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I interviewed at "Company B" in Italy and did pass two of the three steps of the hiring process. While I was waiting to be set up for the last step, HR sent me an email asking for my last paycheck and current salary at "Company A".

Things went more or less in this way (email only) in 30 minutes.

  • HR: Can you please send us your last paycheck?
  • ME: I'm not feel comfortable by sharing this kind of information
  • HR: OK, can you please tell us your current salary and benefits?
  • ME: Why do you need them?
  • HR: We decided to make you an offer. If you prefer not to continue with the process, please let us know.
  • ME: I'm so happy to know that we can proceed with the last step of the interview. However, as I said I'm not comfortable by sharing these kind of details. I have already met 4 people of your team and I think you have everything you need to make me an offer. If you want to make me an offer, I would be happy to discuss it with you. If you do not want to proceed further, please let me know asap.

The conversation ended here and I have not received any news. At the end of the second step they told me that I would receive some news in a week. At this time, we are almost at the end of the second week. What do you suggest me to do?

They looked like a very good and serious company, but this situation is weird to me.

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    It means they think you're bluffing and if they wait and let you stew you'll give in and tell them what they want to know. – brhans Apr 24 '18 at 14:23
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    I don't know the job market in Italy, but in the US it is extremely common for companies to ask what you are currently making before offering; a lot of people recommend against telling them (Jim Horn's answer below). – dbeer Apr 24 '18 at 14:32
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    Just say: "My target is (desired_salary * 1.1)". If you say your current salary, I guarantee you WILL be lowballed. Especially since the current salary is often below current market level (salaries grow slower within a company) plus it often no longer reflects your new skills and competency acquired since your last salary change. – Juha Untinen Apr 24 '18 at 15:07
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    Do not under any circumstances give them any paystubs. If they insist on an answer to this question, tell them your desired salary IS your current salary. They will have no choice but to take you at your word. If they don't, you don't want to work for them anyway. Also: they said they'd like to make you an offer. Ask them what the offer is before proceeding. – ell Apr 24 '18 at 15:53
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One, it's completely irrelevant what your current salary is. What's relevant to you is what you want to earn, what's relevant to the company is what you are worth.

Two, your old salary is confidential. Your old company doesn't want everyone in the world to know how much they paid you.

They may make you an offer, they may not. If they don't, they were not a company you want to work for anyway.

  • I am completely with you. So I should not get in touch with them and I should wait some news from their HR, right? – Mario Rossi Apr 24 '18 at 14:34
  • No, it is not irrelevant. The company probably has a budget to hire the OP and they simply want to know if the OP expectation are in their budget range – Gianluca Apr 27 '18 at 6:48
  • @Gianluca Your expected salary is what is relevant, not your current salary. Your current salary has no relevance to what you will be paid for this new different job. They are asking for current salary so that they can tailor the lowest possible salary they think you might accept. This is essentially the reverse of a salesman asking you "how much money do you have?" before telling you the price of something you want to buy. Companies that demand to know current salary are trying to take advantage of you in salary negotiations. Unfortunately its a quite common tactic. – Tal Apr 27 '18 at 14:52
  • @Tal fine, I can agree with you, but is a tactic easily beaten: just answer with your expected salary. Normally you don't accept a new position for less salary unless you are unemployed, but at this point your old salary is better than nothing, and the company know this very well. (Ok, there can be exceptions to this). The OP should have just answered current_salary*1.2 + benefit (if any) and he would have an offer (that can be discussed later). This way he has no offer. – Gianluca Apr 27 '18 at 15:56
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The appropriate response is 'Is there an offer on the table?', and only talk numbers when you have their offer with a number in your hand.

Generally in salary negotiations the first person that mentions salary loses.

