Lying about your salary history is a bad idea, so here's what to do instead

How to Negotiate Salary: 5 Secrets
How to Negotiate Salary: 5 Secrets


Consider this scenario: you don't feel fairly compensated in your current job, so you start to look around for other opportunities. During the application or interview process, you are asked about your present salary – the same low salary that inspired you to look for a new job in the first place. If you tell the hiring manager the truth, you might wind up with an offer pegged to that low pay. But, if you lie, you'll almost certainly get caught. What to do?

gold bars
gold bars

(Photo Credit: New Old Stock)

It might be tempting to pretend you make more than you actually do, but it's important to resist that impulse and stay honest. An employer is likely to immediately drop you from consideration if they find out you are less than trustworthy. If you'd rather not provide that information, fearing that it could result in an offer lower than you are hoping for, here are a few alternatives that will allow you to keep your integrity.

Focus on the Job Description

By conducting salary research limited to job titles rather than the actual responsibilities involved, you may be only getting a snapshot of the salary range that might be available. Make sure you get a job description, compare it with your current one, and explore the variety of salaries that are out there for similar positions. Job titles can be misleading and often fail to illustrate the breadth of duties and skills that need to be brought to the table.

Choose a Salary Range

You're not obligated to declare how much you currently make, and it's a valid concern if you would really like to earn significantly more. PayScale's Salary Survey can help you find an appropriate range for the position under consideration, not the one you're trying to leave.

Make sure that even the bottom of that range is a number you'd be comfortable with, as there's no guarantee that subsequent negotiations would go in your favor. The salary negotiation could well start at that lowest amount, so be prepared with strong reasons if you are planning to ask for more.

Avoid the Question

Unless it's a required field in an application form, you're unlikely to run into a situation where you actually have to reveal what you presently earn. When it comes to negotiating salary, even if you've never had a job before, you give yourself the advantage by not being the one to bring up the subject. Allow the prospective employer to present the first number, and then go carefully from there. You don't need to let your salary history affect the role currently under your consideration.

Related: Salary to buy a home in 19 major U.S. cities

Tell Us What You Think

Have you ever been tempted to lie about your salary? Do you have a tip that might make negotiating easier and more successful for other readers? Let us know in the comments or join the discussion on Twitter.

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