The Great Salary Debate – To Share or Not to Share

It’s a question that has been debated for years… “Should a candidate have to divulge their salary history during the early stages of interviewing?”  In many cases today, it is still mandatory in company applications that you notate your ending salary for each of your roles that you list.  Often times, if the process is automated, the system has it as a required field and it will not let you move forward with submitting the application if you try and leave it blank – forcing a candidate to either enter $0 or divulge the information to avoid being disqualified from consideration.  There are also a number of recruiters that still require a candidate give their salary history before they will pass along the candidate’s resume to the prospective hiring manager.  But is that really fair?  Candidates would say no and others are starting to agree.

As the push for pay equality continues and more regulations are passed, we will most likely see this question start to be eliminated, or at the very least approached in a different and better way.  Last year, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a law that prohibits employers from asking job applicants about their current salary and making them reveal their salary history.   Since then, California and New York City have passed similar laws and amendments.  Philadelphia is currently in process of pushing the same, with more cities and states expected to follow.

So, how do you control what salary information you share with companies or recruiters?  The key, according to Liz Ryan in her article Never Give Up Your Salary Details – Do This, Instead,, is to find a recruiter that values your capabilities and your experience, not your salary history.  It’s important for you to know your worth, be able to justify that worth through your job history and performance, and to be able to communicate a salary range or desired salary figure that fits your expertise and desired outcome.   Whatever you do, don’t sell yourself short.  If a recruiter isn’t willing to work with you unless you give up your salary history, then find one that will.  As Ms. Ryan points out, there are plenty of recruiters out there that will be an advocate for you.  Learn to distinguish the consultative ones from the order takers.  A recruiter should be as much of an advocate for you as they are for their client or employer.