First things first: anyone who tells you that you can always dodge the salary history question is probably trying to sell you something.
The reality of the situation is that sometimes, you just can't wriggle out of answering this question — not if you want to stay a viable candidate for the job.
But, that doesn't mean that you should name your price right away.
You might be able to get the hiring manager to focus on the future, not the past, and that's what you're hoping for.
If you've ever participated in an interview process, you know why it's a bad idea to name your salary history or potential salary range right off the bat. It hems you in, either pricing you out of contention or costing you money that you didn't know you could get.
Over time, these missteps can add up. If you miss out on $5,000 a year every time you negotiate salary, it could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a lifetime.
Here are a few ways to conduct your salary negotiation so that you avoid directly answering the salary history question:
1.Be willing to enter a blank.
You don't even need to set foot in the interview room to confront the salary history question; many companies put it right up front, in their online application process. To get around this, leave the current salary/requirements box blank. If the field is mandatory, enter a dash or 0.
It's a bit of a gamble, but a small one. If your qualifications are good, most recruiters will at least give you a phone call to determine if your expectations are in range with their budget. Then, even if you're eventually forced to name your price, you'll at least have a chance to find out more about the job first.
If not answering that question on an online form knocks you out of contention, you have to ask yourself if you'd really be happy working for a company that insists on putting you at such a disadvantage, without even giving you the chance to gather enough information to name a more appropriate salary range.
2.Turn the question back on the recruiter.
There's a budget for the position for which you're interviewing — count on it. If the hiring manager or recruiter asks you for your salary history, ask for their range instead.
In PayScale's Salary Negotiation Guide, negotiation expert Katie Donovan suggests a potential script:
You may hear the classic, "Well, I don't want to waste your time. Knowing your pay helps me determine if we are in the same compensation ballpark." As I learned on day one while working at a staffing firm, no job is truly open without approval and a budget.
Your response should be, "Oh, well I assume this job has been approved and budgeted. What's the budget for the job and I can let you know if we are in the ballpark?" Many recruiters answer this question and you can move on to your qualifications for the job.