When you’re looking for a new job, you may be asked to provide a salary history. Some employers ask for this information on the job application while others ask about salary during the interview process, before making an official job offer.
Regardless of when an employer asks for your salary history, you should be prepared to address the topic. You can also visit Indeed's Salary Calculator to get a free, personalized pay range based on your location, industry and experience.
Here are a few tips on how to share your salary history with potential employers, as well as a salary history template to help you format your response.
Why do employers ask for a salary history?
When an employer asks you to share your salaries from previous roles, it’s likely for the same reasons they might ask for your salary expectations. These reasons generally include the following:
They want to determine your market value. Your salary history — specifically the salary you earned in your most recent position — is one factor an employer can use to gauge your level of experience and the value you’ll bring as an employee.
They want to ensure your expectations are aligned with their budget for the role. If your most recent salary is significantly more than an employer is prepared to offer, this is an indication you may be too overqualified for the role.
They want to ensure they’re offering a fair amount for the position. For example, if a majority of applicants to a job provide recent salary histories that far exceed what they’ve budgeted for the role, they may need to increase their offering or adjust the job description to target more junior professionals.
Should I always share previous salaries with employers?
Not all employers will ask candidates to share their salary history and, depending on the employment laws in your state, you may not encounter the question at all. If an employer doesn’t ask you for this information, there’s no need to include it with your application or during any other phase of the hiring process. If an employer does not ask for your salary history, they may ask for your preferred salary range instead.
If you do not feel comfortable sharing your salary history or salary requests with an employer because you don’t feel you know enough about the role yet or would rather discuss it in person, you may choose to politely decline or deflect the question. In this case, you’ll want to give background on your reasoning.
For example: “I would prefer to learn more about the role and its responsibilities before discussing salary expectations.”
Related: How To Disclose Salary Requirements
What’s the best way to share my salary history?
There are three ways you might choose to communicate your salary history depending on how much you want to share, how much detail the employer requests and what part of the process you’re asked to provide this information.
Here are the three ways you may choose to handle the request:
- Use general terms. Instead of including an exact amount, you could provide a general number.
Example: “My current salary is in the mid-sixties.”
- Use a range. If your salary has increased during your time in your current role, you may opt to provide a range or a starting salary and current salary. In addition to fulfilling the employer’s request, it also illustrates that you provided enough value to earn a raise.
Example: “I started my role at $55,000 and my current salary is $72,000.”
- Provide an exact number. You can choose to provide your exact salary or round up to the closest whole number. For example, if you’re making $84,650, you may want to round up to $85,000.
Example: “My current salary is $85,000.”
Related: Jobs That Pay Well
If you’re earning additional compensation on top of your base salary such as regular bonuses or commissions, state this information as well. If your additional compensation varies, include an average.
Example: “I currently earn a base salary of $60,000 plus an average quarterly bonus of $2,500.”
You may be asked to provide a salary history list or provided a salary history template to fill out. In this case, list your highest gross annual salary for each position. Your gross annual salary is the total amount of money you earned in one year in a position before taxes.
Salary History Example:
Social Media Manager
Start Date – Present
Annual Salary: I started my role at $45,000 and my current salary is $60,000.
Social Media Coordinator
Start Date – Last Date
Annual Salary: $40,000
Digital Marketing Specialist
Start Date – Last Date
Annual Salary: $35,000
If the employer hasn’t asked for your desired salary, you may opt to include it with your salary history.
Example: “I currently make $70,000 and am seeking a position that pays between $75,000 – $80,000.”
Related: How To Negotiate Salary
Finally, remember to provide your total annual salary before taxes. If you give your after-tax amount, you may give the impression you’re paid a lower salary, which could make it more challenging to negotiate for the higher amount you want.
Providing your current salary to your next potential employer does not mean this will be your salary at your next job, nor does it remove the option to negotiate for a higher amount. Employers understand that many job seekers are seeking to increase their income when moving to a new job, especially if the new role comes with additional challenges or more responsibilities than the job you currently have.