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salary on current job too low

I've basically been making 11$ per/hr in a software job to make ends meet, and trying to change jobs.Potential employer asks me about current salary, saying 11 per hr would sound ridicoulusly low, but don't want to lie, any way out?

Anon
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"My current, temporary position salary is too low to divulge.  What salary range are you offering?"

Joe Hendricks
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Don't give your salary. Make them make an offer.
Just ask what are you offering for a person with
my qualifications? Some people won't like this,
but these are the people who want to screw
you anyway.

son of parnas
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Fudging the figures is completely valid.  You're playing a game here.

The parallel I like to use is, your last girlfriend broke up with you because you pick your nose in public.  Now you're dating a new girl and she asks, "Why did you two break up?"  Do you say, "Oh, I pick my nose in public"?  NO! You make up a more convenient story so that the relationship can move on.

AC
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Is this your regular salary recalculated on a hourly basis or do you really get paid $11/hr?

If it is the former you cannot get away from it...just be honest and say I earn $22K in my current job but in the past I have earned as much as $XXXK/yr since I had bigger responsibilities.

If it is the latter I think there is no need to tell them since technically speaking it is not a "salary" so you can always give your last proper salary whatever it is.

I would turn around the question and ask them what do you think someone with my experience and skills is worth to you and go from there.  ALso you can say that one of the reasons you are leaving the earlier job is that you do not think you are getting paid in tune with the job you do and the responsibilities you are shouldering.

Code Monkey
Tuesday, March 09, 2004


I've never been in that position, but I think I would try to avoid answering the question and direct the conversation more to what they feel a fair salary is for the position in question.

Frankly, what you are making now has no bearing on how much a position should pay. The employer has a rough idea of the market value or should at least. I might feel a little uncomfortable working for someone who was trying to "get a steal" when it comes to hiring a developer. They should be willing to pay the fair market salary for the position. If they aren't, then, well....

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

You can try to tell a fib and hope they don't demand pay stubs as one place I worked did. I got precisely 15% more to change jobs, which was better than waiting 3 years for three annual reviews.

90% of the time, nothing will happen if you make up a better salary.

cowardly coward who cowers
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

My current company asks me to keep the salary figure confidential and not share it with anyone.

Viper Rage
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"You can try to tell a fib and hope they don't demand pay stubs as one place I worked did."

I hope you're kidding.  That's outrageous.

Your current salary is 100% irrelevant to the job you are applying for.  The *only* thing that is relevant is the market rate for the position and where the salary they are offering relates to that market rate.

Ask them to make an offer.  If you must, do a little legwork and tell them that your research indicates that jobs with these responsibilities pay in a range of x to y and ask them where the offered salary falls within that range.

Norrick
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

At my dad's company they ask for salary history AND demand pay stubs.  And yes, I think it's outrageous.

I asked him why they do it.  He told me an example of an interviewee who had been making X, where their job opening paid X - 25,000 or so.  So that told them this probably wasn't the sort of job he was looking for, and when he heard what the job paid, he agreed.

Then I asked him why giving the salary range or asking the guy how much he was expecting to make wouldn't be just as effective.  I don't recall him having a very convincing answer to this question.

Other than the "_I'm_ the one hiring; _I'll_ ask the questions" attitude, I don't think there is a good answer.

Kyralessa
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

They want to know what you are making so they can decide what to offer you.  You are in a negotiation and this is one of the few times it is acceptible to lie.  First try to get out of it saying, quite honestly that you have learned from experience not to negotiate against yourself.  If they insist there will be no negotiation in the absence of you offering up this information (while at the same time not telling you honestly what the salary range for the position is) they are not playing fair and it is just fine to lie. 

The problem is if they ask for pay stubs.  If you refuse they might use this as grounds for firing you (after you have quit your current job).  You take a chance.

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

How about responding with "Nowhere near what I'm worth.  That's why I'm looking, and I'll keep looking until I find someplace that will pay what I'm worth."  That way they realize they shouldn't try to pull too much of a lowball.

They'll still try it, of course, but maybe not as badly.  Then again, they may wonder why you settled for as little as you did last time around and decide that you might do it again.

