The company I would like to work for is a startup and may not be able to afford the salary I have at my current job. I would really like to get this position (salary is important but not the only thing that makes the job attractive). They will most likely ask me how much I currently earn, as the question seems frequent now.

I was thinking about the following options:

  • Simply tell the smaller number. Probably not a good thing to lie and may have side effect of seeing me as somewhat underqualified.
  • Offer part time (but if they are sure there is plenty of work this may not look for them as a solution).
  • Since this is a startup, offer to pay part of the salary in equity (I am afraid this may be wrongly understood and not well received).
  • Offer the first half year only with the lower salary agreeing they will raise it later.
  • Simply tell verbally this is my dream position so I agree to work for less.

Which of these options would an employer like to hear the most? I am also open to other opinions of how I should handle this.

  • 6
    Tell them what your target range is, don't tell them what you currently make. This would still be true if you wanted an increase or a lateral move, as well. There is no need for them to know how much your current employer pays you for a job that is different than theirs. Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 17:41
  • 2
    Why do you think asking to be paid in equity would be poorly received? Stocks is a fairly common benefit. Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 17:50
  • I personally think the last option is the best, but I have no experience/wisdom to base that opinion on. Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 18:15

2 Answers 2


They will most likely ask me how much do I currently earn

Which of these options would an employer like to hear the most? I am also open to other opinions of how I should handle this.

What I have done in the past is be completely honest.

Something like "I'm currently making $x, but I'm open to discussing the entire package."

This answers their question, but suggests that you are willing to talk about it while still leaving the door open for an offer that matches (or even exceeds) your current salary.

Don't go into this with the mindset that you want to work for less (as suggested by your title).

You don't really know what they can and cannot afford. And you don't really know what kind of flexibility they have in the overall package (salary, bonus, equity, benefits, etc.) This tactic doesn't take anything off the table.


In a salary negotiation, if the employer asks "how much do you currently make?" the usual correct answer is a polite "that information is not available".

Sell the company on your abilities and let them figure out what kind of offer to make. They may surprise you and pay quite well.

  • I would probably add something like, "I'd prefer not to answer that question because to me, experience is more important than salary and I would be willing to settle for less money in the short term if it means there will be a greater potential for advancement in the long term." I had this conversation at a recent interview and it went over very well. (I got the job). Commented Jul 17, 2017 at 18:14

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