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Though laws surrounding the ability of employers to ask salary related questions during the interview process vary from state-to-state, for many companies it is standard practice. Whether it’s to determine an appropriate salary range for a position, how much an applicant may accept, or whether or not the applicant is currently making more than the position offers, the reality is that once an employer has an understanding of salary history they have the upper hand in negotiations, leaving the applicant in a compromised position.

But, as an applicant, do you have to share your salary history, and what is the appropriate response when confronted with salary questions? That depends on where you live, as laws vary from state-to-state. You may find a list of areas in which salary questions are banned HERE, but bear in mind that as other states pass legislation banning such questions, the list is likely to change.

If you are asked about salary history in an interview, the best thing to do is to try and reframe the question into what salary range you are seeking, versus what you have made in the past. For example, if asked, you may tell the interviewer “I have previously kept that information confidential, however I am currently seeking a position with a salary range of…”. Statements like this redirect the conversation and turn the tables in favor of the applicant, rather than the interviewer.

However, if salary history must be provided, a choice must also be made: Should you take the hard line and refuse to offer your history, possibly losing the job opportunity, or should you show your cards and hope for the best? The choice ultimately belongs to the applicant. If opportunities abound, it may be wise to politely decline the position and hold tight for the next one. But, if the market is tight, it may be necessary to share the information that is requested and work to negotiate the best salary possible.

If you do decide to share your salary history, remember to be completely honest and accurate with the information you provide. Some employers may go through the work of verifying the numbers and can pull the job offer or even fire a candidate after they have been hired for falsifying information.

Salary negotiations can be stressful no matter what type of position you’re interviewing for. However, if you enter negotiations with clear salary expectations and a plan to avoid oversharing information, they are far more likely to work out in your favor.

And, if you’re in the market for a new position, AtWork can help. Click HERE to view our available opportunities and get started on the path to a new job today!