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While Women Are Penalized, Men Earn More When They Refuse to Provide Salary History

Topics: Negotiation
salary history
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Women who refuse to give their salary history during job interviews earn 1.8 percent less than those who reveal past pay, according to PayScale’s latest report, Is Asking for Salary History … History? On the other hand, men who keep their salary information under wraps earn 1.2 percent more than those who share it with hiring managers.

Why do results vary for men and women? Most likely, because of unconscious bias. While women who refuse to divulge their salary details may be perceived as unaccommodating (and therefore unlikable), men who keep their cards close to their chest may come across as more confident.

What Does This Mean for You?

Depending on whether you’re a man or a woman, this information might encourage you to either keep your salary history secret or reveal your past pay. But it doesn’t necessarily change your entire approach to getting paid fairly.

Regardless of gender, you should:

1. Base Your Ask on the New Job, Not Your Old One

Reveal your salary history if you must … but peg your negotiations to the role under consideration, not the jobs you’ve held before.

Hopefully, your prospective employer has benchmarked the role according to what’s appropriate for the market, in which case, it shouldn’t matter what a previous employer paid you. But as a job seeker, their compensation philosophy is out of your hands — your goal is get the right pay for the job you’re hoping to take.

Look at this way: no two jobs are exactly alike. You can have the same title at two different companies and wind up doing very different things, depending on the job description, business needs, and the changing market. In any case, your pay should be based on what you’re doing today, not what you did last year or 10 years ago.

2. Know Your Worth

Regardless of whether or not you throw out the first number during negotiations, it should be based on your value on the job market. PayScale’s Salary Survey generates a free report with a salary range based on thousands of responses from your peers with the same experience, job title, skills and education. It provides a clear picture of what’s reasonable and appropriate for the job you’re considering.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

3. Negotiate as Partners, Not Adversaries

It might sound strange to say that your prospective boss might be biased against you … and also that you’re not adversaries. But, unconscious bias is just that: unconscious. It doesn’t mean that the hiring manager is trying to take advantage of you or that the company is run by people who consciously think that women should earn less.

The fact is that we all have bias, and we all have to work to overcome it. Beyond that, it’s important to work together with the person on the other side of the negotiating table. You share the same goal: to get you to take the job at a salary that’s appropriate, fair, and will enable you to do your best work. Go in with that in mind, and you’ll stand a much better chance of walking away happy.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you reveal your salary history to prospective employers, or keep it to yourself? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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