/salary negotiation process and that one should be paid according to your skills and what you bring to the table and what the job market dictates is the current salary range for the position you are being hired for.

My questions to you all are... Is it appropriate and alright to decline to share one's salary history with a prospective employer? If so, how can you do it without creating an unnecessary issue out of it?

BroncoManiac
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    Tony Hopkinson

    I tell them what I'm looking for.

    I aren't trying to get them to give me a job, they are trying to get me to do one.

    This attitude sometimes upsets them, but it saves a lot of time, not talking to people who can't afford me.

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    chris_abiodun

    I like that attitude. me thinks I'll borrow a leaf from this aproach.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    advise it early on in a career.

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    Yep

    marketingtutor.

    Perfect reply Tony. Couldn't have said it better. That's why I'm self employed. I don't need to have someone tell me what my earning limit is. I have skills and experience, and if someone wants it, its $70 per hour. Take it or leave it.

    If you're good, and you set a reasonable price, people do exactly that. They take it or leave it. People are like that. You get the bargain hunters, and then you get the value hunters. I look for the latter. I could charge $80 per hour for my services and still have plenty of business to keep me busy. Wisdom sells at a premium.

    People will pay a lowly mechanic $55 per hour to fix their car. How much more should they pay to someone who will give them what they need to earn enough to buy two cars and a house?

    You set the price to what you feel your talent is worth to a propective client/employer. You'll soon find out if its proportional to your skills.

    They ask you for salary history so that they can pay you as little as they have to when hiring. When they ask you about it, you can honestly hold your ground and let them know that you don't share that information. They can pay you what they would expect to pay someone for the work your going to do for them.

    Asking salary history is like a car salesman not telling you the price of the car until you tell him how much you make per year, and how much cash you have in your wallet. Its a terribly inappropriate question that helps them get around paying someone what they're worth.

    Wes

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    fredbrillo

    That kind of information is quite personal and private.

    Thats why the new question on this subject is something like "what are your salary requirements?" rather than "how much are you making now or in previous positions". Thats really none of their damn business. I always ask the interviewer to share their salary information with me....or in a more professional tone, ask what the salary budget is for the position.

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    jneilson

    What does it matter to them what your making, you have an amount you want/need to earn, they have an amount their willing to pay. It's really funny to me that an interviewer would ask you why you want to make 20% more.

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    marketingtutor.

    Yes, I agree. Its odd and even wrong for him to ask you that. A reasonable question may be something to the effect of "Why do you believe you deserve 20% more?"

    Though I must say I am against the whole salary history request thing in the first place.

    Wes

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    jneilson

    But I always state my required salary when inquiring about a job. My current position listed the salary in the ad, which is my usual criteria for submitting a resume. My boss isn't interested in what I had been earning either.

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    TheChas

    Years ago, I was in a hiring position.

    Even back then, it was common to get a couple hundred responses when we ran a help wanted ad.

    The company I worked for knew they were paying on the low side of the market. In order to reduce the amount of resumes we had to look through, 2 types went into the trash right away:

    Those who were already making more than we could pay them.

    Those who did not include a salary history or wage expectation.

    Why waste the time of the company or the applicant if there was no way you would even be able to pay someone what they are making in their present job?

    Most of the companies I have worked for have had strict wage structures. It was NEVER an option to pay someone more than the top of the salary range for the position. NEVER!

    Likewise, these same companies had very little money available for "merit" increases. If we could not give an applicant a decent raise to come to work for us. We knew they would leave after a couple of years with no significant merit increase.

    Yes, there are risks in letting a prospective new employer know your wage history in advance. Still, I am more than willing to take those risks as I have seen far too many resumes go in the trash for not including salary history when it was specifically requested.

    Chas

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    JamesRL

    Four years ago, I was laid off from a nice management position with great salary. I had been there through the .com boom and that was reflected in my salary.

    I had also done some contract work at a pretty decent rate.

    Then I applied for this job, at a much lower salary and position level. I wanted a full time position and some stability, and I was willing to trade off some income to get it.

    As part of the interview process I had to fill in a form, and it asked for the salary history. It also said in no uncertain terms that they would not consider an incomplete application.

    I had two good interviews, and then a third. At the third, the hiring director was honest with me about her concerns that I would not stay once the economy picked up. I must have successfully convinced her that I liked the opportunity the company and the stability it offered. She came back with an offer for a position level higher than the job was posted at, and I've received a promotion 2 years later.

    I've also asked candidates directly about the salary expectations because I know we are about a 50% percentile payer, and there isn't much point in beating around the bush about it.

    James

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    shraven

    In response to your concerns bythe company about paying low and needing to cull resumes, the answer is simple. If the company has something in mind, what's to prevent them from stating it? No, seriously? In your case the company has a limitation they knew was below par. Why should the onus be on the potential employee to demonstrate they're willing to work for low wages? Shouldn't the applicant be allowed to determine if they are willing to take a pay cut for whatever reasons they might have?
    Such a shortsighted, narrow-minded approach as your company took serves only to cull potentially excellent candidates and ensure that your stay at the bottom of the pool talent wise.

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    sschafir

    Go read any salary negotiation book. It will tell you that unless you really need a job then it is never good to put down a salary history and state that it is negotiable. Putting in negotiable is not an incomplete application and it doesn't give up your negotiation position. The reasons you state are absolutely why companies want you to state your salary history. They want to get the talent for the cheapest they can. Nothing wrong with that but my job as a potential employee is to get the most money I can. That is the game and the first one to state a number is the loser. I would rather be ruled out and not work for a company that doesn't appreciate its employees or potential employees than to work for a company that isn't going to give merit increases and leave the only way open is to get a promotion to get more money. We all know these companies also have very little opportunity for advancement. So in the end, they will have high turnover anyway.

