Providing Salary History to Employers

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Do you have to give employers your salary history if they request it? What's the best way to handle information about what you've earned in the past? Some job postings ask you to include your salary history when applying for the position. It's important to be careful how you disclose your salary history, so you have flexibility when it comes to negotiating compensation. If the job posting doesn't mention it, don't offer any salary information.

Also, keep in mind that it is illegal to ask about how much you earned in past positions in some locations.

What is Your Salary History?

A salary history is a document that presents an employee’s past earnings. Some employers ask job candidates to give them a salary history list when they apply for a job. Others may request it as part of the interview process, when you are definitely in contention for the job. A salary history typically includes the name of each company, job title, and the salary and benefits package the candidate has received in the past.

Salary history is different from a salary requirement, which is the pay a job candidate expects for a new job.

Is it Legal for Employers to Request a Salary History?

Some cities and states have passed legislation prohibiting employers from asking applicants for salary information. Legislators in these jurisdictions believe that placing past salary information in the hands of employers perpetuates wage inequality since many women have historically been underpaid compared to men who hold similar positions.

Massachusetts has passed a law effective July 1, 2018 that prohibits employers from requiring candidates to furnish past salary information. New York no longer allows state agencies to gather information about salary history, and the legislature is considering an extension of this ban to private employers.

 New York City, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia have all banned employers from inquiring about salary history. 

The National Conference of State Legislators indicates that at least 21 states have proposed legislation during the past year that would prohibit salary history questions. Check with your state department of labor for the latest laws in your area. 

How to Handle a Request for Your Salary History Where It is Legal to Ask

If you are asked to include your salary history with your resume, you could ignore the request, but, that means you could risk not getting an interview. There is nothing employers like less than candidates who don't follow directions.

An alternative would be to include a salary range rather than a specific amount.

If you do include your salary history, be honest. It's easy for potential employers to verify your salary with previous employers. However, you can also say that your salary requirements are flexible. That may help keep you in the running for the position and will give you some flexibility when negotiating compensation later on.

How to Provide Salary History

What's the best way to provide your salary history? You can list your salary history in your cover letter without itemizing.

For example, you could say, "I am currently earning in the mid-fifties." That gives you some flexibility when it comes to discussing compensation if you get a job offer.

If you're concerned that your salary is high enough to knock you out of contention for the position, what you might want to do instead is to include a salary range rather than a specific amount. For example, you could say "My salary range is from $40,000 - $50,000." Here's an example of a cover letter with a salary range.

Or, your salary history can be listed on a separate salary history page and enclosed with your resume and cover letter. 

What is Included in a Salary History List

A salary history list includes the name of each company worked for, job title, and the salary the candidate has earned while working at the employer.

List your job title, company, and salary for each job in reverse chronological order with your current or most recent job at the top of the list.

List your gross annual salary (the amount prior to taxes being withheld) including any bonuses or other additional compensation over your base pay that you have received.

The following are templates you can use to provide employers with salary history. The second example mentions benefits in addition to annual salary.

Salary History Template #1

Your Name
Address
City, State  Zip
Phone
Email

Salary History

Benefit Representative
Baptist Medical Hospital
Little Rock, AR
12/2014 - Present
Annual Salary: $42,000

Account Analyst
Baptist Medical Hospital
Little Rock, AR
1/2010 - 12/2014
Annual Salary: $35,000

Account Analyst

Carrillon Financial Services
Tampa, FL
Annual Salary: $29,000
4/2008 - 12/2010

Salary History Template #2

First Last Name
Street Address
City, State  Zip
Phone
Email

Salary History

Marketing Manager
Chrome and Partners
New York, NY
06/2013 - Present
Annual Salary: $64,000 plus benefits

Marketing Coordinator
Metropolitan, Inc.
Patchogue, NY
12/2011 - 06/2013
Annual Salary: $50,000 plus benefits

Social Media Assistant
Prime Communications
Bennington, VT
Annual Salary: $29,000 plus benefits
6/2010 - 12/2011

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