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Your Take: OK to Lie About Previous Salary in Interviews?

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This post about “a little white lie in salary negotiation” sparked a bit of a heated debate in the Daily Worth community (I discovered it through a post on the New York Times Bucks blog). The original post said:

I’d found a position I liked and applied for it. The recruiter asked for my current salary. Let’s just say I inflated the figure—and told her I was earning $5,000 more than I was. (“Everyone does that,” a successful colleague had told me. “Just don’t puff it up too much, so that figure seems realistic.”)

Some people didn’t take kindly to her advice about inflating your previous salary.

I don’t think it’s lying. I think it’s acceptable to lie about your previous salary if you are pushed to give a hard number. I also don’t think it’s appropriate for a recruiter or a prospective employer to ask what you earned at your last job. They have assigned a dollar value to you and they should base their compensation on that value, not on what your previous employer paid you. When you reveal what you earned at your last job, they make take that into consideration when they shouldn’t.

The right thing to do is to decline to answer but if I were pushed for a response, I’d give a range. If pushed for a single number (and I’d find this very inappropriate but sometimes you have to do what you have to do), I’d puff up the salary such that I’d be at most 10% away from what I wanted to earn.

This benefits both sides. First, either they decide I’m worth it or I’m not, in which case they will extend an offer or they won’t. Second, I don’t get an offer I won’t take even with a bump because of negotiation. We all save time and we all walk away happy. Why tell them you earn $40,000 if you won’t accept a job offer for $44,000? Or $50,000? It’s a waste of everyone’s time.

What do you think? Is lying/puffing OK or unacceptable?

{ 117 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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117 Responses to “Your Take: OK to Lie About Previous Salary in Interviews?”

  1. DIY Investor says:

    I agree with ian. It is a standard question. I never had anybody question it. And (I know a lot of people don’t want to hear this) it isn’t always asked by the company to get information to use against you. In fact, sometimes they might say this position pays nowhere near the $88,000 you were paid previously and that way save both you and them time from exploring the job further.
    The more interesting question is “what would it take to get you for this position”?

  2. ian says:

    This has me fired up…

    Being asked for prior salary information before an offer is extended and before negotiations have started is a bad place to be. But you have to answer and answering with your ‘value’ or desired salary rather than prior salary seems the best option to me. You are asking the only valid question (can they afford you) while avoiding the dishonest approach of trying to pay you as little as possible.

    In this case, you are doing yourself a disservice by revealing personal information that will not demonstrate your ability to do the job.

    For those that consider this the type of lying which should be avoided at all costs (@ AMP), I am curious what you would do if a police officer pulls you over when you are going 3mpg over the speed limit and asks >> ‘Were you speeding’?
    Do you live in a world of uninhibited truth like in ‘Liar Liar’ or ‘The Invention of Lying’?

  3. Paul says:

    I deal with IT recruiters quite often. When that question is posed to me, I tell them that based on what I make plus changing jobs, I am looking for a range of ……… If they continue pressing me for my salary, I tell them it is their job to decide if I am worth what the position is offering.

    If that doesn’t work, then I end the conversation. It has worked well for me on a number of occasions.

    • Stephane says:

      Exactly what I was going to reply. You saved me the time ;-)

    • Theresa says:

      While I like the boldness of this statement, it does not always translate to other types or markets.

      For instance, in Clerical work, we are a dime a dozen. Our skillsets, while impressive, are just not irreplaceable.

      • “For instance, in Clerical work, we are a dime a dozen. Our skillsets, while impressive, are just not irreplaceable.”

        That is so true. That was my life for 12 years and though I worked a few very impressive companies, had a high level of responsibility (and salary), we are still a dime a dozen. This is the one industry where you can make $65K (San Francisco) in one job and $30K in the next.

        • Theresa says:

          And what do you do now, if you don’t mind my asking. If you can’t tell, I’m job shopping and need some direction in my life. These types of communications are good for my real-world education.

          • Right now, I am on disability, but not looking to stay on it for life – DETERMINED! When I do start looking for work again, I have no idea what I will do. I think my only option is to go back to school, but I’m not even sure what I will go to school for. In other words, I am stuck. :)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Yes. I tripled my salary this way.