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    GSG

    I worked for a corporate head hunter. When the applicants put this information in their resume or letters, we always edited the information to read something along the lines as "Appropriate for position, experience, and local market." You never leave anything blank on an application. Fill it with something. Also, it's not appropriate as the employer to automatically reject someone who made more in the previous job. For example, where I live a house that costs $100,000 would cost $800,000 in certain markets in the east or on the west coast. If someone is coming from that market, with it's higher cost of living, they could take a 50% pay cut in my area and be much better off. If the employer insists on knowing the exact number, I stand up, shake the interviewer's hand, and thank them for the interview, but that I don't think that their company meets my requirements. Remember, the interview is not just for them to decide if they want you, it's also for you to decide if you really want them.

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    dockeryj

    So, if I don't put a salary history on an application or resume, then I will be turned down by the companies who want to pay me a fraction of what I am worth? Hmmm, what was your point?

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    TheChas

    You are correct. You likely would not be happy working for many companies that request and require salary history as part of the application process.

    By the same token, why should I waste both of our time interviewing someone that I
    a. can't afford to pay what their worth?
    b. see no near term opportunities for them to advance within the company?
    c. can't even give them an increase over what they are making now?

    Further, why should I ask my company to invest training and transition costs on a new employee who is not apt to be happy with the compensation package or wage growth?

    Don't get me wrong. I don't fully agree with, or like the system as it is.

    Most of the companies I have worked for have had strictly defined compensation ranges for each position.

    The specific company that I was in a hiring position for used a complex formula to calculate the pay range. The goal being to pay equally for education and experience level throughout the company.

    Only when a critical position was vacant for more than 6 months, was there even the option of making adjustments for the job market. Even then, corporate approval was required.

    As a side thought, providing salary history may not get you the job at a company that pays on the low end. However, it might help them realize how low their pay is, and help out the guys working there and the next set of applicants.

    Chas

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    caverdog

    I fully agree with your companies hiring practice of throwing out resumes that you can't afford, and as you are in the lower end of the salary bracket, that would include employees who wanted to make industry average. When I have worked for companies that have tried artificial methods to maintain employees (methods other than competitiver wages), they have always been miserable places to work with many disfunctional workers. The writer of the original post seemed that he would not have been happy working for you (as he wanted his salary to increase), and if he can find a job where that will happen you will both be happier that he did not post his salary history. One of the only issues I can see is when HR and the technical managers don't see eye to eye. HR throws away resumes and the technical manager really wants the best engineers. As long as your practices match your station in the industry, everything should work out to everyones benefit.

    Caverdog, CISSP, MCSE, CCSA (not cheap)
    I do earn at the upper end of my field, though I don't have a h.s. diploma or degree (I'm 37 years old, so it doesn't matter so much anymore). I've had several jobs in the D.C. area and I can tell quite a difference in mindset and accomplishment (especially effort level) between those who treat this as a career with advancement and those who find a niche to hide in. I've also seen places run by highly paid/highly trained professionals. I have much more fun in those places.

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    bchirgwin

    When asked politely ask.
    Do I have the position? Are we in salary negociations?

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    Zen37

    I asked my sister once about that exact question, she is a Human Resources Manager for a big company.

    She told me they use the salary history to set the potential salary they can offer a potential candidate. Since i was working, like you, for an employer that did not pay very well, i asked her what i should do when ask that question. She told me to simply say that i respecfully decline to answer the question, but i my salary expectations for the position is such and such.

    I used it once on an employer, he accepted my answer and they hired me with a salary increase of 40%. They did not know what i made before and they don't need to. Just be honest and polite. Tell you what, if they insist on the question or wanting to know why you won't answer, maybe you should start asking yourself if you should even work for someone like that.

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    jenny.mealing

    I totally agree. I have been in the same position and all I disclosed was what I expected to be paid for the role. I doubled my wages (I was severely underpaid before however.)

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    JamesRL

    You also have to acknowledge the risk.

    Some interviewers would see the failure to answer the question as evasive.

    Much depends of course on how you phrase it. And much depends on how the interviewer perceives it.

    At my company, if you don't disclose salary on the form that you fill out, you will not be considered. Personally, I don't like it.

    James

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    Bill_Vargas

    JamesRL,

    You're right, there are risks. The potential employee runs the risk of not getting the job and the potential employer runs the risk of not getting qualified workers.

    I suspect your company is missing out on a lot of qualified people. I have been in IT for quite a while and I know a lot of IT geeks. We talk about this kind of stuff all of the time (in between the heated discussions about what programming language is best and other topics of interest to techies). The vast majority of the everyday geeks I know say that they never reveal their salary history. This is especially true for the people that I personally judge to be most qualified. I guess they could be lying. But I suspect that most of them are not.

    I have interviewed with a lot of different companies and have worked for some of the best (e.g., IBM and GE). I never reveal my salary history. If asked, I respond by asking them what they feel the job is worth and whether they feel I am qualified for the job. That generally works to continue the interview process successfully.

    If they persist I indicate that I will be happy to share my salary history with them if they will share their salary history with me and they can go first. That has happened just a few times and, as you would expect, it pretty well ends the interview. You know, I've never met an interviewer or hiring manager who was willing to share his/her salary history with me. Imagine that! (It should give them a clue.)

    Since I have been able to get hired into interesting jobs at competitive wages thus far in my career, I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything by my reluctance to reveal the details of my personal finances (emphasis on personal) to a potential employer.

    I guess if the economic situation got dire enough I might change my view on this in order to get a job. We all got to eat. But with the unemployment rate at 4.6 percent, we're not there yet.

