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AA7295
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Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:44 pm

Happy New Year everyone.

I was speaking with a friend who is starting this year looking for a new job. I was absolutely astounded that during the recruitment process that one of the prospective employers was requesting his W-2 forms and other very personal information.

I think this is grotesque. An employee should receive a salary based on their experience and how much they will contribute to the new employer. By all means, a potential employer should check all candidates employment and experience history, but salary is a private matter.

I told my friend that he should decline the request to supply this information by saying something like "Look, I won’t tell you my past salary because I’d like to have an honest, fair negotiation based on what I can do to make your business more successful. If I can’t demonstrate my value, then you should not make me an offer or hire me. We can part as friends. But I’d like to show you how I can contribute enough to your business that you’ll want to pay me well to do this job.”

I mean what next will employers request from you. Not only is this a gross invasion of privacy, who knows what they are going to do with that data. Identity theft is on the rise and small business to massive corporations are known for not securing such data (read: Sony not even password-protecting Excel files in recent hack).

What would you if you found yourself in this situation?
 
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casinterest
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Fri Jan 02, 2015 7:56 pm

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):

What would you if you found yourself in this situation?

I would find myself questioning the reasons I am entertaining an offer from this company.

If the company has to ask that kind of information prior to hiring me, then there are some serious issues about the due diligence of the company doing the hiring. The company does not seem to understand the market value of their position or the market value of the person they are looking to employ. The company also has some very apparent privacy issues.


If your friend already has a job , I would tell your friend to walk away.
Where ever you go, there you are.
 
jetwet1
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:13 pm

Quoting casinterest (Reply 1):
If the company has to ask that kind of information prior to hiring me, then there are some serious issues about the due diligence of the company doing the hiring. The company does not seem to understand the market value of their position or the market value of the person they are looking to employ. The company also has some very apparent privacy issues.

Exactly, unless your friend said he made a salary way outside the normal compensation level for the job in that area, there is no reason to turn over W2's, all the info they need is available to them through other sources.
 
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moo
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:35 pm

Its not an invasion of privacy, the prospective employer is asking the prospective employee for something - the prospective employee can relent or deny, its entirely up to them.

If the prospective employer asked the previous employer for the data, thats an invasion of privacy, but not when asking the employee themselves for the information.

Personally, I've never had problems negotiating my own salary, whether the employer knows my previous salary or not.
 
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EA CO AS
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:40 pm

Quoting moo (Reply 3):
Its not an invasion of privacy, the prospective employer is asking the prospective employee for something - the prospective employee can relent or deny, its entirely up to them.

It's certainly an attempt at invading his privacy, not to mention that it would seem there's an implied statement that a job offer is conditional upon the applicant providing this personal information.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
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moo
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:09 pm

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 4):
It's certainly an attempt at invading his privacy, not to mention that it would seem there's an implied statement that a job offer is conditional upon the applicant providing this personal information.

I completely disagree with you on the invasion of privacy, and I dont see why an employer can't put reasonable conditions on a job offer - the candidate can refuse easily enough.
 
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Aesma
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:37 pm

Well asking for such a document isn't a reasonable condition and probably illegal.
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Pyrex
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:53 pm

Quoting Aesma (Reply 6):

Well asking for such a document isn't a reasonable condition and probably illegal.

Perfectly legal. Not a problem whatsoever.

I don't see the issue with this. I have had this happen to me when interviewing for a job. I work in a field where variable compensation is a big part of total compensation and the prospective new employer was "stretching" to try to make me an offer comparable with what I had before (since the industry I was interviewing for generally pays less). Naturally they had an interest in seeing my W-2 to make sure I wan't padding things up. Same for statements of deferred compensation when the new employer is making you whole.
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Aesma
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:13 am

So you're negotiating and you're giving up your power for no reason ?
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Pyrex
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:16 am

Quoting Aesma (Reply 8):
So you're negotiating and you're giving up your power for no reason ?