  5. Adam says:

    Yes, it lying is absolutely alright in this situation.

    There is only one reason this question would ever be asked in a job interview: to pin down your starting salary if hired for a new position.

    This means that naming a number, $X dollars per year, has three possible consequences:

    1) The number given is within the acceptable range the hiring company is looking for. If you are within the range they’re looking to hire in, the hiring company will be happy.

    2) The number given, $X, is too high. This is a mark against you, and will have an effect on whether or not you are hired.

    3) The number given, $X, is too low. This is a horrible thing for you, but great for the company. They will hire you at a great discount.

    So, three possible scenarios: 2 favorable outcomes for the hiring company, and 1 unfavorable outcome for you. This question, is without a doubt, a “heads I win, tails you lose” baited question, so you have every right to stack the question in your favor:

    Name a pricetag on the high end of what you think your potential employer will pay you for your work. Do research on Google (Glassdoor.com is an awesome resouce) to find salary ranges for similar positions at similar companies.

    I pumped my salary from $40k per year to $70k per year early this year doing this. The hiring game is already stacked against you, there is no reason to tie an arm behind your back while you interview, especially in this market.

  6. billsnider says:

    Interesting reading the posts.

    I have a question for the older folks in the room. When the economy is booming, employers will let you get away with a lot (ex: not ddisclosing salary history) and will let you win. Have you found this to be true?

    In a worse economy (Now), this tactic (lying) will backfire. Agreed/

    In an even worse economy (late 60″s and late 80″s), this will blow up in your face. Agreed/

    Point is to the younger folks, be careful. It is not all about lying and your abilities, the state of the economy dictates terms, not you.

    Bill Snider

    • Theresa says:

      Define older… :)

      As for lying, no I have not resorted to it, yet. Yes, this post is giving me ideas.

      Does the economy worsen my chances IF I lie, for my market, yes, because I am already having to lower my range. NOT because I lie.

      The state of the ECONOMY does dictate the terms. If you are in a job that has no inherent rising power (no upward mobility) then you cannot dictate the price of your salary. You are stuck with the current going rate.

  7. Even though I often respond to nosy and impertinent questions with disinformation, in this case I’d be concerned that an employer could find out what you earned, because so much private information is now available to anyone with a few dollars to spend on a search. You wouldn’t want to be caught in a lie at the job interview stage.

    On the other hand, I do think that giving an answer that includes your entire compensation package makes sense. That way you’re not lying, but you make it appear that you were paid a great deal more than you ever saw in your bank account.

    The alternative is simply refusing to answer, either by stating outright that you will not answer a personal question or through various gambits (the “why do you ask?” or the “in the range of…” strategy). The problem is, this makes you look stubborn and uncooperative; it can pretty well scotch your chance of getting the job.

    • ziglet19 says:

      Eactly what I was thinking. By refusing to answer the question, I worry thay the interviewer may find me uncooperative and not want to hire me.

  8. My boyfriend lied about his previous salary (but not by too much) when during his final interview..

    I think it’s okay too… otherwise, he’d get much less!

  9. I definitely don’t see anything wrong with this. I hate the fact that employers try to keep it hidden the amount you should be paid in comparison to how much you actually get paid. The company should already have a value for you as Jim said and not base it off of what you are currently making. I know many people who are way underpaid for their position and that shouldn’t be used as a valuation of what they are worth to a new company.

  10. eric says:

    This post seems sizzling with comments…just how I like it! :)

    You know what…with complete honesty, I would totally agree with you. Is it lying? Yup. Is it unethical? Probably. But to me I look at it from a negotiation standpoint. Both sides (the employer and applicant) are playing a game of give or take. I think you unnecessarily shoot yourself in the foot by revealing your past salary (something I would never do).

    Basically, I don’t see this as wrong.

  11. Mike says:

    Dear Jim,

    It is unacceptable to lie about your salary or anything at an interview. I am a HR executive at a big company, and we always check references and confirm salaries and benefits. So it not just about past performance. If you are buying a car, you are comparing prices, features, skills, etc. You set yourself a budget and then shop for your budget. There exceptions, where you look for a particular set of skills and you will pay almost any price (so you don’t base your offer on the past salary). However, in most cases those positions are contract positions, i.e. CEO who can turnaround companies and then leave.

