Advice on Salary Histories and Salary Requirements


Darrell writes:
SalaryNegotiationI have found your website to be very informative and useful. In using your website and other websites as a resource I have found plenty and very helpful information on doing resumes and cover letters. I have seen through my job searching that occasionally when an employer requests a resume and cover letter a request for salary history or either salary requirements is also made. My questions are:

  1. Why would an employer want to know your salary history; would this information have bearing on my potential salary if I were to be hired?
  2. How would I set up information on my salary history or salary requirements to send with the resume and cover letter is there a basic format? Is there a book I can buy?

The Career Doctor responds:
I’ve answered similar questions in the past but since you ask for a little more detail and because it is an important subject let me go over this issue again.

Employers ask for a salary history as a screening device. With salary histories in hand they can easily screen out the underpaid and overpaid applicants and focus on the applicants within their chosen range.
Because salary negotiation is partly based on information most certainly the employer has the upper hand in negotiations if he or she knows exactly what you have made in your past jobs. In this situation in fact the employer holds all the cards and you have very little power to do any kind of negotiating.

My advice has always been that you first need to find the salary range for the new position. Once you have this information you can decide whether you are willing to work for that amount and begin to position yourself in case the salary is a big leap from your current pay.

How do you position yourself? Do not put your salary information on your resume. You could put a simple table in your cover letter giving “ballpark” salary figures. But remember the more information you give out the less room you have for any type of negotiating.

You can find a lot more about salary negotiating by visiting Quintessential Careers: Salary and Job Offer Negotiation Tutorial.

One of the best books on the subject is Jack Chapman’s Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute.