You’ve sent in a beautiful resume, which landed you an interview that you nailed, but now they are asking you about money, and looking into your salary history. Unless your last salary was exactly what your employer wants to pay you and exactly what you want to make- your salary history might cause you a bit of grief. Either you were earning far less than you would like to- and your hiring manager might low-ball you based on that, or you were earning a lot more than you need- and your previous salary might scare off companies that don’t think they can afford you. Either way, you can escape your salary history it just takes a little bit of finesse.
Research, research, research- You should know what the average salary is for the position, and figure out if that is a salary that you are okay with. If they are going to research your salary history, you should also research theirs! Look into how they pay in comparison to other companies. Are they likely to tack 30% onto the standard salary? Or are they the kind of company that pays as little as they can without having their staff leave for greener pastures? Knowing what kind of company you are dealing with is crucial to negotiating your salary effectively.
Tell them what you Want- You may have been making $100,000 at your last job, but be perfectly willing to make $60,000. This is one of many situations where your previous salary could hurt you, but it doesn’t have to. If you are very upfront about the fact that you are able and willing to take a pay cut in order to have this job, you can alleviate their worries that you will resent them because of the pay cut. Stress the difference between the past and the present. Our lives are constantly changing, and that means that our salaries are also subject to fluctuations. If you were making a lot less than what this position pays, stress the ways in which you are as qualified as applicants who made more, show them that you deserve a competitive rate, even if you weren’t always earning one.
Money isn’t everything- Salary generally clocks in as the fourth or fifth biggest factor for job happiness, make sure that they know that you know that. If you really like the company, think the job description sounds dynamite, and can see yourself thriving in that culture- stress the fact that money is not the only factor for the job. We are generally happier working a job that we love even if the salary is lower than we would like, than we are working a job that we hate with a salary we love. Make sure that they understand that you know that.
Your salary history can complicate your negotiation process- but it does not have to ruin it. If you do your research, know what you want to earn, and stress the importance of the job itself, you should be able to navigate any discrepancy between any two pay rates!