    So it therefore a better strategy to negotiate, and argue about your extra skills or achievements who will add additional value to the company.

    Hope this helps.

    • GC says:

      Mike, good to hear HR’s point of view.
      You said companies shop for best employee in a given budget — isn’t the question ‘what salary do you want?’ 10 times more relevant than ‘what was your previous salary?’…

      To me it seems like a cheap trick to minimize the new salary — no one wants that, that’s why many prefer to lie. And as others have mentioned, if someone was satisfied with their current salary they wouldn’t be looking for a new job in the first place.

      Anyways, I think I wouldn’t lie, but if someone is pressed to give exact answer I wouldn’t blame them.
      Asking that question is quite improper to begin with.

      (also look at the comments from: ian, Adam, Ron.)

      • cubiclegeoff says:

        I agree. I’ve never been asked my past salary (or if I had, I’ve talked around it), but have been asked what salary I’m looking for. I hate answering the question, but you can at least provide an explanation, and if the future employer doesn’t like it, they can choose not to offer the job.

    • freeby50 says:

      It is lying for sure.

      Do I think its acceptable? Hmm. Thats a question of ethics and morals. Its a little tricky here, IMO. Generally lying is bad of course, but whats the purpose of the question and the impact of the lie?

      If you wife asks “does this make me look fat” then should you tell the truth?
      Is it ok to tell a child that Santa Claus exists? Or are ya goin to hell for that? I think its just fine, sometimes things are technically lies but OK in every way.

      If I am trying to buy a used car should I truthfully answer every single question the the car salesman asks just cause he asked? I mean give him my social security number, birth date, fico score, salary, etc. just cuase he asked me?

      If I asked the interviewer how much they pay for the position will they give me a direct answer? I think not. Of course they are asking from a position of power for their own purposes and bending you over with a loaded question when doing so. I think the question is unfair and irrelevant to the hiring process. Now of course if they were wanting to pay me $25,000 and I make $75,000 then it would help for us both to know that so we’re not wasting time. But generally I assume the question is used for the companies benefit when negotiating salary.

      Bottom line, I think its an unfair question that really only benefits the hiring company.
      What the job pays is not based on what I used to make at another company. What I made at another company isn’t directly relevant to my qualifications for the job I’m interviewing for.

      I haven’t been asked this question that I recall. If I were asked I can honestly tell an interviewer that my current employer considers salary and wage information to be confidential and I’m contractually bound by their non disclosure agreement. If they have a problem with that then I probably don’t want to work there.

  12. Denise says:

    Are you kidding me? Lying is Lying…what have we taught this generation that allows anyone to think that lying about salary is acceptable? I have been a recruiter for over 23 years and helped 1000′s of people increase their salaries and improve their career choices with my clients. I tell them up front that we are going to discuss what they are currently making and whether or not my client can address their salary requirements to make the move. If a candidate refuses to discuss this, I don’t work with them. (FYI – I have only had 3 instances where this was an issue in 23 years) Plus, as indicated in the other comments, one of the areas that employers can and will check on is “ending” salary. So IF you lie to get the job and they find out after the fact, they can fire you for “falsification of application” and if they don’t fire you they will wonder what else you lied about and possibly use that information in future assessments when it comes time for promotion and/or recommendations in a downsizing. Oh, and asking the question is NOT improper. It is an accepted and allowed question during an interview. It should only be asked from your HR representative or your potential Manager, not someone that would be a peer. All they are trying to assess is your ability to do the job and IF you are in the range given for the position…If your recruiter knows what they are doing, they can help you maximize your offer, by supporting you through the interview process. If they tell you to lie on the interview, salary or otherwise, walk away from them.

    • cubiclegeoff says:

      This assumes that your current or past salary is equal to what you deserve, which is not always the case. I disagree that it is an acceptable question. Asking what salary you expect is fine, not what you currently make. What you currently make is irrelevant.

    • GC says:

      Denise, you said ‘ability to do the job’ and ‘range given for the position’ — shouldn’t you look at previous experience, references, etc. for the former, and their desired salary for the latter?
      You said you help employees maximize their salary, but you certainly have to balance that with the employers’ wish to minimize it.
      If someone was earning 50K, and they want 75K — wouldn’t you say ‘hey, you want 50% increase, get real!’ (even if they have the right experience and skills, and this is in your initial range)?