    I encourage you to suggest to your HR people that discarding the resumes of people who don't reveal their salary history is counter-productive to the goal of hiring the best qualified people to work for your company. You should talk money with someone after determining whether they can do the job and will fit into the organization.

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    JamesRL

    The policies on this are not made by my Local office (Canadian region) or by my business unit/division, they are made by corporate head office, and frankly I have no impact.

    When I took the job, unemployment in Toronto in IT was pretty high. Its changed now, but at the time, with a wife who couldn't work, and my savings drying up, I didn't really have much of a choice.

    I've been in IT quite a while too, over twenty years, and I know quite a few geeks too.

    This was the first time I've seen it in my career.

    James

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    home.matt.ellis

    I had an phone interview w/Google and was asked the same thing. I politely declined to give them that information. I also asked what the salary range for the position was, and they would not give me a definitive answer. My hunch is that is a new trend in HR hiring practices because these types of things were never done before, in my experience.

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    marketingtutor.

    The analogy I have used in the past is like going to a car dealership and them not telling you the price until you show them a tax return, and a bank statement.

    It isn't a new trend, but basically its just one of many vectors potential employers use to pay as little as they have to for a position. To me, it also shows that the company practicing this screening method is not in control of its own processes, or it is intentionally engaging in predatory hiring techniques.

    Salary history should not be a factor in determining qualification for a position, nor in determining their willingness to hire a particular applicant.

    Wes

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    JamesRL

    When I hire, I've already had the job graded. I know what the max and the min salaries are. My target is often the 25% percentile of the range. That way I have room for healthy increases if they are merited. If I hire you at the max, I can't pay you as a big an increase, and that is often a demotivator.Still I look at context - I might make an exception for an expcetional person (knowing that means a fight with HR).

    The salary question, and I hate asking, but its part of our process, is to see if it would be in the range. Its not so much as to pay them below the range - but to see if our range is reasonable for the candidate.

    Have I told a candidate that we can't afford him - yes I have. If they made 80 and I can pay 60, they may say they would be happy with 60, but I might have my doubts. I would have to follow up with some more questions on that one.

    But ironically thats similar to what happened to me when I arrived here. Basically if I say to a candidate that our salary range is lower than his last salary, he/she should convince me why they want to be here - thats what I did (I wanted to get back into a software company, and I liked the vertical market)

    Have a screwed an candidate/employee because they were previously underpaid? No I have not. I paid someone about a 40% increase in their previous pay because it was the right thing to do. They were clearly working below their potential in their last job.

    By the way, I am not a nickle and dime kind of boss, and while my company doesn't pay the best, I do try to ensure to the best of my ability that people are paid fairly. I do that because employee satisfaction is important, and employee satisfaction impacts customer satisfaction, which impacts the bottom line.

    If you cronically underpay, you get a higher turnover, and you spend too much time and effort in recruiting and training. I'm not interested in a company that short sighted, and I suggest you don't want to either.

    James

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    JFPSF

    I can understand asking for the applicant's current salary. It gives the hiring firm valuable information, and allows them to taylor the offer. What I can't understand is some firm's insistence on knowing the entire salary history of an applicant. Knowing what the applicaant made two jobs ago has no practical application.

    Overall, I think this practice of asking for salary history really spread during the downturn in IT after the dot.com crash. At that time, those doing the hiring had all the leverage, and having the past salary information allowed you to give the minimum offer you could get away with.

    In a hot market like today's, the market sets the wage you will have to pay, and past, or current, salary is not that helpful.

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    Why Me Worry?

    You all see where this is going I hope.

    --Edited for restraint against using profanity at stupid employers--

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    mjd420nova

    I mean my credit history is important to me, but what does a prospective employer need it for?? My credit may be lousy because I'm unemployed, that's why I'm applying for the job, I need the income.

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    JFPSF

    In IT, security is one reason they do it. The feeling is that if you have bad money troubles, then you are more likely to be dishonest. And in a lot of IT jobs, you have acess to confidential information. Some companies also feel that if you can't manage your own money, then you are probably not going to be good at managing a job.

    I think the main reason they do it, is because they can, and everyone hiring likes more information. That's why they google you also.

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    TonytheTiger

    if someone used stolen money to keep their bills paid up....

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    marketingtutor.

    Yeah, makes it easy for the John Smiths to hide their history :-) (133,000,000 results)

    But what about those like Laqisha Thompson. Only 14 results there, one of which is a MySpace page. Oooh lotsa info... Damn google!

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    jneilson

    I haven't had a credit card in 15 years, I pay cash for everything and the only loan I have is for my house.

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    larrybell_2000

    They check the Credit history because the thought is that if you are behind on credit payments, you might be tempted to steal from the company to pay the creditors.

    It was either me or my wife that had the credit check done on them prior to employment, and I think it must have been my wife that found out that was the reason.

    It is like when you go to rent an apartment or apply for mortgage. They usually will run credit check on you to see your ability to pay rent on time or at all. An employer wouldn't want to hire someone who might be tempted to steal from them.

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    briaf

    When asked about your salary, ask the interviewer if they are tendering an offer. When asked what you are looking, know your answer; give them the upper end of the range you seek, and clearly pitch your qualifications in the resume the interviewer has in front of them. Clearly you don't want to waste valuable time; get to the heart of the matter since they brought it up. Let the interviewer know that you will consider/negotiate a serious offer; but do not give a definate on the spot or in an intial interview.

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    garyq

    My answer to this question is always a confidently stated $5000 less than what I am hoping to be offered for the position I am interviewing for.

    I wouldn't be looking for a new job if I was happy with the current $$, and I am not going to sell myself short.

    My last job was a retail position paying $32k. I have no intention of telling anyone that! I told them I was on a base of $40k + $15k commission - because I wanted to be offered $60 - $65k for the job I am now in.

