At some point during the hiring process, a recruiter or interviewer will ask you how much you made in your previous position.
Some people choose to inflate their salary. While that’s a tempting decision to make—in theory, even if your new company lowballs you on the job offer, you’ll still make more money—it’s also unethical: You don’t want to start off your new position with a lie.
Even if you aren’t sold on the immoral implications of hyperinflation, the recruiter or interviewer could eventually find out how much you really made—remember, the tech world is a fairly tight-knit one, and people tend to talk.
When asked about your previous salary, it’s wisest to deflect until an actual offer’s on the table: Say that you were always paid a competitive rate, for example, and that you’re sure you can work out something agreeable for the new position. Some candidates are willing to offer a broad range of what they’ve been paid, without offering too many details.
If you’re concerned about achieving the maximum possible salary for your new position, take a few negotiating tips:
Take a look at what your prospective employer has paid for positions similar to yours in the past. If you have the experience and qualifications, you could certainly ask for the upper end of that salary range.
In addition to querying about how much you earned in the past, interviewers sometimes ask your desired salary in your new position. Naming a number is a mistake: Too high, and you’ll damage your chances of actually landing the position; too low, and you might end up severely underpaid. When in doubt, stall by suggesting you’re open to discussion, and prepare to negotiate only after they deliver a hard number.
…Then Be Straightforward
When the time comes (i.e., after they deliver that hard number), negotiate by citing your skills and whatever other assets you might bring to bear on your new position. Chances are good that the company already has a bit of flexibility built into its offer and will elevate your proposed salary; but also be aware that, if you’re too aggressive and pushy, it could tarnish your relationship with the company before it’s even really begun.