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Old 30th Oct 2011, 23:46   #1
HangTime
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Current salary on job application/interviews

Just wanted to get people's views on how to handle "Current Salary" questions on job applications / interviews.

Lets say you apply for a job that doesn't have a fixed salary banding, and the market rate is signficantly higher than your current salary. How do you handle the question about your current salary, bearing in mind that:

a) A big differential gives them a window to offer you below market rates knowing that it still represents a significant rise for you
b) A 'low' current salary may cause them to question how much responsibility you have in your current job, whether you really are as skilled/valuable/important/experienced as you make out.

The way I see it, there are three options:

1) Tell the truth, be confident in your ability to convince them you are the right person for the job, and assume that you will be able to talk them up to a fair salary rather than risk losing you.
2) Inflate your salary to a level that is closer to what they should be paying you for the new role, and hope that if you get the job they won't bother taking any action over it if they find out (e.g. from P60).
3) Play it coy and try to deflect the question, saying it isn't relevant and that you are more interested in knowing what they think you are worth.

I've seen #3 suggested on here before but I am just not convinced, if you dodge a question I can see from their side it may raise more questions than answers.

I know people who have done #2 and it has stood them in good stead, earning them a decent pay rise. I'm a bit too straight-laced for this approach but am starting to wonder whether I should adopt it in future, since realistically once I start a job is an employer likely to want to go through the recruitment process again on the basis of a white lie on the current salary front, given that everything else is factually correct.

#1 I know can work too, some people land themselves decent (40%+) rises this way but I do have fears about how prospective employers view it, in terms of the stigma attached to a 'low' salary.

Obviously when going via an agent they can handle that side of things for you, for the most part, but I have dealt with an agent in the past who quite rigorously questioned my salary expectations vis-a-vis my current salary, which I viewed as irrelevant in relation to my competency for the job in question.

I should point out I'm not currently in the position of having to declare my salary but am interested to know for future reference should it become necessary.
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Old 30th Oct 2011, 23:49   #2
The_Abyss
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Tell the truth - they'll see it on your tax details when you join anyway.
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Old 30th Oct 2011, 23:50   #3
billysielu
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There's a magic number which is current salary PLUS a bit.

This is the number you're willing to leave your current job for.

This is the number you should state is your current salary.

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 00:03   #4
HangTime
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Originally Posted by The_Abyss View Post
Tell the truth - they'll see it on your tax details when you join anyway.
This was always my fear but what I'd be interested to know is whether anyone has actually been pulled up on it before? Also I'd imagine there may be times of year when it is easier to hide e.g. if you quit your old job shortly after the end of the tax year and have your outstanding holiday allowance paid out, overtime etc this could boost it to something not a million miles away from what it would be pro-rata.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 00:06   #5
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in past I would have put truth + 10% but in current climate I would just put the truth unless new job was a step up

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 00:07   #6
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Originally Posted by HangTime View Post
This was always my fear but what I'd be interested to know is whether anyone has actually been pulled up on it before? Also I'd imagine there may be times of year when it is easier to hide e.g. if you quit your old job shortly after the end of the tax year and have your outstanding holiday allowance paid out, overtime etc this could boost it to something not a million miles away from what it would be pro-rata.
Old P60 too.

Far better to be honest and state your case for what you want in the new role. No harm in extra cash being one of the motivations for moving.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 01:02   #7
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Tell the truth, its not worth lying about this as you can easily be found out.

Other point is that if they really like you they still need to give you a decent enough offer to make you want to leave your current job (especially if one of your reasons for leaving your current job is that you're underpaid)- if you are sure they're offering below market rate then you can always ask for more, tis them trying to entice you - you're already working and for all they know you may be getting offers from elsewhere, it isn't necessarily in their interests to give you a low ball offer as you might go elsewhere or you might well leave them soon after joining (after all you'll tend to carry on getting pestered by the recruiters you contacted whilst looking for a month or two into starting a new role.)

If they are asking your current rate then they'll probably want to know your expectations too - make it clear to them what you want and that you're interviewing with them plus some other rival firms...
Last edited by dowie; 31st Oct 2011 at 01:04.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 01:07   #8
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On a side issue, at the moment my salary is probably above market rates due to having been in the role over 20 years

If I ever had to look for a new job how should I approach it ? I know that they would laugh at my current salary but wouldnt want to sell myself short

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 01:39   #9
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Just fill in a P46 when you start.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 04:28   #10
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The way I played it was to tell the truth but don't join if they can't hit number you want. Nothing worse than feeling you've sold yourself short.

When you've had a load of interviews and HR get the nod to make an offer you actually have a little bit of power to force them to be reasonable. HR don't want to tell the managers who own the headcount that they failed to get you because they were not even offering market rate.