    The upshot is they saw that they would need to table a decent offer to tempt me, and since they obviously saw me as a good fit, they accepted my request for a $38 p/h contract - more than doubling my _previous_ (embarassingly low) salary - everyone happy.

    GaryQ

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    thelegman7

    garyq@...
    Are you not worried about them calling your present employer to verify the salary you gave them.

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    garyq

    Frankly, no - the same way I wouldnt expect any interviewer to insist on a reference from my current employer - talk about tipping your current job off to the fact that you're looking to jump ship!

    What hasnt really been highlighted in this discussion is that the job selection process is a two way street. If you're unemployed, you might take whatever is offered - but if you have a stable job that just isnt fulfilling (career or remuneration-wise) you dont have to turn up to an interview cap-in-hand.

    There have been several occasions in the past where I have gone through an interview process, been offered a job, and then declined the offer for one reason or another. 'Look, let me stop you there - I don't want to waste your time when it is apparent that your job / offer / skill requirement etc isnt going to be a good fit for me...'

    What we should be asking ourselves is - what will make me get out of bed for these people?

    The only question relevant to an interviwer is 'what will it take to persuade you to accept this position'.

    If a company can fill their vacancy by putting a 'Help Wanted' sign in the local supermarket, then my skill set and salary expectations are competing with people who will work for half what I think I am worth.

    Has anyone read The Grapes of Wrath?

    If you have to _hunt_ for me - via an agency or resume selection process, then I am worth something. I tell you what I want to be paid, you decide if you can afford that. We negotiate around that figure, not what I was being paid last week.


    GaryQ

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    Dr Dij

    will only accept verification of employment by phone. to request salary history usually requires a written letter, many wouldn't bother with.

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    Womble

    Employers by law are restricted in the information they are able to provide to others. As you will not tell someone details like this, why should your employer. If they have not correctly identified that person, and guaranteed that the information will be held in confidence, they would be putting themselves at risk of litigation if they did tell and it was not a legitimate request.
    In addition, this sort of information relies on a good relationship with your employer who is happy for you to pursue your career outside his organisation - how many people you know who would do this!
    The most that I see employers willing to provide is a written statement of service and overall performance, with contact details for further information - never salary!

    It is up to you to provide the information you wish them to have - you can decline to provide

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    ljkinder

    Hi folks. Did you know that prospective employers can't ask a former/current employer for this information? Sometimes, it is a way to confirm credibility. For example, if you say you are a director, IT and don't make [n] dollars, the hiring employer may wonder why. I always take a check stub with me on interviews; and show it to the interviewer. Gets me to the next level of interview every single time. Admittedly, sometimes I am deemed over or under qualified based on salary alone. It's business. Look at it this way: if your salary is low, they can give you 20%. If it is too high, they may not be able to. What is more important is steady work history, contributions, attitudes, achievements.

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    sschafir

    I would not ever show an employer a check stub or a W-2. You have now taken the negotiation out of the deal. Let's say they are in your range. Wouldn't it be in your best interest to get the most in that range you could? If you show them any of that personal financial information then how could you possibly negotiate for more money. If what you are earning now is lower than there low range they may suspect you are not worth that much and pass on you as well. Although showing a pay stub may get you to the next level it more than likely will get you eliminated and also will remove all room for negotiation.

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    drowningnotwaving

    Always ask for the names and phone numbers of three current employees with whom you can discuss the realities of working for the company. If they are not comfortable in setting this up in some way (perhaps meeting the current employees in the cafeteria) then walk.

    Ask them to prove how many employees actually get paid their full bonus. Or is the bonus statistically curved so that, no matter what you do, only one in fifty will actually get the big bikkies (just ask a Microsoft employee that one!).

    Ask how many actually overacheive and get paid MORE than their bonus?

    Ask them to prove the growth in salary for people in your desired job over the last three years.

    Ask them to prove the investment in training and education on a dollar or days/year basis for people in your desired job / area. Is there a minimum target for each team member?

    Ask if the management are aligned to the same plan and objectives as their team. Is there a scenario whereby management can make a bonus when their staff have 'just missed out'? For example: by not paying performance bonuses to staff, can the manager meet their expense target and get paid a bonus???

    Even simpler - do they disclose (on a percentage basis) the performance and acheivement of the management team?

    (A good plan is where the manager is paid a weighted average bonus based solely upon the bonuses paid to her team. There is always someone in the finance group to oversee and make sure that the bonuses aren't being given out frivolously, and thus the manager performance is based only upon team performance. Just watch them make sure you get every single tool you need to do the job!)

    Ask what percentage of the current management team have been hired from within or brought in from outside? This will give you a real understanding of future prospects (if, of course, the dreaded M-word is on your list of possible career objectives).

    Ask has the company reviewed the latest trend in outsourcing HR tasks to cheap Paraguayan labour and how does the HR executive feel about possibly moving to the rainforests to stay part of the team? Okay maybe don't ask this one.

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    mdhealy

    The ironclad rule is, whoever first says a dollar amount loses. So unless you think you really want to work for them no matter what amount they offer, try very very very very hard to postpone discussing money for as long as you can. But some employers do insist, in which case you have a tough decision.

    One thing NEVER to do, though, is lie. Never ever do that.

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    No!

    jmgarvin

    ****, after the .com crash I took a crappy sys admin job for 30k/year. Why a company wants to know what I made SIX YEARS AGO if beyond me.

    Oh and for those that are doing the hiring, you want my talent. I may be a jackass sometimes, but I'm a big boy and I'll admit when I wrong. ****, I'll even say "I don't know!" GOD FORBID an employee doesn't KNOW something off the top of their head...esp an IT drone!!

