How To Write A Salary History

When it comes to writing a salary history, the way you write it isn't quite as important as how you explain the numbers you give and when you reveal the information.

When should I provide my salary history to a potential employer?
Do not give your salary history unless it is specifically asked for when you apply for the position. Giving your salary history away too early and before you can figure out what the employer is willing to pay might lead to a salary that is too low.

Why does a company want my salary history if they don't say what the position pays?
If a company asks for your salary history as part of the initial application, they want to screen out candidates who might want significantly more than they are willing to pay.

What if my salary history might take me out of contention for the job?
Salaries from previous jobs don't always tell the whole story, and you may be on the market precisely because you want a higher salary. If you are changing careers and the salary represents a step down, explain that you are not expecting as high of a salary, and then discuss your salary requirements for the new position. If you just got out of school with a degree, mention that this is your first job in the field, but your expertise commands a higher salary.

How can I explain any special circumstances if a salary history is required?
Provide the information in your cover letter, along with a salary range that corresponds to the job you want. You are offering a compromise: The employer finds out what you are willing to accept, and you also indicate that you are willing to negotiate.

If the application involves filling out a form and you do not see a space, bring a sheet with your salary history typed out, along with a brief explanation of why your salary history may not match your current salary expectations. Do not go into your life story; if the employer is impressed enough with the rest of your resume to schedule an interview, you can give more details when you meet in person.

What is the format for a full salary history?
Write the following:

Company Name Starting Salary/Ending Salary
Most Recent Company You Worked For $XX,XXX/$XX,XXX
Next Most Recent Company You Worked For $XX,XXX/$XX,XXX
And So On $XX,XXX/$XX,XXX

Only go back as far as you feel you need to, and include an explanation of why you are looking for a different salary, if applicable, at the bottom.

If you are mentioning your past salary history in a cover letter, just mention your salary history for your most recent position. If the company is interested and wants more information, they will ask.

How do I find out my salary range?
Before you give your salary range, you need to research the position to find out just how far above and below your past salary you can go. Head to a site like salary.com and find out what your peers in your area are making, and figure out the range from there.

Should I raise or lower the numbers in my salary history if it will give me a better chance at the job?
No. If you move ahead in the application process, a potential employer can always call your past employer to confirm your salary. Discrepancies will take you out of the running.

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