Job Interview salary question

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I was recently laid off from a job after 10 years because the company has been downsizing.  I'm recognizing now I was paid well for my industry, location and experience.

I've had some employer interviews and spoken with recruiters and they ask my most recent salary which I often tell them and I can often tell by their reaction my most recent salary is beyond what the position pays and i can tell then that I'll likely won't be considered for the job because of that.

When I get that question should I tell them my most recent salary was less than I was making?
Should I give them a range my salary was in with the low number being what I would accept?

Looking for advice.

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This is not a widespread thing. There are only three pockets of IT work where I know this can/does happen:
1. NYC/East Co... (more)

puddonhead (Apr. 21, 2017 @ 6:18a) |

I would say to find "your" truth here, if you are struggling with just trying to answer the way you think that they want... (more)

Dus10 (Apr. 21, 2017 @ 7:29a) |

>> they want to get a raise and an offer for a position that is a stretch for them. What are strategies for these folks... (more)

puddonhead (Apr. 21, 2017 @ 9:10a) |

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What difference would your old salary make to this employer. I assume the new job has an established pay rate and if it's less than your previous position, it should be a bigger concern to you than this employer. As long as you are ready to take the job and are qualified, it shouldn't be an issue.

atikovi said:   What difference would your old salary make to this employer. I assume the new job has an established pay rate and if it's less than your previous position, it should be a bigger concern to you than this employer. As long as you are ready to take the job and are qualified, it shouldn't be an issue.
  
I think many employers think a new employee would leave once they find a salary closer to their old salary.  
I could very well be wrong and they aren't liking what I'm saying or I'm short on the experience they're looking for.  

codydog1976 said:   
atikovi said:   What difference would your old salary make to this employer. I assume the new job has an established pay rate and if it's less than your previous position, it should be a bigger concern to you than this employer. As long as you are ready to take the job and are qualified, it shouldn't be an issue.
  
I think many employers think a new employee would leave once they find a salary closer to their old salary.  
I could very well be wrong and they aren't liking what I'm saying or I'm short on the experience they're looking for.  

  I work in HR and do think this is a valid concern from  you.  I would share my salary information, but would also ask what the established salary range is for the position.  That should easily lead to a conclusion on both parts if you would be willing to work for something within the range.  If you have made signficantly more, to your point,  certainly some employers think you may leave for more $$ as most people build a lifestyle around their salary.  My 2 cents...

So if he leaves, they are in the same spot as before he was hired. If they hire you, at least the position is filled until you find a better paying job. Win Win for both parties.

So I always respond with something along of the line so of "I was on pace to make $x this year, but always take into account the full compensation package AND STRUCTURE, including benefits offered and bonuses/commissions."

I would just be honest.
"I made $x in my last position, but would be very happy making $y-$z in this role."

atikovi said:   So if he leaves, they are in the same spot as before he was hired. If they hire you, at least the position is filled until you find a better paying job. Win Win for both parties.
  
True but there is a cost to the employer to get a new employee up to speed at the position.

altpeahead said:   
atikovi said:   So if he leaves, they are in the same spot as before he was hired. If they hire you, at least the position is filled until you find a better paying job. Win Win for both parties.

Trying to get a "new" permanent position approved, in a big company, through the HR and upper management is often a huge exercise in frustration and often futility. Usually the budgetary windows for such rare things like a "perm hire" openings are very fleeting, maybe even a few weeks in a year! Even then, you (as the hiring manager) have to use up an enormous amount of political capital to get one approved.

Nobody wants to "waste" a currently approved opening on someone who will turn around and leave immediately, or even within a year!

To the OP - you can't hide or lie about your old salary. How did you reach your salary? Were you hired at the higher end of the salary spectrum 10 years ago? Or did you get above average raise to reach there?

If the first - perhaps there are opportunities like that if you look hard enough, move or do a combination of things! If the second, I would use that as a useful "data point" pivot in my resume (e.g. a bullet point about, "recognized as top performer for 6 out of 10 years" and then voice hike numbers over the phone) so that the focus shifts a bit from "salary" bit to "performance" bit.

If all else fails, you just need to look hard and indicate you will consider lower paid positions like another poster suggested above.

  
I reached my new salary but advancing in technical skills and held 4 different roles in the 10 year period.  Over the 10 years my salary increased 30% from what I started from.  Not a huge amount but not bad for a company downsizing for 5 of those years.  Part of that increase was I went from non-exempt (earning OT) to exempt so they gave me an increase to what I had earned in OT pay.

How sure are you that you were being overpaid? 30% increase in 10 years is not much, even taking into account you advanced your skills and held new roles.

