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I am planning to leave my current job and therefore I have interviewed with a company a couple of days back. At the end of the day of my interview, during a discussion with the HR of the company, I unexpectedly answered her question about my current salary. I gave honestly correct figure of my salary to the HR. It looks like I might get an offer letter soon from that company. But now I am feeling bad that I might have missed a chance to negotiate a good salary. What should I do if I won't get a satisfactory offer letter? How to deal with this? Please tell me.

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    If you feel you get a low offer, make sure you state that you want to change job because you currently feel underpaied. Otherwise, you can possibly argue that the new job has more responsibility than your current. Anyway, not sure where you live but that info is public from the authorities where I live so its not really any secret. – Petter Nordlander Apr 24 '13 at 4:23
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    Figure out what salary you'd be satisfied with (you can refer to this answer), and just don't accept if it's under that number. If you are going to accept the job regardless of the salary, then you weren't really in a position to negotiate for a higher salary anyway. Point is, don't worry about it too much. – jmac Apr 24 '13 at 8:15
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    Was your salary a reason for leaving your previous employer? – acolyte Apr 24 '13 at 14:57
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    @kkp: It's a very close cousin. // Besides, I can spare you the suspense. Several Workplace.SE members will insist on 100% honesty because they feel that worker bees owe fealty to a future employer. Other, more experienced, professional Workplace.SE members will tell you that you owe no such fealty to your future employer and that the choice is yours. – Jim G. Apr 24 '13 at 19:34
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    possible duplicate of workplace.stackexchange.com/q/183/437 – Jim G. Apr 24 '13 at 19:37
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No, you did the right thing.

If you are asked your current salary, and you feel that you must answer, the right thing to do is to answer honestly. Make sure to include any bonus received. If you are expecting a raise soon, and/or a bonus soon, you want to mention that as well.

What you don't want to do is lie about it. There's a chance you might get away with a lie, but there's also a good chance that you will be caught (eventually if not immediately). And lies during the interview can be cause for immediate termination (at least in my part of the world).

This doesn't compromise your ability to negotiate! Sure, they know what you make now, but you can always make a case for why you were underpaid and deserve lots more, should it come down to that.

Once you receive an offer, or once you are asked what salary you are seeking, that's when the real negotiations can begin. Fight for what you feel you need and be ready to decline if your needs aren't met. And of course be realistic when you contemplate what you really need in salary. Don't forget to consider the entire package - the salary, benefits, etc, but also the company culture, the commute, the chance for advancement, the opportunity to learn, etc.

Don't sweat it - what you did was fine! Good luck!

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    Agree with Joe, here and add that the working environment is a big part of the package, if the new job is more demanding in other area's you are justified in asking for more money. – James Jenkins Apr 24 '13 at 11:49
  • There is literally no way for the company to find out his previous salary unless he volunteers documents he really shouldn't in this situation, like his paysheet or (partial)annual income report (what would be a CUD here in Italy). In the past I lied more than once when prospective employers asked my current salary because it's none of their business and they shouldn't even be asking in the first place. Nowadays I tell the real figure because it's high enough to scare off 99% of the companies who would lowball me anyway. – Demonblack Jul 17 at 15:46
  • @Demonblack, In Brazil we have an 'Employment record book'.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Employment_record_book – Rodrigo Menezes Jul 17 at 19:04
  • @RodrigoMenezes Italy had something similar (as your link says), but it never contained financial information, it just had a record of where you worked when and what you did there. I'd be very surprised if yours does. Your financial records are confidential. – Demonblack Jul 18 at 17:32
  • @Demonblack In Brazil they record your salary and salaries updates. – Rodrigo Menezes Jul 18 at 18:02
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You never owe details that you hold personally. I would typically suggest evading the question, and saying what salary you will work for. Someone has to start with a quote for the salary, and it's not unusual for the candidate to be the first to offer information.

Having given your current salary - I really don't think it's the drop dead serious issue that other people often do. The really important number is what you're willing to work for. Neither you, nor your potential employer should assume that that is the same figure as your current salary - it's not the same job.

Don't stress out. Wait for the offer and review the whole offer. Health care, education benefits, your commute - anything you care about and anything the company offers that might help you. Figure out overall whether this improves your life, or not. If not - ask for more. And ask for it in light of that total package.

Different companies will use "current salary" differently. At the very least, it's a ballpark telling them approximately what salary you'll work for. Presumably someone who can bill for $100,000 isn't going to take a job for $50,000, and would likely be happy with a job at $110,000. Would you have done better if with a current salary of $100,000 you quoted $110,000 or said "I won't tell you". Maybe. Maybe not. There's a lot of ways to interpret it - go too high, and they may say "not worth it".

But all things are open for negotiation. Your current job and this job are not the same, and where they differ you will either:

  • Have to pay money from your salary to fix the difference in total compensation - in other words - covering elements of health care that aren't covered, paying more in gas and mileage for a longer commute, paying for educational expenses that aren't covered to stay current in your field

  • Have to demand more money to make up for a disincentive that affects your work/life balance. More overtime = less family time - reasonable if the pay makes up for it. Weird hours = family disruption - doable, but what compensates you when you could also take a job with normal hours?

Either way, you have reasons to go back and ask for more.

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    Notice, I'm not saying "don't answer", I'm saying give a number you're willing to give - "I'm looking for a position in the range of X, and I'm currently receiving similar compensation". – bethlakshmi Apr 24 '13 at 13:48
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    @JoeStrazzere out of curiousity, what locale is that? – MrFox Apr 24 '13 at 13:51
  • In my experience, recruiters typically ask what you're currently making and companies typically ask what salary you're looking for. For reference, I'm in Eastern Massachusetts. – 17 of 26 Apr 24 '13 at 15:46
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Yes.

But, given that you've already revelealed the salary you can't go back and change the past. Use this as your learning experience to not do this again in the future.

There are two reasons why you don't want to name the last salary:

1) You may be breaching confidential company information by disclosing it. That information is between you and your previous employer. It can be used to gain a competative advantage over them by other companies. You can always (and perhaps should always) say that you can't disclose it.

2) In all negotiations the first person who gives information tends to be in a worse off position in subsequent offer exchanges. Imagine that instead of being asked how much you make now, you asked them how much the salary fork is for - would that make it easier for you to estimate how much more you can/should ask for? It sure would.

  • Yes. Although I respect Joe's answer, I find that most of the time when a recruiter or company ask for salary information it's so they can use it as a base for pay negotiations. Some cheeky ones will just try to match instead of advance you. So if your current salary is below the range they had slated to pay, you may be opening yourself to lose some ground. But while being the first to give a number isn't advisable, it isn't necessarily a harbinger of doom. If your salary is higher, they may say you're "overqualified" (saving you both time); they may also recognize they'll have to pay more. – Bernard Dy May 3 '13 at 15:58

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