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Time to shed some pounds?
By EMP Plc

Avoid giving details of your salary in your CV. If you’re specifically asked to do so, however, here are some tips on how to go about it.

In a perfect job-hunting world, your current salary will nuzzle a perfect thousand or two below the starting salary outlined in the advertisement for your next potential post.

But how do you play things if you either earn a lot more or a lot less than the stated salary range in an advertisement you’re keen to respond to and you’re asked to give details of your current salary?

This situation can easily arise. Perhaps you earn a fortune in your current job and don’t want to price yourself out of the market. Or maybe you have a bit of a pension coming in and therefore don’t need to maintain your current salary level. Or your current company is in a notoriously low-paying sector.

Don’t show them the money
A direct answer to the salary question might hurt your chances. If you think about it, a typical job advertisement in a broadsheet can generate literally hundreds of CVs. One of the easier ways in which the person in the HR department can whittle down numbers is to weed out any applicants who are too expensive and therefore quite possibly overqualified. The same goes for applicants whose salaries are too low, implying that that they might be underqualified.

Though it’s tempting to do so, don’t simply ignore the request for salary information. If the advertisement specifically requests a response, not providing one will have you labelled by the recruiter as either rude (because you didn’t bother to respond) or someone with poor attention to detail (because you didn’t notice the reference to salary information). Neither of those labels is going to have you waltzing into an interview.

Consider including one of the following explanations in your covering letter (you should always keep salary information away from your CV):

  • ‘My salary requirements are negotiable.’
  • ‘My salary history is consistent with my experience and record of achievements.’
  • ‘My salary consists of a number of elements, including a performance-related payment. I will be happy to talk these through in more detail at a meeting.’

Most recruitment consultants and HR managers wouldn’t take offence at any of the responses above.

Talking salary face-to-face
If your response on salary has satisfied the recruiter and they like the look of your experience and qualifications, there’s more than a fighting chance that you’ll get an interview. Having bought yourself a bit of time in terms of the salary question, you can think about how to play things when you’re face-to-face with the interviewer.

First things first. If the interviewer doesn’t raise the subject of salary, then you shouldn’t either. Presenting yourself at interview is a sales process, whereas talking salary is a negotiation process. Trying to sell yourself and negotiate simultaneously weakens your bargaining hand. Sell yourself at interview and subsequently get a job offer, then you’ve got a very strong buying signal from the company and you can negotiate from a position of real strength.

However, if the question of the salary you require does arise, you can try saying that you’d like to make as much as other employees with your qualifications. Or you could try answering the question with a question like ‘What is a typical salary for this position?’ Another alternative is to respond by giving a pay range rather than a specific figure.

First Published in,
Spring 2007

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