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    stress junkie

    I agree with your post but that's not why I replied. I wanted to say that I think very highly of people who will say that they don't know something. It amazes me how many people will tell a blatant lie before they admit that they don't know the answer to a question.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    I tell them what I'm looking for.

    I aren't trying to get them to give me a job, they are trying to get me to do one.

    This attitude sometimes upsets them, but it saves a lot of time, not talking to people who can't afford me.

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    chris_abiodun

    I like that attitude. me thinks I'll borrow a leaf from this aproach.

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    Tony Hopkinson

    advise it early on in a career.

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    Yep

    marketingtutor.

    Perfect reply Tony. Couldn't have said it better. That's why I'm self employed. I don't need to have someone tell me what my earning limit is. I have skills and experience, and if someone wants it, its $70 per hour. Take it or leave it.

    If you're good, and you set a reasonable price, people do exactly that. They take it or leave it. People are like that. You get the bargain hunters, and then you get the value hunters. I look for the latter. I could charge $80 per hour for my services and still have plenty of business to keep me busy. Wisdom sells at a premium.

    People will pay a lowly mechanic $55 per hour to fix their car. How much more should they pay to someone who will give them what they need to earn enough to buy two cars and a house?

    You set the price to what you feel your talent is worth to a propective client/employer. You'll soon find out if its proportional to your skills.

    They ask you for salary history so that they can pay you as little as they have to when hiring. When they ask you about it, you can honestly hold your ground and let them know that you don't share that information. They can pay you what they would expect to pay someone for the work your going to do for them.

    Asking salary history is like a car salesman not telling you the price of the car until you tell him how much you make per year, and how much cash you have in your wallet. Its a terribly inappropriate question that helps them get around paying someone what they're worth.

    Wes

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    fredbrillo

    That kind of information is quite personal and private.

    Thats why the new question on this subject is something like "what are your salary requirements?" rather than "how much are you making now or in previous positions". Thats really none of their damn business. I always ask the interviewer to share their salary information with me....or in a more professional tone, ask what the salary budget is for the position.

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    jneilson

    What does it matter to them what your making, you have an amount you want/need to earn, they have an amount their willing to pay. It's really funny to me that an interviewer would ask you why you want to make 20% more.

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    marketingtutor.

    Yes, I agree. Its odd and even wrong for him to ask you that. A reasonable question may be something to the effect of "Why do you believe you deserve 20% more?"

    Though I must say I am against the whole salary history request thing in the first place.

    Wes

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    jneilson

    But I always state my required salary when inquiring about a job. My current position listed the salary in the ad, which is my usual criteria for submitting a resume. My boss isn't interested in what I had been earning either.

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    TheChas

    Years ago, I was in a hiring position.

    Even back then, it was common to get a couple hundred responses when we ran a help wanted ad.

    The company I worked for knew they were paying on the low side of the market. In order to reduce the amount of resumes we had to look through, 2 types went into the trash right away:

    Those who were already making more than we could pay them.

    Those who did not include a salary history or wage expectation.

    Why waste the time of the company or the applicant if there was no way you would even be able to pay someone what they are making in their present job?

    Most of the companies I have worked for have had strict wage structures. It was NEVER an option to pay someone more than the top of the salary range for the position. NEVER!

    Likewise, these same companies had very little money available for "merit" increases. If we could not give an applicant a decent raise to come to work for us. We knew they would leave after a couple of years with no significant merit increase.

    Yes, there are risks in letting a prospective new employer know your wage history in advance. Still, I am more than willing to take those risks as I have seen far too many resumes go in the trash for not including salary history when it was specifically requested.

    Chas

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    JamesRL

    Four years ago, I was laid off from a nice management position with great salary. I had been there through the .com boom and that was reflected in my salary.

    I had also done some contract work at a pretty decent rate.

    Then I applied for this job, at a much lower salary and position level. I wanted a full time position and some stability, and I was willing to trade off some income to get it.

    As part of the interview process I had to fill in a form, and it asked for the salary history. It also said in no uncertain terms that they would not consider an incomplete application.

    I had two good interviews, and then a third. At the third, the hiring director was honest with me about her concerns that I would not stay once the economy picked up. I must have successfully convinced her that I liked the opportunity the company and the stability it offered. She came back with an offer for a position level higher than the job was posted at, and I've received a promotion 2 years later.

    I've also asked candidates directly about the salary expectations because I know we are about a 50% percentile payer, and there isn't much point in beating around the bush about it.

    James

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    shraven

    In response to your concerns bythe company about paying low and needing to cull resumes, the answer is simple. If the company has something in mind, what's to prevent them from stating it? No, seriously? In your case the company has a limitation they knew was below par. Why should the onus be on the potential employee to demonstrate they're willing to work for low wages? Shouldn't the applicant be allowed to determine if they are willing to take a pay cut for whatever reasons they might have?
    Such a shortsighted, narrow-minded approach as your company took serves only to cull potentially excellent candidates and ensure that your stay at the bottom of the pool talent wise.

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    sschafir

    Go read any salary negotiation book. It will tell you that unless you really need a job then it is never good to put down a salary history and state that it is negotiable. Putting in negotiable is not an incomplete application and it doesn't give up your negotiation position. The reasons you state are absolutely why companies want you to state your salary history. They want to get the talent for the cheapest they can. Nothing wrong with that but my job as a potential employee is to get the most money I can. That is the game and the first one to state a number is the loser. I would rather be ruled out and not work for a company that doesn't appreciate its employees or potential employees than to work for a company that isn't going to give merit increases and leave the only way open is to get a promotion to get more money. We all know these companies also have very little opportunity for advancement. So in the end, they will have high turnover anyway.

