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Should you offer your salary history in online employment applications?

Should you reveal salary history on job applications?
Should you reveal salary history on job applications?
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The Business Hour on PBS.org recently interviewed headhunter guru Nick Corcodilos of Ask the Headhunter fame about top tips on where to find a job. Surprisingly, Corcodilos offers those seeking employment should not reveal past salary history but can you really do this in today’s world of online job applications?

Corcodilos makes a case for not revealing your salary history in an online employment application: “You need not disclose it. Many employer’s policy handbooks even state that salary information is company confidential—so you may need to withhold the information anyway, if that’s your prior employers’ policy.”

Today’s online job applications make that a little tough. For many of these, the salary history is a “required” field in order to move on to the next section. Even worse, if it’s a required “numerical” field meaning you have to enter a number, what number should you enter? In this Examiner’s eye, HR recruiters do look at salary histories to gain insight on candidates way out of the ballpark—even skip them altogether.

While that’s unfair, if not illegal based on any confidentiality agreement you signed with a previous employer, what’s a job seeker to do? Examiner’s own Liz Ryan in her post, Passing the Salary History Test, goes even further pointing out many job applications say “Resumes without salary history will not be considered.” Ms. Ryan’s insider tip? Put the desired salary in that field and if asked during an interview what you were paid, it’s fine to state your salary information is confidential but you are interested in jobs that pay in the salary range you inserted on the online job application.

Your prior job history, skills and achievements should be enough to wow the employer but unfortunately, in today’s world, what’s fair and what’s unfair is a thin line and it’s hard to prove you were passed over because of your salary expectations.

If the online application offers an additional comments section, this may be a good place to back up your non-disclosure of salary history stating it’s confidential according to your prior employer agreement. Finally, placing the desired salary range as Ms. Ryan states seems a good way to go—instead of placing a zero or “N/A” if it’s not a required numerical field.

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