Just state your salary and say that you are flexible on salary. If u are super concerned, state a somewhat lower salary and if they want W2, show the w2 but say that it was inflated due to one time bonus. I agree with the other poster - 30% over 10 years with compounding included is crap.

I agree you have a valid concern (I am also involved in HR). Do you know what the salary/compensation strategy was at your old employer, or can you take an educated guess? Did they pay top dollar because their work life balance was poor, lots of travel, strategically recruiting top talent, poor benefits, a high-demand industry like tech, etc.? You could pivot with something like "Work life balance could be difficult at my old company, therefore they paid top dollar to keep long-term employees, so I recognize a lower salary is the norm and I'm happy to make that trade-off" or "We were in XXXindustry, which has higher wages, so I'm aware the median salary will be lower outside of that industry."

But first use relevant resources like published salary surveys, job ads with advertised salary ranges and state average wages to verify you're not short-changing yourself.

bindercarrie said:   I agree you have a valid concern (I am also involved in HR). Do you know what the salary/compensation strategy was at your old employer, or can you take an educated guess? Did they pay top dollar because their work life balance was poor, lots of travel, strategically recruiting top talent, poor benefits, a high-demand industry like tech, etc.? You could pivot with something like "Work life balance could be difficult at my old company, therefore they paid top dollar to keep long-term employees, so I recognize a lower salary is the norm and I'm happy to make that trade-off" or "We were in XXXindustry, which has higher wages, so I'm aware the median salary will be lower outside of that industry."

But first use relevant resources like published salary surveys, job ads with advertised salary ranges and state average wages to verify you're not short-changing yourself.

  
I suspect that OP oversold himself and got a nice package and position. And for the last 10 years, the company has been gradually chiseling away at his top salary by giving him below market raises. I am surprised that for an HR person, you dont understand this. Unless you are working for public sector, there really is no such thing as salary ranges. If the companies really like a candidate, they will hire at a different level.

you need a job. so obviously tell employers/recruiters what they want to hear. if I heard a job paid $80k, I'd say my last salary was $78k, even if it were $98k.

I find it more frustrating when applying online and the application requires a numerical entry for "desired salary." Your application can be tossed before there is even a discussion or explanation.
How do people handle questions like that?

Here are tips to prepare for the salary question during job interviews: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2013/09/16/how-to-answer-...

When asked for current salary, I never give straight answer because first I want to know what is their salary range is.  I tell them that my current pay structure is salary plus, bonus, bene's, PTO's, 401k, retirement plan etc so it would be unfair to compare my current pay structure to the position they are hiring for but I want to know what the salary range is for the new position?  That way, I don't oversell or undersell myself.  My last interview two years ago (for my current position), I was asked the same question by the recruiter and I gave the exact answer above.  To my surprise their starting salary was about 50% higher than my then base salary.  So, I told them that I was making $x in my current position that $x included base salary, bonuses and employer 401K contributions so once those things factored in, the new position was now within 20% range. 

atikovi said:   So if he leaves, they are in the same spot as before he was hired. If they hire you, at least the position is filled until you find a better paying job. Win Win for both parties.
  
If he leaves, they lose the following:

Training time
Time to interview new hires
HR and It time spent setting him up
Time re-organizing the schedule to cover the tasks he was doing
Any upfront fees or benefits paid for the year
Recruiter fee (if he had a recruiter)
Explaining to clients they have more turnover.

You can always hedge and say that you're trying to improve your work life balance, and the employer should understand that you looking to take a lower salary from before in exchange for working normal hours.

If it makes the difference between being employed and being un or underemployed, then just tweak the number and claim it's after 401k, HSA blah
Training time
Time to interview new hires
HR and It time spent setting him up
Time re-organizing the schedule to cover the tasks he was doing
Any upfront fees or benefits paid for the year
Recruiter fee (if he had a recruiter)
Explaining to clients they have more turnover.

Easier for a company to absorb than an indiviudal being unemployed

How likely is it that HR going to ask for W2s? I think that's ridiculous. I'm interviewing for YOUR job, not my OLD job.

rufflesinc said:   If it makes the difference between being employed and being un or underemployed, then just tweak the number and claim it's after 401k, HSA blah
Training time
Time to interview new hires
HR and It time spent setting him up
Time re-organizing the schedule to cover the tasks he was doing
Any upfront fees or benefits paid for the year
Recruiter fee (if he had a recruiter)
Explaining to clients they have more turnover.

Easier for a company to absorb than an indiviudal being unemployed

  
I respectfully disagree. I think it is an extreme negative if interviewers feel someone is going to be looking from the point they get hired.

PhDeez said:   How likely is it that HR going to ask for W2s? I think that's ridiculous. I'm interviewing for YOUR job, not my OLD job.
Very common in financial services where the norm is to look at your last two yrs earnings and offer ~20% over that.