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    GSG

    I worked for a corporate head hunter. When the applicants put this information in their resume or letters, we always edited the information to read something along the lines as "Appropriate for position, experience, and local market." You never leave anything blank on an application. Fill it with something. Also, it's not appropriate as the employer to automatically reject someone who made more in the previous job. For example, where I live a house that costs $100,000 would cost $800,000 in certain markets in the east or on the west coast. If someone is coming from that market, with it's higher cost of living, they could take a 50% pay cut in my area and be much better off. If the employer insists on knowing the exact number, I stand up, shake the interviewer's hand, and thank them for the interview, but that I don't think that their company meets my requirements. Remember, the interview is not just for them to decide if they want you, it's also for you to decide if you really want them.

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    dockeryj

    So, if I don't put a salary history on an application or resume, then I will be turned down by the companies who want to pay me a fraction of what I am worth? Hmmm, what was your point?

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    TheChas

    You are correct. You likely would not be happy working for many companies that request and require salary history as part of the application process.

    By the same token, why should I waste both of our time interviewing someone that I
    a. can't afford to pay what their worth?
    b. see no near term opportunities for them to advance within the company?
    c. can't even give them an increase over what they are making now?

    Further, why should I ask my company to invest training and transition costs on a new employee who is not apt to be happy with the compensation package or wage growth?

    Don't get me wrong. I don't fully agree with, or like the system as it is.

    Most of the companies I have worked for have had strictly defined compensation ranges for each position.

    The specific company that I was in a hiring position for used a complex formula to calculate the pay range. The goal being to pay equally for education and experience level throughout the company.

    Only when a critical position was vacant for more than 6 months, was there even the option of making adjustments for the job market. Even then, corporate approval was required.

    As a side thought, providing salary history may not get you the job at a company that pays on the low end. However, it might help them realize how low their pay is, and help out the guys working there and the next set of applicants.

    Chas

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    caverdog

    I fully agree with your companies hiring practice of throwing out resumes that you can't afford, and as you are in the lower end of the salary bracket, that would include employees who wanted to make industry average. When I have worked for companies that have tried artificial methods to maintain employees (methods other than competitiver wages), they have always been miserable places to work with many disfunctional workers. The writer of the original post seemed that he would not have been happy working for you (as he wanted his salary to increase), and if he can find a job where that will happen you will both be happier that he did not post his salary history. One of the only issues I can see is when HR and the technical managers don't see eye to eye. HR throws away resumes and the technical manager really wants the best engineers. As long as your practices match your station in the industry, everything should work out to everyones benefit.

    Caverdog, CISSP, MCSE, CCSA (not cheap)
    I do earn at the upper end of my field, though I don't have a h.s. diploma or degree (I'm 37 years old, so it doesn't matter so much anymore). I've had several jobs in the D.C. area and I can tell quite a difference in mindset and accomplishment (especially effort level) between those who treat this as a career with advancement and those who find a niche to hide in. I've also seen places run by highly paid/highly trained professionals. I have much more fun in those places.

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    bchirgwin

    When asked politely ask.
    Do I have the position? Are we in salary negociations?

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    Zen37

    I asked my sister once about that exact question, she is a Human Resources Manager for a big company.

    She told me they use the salary history to set the potential salary they can offer a potential candidate. Since i was working, like you, for an employer that did not pay very well, i asked her what i should do when ask that question. She told me to simply say that i respecfully decline to answer the question, but i my salary expectations for the position is such and such.

    I used it once on an employer, he accepted my answer and they hired me with a salary increase of 40%. They did not know what i made before and they don't need to. Just be honest and polite. Tell you what, if they insist on the question or wanting to know why you won't answer, maybe you should start asking yourself if you should even work for someone like that.

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    jenny.mealing

    I totally agree. I have been in the same position and all I disclosed was what I expected to be paid for the role. I doubled my wages (I was severely underpaid before however.)

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    JamesRL

    You also have to acknowledge the risk.

    Some interviewers would see the failure to answer the question as evasive.

    Much depends of course on how you phrase it. And much depends on how the interviewer perceives it.

    At my company, if you don't disclose salary on the form that you fill out, you will not be considered. Personally, I don't like it.

    James

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    Bill_Vargas

    JamesRL,

    You're right, there are risks. The potential employee runs the risk of not getting the job and the potential employer runs the risk of not getting qualified workers.

    I suspect your company is missing out on a lot of qualified people. I have been in IT for quite a while and I know a lot of IT geeks. We talk about this kind of stuff all of the time (in between the heated discussions about what programming language is best and other topics of interest to techies). The vast majority of the everyday geeks I know say that they never reveal their salary history. This is especially true for the people that I personally judge to be most qualified. I guess they could be lying. But I suspect that most of them are not.

    I have interviewed with a lot of different companies and have worked for some of the best (e.g., IBM and GE). I never reveal my salary history. If asked, I respond by asking them what they feel the job is worth and whether they feel I am qualified for the job. That generally works to continue the interview process successfully.

    If they persist I indicate that I will be happy to share my salary history with them if they will share their salary history with me and they can go first. That has happened just a few times and, as you would expect, it pretty well ends the interview. You know, I've never met an interviewer or hiring manager who was willing to share his/her salary history with me. Imagine that! (It should give them a clue.)

    Since I have been able to get hired into interesting jobs at competitive wages thus far in my career, I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything by my reluctance to reveal the details of my personal finances (emphasis on personal) to a potential employer.

    I guess if the economic situation got dire enough I might change my view on this in order to get a job. We all got to eat. But with the unemployment rate at 4.6 percent, we're not there yet.

    I encourage you to suggest to your HR people that discarding the resumes of people who don't reveal their salary history is counter-productive to the goal of hiring the best qualified people to work for your company. You should talk money with someone after determining whether they can do the job and will fit into the organization.