  • If you say x and it's less then what they were paying you they'll counter with x + whatever the lowest amount is to get you to move. If it's more then they'll apply the same logic to figure out what the lowest amount is to get you to move.
  • If they say x and it's more than you were hoping then problem solved. If it's less then you can negotiate from there, as it's usually possible whenever they offer x that they can offer more, if not salary then perhaps a negotiated signing bonus or increased vacation days.

Remember: They have already decided to hire you. This is the separate salary negotiation.

Good luck and congratulations.

(Disclaimer: US-Midwest perspective, so Italy may be different.)

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It's very common here for company to ask you for a range/number before making an offer.

Usually whenever the interviewer ask me for my previous salaries, I always reply with:

I cannot disclose my previous salary but I am expecting €00K.

Most of the companies are satisfied with this response. They use it to make an offer.

If in case, your company still insist on asking for previous salary, you can come up with

Unfortunately I am not allowed to discuss it because of agreement with my previous employer

They cannot force you to disclose after this point.

Important Note: Unfortunately in your case, I had a feeling, you were being very uncooperative. Stick to your decision, but give them something so they feel a sense of cooperation from your side. In your conversation, you just replied with "No, No, no no no" (this is what HR person saw your responses)

  • I only see one "no" in the conversation (The first answer), which is perfectly fine. The other things just reiterate "I told you no already" in a different way, which in a discussion is very different than "No,no,no,no,no". – skymningen Apr 27 '18 at 11:09
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    @skymningen I am meaning it in figuratively way. He said no, more or less in each answer in different ways. – VarunAgw Apr 27 '18 at 11:33
  • I understand that. I still wanted to make the point that iterating one no is much different than "being the negative person about everything". They repeatedly made their point clear, asked for an explanation and tried to resolve the situation, the fault in communication is on the other side. – skymningen Apr 27 '18 at 11:49
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I think you need to make the effort to reach out to them to restart the discussion.

I understand your thought process and I agree with you regarding withholding the info. As mentioned across the other answers, you should make this discussion about your value to them, not your previous compensation from someone else.

However, I think the last line of your last response may have pushed them away. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't react well to you turning their words back on them like you did, "If you do not want to proceed further, please let me know asap." They may have interpreted this as more attitude than they want to deal with. There's nothing wrong with countering the discussion, but choice of words matters. When negotiating, how you say something can be more important than what you say.

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    Thank you for sharing your advice. You're right, maybe next time I should think twice at which words I use. – Mario Rossi Apr 24 '18 at 17:55
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Asking for this data is a trend that probably came to Europe from the US. Applying for jobs 5 years ago I was never asked to provide this info. Applying last year, several companies did ask me to provide the salary data and didn't want to accept that I would never make it available to them.

By making this data available you can only lose.

Not to mention that for me at least, it's a huge violation of privacy. Companies won't provide you infos on what the average salary on the given level is or how much you would get on different career levels ("Dear company, could you please provide me some paychecks from every level?"). So why do they expect you to provide this info?

So accept that the company is probably not one you would ever want to work for. It doesn't respect people's privacy and doesn't show respectful attitude towards applicants. It's also probable that it discriminates - because obviously this data is taken to offer you just a bit more than you had, which means lower salaries for women.

  • Would you want to work for those companies? Maybe they did you a favour. Such an attitude is insulting everyone, wether they are male or female, please do not take the discussion down to sexism where there is none. – Rui F Ribeiro Apr 24 '18 at 20:13
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This totally sounds not serious for an European application procedure. Often there are agreements signed that information regarding the salary is not supposed to be shared at all.

They should simply ask for your desired salary and accept it or put a counter offer on the table.

Regarding your question how to proceed now: Take this as a very big red flag and move on. Most important of all is they don't take your concerns seriously. The way they answer is just impolite. So, write a review about this incident on some employer rating platform and move on.

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    Well, no, at least not in Italy (in my experince). And the answer can be a simple "my old salary was about x thousand euro/year plus this and that benefit". They don't need a precise figure. – Gianluca Apr 27 '18 at 6:35

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