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 Ask?
Some cities and states have passed legislation prohibiting employers from asking applicants for salary information or setting conditions regarding such inquiries. 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.
The AAUW reports that 15 states and territories have restrictions in place curtailing inquiries by all employers about salary history including the following: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Vermont, and Washington.
Several others including Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia have provisions in place regarding candidates for jobs with state agencies.
In addition, the cities of San Francisco, New York, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Toledo, and Philadelphia, as well as the counties of St. Louis, Missouri and Albany, New York, all have regulations in place curtailing the practice of asking about salary history by most employers. Several other municipalities including Chicago, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, and Louisville prohibit city agencies from making inquiries about the salary history of job candidates.
Check with your state department of labor for the latest laws in your area.
Also, some employers, including Amazon, Facebook, and Google have banned interview questions related to salary history.
How to Handle a Request
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 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 the base pay that you have received.
- You may also want to mention benefits, in addition to salary.
Salary History Templates
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
City, State Zip
Baptist Medical Hospital
Little Rock, AR
12/16 - Present
Annual Salary: $42,000
Baptist Medical Hospital
Little Rock, AR
1/13 - 12/16
Annual Salary: $35,000
Carillon Financial Services
4/10 - 12/13
Annual Salary: $29,000
Salary History Template #2
First Last Name
City, State Zip
Chrome and Partners
New York, NY
06/17 - Present
Annual Salary: $64,000 plus benefits
12/14 - 06/17
Annual Salary: $50,000 plus benefits
Social Media Assistant
6/12 - 12/14
Annual Salary: $29,000 plus benefits
The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently, and the information in this article may not reflect your own state’s laws or the most recent changes to the law.