Didn't really give up any power. When adjusted for the fact I wouldn't be paying any taxes in the new job, the offer was actually better than what I made last year (I declined for other reasons).
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WestJet747
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 12:58 am

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
"Look, I won’t tell you my past salary because I’d like to have an honest, fair negotiation based on what I can do to make your business more successful. If I can’t demonstrate my value, then you should not make me an offer or hire me. We can part as friends. But I’d like to show you how I can contribute enough to your business that you’ll want to pay me well to do this job.”

I don't even say that much. I keep it to "I prefer not to disclose my previous/current salary, but the range I am looking for is $X-$Y."

Quoting Pyrex (Reply 9):
Didn't really give up any power.

Unless you were applying to a job that is on a pay schedule, then that's nonsense. The second you disclose your salary history, you've potentially limited yourself. If your previous salary was higher, then it doesn't hurt your negotiating power...but if your previous salary was lower, the employer will be biased by that data rather than valuing you based solely on your qualifications and potential.

Quoting moo (Reply 3):
Its not an invasion of privacy

It can be depending on the jurisdiction - labour law is different everywhere. Where I work, you can't base someone's candidacy on the provision of materials that are irrelevant to qualification.
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Maverick623
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 1:52 am

To answer the legal question: assuming you're friend lives and works in the US, it's perfectly legal to ask for a W2. You were vague about the other "very personal information", so unless you are more specific I can't speak to that.

Now:

Quoting casinterest (Reply 1):

If the company has to ask that kind of information prior to hiring me, then there are some serious issues about the due diligence of the company doing the hiring.

Performing due diligence on a prospective employee is a sign that a company has issues with due diligence? Explain that one to me.

Quoting casinterest (Reply 1):
The company does not seem to understand the market value of their position or the market value of the person they are looking to employ.

What better way to judge "market value" than to get raw data from the market that paid him?

Quoting casinterest (Reply 1):
The company also has some very apparent privacy issues.

Asking for the same type of data you have to give them anyways is hardly having privacy issues.
"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
 
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casinterest
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:13 am

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 11):
Performing due diligence on a prospective employee is a sign that a company has issues with due diligence? Explain that one to me.

A request for a W2 is not due diligence. It is a direct swipe at your integrity. The employer does not believe you, and that is not a good way to start a working relationship. The employer could have an honest discussion with you, and based on that conversation make an offer. If you accept, they probably got a good deal. If you counter, they can null it over, and decided to continue the negotiations or stand pat. A W2 should not be needed.



Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 11):
What better way to judge "market value" than to get raw data from the market that paid him?

Sure, a direct look at a W2 is neat, but it still doesn't address whether the interviewee will accept the offer. A W2 is only a reflection of past compensation, not the value the employee brings to the job. The W2 does not highlight benefits, and other intangibles. If the interview process is done correctly, then the employer and potential employee will have a good idea of what the job demands and what the potential employee is bringing to it.

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 11):
Asking for the same type of data you have to give them anyways is hardly having privacy issues.

You should never have to give a company a copy of your W2 from past earnings.
Where ever you go, there you are.
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:49 am

My opinion:

This is fine:

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

This may not be, depending on what "other very personal information" is:

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
prospective employers was requesting his W-2 forms and other very personal information.

I'm perfectly happy to tell prospective employers what I'm currently making. I will also tell them what I'm looking for, and I'll be pretty specific about it.

But everyone has different views on that, so whatever works for you (or your friend).
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 5:21 am

Quoting moo (Reply 5):
I dont see why an employer can't put reasonable conditions on a job offer

Replace a request for "previous salary info" with "number of dependents" as a condition of a job offer and see if it passes the smell test.

An employer should have a reasonable command of what salary a position they intend to fill commands on the open market, and be willing to negotiate with a prospective employee based on their desire to obtain that person's services within that range. It should not be up to the prospective employee to furnish the employer with details about their salary history to be used against them in negotiation of salary.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem - government IS the problem." - Ronald Reagan

Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
AA7295
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 4:30 pm

Quoting moo (Reply 5):
I completely disagree with you on the invasion of privacy, and I dont see why an employer can't put reasonable conditions on a job offer - the candidate can refuse easily enough.

Because that is a personal tax document. Personal being the keyword. I should also note that the other information they are requesting are pay stubs. It's a direct swipe at limiting the potential salary of the prospect.