Kinasharma01 said:   
PhDeez said:   How likely is it that HR going to ask for W2s? I think that's ridiculous. I'm interviewing for YOUR job, not my OLD job.
Very common in financial services where the norm is to look at your last two yrs earnings and offer ~20% over that.


Is it also common in IT type jobs?  IMO, the only place that should be using that as a measuring stick is the place you're currently working for since they have access to it.

Get a free account on glassdoor to get a sense of the salary range of the job for which you are applying.

Yes, recruiters want to know salary, and you probably have to tell them.

If you apply directly to a company, when asked for salary, try not give it out. Say you are looking for many factors such as benefits, learning, growth, etc. On applications, try to put TBA (to be announced) or leave blank if you can.

best wishes. hope you find a good job soon!

GreyRabbit said:   
rufflesinc said:   If it makes the difference between being employed and being un or underemployed, then just tweak the number and claim it's after 401k, HSA blah
Training time
Time to interview new hires
HR and It time spent setting him up
Time re-organizing the schedule to cover the tasks he was doing
Any upfront fees or benefits paid for the year
Recruiter fee (if he had a recruiter)
Explaining to clients they have more turnover.

Easier for a company to absorb than an indiviudal being unemployed

  
I respectfully disagree. I think it is an extreme negative if interviewers feel someone is going to be looking from the point they get hired.

  That's what I was trying to say, do whatever it takes to make them not feel that way

PhDeez said:   Is it also common in IT type jobs?  IMO, the only place that should be using that as a measuring stick is the place you're currently working for since they have access to it.
 

  
Not in my experience.
 

Does your big corporation use "workday"?

If so - you don't need to share anything. They already have everything for all practical purposes once you apply.

Even if the answer is no, they probably have it anyway.

Usually these intrusive stuff is reserved for after-hiring background checks. However, any untruth mentioned in the application will most likely be caught.

Being $5k off and claiming that is due to benefits or something is one thing. Being 50% off on your salary you mentioned is quite another.

GreyRabbit said:   
atikovi said:   So if he leaves, they are in the same spot as before he was hired. If they hire you, at least the position is filled until you find a better paying job. Win Win for both parties.
  
If he leaves, they lose the following:

Training time
Time to interview new hires
HR and It time spent setting him up
Time re-organizing the schedule to cover the tasks he was doing
Any upfront fees or benefits paid for the year
Recruiter fee (if he had a recruiter)
Explaining to clients they have more turnover.

Shouldn't a qualified candidate already be trained for the position? Otherwise why hire them?
And how long does an interview take that it's such a burden?

atikovi said:   
GreyRabbit said:   
atikovi said:   So if he leaves, they are in the same spot as before he was hired. If they hire you, at least the position is filled until you find a better paying job. Win Win for both parties.
  
If he leaves, they lose the following:

Training time
Time to interview new hires
HR and It time spent setting him up
Time re-organizing the schedule to cover the tasks he was doing
Any upfront fees or benefits paid for the year
Recruiter fee (if he had a recruiter)
Explaining to clients they have more turnover.

Shouldn't a qualified candidate already be trained for the position? Otherwise why hire them?
And how long does an interview take that it's such a burden?

  
THe time to train and hire will vary of course.   

You can't just expect everyone to know everything the day they start.   Some training will be necessary.   In any job it will take some amount of training for new people to learn the processes specific to the business in question.    Some jobs have specific knowledge that isn't found outside of the company in question.    
The length of interview processes will vary too depending on how high and complex the position is.    

A new burger flipper might be hired on the spot and take a few hours to train.
Most salaried positions are a little more complex.    
Our hiring process takes a few weeks to a couple months and then it takes usually a few months to get a new hire up to speed.    It would take at least 1-2 weeks just to learn internal tools and basic processes.   
 

They don't need to know it and as someone already said, they likely know it via Workday/TheWorkNumber etc. I usually have answered it vague and kept it open-ended, adding that I was not (as a matter of fact) too focussed on compensation only but on the total package, incl. role/title/challenges etc. I have in the past, gone from a higher paying job to a relatively lower paying one (or selected  a lower paying one among multiple simultaneous offers) for the aforesaid reasons.

That said, companies have a lot of flexibility, both horizontally (same job level but a pay range) and vertically (same pay, but multiple job levels). It all dependes on their specific needs, urgency, your particular skills/value-add etc. Hope that helps.

jerosen said:   
 
A new burger flipper might be hired on the spot and take a few hours to train.
Most salaried positions are a little more complex.    

