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Old 11-17-2009, 02:06 PM
Location: DFW
6,717 posts, read 11,166,301 times
Reputation: 4972


I'm a recent graduate with 2 masters degrees but my only actual work experience up to now is a minimum wage student job.

A lot of employers are asking about my salary history in their applications and/or interviews and it seems like a very important piece of info.

As someone who hasn't experience much of the work world, does salary history make or break my chances of receiving an offer? Or will it only come into play during salary negotiations?

Btw, with the abysmal job market, I've been applying for jobs I'm probably overqualified for (requiring a Bachelors and little/no experience.) I can't see why being paid minimum wage at my last job should automatically disqualify me. Can anyone better elaborate how salary history comes into play and how I should answer it in an interview?
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Old 11-17-2009, 02:21 PM
26,589 posts, read 52,947,716 times
Reputation: 12963
I would just be honest and say that you have no salary history to provide, as you haven't held a position in your field yet.

If you are talking about low-level positions not in your professional field, I'd just give them hourly rate you've been earning. Just because you have advanced degrees, it doesn't mean that Target is going to pay you more to ring a register.
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Old 11-17-2009, 05:34 PM
4,805 posts, read 19,559,583 times
Reputation: 4931
Salary "requirements" give an employer an idea of how much you think you are worth. Salary 'history' also tells an employer this, and in addition tells an employer what other people have think you are worth. Its just one more key to the puzzle, along with references and a background check.

Good things they might 'see' from your salary history:
--that an employer recognized your contributions and ability even though the company structure didn't give you a higher job title or rank with every raise or promotion
--that although you don't have experience specifically related to the job opening, you have been promoted and have earned an above average salary, suggesting a dedicated and conscientious worker.

Bad things they might 'see' from your salary history:
--that your employer hasn't seen many remarkable accomplishments or contributions because your salary has been relatively stagnant over the years
--that you've been demoted
--that your past titles sound like more responsibility than they actually were.
--that you don't have the years of experience required for the job
--that you've got something to hide by not providing it when asked.

IMHO, provide your salary history, if for no other reason than that they asked. A reasonable employer will recognize a student's part time job income for what it is and not give it a second thought. Just write $7.25/hr or whatever you earned, instead of an annual figure.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:30 PM
Location: Chicago
1 posts, read 24,055 times
Reputation: 11
[URL="http://www.city-data.com/forum/members/ragnarkar-29517.html"]ragnarkar[/URL] asks, "Can anyone better elaborate how salary history comes into play and how I should answer it in an interview?"

Sometimes it looks easy to go for jobs below your level just to get reemployed. However, Employers are reluctant to hire people who are over qualified because they worry they won't last. The best strategy is to postpone talking about salary until they are really sold on you. How do you that? it takes some thought and strategy. Too complicated to answer directly on this post but check out my website, [url=http://www.salarynegotiations.com]Salary Negotiations - Salary Negotiating Tips From Jack Chapman[/url] for a fuller answer.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:56 PM
Location: Stuck on the East Coast, hoping to head West
3,785 posts, read 8,762,556 times
Reputation: 7334
I don't tell potential employers my salary history. I admit it's tricky, but I have absolutely never benefited from telling an employer how much I've made in the past. I definitely don't think it influences whether or not you get the job, either. I do think that it benefits the employer. Eh, to tell you the truth the salary is only one piece of the compensation package to begin with so I don't even buy that what you've made in the past = your current worth. The times I have revealed my former salary, I've inevitably found out that I could have held out for more money. And, trust me, it is much easier to negotiate for a higher starting salary than to have to renegotiate once you're on the job. And, yes, I have even received call backs from employers who specifically said that if I didn't include my salary history that they wouldn't consider me.

It's working for me even in this economy. Case in point, I accepted a new position in Oct 2009--I'm changing careers so it made it even more challenging. I applied online and the application had a non by-passable field for salary history. Since I couldn't get past it, I entered $0.
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:27 PM
2,251 posts, read 4,312,031 times
Reputation: 3709
I don't like the idea of giving a salary history. It's no one's business what someone was earning before. I've never asked for a salary history. If we have a job available, there is a salary line for that position and if you get the job, that's your salary.

I'm sure other businesses use the salary history to low ball new employees. For example, let's say a job is available and the salary line for the job is $44k.

They get an application from Joe Smith who lists his salary history:
2004-2005 Acme Company - Salary: $28k
2005-2007 XYZ Company - Salary: $31k
2007-Present ABC Company - Salary: $34k

The hiring manager will see that and think "We can get this person for $37k. They'll be happy with that because it's more than they were earning before." Meanwhile, they allotted $44k for the job and if you are qualified that's what you should get.

I haven't looked for a job in a long time but I always put "negotiable" when asked for salary requirements.
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Old 01-08-2010, 11:37 AM
2,962 posts, read 2,870,888 times
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I don't believe a job candidate can ever benefit from revealing their salary history. Either:

A) You are applying for job where the position's salary is higher than your current salary. You will have to work very hard to show that you are deserving of at LEAST that salary, if not more.

B) You are applying for job where you will take a pay cut just to be employed. You will come across as overqualified.

I'd agree with the previous poster. Put 'negotiable' for salary requirements. Otherwise, simply state that your company's policy does not allow you to share salary information. That stipulation is more common (and believable) than you'd think.
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Old 01-10-2010, 08:06 AM
615 posts, read 1,467,714 times
Reputation: 373
It is kind of tricky though because you can easily get dismissed, particularly for an entry level position, for not "following directions". I would be honest and word it to where you have no salary history in your field but I would also put somethink about making X amount while working full time/part time in college etc.

If this was for a higher level position, I think you could get away with just putting negotiable but for someone right out of college and for an entry level position, I would do as they ask.
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