Our previous article took a look at the very interesting results of Jobvite’s 2019 Job Seeker Nation Survey. Here’s a summary of some of the information most relevant to job seekers from that previous article:
*The overall job market is pretty good right now, but the strength of that market is not distributed evenly. Well educated workers in cities tend to be reaping most of the benefits, while job searchers in rural areas and without college degrees are struggling.
*Job hopping and negotiating for raises are both common and commonly successful in today’s job market.
You can read our “Part 1” article on the study for more details, and you can also see our article on giving yourself a raise by changing jobs to learn more about that specific topic.
The Jobvite survey has even more information to offer than we were able to fit into our first article, so here’s Part 2 in our look at what Jobvite has to tell us about the current employment market:
In continuing to look at salary negotiation, Jobvite reports that about half of job applicants report being asked during their application process about their previous level of pay. Jobvite also points out that this question is illegal in 15 states. (It’s also illegal in some cities, too). Critics of this question point out that it may compound the gender pay gap and other forms of employment inequity, and almost all job seekers are not excited to be asked this question.
If you’re not fortunate enough to be interviewing in one of the places that have banned this question (or if your prospective employer just asks anyway), this can be a tough one to answer. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you don’t want to price yourself out of job, either. Or you may just feel this is your private information that you don’t want to share. You do have a few options:
You can just say you prefer to keep that information confidential. You can then refocus the question away from what you made in the past and put the focus on what you can do for the employer you’re interviewing with. You can then reframe the discussion to be about how much you feel would be fair compensation for the work you’d do for the employer you’re interviewing with. After you’ve shifted the focus to your salary expectations instead of your salary history, you can provide a range you’d accept (and maybe a wide range). Think carefully about this range because while most prospective employees would like to assume their prospective employer will focus on the middle of that range, most prospective employers will focus on the low end of your range.
Katie Donovan at PayScale.com points out it is even possible to turn pay history and expectation questions around on the interviewer. Most positions have a budget that the interviewer is aware of, so if the interviewer asks about your previous pay, you can ask them what their budget is for the position.
If you have an offer from another potential employer with a proposed level of pay, that can also be a powerful response to this question.
All experts recommend that you not lie in response to this question. In addition to it being unethical, it’s a lie that can be easily discovered, which can lead to you being fired. Even if it doesn’t result in termination, being caught in a lie is not a good way to start a relationship with a new employer. Despite this, 7% of respondents to the Jobvite survey admitted having lied in response to this question.
So, that’s what Jobvite’s survey has to say about salary negotiations in relation to your salary history, but there’s still a lot more fascinating data from their survey for us to look at and talk about. We’ll continue looking at that and more in future articles. Until then, best of luck with your job hunt, and we hope we can help you earn what you deserve.