      The main reason peers shouldn’t know each others’ salaries is because employers want to keep them in control — they give them the lowest that would satisfy them, even if this doesn’t match their contribution/skills. As long as this is hidden from individuals, there can be, and are, huge discrepancies between ability and salary. That’s exactly why it can’t really help recruiters guess abilities, it helps them in a different way. ;)

      As Adam mentioned, this question can only favor the employer.
      The only answers the company needs are: how good the interviewee is and how much would make them happy; this question has not much to do with that. That’s why it is inappropriate.

      Since recruiters never reveal information about the company that that would give interviewees leverage, interviewees have every right to do the same — i.e. not to answer.

    • freeby50 says:

      Denise, In your 23 years experience how often are people you deal with underpaid in their last job? What do you do if someone is / was underpaid?

      I really don’t see how past salary is really indicative of qualifications. Can you explain that logic to me? If I’m an engineer making $90,000 then how does that mean I’m less capable or qualified than an engineer making $100,000? Unless you’re just looking for a ballpark figure I don’t really see how the salary figure is meaningful indicator of someones qualifications.

  13. cubiclegeoff says:

    I would generally talk around the question saying something that moves to giving a range of what I expect rather than what I currently make. That should be enough for them to make a decision. If they really need my salary info to make a decision then I’m not so sure that’s a place I would want to work.

  14. RobMan says:

    The question about what you are making now is not appropriate, although I think I have asked it to interveiwee’s before. The reality is, if the the salary of the position isn’t posted in the ad, then there neds to be a n understanding from both sides what is expected. I asked the question to see if the $50,000.00 job I was offering, was being saught by someone whoi is currently making $65,000.00 Obviously, they are probalby not going to take it. However, the initial phone interview should flesh that out or a Salary “range” shoud be indicated or the potential candidates, i.e. thie postion has a range of $45K to 75K Depending on experience. That is probalby the best way to pose the question or answer the questions. “My current position has a salary range of 55,000 to 80,000. I am withini that range and looking to raise that level. The interviewer may press you more, but I would respond by asking them the range of the postion you are interviewing and indicate if there is reaon to proceed or end the interview.

    • ian says:

      I am not sure you see the issue being called out.

      As a representative of the company, you want to find out if this person’s salary need is in line with the position that you are offering. However, the question being asked – what was your previous salary – does not get you this answer, while at the same time disadvantaging the job seeker.

      An appropriate question would be – what is your desired salary – this question identifies if the individual’s salary expectations are within your budget and does not ask them to reveal non-relevant and personal information such as prior salary.

      As an example – If the job seeker currently makes 45k and you have budged 50k for this position – asking what they made previously only hurts the conversation because by telling you 45k it may give the impression the candidate and job match. But you never told the job seeker the budget, so when you offer them the job at 50k, they turn you down or counter-offer the number they were looking for – 65k – but this is beyond your budget. Both people’s time was wasted because the wrong question was asked.

      The job seeker could answer ‘i think the question you mean to ask is….’ but this will just further harm their ability to get the job.

      Rather than try to explain this or avoiding the question, there is merit to simply answering the other question and moving on.

  15. Bob Smith says:

    Here’s the thing. If you are lying about your previous salary, the HR manager or hiring manager could EASILY find out what your previous salary was. Employment screening companies sell reports called income verification reports which include your current wage rate along with other very specific information pertaining to your employment.

    Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, some employment screening companies allow you to order annually free employment history reports.

    In the past, I’ve ordered a free employment history report, and it had my wage rate information on it.

  16. Bob Smith says:

    I forget this…

    I ordered the free report at http://www.theworknumber.com/Employees/datareport.asp

  17. R Novitsky says:

    I agree the question as worded may put the interviewee at a disadvantage. But bottom line – lying is lying… well…. is LYING….

    Either have the social sauve to manuver the situation into a postive outcome, or walk away if you feel you are being taken advantage of. There are many ways to navigate as discussed here. If those don’t work, then go ahead and lie, work for a company that only cares about itself… the sad part is that maybe you fit in there.