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 10):
The second you disclose your salary history, you've potentially limited yourself.
Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 11):
What better way to judge "market value" than to get raw data from the market that paid him?

^^^ 100%. An employer should have a budget for a new role. If the HR department is good at their job, they would have determined the going salary in the city/industry for that particular role. They should then conduct proper candidate analysis to determine who would provide the most value to the organization in that role and offer a salary commensurate on experience and inline (higher or lower) to the market average.

Basing your new salary at a new job on your old salary is not fair. What happens if the potential candidate had a lower than average salary, but knows their worth. This process creates an awkward situation where he has to "fight" for himself, instead of being offered a salary based solely on experience.

It's corporate/employer bullying.
 
threeifbyair
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 8:57 pm

Happened to me. I left previous salary blank on an online job application. HR asked. I said that my previous employer considers salary information proprietary (which it did) and that I signed an NDA to not reveal confidential business information (which I did).

Never heard from HR again. Got the job.
 
mham001
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sat Jan 03, 2015 9:48 pm

Quoting Aesma (Reply 6):
Well asking for such a document isn't a reasonable condition and probably illegal.

I'm confused. We have an Aussie asking about specific US tax forms and Europeans arguing about its legalities.

But no, it is not illegal to ask for a tax document, they ask for the same form when applying for credit.
 
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Aesma
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sun Jan 04, 2015 1:01 am

Quoting mham001 (Reply 17):
I'm confused. We have an Aussie asking about specific US tax forms and Europeans arguing about its legalities.

But no, it is not illegal to ask for a tax document, they ask for the same form when applying for credit.

You're right and I was wrong anyway, even for my country. There is no law against asking for it, there is however a French law that says that it's not something the candidate has to provide (unlike copies of diplomas or proof of previous employment). Of course such a law is meaningless since the recruiter can refuse to employ you for any reason, or no reason at all.

It's still a matter of morals and negotiating power and you should only show it if comfortable with it and/or if advantageous because you're asking for less than what you had before.
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vikkyvik
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:11 am

Quoting aa7295 (Reply 15):
It's a direct swipe at limiting the potential salary of the prospect.

...Which is totally within a potential employer's right to try and do.

Quoting aa7295 (Reply 15):
If the HR department is good at their job, they would have determined the going salary in the city/industry for that particular role. They should then conduct proper candidate analysis to determine who would provide the most value to the organization in that role and offer a salary commensurate on experience and inline (higher or lower) to the market average.

And if the HR department is really good at its job, then it will get a candidate who will provide the most value and pay him less than the going rate, while still making him/her happy.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
AA7295
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:11 am

Quoting mham001 (Reply 17):
I'm confused. We have an Aussie asking about specific US tax forms and Europeans arguing about its legalities.

The flag denotes where you are "from", not where you reside.
 
wingman
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:31 am

Quoting threeifbyair (Reply 16):
Happened to me. I left previous salary blank on an online job application. HR asked. I said that my previous employer considers salary information proprietary (which it did) and that I signed an NDA to not reveal confidential business information (which I did).

Excellent tactic. Another one I've used which gets a chuckle is to ask for the hiring manager's salary and those of any direct team peers I'd have. That should shut any HR person's pie hole right up, or at least send the conversation back to the hiring manager. Short of any legal issues, HR generally has zero influence in a final hire/no hire decision. If the hiring manager wants you then you'll get an offer.
 
Maverick623
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:06 am

Quoting casinterest (Reply 12):

A request for a W2 is not due diligence.

What is?

Quoting casinterest (Reply 12):
The employer does not believe you

If you want the prospective employer to completely trust you, why have a due diligence process at all?
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mad99
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 9:14 am

interesting concept!

At the end of the day if you cant photoshop it to show what it needs to show....
 
WestJet747
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:35 pm

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 22):
Quoting casinterest (Reply 12):

A request for a W2 is not due diligence.

What is?

Resumes, profiles, questionnaires, interviews, application forms, reference calls, police checks, education confirmation, testing of abilities, personality/management style tests, Google search...or anything else that is pursuant to the candidates qualifications for the vacant position.