Stick to your guns, claim to be waiting to hear back from other companies and if you have the balls even decline the offer but say it's a shame because you really felt it was the best place to work but the other company was offering market rate. If they really liked you and it's not a job they can easily fill they'd come back with a better offer.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 06:09   #11
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1)


There's no real point in lying if your current employer tells them the real figure. Not that likely, but not impossible. I'd just go with "Currently I'm paid xk, but one of the main reasons I'm leaving is that I've fallen behind the market rate in my current job." Or words to that effect.



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Old 31st Oct 2011, 07:41   #12
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I've just got a new job and applied with my contested salary, I've been appealling a regrading for the past 12 months and put the salary I will eventually be regraded to as my existing salary. Hopefully my salary will have been corrected before I leave at the end of Nov which will obviously avoid any questions, if it doesn't happen until after I've left I'll be open with them about it. I put the correct salary for my role if someone were to replace me, I don't feel I should be punished more than I already am being financially for my current employers incompetence.

So to summise, 2) but not just my "dream number", there's reasoning behind it.

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 07:47   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
1)


There's no real point in lying if your current employer tells them the real figure. Not that likely, but not impossible. I'd just go with "Currently I'm paid xk, but one of the main reasons I'm leaving is that I've fallen behind the market rate in my current job." Or words to that effect.



M
Yep this.
When I left my first job it was because I was passing exams and my employer refused to take them into account. Eventually it started to become an issue, at interview at least twice the agent got feedback along the lines of "we cannot believe this guys does this work for this money", I changed my interview tack a little at this point.
I started saying that I was looking for new opportunities and that I was worried that whilst I was gaining experience I was falling massively behind on salary and that it could affect my long term career prospects. That seemed to change their views quite nicely.

When I did leave, not long after I took a new approach to that subject I left for approx a 25% payrise. Three months after joining I got another rise that meant I had had a 50% payrise vs my old company. I was told they realised I was potentially worth that at interview but just wanted to check that I really was that good.

Now I would broach the subject differently, I have secured a job on the comment of "please just offer me what you think I am worth to your organisation", and last time quoted a reasonably wide but fair range. Got wacked in the middle last time, and then got a raise to the top a few months ago.

I would probably quote the range again if I was looking, it gives them some scope and you can always negotiate if they offer a poor amount when offering the job. Plenty of people I know will do this, personally I have only once been offered too small an amount to accept an offer.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 07:51   #14
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Screw the truth - I'd rather be a liar with a better job.

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 09:23   #15
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I never answer that one truthfully and I never actually give a figure I always say my 'package is worth in the region of ....' on the very rare occasion I've been asked to explain further I just say it's very difficult to put an actually figure on it with all the benefits, overtime and on call etc.

When you start your new job the poeple who see your P60 will be the accountants not your new boss and they have more important things to worry about, your also highly unlikely to ever get pulled up over it at the end of the day the company who have taken you on will not have paid more than they think you are worth and the cost of recruitment would almost certainly outweigh any extra they gave you as a result of your slight exageration.

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After a month the monkeys had produced five pages of the letter "S" and had broken the keyboard.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 09:31   #16
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Originally Posted by billysielu View Post
Screw the truth - I'd rather be a liar with a better job.
Or a liar with no job when they find out?


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Old 31st Oct 2011, 09:46   #17
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I always learned the first one to mention money loses the negotiation,

so i tend to make them talk about it first by telling them salary isnt the main factor in job change etc etc.


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Old 31st Oct 2011, 09:49   #18
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Option 2. If I know I'm under, I push it up. Sure, course. Never had an issue. I wouldn't over inflate my salary to a stupid point as they would just not be interested in offering, but market value or just above.

Don't normally have to now, but I did and have done and never had an issue.

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 09:50   #19
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Wouldn't salary be one thing which a co pay would actuall hand over in a reference.

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 09:51   #20
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No.

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 10:02   #21
a1ex2001
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Originally Posted by sigma View Post
Or a liar with no job when they find out?
That will never ever happen, regardless of what you tell them they will never offer you more than they think your worth and if you don't actually state a number but state 'A total package of around ...' then you haven't really lied. Recruitment costs are massive so it's not worth them getting shot of you aver a few k on your salary.

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Wouldn't salary be one thing which a co pay would actuall hand over in a reference.
I've certainly never heard of or seen salary in a refference, these days the most you get out of all the biggest companies it a quick 'Joe Blogs worked for us from x to y his current job title is blah and he has had z sick days in the last 12 months'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paignton Zoo
After a month the monkeys had produced five pages of the letter "S" and had broken the keyboard.
Last edited by a1ex2001; 31st Oct 2011 at 10:09.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 11:17   #22
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I've done #2 quite a few times, it was the only way to advance at all with my salary. If it's a medium to large company you can lie through your teeth about salary and they'll never check it out. But whatever you do, don't lie about qualifications/work experiance! That's the one that catches you out! (never happened to me but i've see loads of people around me get fired because they thought they could lie about it)
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 11:26   #23
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I usually ignore the question unless specifically asked by an agency for example.

