Sharing your salary history

Kaustov Kashyap writes about the importance of sharing salary history with prospective employers

When you are looking for a new job, you may be asked to provide details of your previous salary. Some employers ask for this information on the job application while others ask about salary during the interview process, before making an official job offer.  Regardless of when an employer asks for your salary history, it’s important that you are prepared to address the topic. When an employer asks you to share your salaries from previous roles, it’s likely for the same reasons they might ask for your salary expectations. These reasons generally include:

They want to determine your market value.Your salary history, specifically the salary you earned in your most recent position is one factor an employer can use to gauge your level of experience and the value you will bring as an employee to the organization.

They want to ensure your expectations are aligned with their budget for the role. If your most recent salary is significantly more than an employer is prepared to offer, this is an indication that you may be too overqualified for the role.

They want to ensure they are offering a fair amount for the position.For example, if a majority of applicants to a job provide recent salary histories that far exceed what they have budgeted for the role, they may need to increase their offering or adjust the job description to target more junior professionals.

Not all employers will ask candidates to share their salary history and you may not encounter the question at all. If an employer does not ask you for this information, there’s no need to include it with your application or during any other phase of the hiring process.  If an employer does not ask for your salary history, they may ask for your preferred salary range instead. If you do not feel comfortable in sharing your most recent salary history or your salary expectations, you may politely decline or deflect the question. In that case, you are required to give background on your reasoning. For example: “I would prefer to learn more about the role and responsibilities before discussing about the salary topic”.

However, there are three best ways you might choose to communicate your salary history depending on how much you want to share, how much detail the employer requests and what part of the process you are asked to provide this information.

Use General Terms.

Instead of including an exact amount, you could provide a general number. For example: “My current salary is around 5 lakhs per annum”.

Use a Range.

If your salary has increased during your time in your current role, you may opt to provide a range or a starting salary and current salary. In addition to fulfilling the employer’s request, it also illustrates that you have provided enough value to earn a raise. For example: “I started my role at Rs. 3,50,000 per annum and my current salary is Rs 4,80,000 annum”.



Provide an exact number:

You can choose to provide your exact salary or round up to the closest whole number. For example, if you are making Rs. 4,80,000 per annum in your current position, you can round up to Rs 5,00,000 per annum. Then you can say “My current salary is Rs 5,00,000 per annum”,

If you are earning additional compensation on top of your base salary such as regular bonuses or commissions, state this information as well. If your additional compensation varies, then you may include an average. For example: “I currently earn a base salary of Rs 4,80,000 per annum plus an average quarterly bonus of Rs. 50,000”.

You may be asked to provide a salary history list or provide a salary history template to fill out. In this case, list your highest gross annual salary for each position. Your gross annual salary is the total amount of money you earned in one year in a position before taxes.

Finally, remember to provide your total annual salary before taxes. If you give your after-tax amount, you may give the impression that you are paid a lower salary, which could make it more challenging to negotiate for the higher amount you want.

Providing your current salary to your next potential employer does not mean that this will be your salary at your next job nor does it remove the opportunity to negotiate for a higher amount. Employers understand that many job seekers are seeking to increase their income when moving to a new job, especially if the new role comes with additional challenges or more responsibilities than the job you currently have.


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