Making salary documentation a prerequisite to hiring is not due diligence as it literally has nothing to do with the candidate's suitability for the aforementioned position. Salary information is a bargaining tool.
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vikkyvik
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:39 pm

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 24):
Making salary documentation a prerequisite to hiring is not due diligence as it literally has nothing to do with the candidate's suitability for the aforementioned position.

Actually it does. If a candidate wants more than what the company can pay (or wants to pay), then said candidate may not be suitable for the aforementioned position.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
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casinterest
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:53 pm

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 22):
What is?

An honest conversation and negotiation with the candidate. Salary is what the person is worth and willing to take. A past W2 is BS to ask for unless the company is incompetent.

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 22):

If you want the prospective employer to completely trust you, why have a due diligence process at all?

Because if they are offering the job to you based on need, and you want the job, then you should get the job based on your interview, qualifications and references. If the employer can find someone better at a lower price, then they will.
If they offer an employee to little and really want them, then they can come back and offer more. I have had it happen to me.

Quoting Maverick623 (Reply 22):
If you want the prospective employer to completely trust you, why have a due diligence process at all?

Due diligence is about making sure you didn't hire someone that lied about job experience, qualification, and criminal history. Not about making sure that you are offering the right amount based on their past pay.

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 25):
Actually it does. If a candidate wants more than what the company can pay (or wants to pay), then said candidate may not be suitable for the aforementioned position.

And the company can find another candidate. The company can offer what they think the employee is worth, and then see what happens during the negotiation process.
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WestJet747
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:56 pm

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 25):
Actually it does. If a candidate wants more than what the company can pay (or wants to pay), then said candidate may not be suitable for the aforementioned position.

Let me know when you start seeing salary as a line item in job requirements, then I'll be inclined to agree with you. Until then, salary is merely a function of the contract and has nothing to do with the successful candidate's ability to perform the task. Separating qualification from contract is what I think a lot of people are missing here.

I've interviewed (and hired) people who undervalued themselves by at least 30% and I've interviewed (and hired) people who have overvalued themselves by at least 30%. What they felt they were worth as a dollar sign is inconsequential. I and 99% of others who hire for professional positions first seek candidates who can create value for the firm. Once that is established and an offer is provided does salary come into the fold - but never does their expectations or their history ever preclude them from being offered the position. If the successful candidate doesn't like the remuneration offered it's fully within their purview to reject counter the offer, at which point it is up to the firm to decide to counter back, accept the counter or inform the candidate that the offer is firm. Never have I heard of an offer being rescinded because of salary expectations or history.

Again, making the W2 a prerequisite for hiring is simply a way for the employer to stick it to the candidate, and not at all due diligence.
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LAXintl
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 4:16 pm

This question is neither illegal, nor that uncommon. Asking for financial history of people is quite common in many industries. Similar to how some companies run credit, or drug checks on prospective employees.

Matter of fact I just had an acquaintance in December required to supply 2-years of IRS tax transcripts as part of a possible career move. (in the banking/finance sector)

Quoting aa7295 (Reply 15):
Because that is a personal tax document. Personal being the keyword. I should also note that the other information they are requesting are pay stubs. It's a direct swipe at limiting the potential salary of the prospect.

Its not really personal. Your tax records are open for a host of public inquires including many for your benefit.

On paystubs, thats even a more common thing to ask for. A few years back when my wife got some insurance we had to supply such info.

If you want to rent an apartment, get a loan, apply for credit card, buy a car, get a cell phone, verifying income or financial standing is standard procedure where its you showing your paystub, or getting a hard credit inquiry run on you.

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 19):
And if the HR department is really good at its job, then it will get a candidate who will provide the most value and pay him less than the going rate, while still making him/her happy.

True, but asking about verifying past income is also part of broader background check and in some industries (including many government jobs), your financial background and standing do matter.

Quoting mad99 (Reply 23):
At the end of the day if you cant photoshop it to show what it needs to show....

Sure lie if you want. But what about when employer asks for transcript directly from the IRS?
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
Flighty
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:54 pm

I think this is a weak position to be in. You can say "I'd rather not provide that."