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 21:36   #24
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As I suspected, no real consensus of opinion

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vanilla View Post
The way I played it was to tell the truth but don't join if they can't hit number you want. Nothing worse than feeling you've sold yourself short.
This is kind of where my head is at, in the past I've been in the position of having changed jobs but then feeling I need to change jobs soon after because I was still earning under market rate despite getting a moderate raise (e.g. going from being underpaid by 40% to 20%). I've actually decided that might be something I'd bring up in negotiation, stating that I don't want to find myself in a position where I'm still a long way short of market rates. My attitude, albeit somewhat naive, is that if an employer is willing to see past current salary and pay me a fair salary then they are probably the sort of company I'd want to work for, instead of one that needs to be hoodwinked into it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meridian View Post
one of the main reasons I'm leaving is that I've fallen behind the market rate in my current job
I was always told that using salary as a primary motivator for changing jobs looks bad because it doesn't show ambition to join the company in question, but rather just a way to earn more money and thus create a fear that as soon as a better offer comes up you'll be on your bike.

Quote:
Originally Posted by a1ex2001 View Post
I never answer that one truthfully and I never actually give a figure I always say my 'package is worth in the region of ....' on the very rare occasion I've been asked to explain further I just say it's very difficult to put an actually figure on it with all the benefits, overtime and on call etc.
Works OK for an interview / HR bod question, but if you have to state it in writing on a form there's a lot less wiggle room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by robgmun
whatever you do, don't lie about qualifications/work experiance!
I've never seen the need to lie about qualifications as I've always been overqualified for every job I've applied for (or at least not underqualified). As for experience I'm too much of a goody two-shoes to lie about that, although it is tempting in cases where I know I've effectively done a more advanced role than my job title would suggest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by QuickLink
I wouldn't over inflate my salary to a stupid point as they would just not be interested in offering, but market value or just above
Absolutely not, if I did this at all it would be a case of inflating it to below market rates and then using that as a platform to ask for a modest increase to hit market rate, as opposed to a big increase. Example (numbers plucked out of the air so not directly relevant to me):

Market rate = 45-55k
Current salary = 35k
Inflated current salary = ~40-42k
Target salary = 45-50k

If I went down this route I certainly wouldn't be stating anything outlandish - my target would never be anything more than market rate.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 23:20   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HangTime View Post
Market rate = 45-55k
Current salary = 35k
Inflated current salary = ~40-42k
Target salary = 45-50k
If you were supposedly on 42k then why on earth would you want to move for merely a few grand (OK perhpas 55k but not the lower end of that bracket) considering that, if you were any good, your current firm would be making a counter offer and also you'd be within the rate you're after at next payrise anyway without the added risk involved with moving.

Stick with truth IMO - its hardly unreasonable for someone on 35k to want 45k+ in order to jump ship. It would be really stupid to gain and then quickly lose a new job because you made up a blatant lie.
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 23:36   #26
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I think it would depend on how long you've been at the current company...

Say you're on 35k atm, but market rate is 45k-55k. Well you could argue if you've been at the company for a long time (5-10 years) maybe it could be that you haven't had a pay rise because of various reasons etc... ?

kd

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Old 31st Oct 2011, 23:40   #27
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I still think something like this is a blatant lie and can be checked - honesty is important and if you start out at your new employer as someone who has quite knowingly bull****ed then it really won't do you much good.

(Unless you're in sales in which case I guess honesty is a hindrance)
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Old 31st Oct 2011, 23:53   #28
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^^maybe a bad choice of numbers, stretch them a bit. I just worry about how it looks if you earn say 30% below market rate, whether that sets alarm bells ringing in terms of whether your experience matches up to what it should do for a given role. robskinner's post seems to confirm my fears:

Quote:
Eventually it started to become an issue, at interview at least twice the agent got feedback along the lines of "we cannot believe this guys does this work for this money"
In other words as I highlighted in the OP the issue is twofold, it isn't just about wanting to secure a fair salary moving forward, but also ensuring that people don't derive negative views about your competence based on salary.

Ultimately I think when the time comes for me to move jobs again I want to avoid a situation where I get screwed over on salary, the easy answer is just to refuse any offer below market rates but then there's the risk that I'd end up having to stay in my current job longer than necessary, and thus falling further behind in net earnings and potentially career development.
Last edited by HangTime; 31st Oct 2011 at 23:56.
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