Aaron F Stanton
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"I'm sorry, my current employer required me to sign a confidentiality agreement regarding my salary and benefits".


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

First of all, lying to a prospective employer is not the best way to establish a working relationship.

Secondly, if you consider yourself a professional, and if you have to lie to get your job, where does that rank you with those that didn't have to lie?

Thirdly, it's a valid question... the employer has to know at least how much to offer you so you'll consider it a serious offer.  It happens all the time... like "we need a new vp of so and so, I'd like to bring you on.  What are you making at so and so?"...  "100k + 20k bonus"... "ok, how about we offer you 140k to start?"...

Finally, if you don't think you're being fairly compensated for your work, then have a hear-to-heart talk with your employer over lunch, or send your resumes out, or both.

Once you are negotiating your salary, you of course don't want to undersell yourself, but you don't want to price yourself out of the market either by demanding exhorbitant rates.


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"I'm sorry, my current employer required me to sign a confidentiality agreement regarding my salary and benefits".

It is stupid to say this because everyone knows one cannot make an employee sign these kind of agreements. Do you think your mortgage refinance guy will accept this answer? If not why should a company offering you a job?

I would rather be honest and tell them the exact salary or I would say upfront that I am uncomfortable disclosing this details or I will disclose it once they make me an offer based on what they think I am worth.

Why start a career in a new company with a lie?

Code Monkey
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Why start with a lie?  Well if they won't play fair and tell you what the position is budgeted for but require you to tell them what you currently make you tell them you aren't going to tell them.  If they insist I would say I wouldn't want to work for them.  If you still want to try to get the job, they are forcing you to lie.

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

My response:  "Well gee, I thought you would be making an offer based on my abilities and what your salary range is for the position.  I don't see how my current salary factors into that assessment.  Could you explain please?"

I did that once on an interview where I already had decided I didn't want to work there.  Stopped the interviewer cold for about 5 seconds; I don't recall what his (bullshit) response was.

Should be working
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

BTW- In real life I dare say I am more in to honesty, both with myself and others, than most of the people who post to this site.  I cannot tell you how many times I have been screwed over for being honest in situations in which others just naturally know to tell the truth.

I have come to the conclusion that in employment there are areas in wheich we do not expect honesty.  Prime example- "are you going to fire me" vs. "are you looking for a new job".  Anyone with any sense knows that neither side will answer this question candidly until the last minuite.  You and your employers/employees are playing a game and sometimes that game resembles poker.  If one side is fine with bluffing and the other is morally opposed, the latter side will lose.  He may feel morally superior, but he will lose and consistently.

name withheld out of cowardice
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"It is stupid to say this because everyone knows one cannot make an employee sign these kind of agreements. "


Ummm..  I signed one.  Actually I signed something saying I would follow company policies.  It just so happens that one of the policies is for salary to remain confidential.

Dan Brown
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

If you have to ask your employer if you are going to be fired, then it's too late.  If your employer has to ask if you are looking for a new job, then the same thing goes.


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Dan Brown wrote:

"Ummm..  I signed one.  Actually I signed something saying I would follow company policies.  It just so happens that one of the policies is for salary to remain confidential"

Go read that policy again....I bet your salary info has to be  confidential from your coworkers and probably anyone working for the same company not to the whole world or with a different company.

Are you telling me that if you divulged your salary to your drinking buddy you could be fired? That just does not compute.

Code Monkey
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

When asked what you made in your last job, respond, "For *this* job, I am requesting $X a year/hour."  If they continue asking what your last salary was respond, "My salary history is confidential.  If you would like me to work for you, I would like $X a year/hour."  Also tell your previous employer that you do not want them to give your salary information out to anyone.  I used this strategy on several job interviews and was not only respected for it, but ended up getting several job offers at a 20% above what I was making in my last job.  All the interviewer wants to know is a starting number for negotiations, and you are providing one.  If you tell them how much money you made in your last job, then they will simply offer you 5% more than that.

Jethro
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"Go read that policy again"

Too late, that was actually a couple jobs past.

1.  But don't discount the ability of an employer to make an employee sign something that is unreasonable and/or illegal.

