Let’s be honest: asking “how much did you make at your previous job?” should be banned throughout the US. Employers use the figure you provide to make you an offer at the end of the recruitment process. They mostly low-ball an offer, in case you come across as a candidate who is too afraid to negotiate.
Moreover, this is also one of the contributing factors of the gender pay gap in the US. In a world where women are earning 80.7 cents to every dollar that a man makes, pinning down their value on their pay history sustains the glass ceiling and keeps them in the horrendous loop of the gender wage gap.
But until we reach a phase when it’s completely unacceptable for companies to ask for your earning history, we have to make-do with how to navigate this tricky question. Lying about your pay is out of the question because the company might find out later and terminate you for providing false information. Even more so, negotiating for higher pay is an important skill to work on if you want a successful career.
Disclosing your previous salary can make it difficult to negotiate for a higher pay later on. If the potential employer is really eager to know your previous salary, it may be a sign that the company bases the value of their employees on how much they’ve earned in their previous jobs.
Before you start with any number, you have to know the value of your skills, experiences and qualifications in the market. This will come with setting your previous salary as the lowest offer acceptable, knowing the general trends of your industry, the amount of work the potential job requires you to do and the pay employees as the same ranking as you are earning. Once you’ve done your research, it’s time to ask for 10% to 15% more than the expected offer.
When the hiring manager asks for your expected pay, quote more than the pay you’ve researched for. Chances are that you’re going to land somewhere between your counteroffer and your initial ask.
Don’t let the employer or the job market tell you your worth. You’ve seen the struggle that you’ve been through and you know the amount of effort it has taken to develop the most prized and sought-after skills. You’re also aware of the daily grind and energy the new job is going to take.
Knowing your worth before you negotiate for higher pay is important so that you don’t rely on the employer for determining your worth.
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