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I've been through several job interviews and in all of them they ask: what are you on right now? (How much are you getting paid?). My college friends (also recently graduated like me) tell me the same is asked. And the result is the company that interviews me, offers me 500-1000 more a year, which I find quite ridiculous as it is obvious the reason of asking it, is just to increment it a little bit (which in my case is not enough to change companies unless it is one that I really like its projects).

The feel I am left with is that they are not actually valueing the person. If they find someone whose actual salary is, for example 20, they'll offer him 21, whereas if someone they interview tells them 10, they'll offer him 11 (and they'll be happy that they don't have to pay that much). I kind of understand it as it is a bussiness...

It happened to me. Same job offer in a company, got offered 5k more a year due to a previous higher salary than a friend of mine, with same experience.

So, as a junior recent grad, is it alright not to mention my current salary?

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    what are you on right now does that mean "how much are you getting paid"? – Sourav Ghosh Jul 9 at 10:20
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    Yes @SouravGhosh . I'll edit it to make it clearer just in case. Thanks! – M.K Jul 9 at 10:20
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    I think in Spain is not illegal, because I've heard it tons of times from friends (at least on the junior side) @Jay – M.K Jul 9 at 10:52
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    @SouravGhosh "what are you on right now" is a common phase used by native speakers of English to discuss pay, however, it can be applied to other situations, but in an interview it is clearly about the remuneration. – Solar Mike Jul 9 at 12:30
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Employment is a market. Your potential employer is trying to get a sense of what level of compensation you are willing to accept. They do value you as a contributor of great work, but also want to pay a low price - so long as the price is fair.

Give an expectation as your answer to questions about past income:

  • “I don’t have a current salary to quote, but I am expecting at least $________ in total compensation for this role.”
  • “I was earning $________ in my previous job. This job and my capabilities are quite different now. I’m expecting at least $________ for this role.”
  • “My previous salary was specific to that job and my experience at the time. I’m expecting at least $________ in total compensation for this role.”

Good luck in your interviews!

  • What strikes me is that, if you do indeed have the skills, if you "lie" on your previous salary, say, 4000 more, you'll get it, because you have the skills. It kind of annoys me. – M.K Jul 9 at 10:53
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    I agree @M.K - lying shouldn't be rewarded like that, but it means the employer was willing to pay much more than your previous salary, and was able to learn that you will accept a level similar to that past salary. Instead of stating a past level of compensation, state your expectation for this role - signal what you want, not what you are willing to accept. This is what someone lying about a past salary is trying to do (albeit with deceit instead of honesty). – Jay Jul 9 at 10:55
  • @Jay it could also mean that the previous employer was paying well below the accepted rate, may well be why the employee decides to move on... – Solar Mike Jul 9 at 12:51
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Yes, it is OK not to mention your current salary directly. Also, it's advisable that do not mention a direct figure for your expected salary either, instead engage in a communication / discussion where you can get to know how much the company is willing to offer you for that particular position / role.

Check this other answer which details why the first one (applicant or organization) mentioning a number in a salary negotiation always loses.

That said, if an organization's pay-scale depends on what you were getting paid previously, and not based on your merit, capability and a well-defined pay scale on their own - that's a red flag.

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    @Jay You are welcome to have your own views - however I do not find that a problem / negative approach. – Sourav Ghosh Jul 9 at 10:36
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It is not only all right, it's a tool to analyze a potential employer's worth regarding how they value their employees. Depending on the interviewing stage, there are different ways to tackle this.

When the question is asked before a technical interview

It will commonly be asked by HR, basically doing a radar sweep of the candidates to see where they stand. To not disclose it, the possible answers could be:

I would like know more about my role and responsabilities in the company before saying a number.

or

Aproximately on the average of city_name/sector_name's wages.

or

My prior job does not relate enough to compare, unfortunately.

or ( in case you moved / plan to move / different neighborhood / etc... )

I used to live in x, whereas cost of life on y is different, so any comparision would be unfeasible.

When the question is asked after a technical interview

That means you've been trough HR, trough atleast some middle management / project management, and trough their technical interview. You've been able to ask enough questions / been given enough information to answer yourself:

How much would i want to be happy doing this?

Take in count the cost of life, rent, average income of your sector, but also your tasks, responsibilities, team size, technical debt, extra hours policy, holidays, lunch, transportation...

And then you have how much that work is worth for you.

If at that point they make an offer, you can compare. If they expect you to say the first number, you have a comfortable starting point.

Side note: Companies in Spain have no remorse in barganing the lowest possible wage, specially in tech, with some exceptions like a few bunch of startups, so from my personal experience, set up your wage to EU standards ( UK, Germany, France) on similarly sized tech hub cities (Madrid/Barcelona vs Berlin/Dublin, as example), and go down (if you want to! you can always stand your ground) from there.

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