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When I apply for a job, companies require me to fill a form (and they usually allow me to attach my CV in PDF, but not always) which requires me to fill in my previous job experience.

One of the fields to fill is "salary when working there" and I cannot proceed without entering a value.

What value should I write there? What should I write when:

  • I signed a contract which stated that I cannot share contract details with others (I do not care if it's legal to sign such a contract)

  • I do not want to say what was my previous salary

  • I feel I was underpaid

  • I don't care whether they know about my salary

This list describes four different cases I would like to know about, not one.

If you think there may be other situations worth mentioning, please include them in your answer.

I am applying to job in UK, but I am moving from Poland.

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    You should write your salary in the field that asks for your salary. Seems pretty self-explanatory. – Dukeling Oct 28 '17 at 19:47
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    @Dukeling and give them an opportunity to low ball the OP and its likely that a Polish salary will be low by UK standards – Neuromancer Oct 28 '17 at 20:04
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    I don't see why this was downvoted. It is a very useful subject and should be kept open, unless it is a duplicate. I expect discussion on: how often does this come up, do you want to interview with an employer who has no confidence that he can determine what you are worth, is there ever any advantage to letting a prospective employer know your salary history, etc. etc. – A. I. Breveleri Oct 28 '17 at 20:07
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    @A.I.Breveleri The problem is "I cannot proceed without entering a value". That removes the opportunity for most possible discussion and makes it distinct from if the question were asked in another format, because all you can basically do here, if you want to proceed and not likely get your application thrown out, is fill in your salary. – Dukeling Oct 28 '17 at 20:17
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    Several states in the US are making it unlawful for employers to request, or even ask, any information regarding previous salaries. I know that this is a UK-region question but thought I’d share anyways. – 8protons Nov 7 '17 at 15:15
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One of the fields to fill is "salary when working there" and I cannot proceed without entering a value. What value should I write there?

Assuming you want the new job, in all cases you should write the salary you had when working at your previous job. That is specifically what they are expecting you to do. Doing anything else risks having your application rejected.

If you decide not to do that for any reason, write "N/A" (for Not Applicable) if alphanumerics are permitted and "0" if they are not. Be prepared to discuss it in person if they should decide to go ahead with your application and call you in for an interview.

We could debate whether or not it is a good idea for an employer to ask for such information on an application (IMHO, it's not), and whether or not most online forms are a good way to gather such information (they aren't), but that isn't the question asked here. The reality is that many companies do ask for these details using online forms. Not following their requests will often lead to a quick rejection.

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    Those fields often allow only numeric input, so I cannot write N/A. – styrofoam fly Oct 28 '17 at 19:22
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    @Joe Strazzere: I disagree. Put the salary you want, and be prepared to explain why. - A prospective employer who insults applicants in this fashion deserves no concession to honesty nor courtesy. – A. I. Breveleri Oct 28 '17 at 20:09
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    @Joe Strazzere: Well, strictly speaking, "£0.00" is also a lie (except that it will not look malicious because it is so obvious). The goal is to get the automated application past the lazy and incompetent filter that demands information that it is not entitled to and that an applicant is reluctant to disclose. - I think "£0.00" is very likely to get the application kicked out. - Of course applicant should correct his statement at the earliest opportunity. – A. I. Breveleri Oct 28 '17 at 20:27
  • @JoeStrazzere wouldn't "0" mean voluntary work, like participating in open source projects or helping to raise money for a local school? – styrofoam fly Oct 28 '17 at 20:34
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Keep in mind that if you are merely filling out a form on a webpage, the chances of proceeding further in the process are very low anyway. These forms are deliberately designed to passively filter out the vast majority of candidates without human intervention.

Is the system nuanced enough to assess that you were underpaid? Absolutely not. Does it know that salaries are lower in Poland? No. I would even be concerned that it can't discern the difference between Zloty's and Pounds.

If you really care about the position, make an effort to get around the web form. Exercise your professional network or linkedin to get an introduction to actual hiring managers. Follow up with a focused cover letter that details your suitability for the position. Virtually anything has a better chance for success than a web-form. Human to human contact is always better for candidates. Once you are talking to a real person, you can explain your situation and, eventually, your salary expectations.

But, if you have to put your salary down on a web form-- just do it. The worst that will happen is that your salary negotiation will have a lower starting point, or your chances for proceeding further will be further diminished from "very low". I've never heard of anyone getting into trouble for truthfully disclosing their salary at a previous employer, regardless of what silly contract they signed.

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    @Joe Strazzere it would be a bad idea because the purchase power parity is vastly different. A salary of 1000 £ per month would allow you to live like a king in Poland, but in London you would be living in poverty. – Juha Untinen Oct 29 '17 at 9:34

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