    • Theresa says:

      Wow. Idealism at its best.

      The truth is that people do maneuver to get ahead. With all that we have learned here, let’s recap:

      1) Companies can and do research your previous history, if they are truly concerned about paying you too much. If they are not, and you wont know either way, then they wont know and anything you tell them is ok. Maybe not ethical, but you’d get away with it.

      2)Companies should not ask certain questions of you during the 3-part interview process, but sometimes an either inexperienced or possibly a forward thinking HR interviewer may take that plunge. If so, live with it and do your best to take one of several possible actions:
      a) lie. Inflate your last figure.
      b) tell the truth. Get exactly the same $.
      c) tell them a salary range (I earned between $xK and xK)
      d) tell them you’d rather not disclose that information
      e) tell them that your complete benefits package came to a rounded total of $____.

      People out here are not only fighting to survive, but to recover their losses, cover their expenses, and get ahead.

  18. Lying is wrong. I have been utterly desperate for work in the past, but I never thought about inflating my salary (though I can understand the temptation). 1. Its wrong and 2. One simple phone call, and they can find out the truth.

  19. ian says:

    I have been pretty active in this discussion but wanted to call out what Bob Smith posted above

    http://www.theworknumber.com/Employees/datareport.asp

    This is very enlightening. This is a work verification report that you can see for yourself but that can also be *potentially* seen by other employers. It does include salary & bonus information.

    Upon further reading (Help>How Do I use it), the income information is only available with your prior approval and action by giving the employer a ‘Salary Key’ (I called to verify this and that a signature on an application is not authorization to see income). If you do not provide this ‘key’ but the employer has your SS# and Employer name they can find out work history (name, dates, job titles ONLY). This is in line with my prior expectations.

    To summarize, using The Work Number, potential employers are able to see your work history, NOT salary. If you did work to obtain and give them a ‘Salary Key’, they would be able to verify income. However, they can not get this without you.

    —-
    To the comment of lying is lying – you live in a different world than I do. If given a horrible cup of coffee by the interviewer, I would tell them it was fine. If I got lost on the way and was asked if the place was hard to find I would say their directions were great. If I was shocked by the door on my way into the building and stubbed my toe on reception desk I would still put on a bright smile and tell them the day is going great. No matter how much I dislike my current boss or employer, they would be good people to work for if asked.
    During an interview, I put my best face forward and act as if the world is full of unicorns and sunshine.
    These are embellishments used in all sorts of situations. But you call them lies and we who use them liars. I am really curious if you are not a liar yourself.

  20. David says:

    Pretty simple:
    1. It’s a lie
    2. Lying is wrong
    3. You can “succeed” by doing wrong things such as lying, cheating, stealing, etc, but at what cost? Are you really willing to pay that price?

    David

    • Theresa says:

      Read the above comment by IAN. Black and White is never the only answers. The world is full of colors, my friend.

      • David says:

        I do live in a different world as Ian suggests . . . I have lived this life of not lying and I can tell you it is not easy. Was the coffee good? “drinkable” (true) would be my answer. Any trouble finding the place? “Nothing I couldn’t handle” (true). I am continually wondering, of course, if I am misleading others by my incomplete answers. Once you stop lying, you naturally tackle the next level. Honesty, complete honesty is a pursuit, it is a process, not a static state of being. SO, in those cases, I have to say, maybe it is a gray area to reframe the reply into a true but less-than-complete view that may leave the other person wondering and not completely informed. That is, of course, different from giving a false number . . . more later on that.

        Do you know how fast you were going? “Yeah, when I noticed you turning around I glanced at the speedometer and saw about 74.” This is what I do, and I am richer for it.

        Yes, I break a lot of rules. I speed a bit and I hope that my skills make me safer for other drivers even at 8 mph over the speed limit (former professional racer). That is not lying, that is breaking the rules and I am standing ready to pay the consequences for my actions. If asked, yes, I was speeding. I feel my breaking the rules is OK but lying (breaking another rule) is not OK. Curious that, I wonder exactly where the distinction comes from for me? Maybe I feel that other humans made up the speed laws but truth and honesty are universal and timeless. If you think about it, lying is not illegal unless you are lying under oath or perpetrating a theft such as Bernie Madoff did. (I wonder how well he sleeps at night now?)

