How honest does one need to be about salary history?

Specifically, when salary raise is one of the important reasons behind new job? Can your new employer ask for your past Pay-stubs to verify your salary?

Devesh Dwivedi

Experienced Management Consultant

There are very few things that an employer can’t ask. However, you’re not obligated to answer and they aren’t obligated to provide you with a job offer.

If you’re uncomfortable with the request, say so. If you’ve lied in the interview, you’re screwed. If you accept a job offer, they’re likely to insist on the salary confirmation as a condition of the offer and I know that I’d consider it a deal breaker if I found out that a candidate had lied to me.

You can try a couple of strategies:

1) Provide your current salary, but indicate that your primary motivation for changing jobs is money. Clearly state why you feel that you deserve more money/more responsibility (new skills, experience, certifications, training, etc.) and that you can do the job that they’re recruiting for. They’re unlikely to “low ball” you, since you’re demonstrating that money will be a factor in retaining you.

2) Tell them that you are uncomfortable disclosing financial information during an initial interview, but will gladly provide them with the information if and when you get to the offer stage. This essentially shuts down the discussion but shows that you’re not going to hide the information.

I’ve successfully used both strategies. The second was because I was taking a significant pay cut to get into a lower stress job. But I was worried that I’d scare them off if they knew what I was making. Ultimately, they never asked for the salary confirmation. They’re just as likely to assume that I was making much less, though.