I assume they wouldn't like it if a couple of employees happened to share drinking buddies, therefore the blanket "don't tell anybody". 

You're right though, any credit agency will require it, but see #1 above.

Dan Brown
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Read these for some ideas:

http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/hasalary.htm
http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/faqsalary1.htm


But let's imagine you manged to convince them not to ask for your salary, then what?  If that's all you do, if you can't demonstrate your value, then you'll still lose the job.  You need an entire game plan, so try this for some ideas:

http://www.asktheheadhunter.com/basics.htm


Life's not easy, and none of us are in your shoes, so the best we can do is just offer you different points of view.  Here's another view on life in general:

http://www.eetimes.com/printableArticle?doc_id=OEG20030908S0059


Best of luck to you Anon!

VP
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

"... the employer has to know at least how much to offer you so you'll consider it a serious offer.  It happens all the time... like "we need a new vp of so and so, I'd like to bring you on.  What are you making at so and so?"...  "100k + 20k bonus"... "ok, how about we offer you 140k to start?"..."


But when they made you an offer at or below your previous salary, but within a reasonable range, _that's_ when you'd disclose your salary to justify asking for more.

Really, it boils down to:

If you're not a fantastically desirable candidate, then you have to jump through their hoops or face the possibility of not getting the job.

If you _are_ a fantastically desirable candidate...same story; you're just less likely to have to walk away, and you'll feel less nervous about doing it.

And just like people only spam because some people respond to the spam, people only demand salary history because some people are willing to provide it.  If everyone decided they wouldn't ever provide it, and was willing to live with the fact that some jobs would be closed to them because of that, eventually fewer and fewer jobs would ask for it in the first place.

Kyralessa
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

" It happens all the time... like "we need a new vp of so and so, I'd like to bring you on.  What are you making at so and so?"...  "100k + 20k bonus"... "ok, how about we offer you 140k to start?"

There is a big difference between hiring a developer and hiring an executive. For an executive, the search is usually a lot more involved and compensation isn't as easy to nail down.

For a developer, it's a lot simpler to determine the going market rate for, say a Java developer with 3 years experience in corporate development.

I could understand this type of question if the employer were looking for a lead developer, architect or some other position that had management duties. But for someone who is just going to crank out code, the only reason to ask this is to try to get the person at below market value.

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Just in respecting your current employers wishes that your salary remain confidential you aren't at liberty to say.

That kicks the ball into their court nicely because you are playing the good honorable employee.  They aren't about to ask you to breach that because they would then be condoning you do the same to them.

MIke
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

IF you are a liar type, would saying your unemployed be an alternative?    Or saying you were working on some "personal projects", but then shelved the idea, and decided to return to a dayjob. 


Personally, I'd say, I make $11/hr, but I am looking for $x,000  (or whatever it is you expect). 

bella
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

If your salary is extremely low, that in itself might make them decide to not give you the job.  They will be inclined to believe that a person making $11/hr isn't capable of doing the work required of a $75K/yr position.

The only reason they are asking your salary is so they can use it against you.  Not revealing it is a risk, but if it's extremely low then revealing it brings the risk of getting a lowball offer or no offer at all.

T. Norman
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Norman,

Nice way of putting it, in terms of risk.

VP
Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I suppose you could always go to your current employer and tell them, "This company I'm applying to wants to know how much money I make, and I really don't want to lie to them, but if I tell them I make only $11/hr I think they are going to seriously lowball me, so how about a raise?"

Seriously, though, I have known people who have gotten a raise from their current employer by telling them that they'd really like to stay where they are but new places are starting to make some really tempting offers.

Aaron F Stanton
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Why don't you go hit up salary.com and find out what they say the going rate for your profession is in the area?  Then if they ask you what your current salary is you tell them the truth.  "I make $11 an hour, but according to salary.com the going rate is $X, which is part of the reason I'm looking for a job."

In an interview for my current postition, I told the interviewer that my current salary was too low, without divulging a number and asked him how much they were looking to spend.

Or you could be a pain in the ass and ask the interviewer what his/her salary is before answering.

Steve Barbour
Wednesday, March 10, 2004

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