        Lying is one thing and not giving a complete answer is another. If asked a direct question about the quality of the coffee, I would ask if they really wanted to know then tell them the detail of the bitterness and so forth hopefully in a way that would help them to create a better cup next time.

        So, I agree there are shades of gray (such as whether an incomplete answer is a lie) but you must agree too that telling your prospective employer a salary number that is false is a black and white lie, period, and without color or shades of gray. Would you not agree?

        I work in Latin America and sometimes get paid in cash. I cross the border back into the USA with wads of cash, thousands of dollars. I deposit it into the bank and report it as income for tax purposes.

        I am not really attracted to gambling but once in Las Vegas through a series of events, I ended up winning $700. I subtracted the $200 that I estimated I had lost over my life to date in Vegas and, yes, reported $500 as income. My accountant thought I was nuts. This is the same accountant that on a different occasion looked at me across his desk and said: “Are you SURE you did not give more to charity last year?” So, I changed accountants.

        I can hear some of you laughing at what a stupid SOB, what a naive ass I am, what a loser. I can hear that. But that does not keep me awake at night.

        In Fallon Nevada, there is a restaurant and casino that has Keno games. They have the “IRS special” game where the winner gets $1499, just a dollar under the amount that the casino is bound by law to report to the IRS. Funny that . . . sounds like collusion doesn’t it? We will pay you $1499 in winnings and the IRS will not know about it. That allows you to lie on your tax return and not pay tax on it. (Please don’t take this as a spring board to launch into whether you support all the green things or war efforts of our president–I have strong opinions about that too but if you are honest about it, you opinion about how tax revenue is spent is not related to whether you are lying about your income.)

        My girlfriend and I split up in April. There were several reasons but one was that when she bought a car recently, she and the seller agreed to lie about how much she paid for it in an obvious collusion to save sales tax money. Her parents agreed that was an appropriate thing to do. After that, well, I felt differently about her and her family.

        I ride in a lot of taxis and limos. I ask for a receipt for the fare plus tip. 20% of the time, the driver hands me two blank receipt forms, in an obvious collusive act to defraud the government by over-reporting deductible expenses. I hand them back and ask him to fill one it out for the right amount and give it back to me.

        To quote a friend of mine, “there is no such thing as an inconsequential lie.”

        The examples from my life above are real but as I re-read them, I see they could appear as if I am placing myself on a special pedestal or maybe I am hawking some religion or maybe I have something to sell. I don’t mean to portray myself as a special person—although I do intend to be a leader, I am just a person. Just a person struggling with the next level, and I would like some company on the journey. And, I am not religious and I am not selling anything. I do hope to provide a viewpoint that may allow some of you to evaluate and perhaps adopt a better path; and, I hope the examples give you something to think about . . . late at night.

        • Theresa says:

          David,

          No one is requesting you change your personal stance. My mother is very ethical and I have not known her to lie.

          (In a lot of instances, Omission is lying.)

          I WAS raised religiously. I am aware of the 10, but I’ll be darned if I crush someone’s spirit by telling them the song they just spent time singing to me is not worth my attention, or wasn’t any good. (personal pet peeve… everyone deserves cantar). I believe in the golden rule almost above the 10.

          I wont tell you your new haircut is crap either. Common courtesy, even if your haircut is unflattering, is to say you like it, or just don’t say anything at all.

          What do these have to do with the workplace? Depends. Where do you work?

        • ian says:

          Thanks for sharing your perspective David.

          To your question>> “So, I agree there are shades of gray (such as whether an incomplete answer is a lie) but you must agree too that telling your prospective employer a salary number that is false is a black and white lie, period, and without color or shades of gray. Would you not agree? ”

          I would disagree. I believe that there are shades of gray to the salary question. As stated above, I believe that his is an improper question and *through no fault of my own* I have been put in a position where a truthful answer (either telling my actual salary or refusing to answer) will put me either at a disadvantage or exclude me from the job completely. These are the factors that make this a shade of gray.
          Since I was asked an improper question and an honest answer will hurt me, I choose to be inexact with my answer to prior salary to protect my bargaining position.