Once you provide a number, you are liable to be trapped in a lie. Employment market is a good faith offer on both sides. Either the offered package is good enough (on both sides) or it's not good enough. Engaging in a W-2 request is petty and I argue so is asking the person's previous salary.

Companies lie all the time. There is no reason not to lie, but you certainly don't have to be trapped into something you don't want to do. Why give companies too much power? HR is all a mind game designed to take advantage of what they see as peons.
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:57 pm

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 27):

Creating value for a company means providing good work at a rate that the company is willing to spend and able to afford. If your pay is outweighing your work, you are not creating value.

I've had companies ask me what I was looking for, and when I told them, they've simply said, "oh, yeah, sorry, we can't pay that, we can only offer around $XXXXX". No biggie, we go our separate ways without any wasted time (or course, some companies will say that when they actually can pay that, so it's a case-by-case thing).

When in the process salary comes up is somewhat immaterial. It can still make or break a hiring. And when you really boil it all down, everything about jobs and companies comes down to money. Companies want to make money and provide value (=money) to their customers, employees want to make money and provide value (=money) to the company.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 28):
Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 19):
And if the HR department is really good at its job, then it will get a candidate who will provide the most value and pay him less than the going rate, while still making him/her happy.

True, but asking about verifying past income is also part of broader background check and in some industries (including many government jobs), your financial background and standing do matter.

Don't get me wrong - I agree. I was responding to this:

Quoting aa7295 (Reply 15):
If the HR department is good at their job, they would have determined the going salary in the city/industry for that particular role. They should then conduct proper candidate analysis to determine who would provide the most value to the organization in that role and offer a salary commensurate on experience and inline (higher or lower) to the market average.

...which was basically saying they shouldn't need to ask for your salary history. I was simply saying that the company wants to extract as much value from you as they can for as little money as is possible.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
Flighty
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:00 pm

You could also say "I encourage you to do your own research about salaries in the market, and I will do the same. I won't ask you the exact pay of other members of the team in this interview, and for you to do so is equally unnecessary... My current employer prohibits disclosing company HR data anyway."

...If they become nasty about it, which they probably will. I can remember UAL doing that to me back in the day! Since some job searches are purely $$ motivated, you have to play your game well if you're trying to get a massive increase in pay.
 
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mercure1
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:32 pm

What type of job/profession is this person applying for?

It can be requisite for some jobs to supply you full financial history even, so asking for past income info seems rather basic.
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Flighty
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:44 pm

Quoting mercure1 (Reply 32):
It can be requisite for some jobs to supply you full financial history even, so asking for past income info seems rather basic.

Maybe if you are applying for a job at the SEC or FBI or CIA. Otherwise, in the US it would be abnormal.
 
Maverick623
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:47 pm

Quoting Flighty (Reply 33):

Maybe if you are applying for a job at the SEC or FBI or CIA. Otherwise, in the US it would be abnormal.

Pretty much any mid-to-upper level position with a defense contractor is going to ask you those questions, as will banks, armored car companies, or any other position that handles large quantities of cash or has access to classified information will require a full background and credit check, complete with tax and income statements.
"PHX is Phoenix, PDX is the other city" -777Way
 
slider
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Mon Jan 05, 2015 10:54 pm

Back when I was in a thorough job search, I learned from various HR people and a management consultant a simple lesson: he who speaks a number first, dies.

Hyperbole, but here's how I've handled this before, and I'd like to think it was fairly eloquently.

"My understanding is that the responsibilities of this role will be greater or different than my last position. Therefore, I honestly don't know how relevant my past salary is to this new job. Do you have a range in mind?"

Always put the onus back on the HR gatekeeper idiot. They're usually mouthbreathers.

Then they'll press the issue and you can add something such as: "Well, my past compensation also included some unique benefits (ie: in airline context, pass travel) that would not make for a valid apples to apples comparison to this industry and position. If you had a certain range for this job, I could certainly validate whether that fits my acceptable span for straight salary."

Or, divert the inquiry into discussion of benefits. What % or amount is medical share, what's 401K match, profit sharing, bonuses, merit increases, etc, etc.... PILE all that in there, and THEN talk straight $$ salary.

