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Guest Comment: should you reveal your salary history or keep it a mystery?

You may be asked for your salary history at various stages of exploring a job opportunity and the perennial question is - should you tell?

The short answer is yes, and at the appropriate moment. In most cases, the most suitable time is AFTER you have wowed your interviewers and convinced them of your ability to positively impact their business.

If you are asked for your salary history early during the job search process, you may politely decline to reveal it and suggest that you would like to understand the job opportunity a little more.

Salary history can be helpful because good increments and bonuses suggest strong performance. But if your history is humdrum, your best compensation negotiation technique is to focus on the requirements of the potential job and emphasise how your past experience would enable you to contribute to the company in the shortest time possible.

The challenge lies in persuading prospective employers that they should pay you more than what your compensation track record suggests you are worth.

If you're using a recruiter

Reveal your salary history and expectations to your recruiter, but don't discuss compensation directly with the prospective employer - leave the headhunter to negotiate on your behalf. Recruiters are in a position to advise you because they have real-time market information on salaries of various positions, and in some cases, their client's pay range for the actual job you are applying for.

If you're going solo

Be aware of the different components that make up your current and prospective packages, and be prepared with a bottom-line. Always be honest and don't exaggerate the numbers.

To negotiate for a higher salary, you may highlight the value you bring to the organisation and indicate that your current compensation is low compared with your peers.

But if you think your current salary is on the high side, you may let your prospective employer know that you are willing to negotiate for performance-based pay. This will ensure that your income is not compromised and will assure your employer that you are prepared to earn your salary.

Jared Ng, consulting director, PeopleSearch

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AUTHORJared Ng Insider Comment

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