 

  otoh a senior salaried position with 10 to more than 20 years exp might be as easy to train as the burger flipper

natosbourne said:   Here are tips to prepare for the salary question during job interviews: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2013/09/16/how-to-answer-the-interview-question-how-much-money-do-you-currently-make/#15afc13e1a39
  
This. Dodge as much as possible.  Illegal to ask soon...  NYC, Massachusetts,...



 

PhDeez said:   How likely is it that HR going to ask for W2s? I think that's ridiculous. I'm interviewing for YOUR job, not my OLD job.
  
If I remember correctly, many companies subscribe to a firm and report out salary.  

"My separation agree prohibits disclosure of my prior salary, among other things."

PrincipalMember said:   Just state your salary and say that you are flexible on salary. If u are super concerned, state a somewhat lower salary and if they want W2, show the w2 but say that it was inflated due to one time bonus. I agree with the other poster - 30% over 10 years with compounding included is crap.
  
Mine has gone DOWN almost 30% over the last 5-10 years...  

My advice to OP, tell your new interviewer that you have an NDA (you probably do) and cannot discuss your previous salary, and move towards discussing what you are willing to take.

They already either know through a third party or they don't -- and the interviewer at your level may well not be privy to that information.  HR likes to keep its cards close to the vest, so the manager may WELL not know it.

jerosen said:   
atikovi said:   
GreyRabbit said:   
atikovi said:   So if he leaves, they are in the same spot as before he was hired. If they hire you, at least the position is filled until you find a better paying job. Win Win for both parties.
  
If he leaves, they lose the following:

Training time
Time to interview new hires
HR and It time spent setting him up
Time re-organizing the schedule to cover the tasks he was doing
Any upfront fees or benefits paid for the year
Recruiter fee (if he had a recruiter)
Explaining to clients they have more turnover.

Shouldn't a qualified candidate already be trained for the position? Otherwise why hire them?
And how long does an interview take that it's such a burden?

  
THe time to train and hire will vary of course.   

You can't just expect everyone to know everything the day they start.   Some training will be necessary.   In any job it will take some amount of training for new people to learn the processes specific to the business in question.    Some jobs have specific knowledge that isn't found outside of the company in question.    
The length of interview processes will vary too depending on how high and complex the position is.    

A new burger flipper might be hired on the spot and take a few hours to train.
Most salaried positions are a little more complex.    
Our hiring process takes a few weeks to a couple months and then it takes usually a few months to get a new hire up to speed.    It would take at least 1-2 weeks just to learn internal tools and basic processes.   

  
In technical it is generally at LEAST a week to get your laptop even in the most "expedited" environment.  Then add access and logins for all the platforms/client systems, ect...  getting ALL your stuff can literally take months.  First week tends to be watching others work and waiting around for 8 hours.  Second week is limping along while getting your stuff installed and operational.  Technicals need different apps from clericals/admins -- like SSH and SFTP tools -- so they are never installed.  Very few offices have everything you need on one document so you are hunting through emails to find out how to access ServerA, then you find you needed SeverB and your password doesn't work there yet...

I work on a clients back end, so my access comes from them on top of the internal system that I have to use as a middle man. 

Just say you don't disclose salary information. You'll consider their full package when you know the details. Salary is just one component.

Skirt the question. Your current salary has zero bearing on your ability to perform the job in the future and zero bearing for your associated worth in performing that job. 99% of employers already have an established salary range they're willing to work within for any given position anyhow. This question is asked in order to get the upper hand in salary negotiations and pay you as little as possible. Of course you have the opposite goal (getting paid as much as possible) so by disclosing you only put yourself at a disadvantage.

Skipping 13 Messages...
>> they want to get a raise and an offer for a position that is a stretch for them. What are strategies for these folks? Include you bonus, your upcoming raise potential, some other benefits that eventually translate to a monetary value (401k match, PTO, training, tuition reimbursement).

None of these!

I have received "stretch offer's" multiple times. Code Monkey -> Strategy Consulting -> Quant with trips back and forth to include management responsibilities etc. etc. etc. Throw in a sprinkling of changing entire industry a couple of times - and you get the picture!

At the end of the day - what will matter is your ability to convince the hiring manager, and your potential peers that you are going to be a good fit for the position and that they would like to work with you!!

Job interview is a two way process. Try to understand what problems they are facing and divert the discussion there. The process to do so is usually laughably simple as long as you know how to "listen" - which is an extremely difficult art to master for some people.
For the upper management: Focus on what is the level of organization maturity? Do they have rigid structure and struggling to become more productive? Or are a gang of cowboys who need more structure? Depending on which end of the spectrum they lie in - bring your relevant experience in play.
For more junior interviewers: Try to get them to talk about their day to day problems and try to offer solutions to them.

$20k this way or that will usually not matter as long as you have the qualification/capacity and can market yourself.



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