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    JamesRL

    The policies on this are not made by my Local office (Canadian region) or by my business unit/division, they are made by corporate head office, and frankly I have no impact.

    When I took the job, unemployment in Toronto in IT was pretty high. Its changed now, but at the time, with a wife who couldn't work, and my savings drying up, I didn't really have much of a choice.

    I've been in IT quite a while too, over twenty years, and I know quite a few geeks too.

    This was the first time I've seen it in my career.

    James

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    home.matt.ellis

    I had an phone interview w/Google and was asked the same thing. I politely declined to give them that information. I also asked what the salary range for the position was, and they would not give me a definitive answer. My hunch is that is a new trend in HR hiring practices because these types of things were never done before, in my experience.

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    marketingtutor.

    The analogy I have used in the past is like going to a car dealership and them not telling you the price until you show them a tax return, and a bank statement.

    It isn't a new trend, but basically its just one of many vectors potential employers use to pay as little as they have to for a position. To me, it also shows that the company practicing this screening method is not in control of its own processes, or it is intentionally engaging in predatory hiring techniques.

    Salary history should not be a factor in determining qualification for a position, nor in determining their willingness to hire a particular applicant.

    Wes

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    JamesRL

    When I hire, I've already had the job graded. I know what the max and the min salaries are. My target is often the 25% percentile of the range. That way I have room for healthy increases if they are merited. If I hire you at the max, I can't pay you as a big an increase, and that is often a demotivator.Still I look at context - I might make an exception for an expcetional person (knowing that means a fight with HR).

    The salary question, and I hate asking, but its part of our process, is to see if it would be in the range. Its not so much as to pay them below the range - but to see if our range is reasonable for the candidate.

    Have I told a candidate that we can't afford him - yes I have. If they made 80 and I can pay 60, they may say they would be happy with 60, but I might have my doubts. I would have to follow up with some more questions on that one.

    But ironically thats similar to what happened to me when I arrived here. Basically if I say to a candidate that our salary range is lower than his last salary, he/she should convince me why they want to be here - thats what I did (I wanted to get back into a software company, and I liked the vertical market)

    Have a screwed an candidate/employee because they were previously underpaid? No I have not. I paid someone about a 40% increase in their previous pay because it was the right thing to do. They were clearly working below their potential in their last job.

    By the way, I am not a nickle and dime kind of boss, and while my company doesn't pay the best, I do try to ensure to the best of my ability that people are paid fairly. I do that because employee satisfaction is important, and employee satisfaction impacts customer satisfaction, which impacts the bottom line.

    If you cronically underpay, you get a higher turnover, and you spend too much time and effort in recruiting and training. I'm not interested in a company that short sighted, and I suggest you don't want to either.

    James

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    JFPSF

    I can understand asking for the applicant's current salary. It gives the hiring firm valuable information, and allows them to taylor the offer. What I can't understand is some firm's insistence on knowing the entire salary history of an applicant. Knowing what the applicaant made two jobs ago has no practical application.

    Overall, I think this practice of asking for salary history really spread during the downturn in IT after the dot.com crash. At that time, those doing the hiring had all the leverage, and having the past salary information allowed you to give the minimum offer you could get away with.

    In a hot market like today's, the market sets the wage you will have to pay, and past, or current, salary is not that helpful.

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    Why Me Worry?

    You all see where this is going I hope.

    --Edited for restraint against using profanity at stupid employers--

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    mjd420nova

    I mean my credit history is important to me, but what does a prospective employer need it for?? My credit may be lousy because I'm unemployed, that's why I'm applying for the job, I need the income.

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    JFPSF

    In IT, security is one reason they do it. The feeling is that if you have bad money troubles, then you are more likely to be dishonest. And in a lot of IT jobs, you have acess to confidential information. Some companies also feel that if you can't manage your own money, then you are probably not going to be good at managing a job.

    I think the main reason they do it, is because they can, and everyone hiring likes more information. That's why they google you also.

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    TonytheTiger

    if someone used stolen money to keep their bills paid up....

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    marketingtutor.

    Yeah, makes it easy for the John Smiths to hide their history :-) (133,000,000 results)

    But what about those like Laqisha Thompson. Only 14 results there, one of which is a MySpace page. Oooh lotsa info... Damn google!

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    jneilson

    I haven't had a credit card in 15 years, I pay cash for everything and the only loan I have is for my house.

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    larrybell_2000

    They check the Credit history because the thought is that if you are behind on credit payments, you might be tempted to steal from the company to pay the creditors.

    It was either me or my wife that had the credit check done on them prior to employment, and I think it must have been my wife that found out that was the reason.

    It is like when you go to rent an apartment or apply for mortgage. They usually will run credit check on you to see your ability to pay rent on time or at all. An employer wouldn't want to hire someone who might be tempted to steal from them.

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    briaf

    When asked about your salary, ask the interviewer if they are tendering an offer. When asked what you are looking, know your answer; give them the upper end of the range you seek, and clearly pitch your qualifications in the resume the interviewer has in front of them. Clearly you don't want to waste valuable time; get to the heart of the matter since they brought it up. Let the interviewer know that you will consider/negotiate a serious offer; but do not give a definate on the spot or in an intial interview.

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    garyq

    My answer to this question is always a confidently stated $5000 less than what I am hoping to be offered for the position I am interviewing for.

    I wouldn't be looking for a new job if I was happy with the current $$, and I am not going to sell myself short.

    My last job was a retail position paying $32k. I have no intention of telling anyone that! I told them I was on a base of $40k + $15k commission - because I wanted to be offered $60 - $65k for the job I am now in.

    The upshot is they saw that they would need to table a decent offer to tempt me, and since they obviously saw me as a good fit, they accepted my request for a $38 p/h contract - more than doubling my _previous_ (embarassingly low) salary - everyone happy.

