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Another Reason to Avoid Giving Your Salary History: The Gender Wage Gap


When negotiating a job offer, it’s best to avoid giving your salary history to your prospective employer. Revealing your previous earnings could get in the way of landing that big pay bump you’re hoping for. Also, there is another reason to consider not giving your salary history – the gender wage gap. For women, revealing previous salaries might reinforce future low earnings. Here are a few important things for women to keep in mind when navigating salary negotiations.


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1. Be ready for the questions.

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It can be tricky to dodge questions about your salary history and to find suitable answers that don’t reveal the information. Just remember that revealing your salary history is rarely mandatory, and it’s best to avoid. There are scripts you can follow that can help you navigate these conversations.

2. Do your research.

Sometimes you can feel really pushed into a corner by these kinds of questions. Hiring managers can be unrelenting when trying to determine what your magic number might be. Come to the meeting with data on your side – and let that data do the talking. Use resources, such as PayScale’s Salary Survey, to help you determine a range that’s representative of the position’s duties, the title, and your years of training and experience. Also, be sure that you can live with a salary that falls within that range. Or, better yet, be sure that the lowest number you give sounds suitable to you. It could be where you end up. When forced, offer information about this range rather than your own salary history.

3. This might be extra important stuff if you’re a woman… Mind the gap.

The gender wage gap persists, in part, because it’s been a reality for so long. Future income is often based, to some extent, on past earnings. So, in order to move through this, leaving our old salaries out of future negotiations is important.

Research indicates that when landing a new job, you should expect about a 10 percent increase to your pay. But, because previous salary often is used to help determine future earnings, revealing your old salary is an especially bad idea for female candidates. For women, who generally negotiate less often than men for a host of reasons, being firm about sticking to the goal of looking forward, not back, is extra important during salary talks.

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How do you handle questions about salary history when negotiating a new job? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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