          • David says:

            You may be in a position due to no fault of your own. Maybe you could change your position.

            I need to be on other projects; so, I may not be able to respond again to this blog . . . just wanted to issue another caution to those who would pursue honesty, which is sometimes to their own detriment . . . YES, you will be penalized in some cases. However, the reward or penalty for being honest is not the reason to pursue honesty. You figure that out.

            I have lost several contracts due to my unwillingness to provide money under the table to the person in the hiring position (person in control of whether my company got the contract). They don’t tell you that in a direct fashion, but it is clear what they want and what is at stake. One case in Mustique, another in Jamaica, one in Tampa and another in Pomona. I have lost revenue from these lost projects but I sleep better . . . ;)

            Best regards to all,
            David

        • cdiver says:

          If you told me that my coffee was drinkable I would no longer consider you a candidate.

          • David says:

            If you did not brew good coffee, I would not work for you . . . ;)

            Unless, of course, you were hiring me to brew coffee in your place. ;)

  21. If a recruiter is asking you how much you make, s/he instantly zaps negotiating power from you when it comes to your salary. It is not right and it is not fair, which means that you shouldn’t play fair either. I say, it’s completely acceptable to lie because your questioner is being deceitful as well.

    • cdiver says:

      It’s called business. Selling for a profit. If goods are allowed to be overpriced then why can’t my services?

      • GC says:

        cdiver, I understand your answer as: ‘I demand exact numbers because I can’…
        Well, this has nothing to do with being right and fair. :)
        It only means the person across the table prefers to lose negotiating power than to lose a prospective job… (especially true with today’s unemployment rates)

        The only way I see to stop such improper practices is if people start holding their positions more strongly and simply refuse to answer that question.
        I am glad this discussion raises awareness and makes people think.

        Lying, although not quite ethical, also evens out the powers, and as you see, many people do it.
        And this makes me think — do you trust the answers you receive?

        • GC says:

          Sorry, cdiver, I mistook you for the person (I think ChillyOne) who says he has every right to know your previous salary, otherwise your application is ‘a toast’…

      • David says:

        Selling for a profit is not a negative thing–it drives much of our opulent style of living and provides great services and products including the “overpriced” Starbucks coffee. (they are not overpriced to me, I consider them a good value at $5). ;)

        In a competitive market, overpriced goods result in that business going out of business.

        You can overprice your services in a free country like ours. However, if they are truly overpriced when evaluated on a cost/benefit or value basis, then you will not have a job.

        However, you are not pricing or negotiating your price or salary when you lie about your previous salary, you are simply telling a lie. If you demand a higher salary (fully your right to ask for anything), that is fine.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I would not lie, but there is a difference between being asked in an interview and being asked with a form (especially if it’s a computer form that only accepts numbers).

    In an interview I would definitely explain that salary includes #vacation days, healthcare, pension plan, etc… if they offer me the same as my current company, they can give it to someone else… and if they really want me they’ll have to come up with a better offer.

    If it’s a form then that’s another matter, I might enter 9999999999, not as lie but just to make it clear that it will require more investigation on their side.

  23. David says:

    Cool. There are always options to lying. Change their question from “salary” to “compensation” by telling them your answer will be in overall compensation package terms, then answer that question.

    99999999 is clearly not a lie because they can clearly see that you are making a different statement, that you are declining to answer the question the way they asked it.

    I use the phrase, “I’d rather not answer that,” which leads to discussion if the question was important.

  24. A.A. says:

    ” All they are trying to assess is your ability to do the job and IF you are in the range given for the position…” and to all the HR-Recruiter/ departments : do you hear yourself ? the above stated needs to be supported by actual price range for the job. when you post an opening then just LIST THE $$$ RANGE for that opening and RIGHT candidates will apply. YOU ARE ASKING FOR MY CURRENT SALARY FOR ONLY ONE AND ONE REASON: YOU WANT CHEAPEAST LABOR POSSIBLE.

  25. A.A. says:

    to those applying online: when you have to fill out ” current salary” field don’t do it if you dont want it, as an IT/ finance person I can tell that those fields are designed to accpet any digital entry including “0000″ . So living it blank will not work but entering ANY digits including a buch of zeros will do just fine. :)


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