Why You Should Never Reveal Your Previous Salary When Negotiating For A Job

Why You Should Never Reveal Your Previous Salary When Negotiating For A Job

Most hiring managers expect you to ask about salary by the second interview, but if you do, they might turn that question around and ask you about your own salary history to get an idea of what you’re willing to take. Here’s why you shouldn’t share with them what you’ve made before.

Image from Flazingo.

Telling your potential new employer your current or past salary gives them an upper hand in negotiations on their offer to you. Redirecting that conversation, especially if the hiring manager or recruiter is persistent, can be uncomfortable but makes a big impact. US News has a couple of phrases you can use to reframe the salary talk as quickly as possible:

“I keep that information confidential, but the range I’m looking for now is…”

“My previous employers have always considered that information confidential, but I’m seeking….”

“That’s not something I share with anyone but my accountant, but I’m seeking…”

If those exact phrases aren’t your style, work off them to come up with something that gets the same message across and sounds more natural for you.

As with any negotiation, you want to come across as confident. Forbes recommends doing your research on the market and closely comparing your skills and experience to what the job description lays out so that you are confident that you’ll bring a ton of value. If you can, draw a clear line between what you offer and the impact to the company’s revenue and strategies. You want whoever you’re negotiating with to focus on the future rather than your past salaries. 


  • Those lines sound pretentious. I just tell them it was astronomical, make them try to work down from your imaginary figure.

    The last time it came up, i knew roughly what they were offering, so i told them my previously was exactly double (to be fair it wasn’t far off) and followed with “I understand I won’t quite get that here, but I’m looking for more of a work/life balance.”

    It forced them to tell me their upper cap straight away.

  • I find this very frustrating. My current or previous salary is not relevant. Either I have the skills, experience and qialifications for the role, in which case yo should hire me at the salary you’re offering, or I don’t in which case you shouldn’t.

    I also don’t understand why it’s become the norm to not advertise salaries now. Sure, I udnerstand ou want someone who is attracted tot he role and company, not the money. But it seems you would need to put significant effort into formulating an impressive application, and first interview, before you can even find out what they’re offering. If it’s going to be significantly lower than what you would be willing to accept, that’s a waste of everyone’s time.

    So that’s the reasoning behind expecting salaries to be advertised from a potential employee’s point of view. I’d be very interested in understanding the reasoning behind not advertising it from a recruiter’s point of view (assuming htere is anything beyond simply hoping to pay as little as possible).

    While I’m on a roll with this rant, I’ve become very frustrated with recruiters using the term ‘package’ referring to an amount of money that includes superannuation. It should actually be illegal for them to use this terminology – superannuation is not part of your ‘package’, its a government mandated requirement of employers (note: not employees), and therefore a legal responsibility of the employer. So unless it inlcudes contributions above the legal minimu, it’s not part of your ‘package’ at all. So why not just be upfront about what the salary is rather than attempting to artificially inflate it.

  • Years ago, I had an ongoing uncomfortable discussion with a recruiter about ‘my current salary’. She kept asking and I kept saying it was irrelevant (they know my experience and my wins…). She said I wouldn’t get very far without disclosing it.

    A few months later I got a job with the salary I wanted. Essentially recruiters are scum on this. Some will give the game away when you ask what the range is, others will refuse. If I have to go with a recruiter I’m forced to lie and say that my wage is [the salary I’m seeking].

  • When negotiating my current position, I wasn’t asked what my current salary was, just what I was looking for. They made me an offer of a ‘package’ including super at the figure I asked for, so I had to state that the figure I was looking for was exclusive of super, and they made a new offer 10% higher, which I accepted.

    While the basic tenet of this article is correct, I think if you are asked directly and you answer with “that’s between me and my accountant”, then the conversation ends right there.

  • I’m deep in the job search weeds (a speculative consulting gig didn’t pay off) and one of the things I’ve found lately is that bigger employers want you to register on their website and two of the mandatory questions are your current salary and your expected salary.

    On one of those – a job I was practically made for – I got a rejection e-mail within a minute of lodging the application. I have to assume that it was because I’d priced myself out of the role.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!