ALWAYS deflect this question. HR people are notorious for guilting you into speaking a $. Once you do, they own you. Don't ever forget that. This is the ONE time you should absolutely stand resolute.




But if someone wanted a W2, I'd tell them to kiss my ass.
 
bennett123
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 12:39 am

Not clear from the OP, do they give any indication of a salary range, or are they just fishing for info.
 
AA7295
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:04 am

Quoting Slider (Reply 35):

Back when I was in a thorough job search, I learned from various HR people and a management consultant a simple lesson: he who speaks a number first, dies.

Hyperbole, but here's how I've handled this before, and I'd like to think it was fairly eloquently.

"My understanding is that the responsibilities of this role will be greater or different than my last position. Therefore, I honestly don't know how relevant my past salary is to this new job. Do you have a range in mind?"

Always put the onus back on the HR gatekeeper idiot. They're usually mouthbreathers.

Then they'll press the issue and you can add something such as: "Well, my past compensation also included some unique benefits (ie: in airline context, pass travel) that would not make for a valid apples to apples comparison to this industry and position. If you had a certain range for this job, I could certainly validate whether that fits my acceptable span for straight salary."

Or, divert the inquiry into discussion of benefits. What % or amount is medical share, what's 401K match, profit sharing, bonuses, merit increases, etc, etc.... PILE all that in there, and THEN talk straight $$ salary.

ALWAYS deflect this question. HR people are notorious for guilting you into speaking a $. Once you do, they own you. Don't ever forget that. This is the ONE time you should absolutely stand resolute.


^^ Very well put. I'm actually going to forward that to my friend.

Quoting bennett123 (Reply 36):
Not clear from the OP, do they give any indication of a salary range, or are they just fishing for info.

Well now that he isn't going to get the job.... it was for a marketing role with CitiBank, so not dealing with actual finance (other than budget management).

But he did mention that a law firm in Boston was requesting such information as well.
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:38 am

Quoting Slider (Reply 35):
ALWAYS deflect this question. HR people are notorious for guilting you into speaking a $. Once you do, they own you. Don't ever forget that. This is the ONE time you should absolutely stand resolute.

I'm not sure why you can't stand resolute and still name a salary. No need to be guilted into it, as long as you're prepared.

I'm pretty sure that part of the reason my new company hired me was because of how forthright and direct I was about what I was looking for, job-wise and salary-wise.

But as always, different strokes for different folks.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
mham001
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:25 am

Quoting aa7295 (Reply 20):
The flag denotes where you are "from", not where you reside.

Some of the respondents are very clear about where they live, which combined with some wrong information caused confusion.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 28):
But what about when employer asks for transcript directly from the IRS?

They first need your consent to do that.

Quoting aa7295 (Reply 37):
Well now that he isn't going to get the job.... it was for a marketing role with CitiBank, so not dealing with actual finance (other than budget management).

The department probably shouldn't matter for a background check to work at a financial institution, once inside he could always move to another department.

Given the way I need to bend over and spread my cheeks for bankers every time I apply for a mortgage, I have no sympathy. Be glad they don't make you provide bank statements and corresponding copies of all deposits with written explanation of each for every account you have, for the last 6 months. And then update all again every two months when their process takes 6 or more.
 
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LAXintl
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 2:54 am

Quoting aa7295 (Reply 37):
Well now that he isn't going to get the job.... it was for a marketing role with CitiBank, so not dealing with actual finance (other than budget management).

Kinda explains it. Its part of internal audit requirements at many financial institutions.

Your friend actually got off light. Per posting on a jobs board I quickly Google'd, Citibank depending on positions can ask for 6-years worth of tax records on applicants.

The same board has comments about even the phone company AT&T asks to see paystubs and W-2's for some positions.
Also there are comments that Bank of America as part of ASI (Applicant Screening Investigation) can require multipl years of tax returns, bank statements and other financial details from prospective employees, and ongoing (often annual) reviews of employee finances during employment.
From the desert to the sea, to all of Southern California
 
slider
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:33 pm

Quoting aa7295 (Reply 37):
^^ Very well put. I'm actually going to forward that to my friend.

