So I've done a fair amount of research into salary negotiations, and they all seem say that not revealing one's salary history is best. They even have little scripts for the types of conversations that you are supposed to have. However, I find that the vast majority of HR people seem to insist that they need for me to tell them about my salary history in order for them to move forward with an offer. The best I've done so far is managed to put off the discussion until after the interviews are over.

As someone with technical skills/within the computer science field, what is the best way to handle this? Is it just something that's not done within engineering? I'd like to get individuals' experiences who have been in the field and been through the salary negotiation process. I am at a point where I have additional experience, but it doesn't seem like HR seems satisfied with trying to not disclose salary history. At the same time, I don't want to piss them off, but I also don't want to end up being underpaid. How do you handle this?

Note: I saw that question that was recommended as a potential duplicate. That question does not discuss the norms and experiences of users within engineering/tech in the US,specifically.

  • 4
    What you are interested in is what you are worth to the organisation that you are applying for, not what you are currently being paid. It's just not relevant and you do not need to disclose this. I'm sure I have answered this recently :)
    – Jane S
    Jun 9, 2015 at 1:12
  • 1
    Here. It's not exactly the same, but it discusses nondisclosure of current salary. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/47639/…
    – Jane S
    Jun 9, 2015 at 1:13
  • 2
    Another sad tail of HR being involved in recruitment, they need salary history because they know nothing about what they're hiring you for. Those pen pushers can deal with the paperwork after my team hires the right person.
    – Nathan
    Jun 9, 2015 at 6:41
  • @JaneS do you have any good excuse if HR keep insisting to ask my past salary, this actually "really" normal in my country so far I never manage to get away without revealing my past salary.
    – kirie
    Jun 9, 2015 at 12:29
  • 1
    You can say you signed a legally binding contract with your current company not to reveal your salary to anyone.
    – andi
    Jun 9, 2015 at 16:09

1 Answer 1


Ask them why they need that information. If it's just a field that needs to be entered before the form is submittable you can ask them to put $1. Otherwise they will come up with something that will fit the little scripts that you've read. As an engineer it can be uncomfortable to interupt someone's workflow but you lose if you placidly let them drive the interaction. Assert yourself and remember "Why do you need that?" is a perfectly reasonable question.

  • @JoeStrazzere The HR person needs to process the interviewee. Is that not a workflow?
    – Myles
    Jun 9, 2015 at 14:35
  • @JoeStrazzere Definitely gathering a needed piece of information from an interviewee would be a part of the hiring business process. If the interviewer is presenting it as "I can't continue without this" then failing to provide it at very least gives the impression of disrupting the hiring workflow.
    – Myles
    Jun 9, 2015 at 15:02

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