    GaryQ

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    thelegman7

    garyq@...
    Are you not worried about them calling your present employer to verify the salary you gave them.

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    garyq

    Frankly, no - the same way I wouldnt expect any interviewer to insist on a reference from my current employer - talk about tipping your current job off to the fact that you're looking to jump ship!

    What hasnt really been highlighted in this discussion is that the job selection process is a two way street. If you're unemployed, you might take whatever is offered - but if you have a stable job that just isnt fulfilling (career or remuneration-wise) you dont have to turn up to an interview cap-in-hand.

    There have been several occasions in the past where I have gone through an interview process, been offered a job, and then declined the offer for one reason or another. 'Look, let me stop you there - I don't want to waste your time when it is apparent that your job / offer / skill requirement etc isnt going to be a good fit for me...'

    What we should be asking ourselves is - what will make me get out of bed for these people?

    The only question relevant to an interviwer is 'what will it take to persuade you to accept this position'.

    If a company can fill their vacancy by putting a 'Help Wanted' sign in the local supermarket, then my skill set and salary expectations are competing with people who will work for half what I think I am worth.

    Has anyone read The Grapes of Wrath?

    If you have to _hunt_ for me - via an agency or resume selection process, then I am worth something. I tell you what I want to be paid, you decide if you can afford that. We negotiate around that figure, not what I was being paid last week.


    GaryQ

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    Dr Dij

    will only accept verification of employment by phone. to request salary history usually requires a written letter, many wouldn't bother with.

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    Womble

    Employers by law are restricted in the information they are able to provide to others. As you will not tell someone details like this, why should your employer. If they have not correctly identified that person, and guaranteed that the information will be held in confidence, they would be putting themselves at risk of litigation if they did tell and it was not a legitimate request.
    In addition, this sort of information relies on a good relationship with your employer who is happy for you to pursue your career outside his organisation - how many people you know who would do this!
    The most that I see employers willing to provide is a written statement of service and overall performance, with contact details for further information - never salary!

    It is up to you to provide the information you wish them to have - you can decline to provide

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    ljkinder

    Hi folks. Did you know that prospective employers can't ask a former/current employer for this information? Sometimes, it is a way to confirm credibility. For example, if you say you are a director, IT and don't make [n] dollars, the hiring employer may wonder why. I always take a check stub with me on interviews; and show it to the interviewer. Gets me to the next level of interview every single time. Admittedly, sometimes I am deemed over or under qualified based on salary alone. It's business. Look at it this way: if your salary is low, they can give you 20%. If it is too high, they may not be able to. What is more important is steady work history, contributions, attitudes, achievements.

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    sschafir

    I would not ever show an employer a check stub or a W-2. You have now taken the negotiation out of the deal. Let's say they are in your range. Wouldn't it be in your best interest to get the most in that range you could? If you show them any of that personal financial information then how could you possibly negotiate for more money. If what you are earning now is lower than there low range they may suspect you are not worth that much and pass on you as well. Although showing a pay stub may get you to the next level it more than likely will get you eliminated and also will remove all room for negotiation.

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    drowningnotwaving

    Always ask for the names and phone numbers of three current employees with whom you can discuss the realities of working for the company. If they are not comfortable in setting this up in some way (perhaps meeting the current employees in the cafeteria) then walk.

    Ask them to prove how many employees actually get paid their full bonus. Or is the bonus statistically curved so that, no matter what you do, only one in fifty will actually get the big bikkies (just ask a Microsoft employee that one!).

    Ask how many actually overacheive and get paid MORE than their bonus?

    Ask them to prove the growth in salary for people in your desired job over the last three years.

    Ask them to prove the investment in training and education on a dollar or days/year basis for people in your desired job / area. Is there a minimum target for each team member?

    Ask if the management are aligned to the same plan and objectives as their team. Is there a scenario whereby management can make a bonus when their staff have 'just missed out'? For example: by not paying performance bonuses to staff, can the manager meet their expense target and get paid a bonus???

    Even simpler - do they disclose (on a percentage basis) the performance and acheivement of the management team?

    (A good plan is where the manager is paid a weighted average bonus based solely upon the bonuses paid to her team. There is always someone in the finance group to oversee and make sure that the bonuses aren't being given out frivolously, and thus the manager performance is based only upon team performance. Just watch them make sure you get every single tool you need to do the job!)

    Ask what percentage of the current management team have been hired from within or brought in from outside? This will give you a real understanding of future prospects (if, of course, the dreaded M-word is on your list of possible career objectives).

    Ask has the company reviewed the latest trend in outsourcing HR tasks to cheap Paraguayan labour and how does the HR executive feel about possibly moving to the rainforests to stay part of the team? Okay maybe don't ask this one.

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    mdhealy

    The ironclad rule is, whoever first says a dollar amount loses. So unless you think you really want to work for them no matter what amount they offer, try very very very very hard to postpone discussing money for as long as you can. But some employers do insist, in which case you have a tough decision.

    One thing NEVER to do, though, is lie. Never ever do that.

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    No!

    jmgarvin

    ****, after the .com crash I took a crappy sys admin job for 30k/year. Why a company wants to know what I made SIX YEARS AGO if beyond me.

    Oh and for those that are doing the hiring, you want my talent. I may be a jackass sometimes, but I'm a big boy and I'll admit when I wrong. ****, I'll even say "I don't know!" GOD FORBID an employee doesn't KNOW something off the top of their head...esp an IT drone!!

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    stress junkie

    I agree with your post but that's not why I replied. I wanted to say that I think very highly of people who will say that they don't know something. It amazes me how many people will tell a blatant lie before they admit that they don't know the answer to a question.