Editor's note: Salary expert Jack Chapman and TheLadders want to help you negotiate the best deal you can. You can e-mail us your salary negotiation questions or situations or use #salaryQ to submit them via Twitter. Due to the volume of inquiries, we may not be able to respond to all questions submitted.
Q: Did I sabotage my chances for the position because I disclosed my past salary (or salary range) and it was too high?
A: Yes you did, and I’m sorry it happened. This is the biggest concern and the main reason for all five of my salary-making rules, but particularly salary-making rule #1: postpone talking about money until there’s an offer. Your word is “sabotage:” it means you set something in place that destroys the possibility of it functioning in the future, and that’s what happens when you talk about salary upfront.
If you discuss salary in any detail before the employer really gets a sense of what you’re worth, or before the employer has decided which candidate he/she wants to interview, you’re almost always pushing yourself out of the range. They’re not going to pick people who cost too much and conversely, they won’t pick people who cost too little.
Your question supposes your salary is too high, but it applies also if too low. Why will you be screened out for salary? Electronic screening.
The reason all the salary related screening happens is that, given the electronic age, the volume of applications employers get for a published opening is enormous. It used to be in the hundreds, but now it’s sometimes in the thousands. People don’t have enough time to print and pore over that many resumes. It’s too expensive to pay personnel to do all of that screening. So, to whittle down those thousands to just 10 to 50 candidates to be considered for interviews, software is used. Software has no ability to think about salary or candidate qualifications, it’s “in or out.” The employer enters salary parameters and if you’re outside those, you’re screened out. That’s that.
For instance, if you put a “0” when it says, “what is your current or expected salary,” the software will look at that, consider it an inappropriate answer and kick your application out. They can set parameters for people who are looking for a $50k to $70k range, and if you’re over $70k or under the $50k range, you can be screened out and never realize it. Anytime you possibly can, follow salary-making rule #1: postpone salary talk until there is an offer.
Next week's question: Do I sound desperate if I say I’m willing to take a pay cut?