Thanks. One thing that I did was jot down on several 5” x8” note cards some cues for answering these questions. Kind of like a cheatsheet to use whilst on the phone (since most of these conversations are happening via phone anyhow). I’m fairly quick on my feet, but it’s still a good thing to be prepared. I had a few different iterations of that salary discussion marked down to be able to use different permutations, along with questions and ways to point it back to HR.

One other thing I did, and this might be helpful to some people, is use your own credentials and experience as another chip during negotiations. I’ve done this before with HR person when we’ve gotten bogged down is refer back to WHY the offer was extended in the first place.

“My understanding in speaking with Mr. So and So in the interview is that he was impressed with the fact that I had done XYZ and had been involved directly with ABC (or what you). Since he stated he needed someone with that particular skill set, I would think that would be part of the compensation for this job as well since it reflects on my overall experiential base that you seek. And those are skills I’ve honed over the past X number of years that I’m ready to bring to ABC Company.”

Or some such flavor, you know. Go with what you’re comfortable with, but certainly be ready. BE PREPARED. HR people have heard a lot of this stuff before—they’re creepy and deceptive. Sounds cynical, but if you go in with some altruistic sensibility, they’ll walk over you.

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 38):
I'm not sure why you can't stand resolute and still name a salary. No need to be guilted into it, as long as you're prepared.

I'm pretty sure that part of the reason my new company hired me was because of how forthright and direct I was about what I was looking for, job-wise and salary-wise.

True—there’s that qualifier of course here that presupposes that you know what the salary range might be already. That can be a stretch in some cases since external job postings don’t always post a salary that mirrors what the internal or “true” range might be. For specialized fields or people in certain industries, jobs, there might not even be any brain damage about salaries since there is transparency. But for MOST jobs—and I say that as a generalization—that’s not the case. There’s something to be said about the direct method though—saves everyone a lot of rigamarole with negotiations.
 
StarAC17
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:02 pm

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
I think this is grotesque. An employee should receive a salary based on their experience and how much they will contribute to the new employer. By all means, a potential employer should check all candidates employment and experience history, but salary is a private matter.

I agree 100% with this and if the industry is completely different then the past salary likely has no relevance to the prospective one.

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
I mean what next will employers request from you. Not only is this a gross invasion of privacy, who knows what they are going to do with that data. Identity theft is on the rise and small business to massive corporations are known for not securing such data (read: Sony not even password-protecting Excel files in recent hack).

As long as the job market remains scarce then employers will push it as far as the legally can. I have heard stories of companies actually asking for prospective employees facebook passwords.

Quoting casinterest (Reply 1):
The company does not seem to understand the market value of their position or the market value of the person they are looking to employ. The company also has some very apparent privacy issues.

They probably do and know it and probably know the market rate for potential candidates existing/last job and likely suspect it pays less that what this job offers. HR is making a bet they can get a bargain.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 28):
This question is neither illegal, nor that uncommon. Asking for financial history of people is quite common in many industries. Similar to how some companies run credit, or drug checks on prospective employees.

Matter of fact I just had an acquaintance in December required to supply 2-years of IRS tax transcripts as part of a possible career move. (in the banking/finance sector)

It makes sense when working in a bank because of the access to money in that industry and they need to mitigate risk of an employee stealing because of desperation.

Asking for the credit score for a job such as an entry level engineer who might have some billable expenses but is not getting access to company money is not necessary and just plain intrusive.

Quoting Slider (Reply 35):

But if someone wanted a W2, I'd tell them to kiss my ass.

I think in Canada the equivalent is a T4 and I would say the same.

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 38):
I'm not sure why you can't stand resolute and still name a salary. No need to be guilted into it, as long as you're prepared.

Go for it but you are taking a risk that you could miss out on a higher offer.
Engineers Rule The World!!!!!
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:22 pm

Quoting StarAC17 (Reply 42):
Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 38):
I'm not sure why you can't stand resolute and still name a salary. No need to be guilted into it, as long as you're prepared.

Go for it but you are taking a risk that you could miss out on a higher offer.

If you go with the company's offer, you're taking a risk that you could have gotten a higher offer. They can say, we're offering you this amount based on:

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
experience and how much they will contribute to the new employer

...and that you can take it or leave it.

