What to Do When Asked About Current Salary Level

salary negotiation

Q. I just completed a third round of interviews and the HR manager said the agency wants to make me an offer. She asked me how much I am currently making, and I politely told her I’d have to get back with her. Do I have to disclose my current salary—which is way below what the new job pays? My roommate told me to bump up my current salary by 50%. What should I do? -DB

A. It’s customary for employers to ask a potential employee about salary history. This generally is done to make sure they know where the prospective employee fits in the firm’s salary scale. It isn’t necessarily done to see how little they can pay you. Very often, if you currently are paid more than the new job, employers know this will soon become an issue. Even if the new position is more interesting than your current gig, you won’t remain happy for long if you don’t feel you are adequately compensated.

Importantly, don’t lie since some firms follow up or “someone may know someone” who is familiar with the pay scale of your current employer. Tell the truth. If you got this far with the interview, they clearly think you are the one they want. Let the HR manager know that you can and will to do a great job. Then explain that you were complacent about salary when you accepted your current job, but you now are better aware of comp levels for this sort of position. Make it clear you want the job and will do a great job. A positive attitude will help ensure that you get what you deserve.

Get insights about pay ranges from the annual PR salary survey by Bloom, Gross & Associates.

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