Asking a question about your current salary in the midst of a job search is borderline illegal because it can lead to discrimination. Some states and cities ban these types of questions altogether because they create an income inequality gap. Learn how to sidestep this question from employers trying to offer you a lower salary than what you're worth.
1. Avoid Hard Numbers
Employers typically increase your current salary by 10 to 15 percent as a way to motivate you to accept their offer. When filling out an online application, put "N/A" or "flexible" in the blank for your salary. If you have to include a number, use 0 and then leave a note about your flexibility. Doing this lets you put off talking about your salary requirements until after you receive an offer following an interview.
2. Research Other Positions
Create a well-researched range of your compensation needs that goes beyond your current salary. Look at Glassdoor, and research similar positions at other companies. Take into account the cost of living in your area, and then factor in 10 to 15 percent above your current pay. Back up your salary range with relevant data.
3. Know Your Value
The sum of your skills, experience, certifications and education can make you rise above other candidates. Use this knowledge to negotiate a salary by explaining why you think an employer's number is too low when making an offer.
4. Deflect the Question
Deflect a question about your current salary by saying you'd rather feel out what this role entails before giving a firm answer. Someone who says, "That question is illegal and I don't have to answer it" may come across as uncompromising, and it may be a turnoff to your interviewers. Stating you want to gauge if you're a perfect fit first lets you figure out what you expect to be paid rather than what you currently make.
5. Share the Number if It Helps
If the company makes an offer that's below your current salary but you really want the job, you may find it prudent to state your salary number outright at this point in the negotiations. The company can match your salary, but you can come back with the point that you need to make more than that to leave your current situation.
6. Report What Happened
You can always report the incident if you feel moved to do so. States or cities in which asking about salaries is illegal often have hotlines to report this discriminatory practice. You can remain anonymous when you file a formal complaint. You can always take your grievance online to Glassdoor or PayScale when trying to dissuade others from falling into the same trap.
Your current salary should not even enter into the picture when it comes to your job search. If it does, use these tips to sidestep the question or make your case for a higher salary. What techniques do you use to talk about salary with an employer?
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