Besides, if you've done appropriate research, you should have an idea of how much the company will be willing to pay you.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
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casinterest
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:38 pm

Quoting StarAC17 (Reply 42):
They probably do and know it and probably know the market rate for potential candidates existing/last job and likely suspect it pays less that what this job offers. HR is making a bet they can get a bargain.


Folks need to remember that HR still has to answer to the hiring manager for what happens during a negotiation. Make sure you are in good with the hiring manager. I couldn't come to terms with HR, and I declined a job, only to have the manager and HR call me back with a better offer.
Where ever you go, there you are.
 
bennett123
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 6:40 pm

IMO, whole point of the question is to force rates down.
 
WestJet747
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 8:52 pm

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 28):
Matter of fact I just had an acquaintance in December required to supply 2-years of IRS tax transcripts as part of a possible career move. (in the banking/finance sector)

This is relevant because their ability to manage their own finances can be a signal to their qualification to manage company finances in those roles...

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 28):
On paystubs, thats even a more common thing to ask for. A few years back when my wife got some insurance we had to supply such info.

If you want to rent an apartment, get a loan, apply for credit card, buy a car, get a cell phone, verifying income or financial standing is standard procedure where its you showing your paystub, or getting a hard credit inquiry run on you.

...whereas none of these are relevant to job qualification.

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 28):
Sure lie if you want. But what about when employer asks for transcript directly from the IRS?

Why would the IRS ask your current employer for your W2 from your previous employer(s)?

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 30):
Creating value for a company means providing good work at a rate that the company is willing to spend and able to afford. If your pay is outweighing your work, you are not creating value.

No disagreement from me on that point...but it's totally irrelevant to one's salary history. Salary negotiation is a discussion of "what can you do for me", not "what have you done for that other guy".

Quoting vikkyvik (Reply 30):
I've had companies ask me what I was looking for, and when I told them

That's fine. Companies can ask for that information if they so please, and it's your prerogative as to whether you oblige or not. I take issue with employers making tax forms a prerequisite to an offer.

Quoting Slider (Reply 35):

   Excellent post all around! But I disagree that it's hyperbole, as that is a perfectly reasonable way to handle it.

Quoting StarAC17 (Reply 42):
I think in Canada the equivalent is a T4

Correct. I don't know about your experience StarAC17, but it's rather unheard of for an employer up here to ask for such a document, no? I worked in consulting until a couple months ago and have received offers from a couple other consulting firms in the past couple years, and I've never once been asked for such documents despite working with sensitive information and finances. They've never gone beyond casually asking my total compensation at my previous workplace.

Frankly, when I used to hire, I couldn't care less what you did for whatever amount of money at your last gig, I care about what you can do for me for the amount I can afford. It's highly unlikely those two figures will ever be the same unless you're flipping burgers.
Flying refined.
 
Flighty
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:08 pm

Quoting casinterest (Reply 44):
I couldn't come to terms with HR, and I declined a job, only to have the manager and HR call me back with a better offer.

That is how better offers are gotten. Good for you.
 
vikkyvik
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:24 pm

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 46):
No disagreement from me on that point...but it's totally irrelevant to one's salary history. Salary negotiation is a discussion of "what can you do for me", not "what have you done for that other guy".

Yes, but I wouldn't say it's irrelevant. Salary history can be an indication of what a potential employee expects to earn.

I'd be lying if I said my previous salary didn't play into what I'd ask for somewhere else.

Quoting WestJet747 (Reply 46):
I take issue with employers making tax forms a prerequisite to an offer.

Yeah, that's a bit strange to me. Never experienced that.

Quoting bennett123 (Reply 45):
IMO, whole point of the question is to force rates down.

Absolutely. It's HR doing their job.
I'm watching Jeopardy. The category is worst Madonna songs. "This one from 1987 is terrible".
 
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mad99
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RE: Potential Employer Asking For Previous Salary Info

Wed Jan 07, 2015 7:55 am

Quoting LAXintl (Reply 28):
Sure lie if you want. But what about when employer asks for transcript directly from the IRS?

I would never give them anything like that.

At the end of the day you arrive at an agreement or not and the paper means nothing

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