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New York City bans employers from asking potential workers about past salary (nytimes.com)
718 points by mendelk 82 days ago | hide | past | web | 524 comments | favorite

I never answer questions about my past or expected salary, not to employers and not to recruiters.

Most employers don't ask, and the few that have (perhaps by having a part of an employment form ask for previous salary) have never made my leaving that information out an issue.

Most recruiters, if they even ask, respect my decision not to talk about it, but I've been pressed hard on this by a handful of recruiters, and have had this be a deal breaker for a couple of them. One recruiting firm admitted that they were paid by the employers to get this information. I wasn't getting paid to give this information out, however, and it's worth more to me to keep it private as I'm placed at a disadvantage in negotiations if I name a number first.

It's still a seller's market for IT talent, and there are plenty of other fish in the sea, so if some recruiters can't accept that I won't name a number, it's their loss.

It's great that NYC is taking the lead on this, and I really hope the rest of the US follows suit.

Agree with you in principle (your previous deal with company A is absolutely none of company B's business) but I would like to challenge you on one point:

> I'm placed at a disadvantage in negotiations if I name a number first.

... This is unlikely to be true. Generally, in price negotiations it is advantageous to name a number first. This is known as anchoring and basically the theory is that the end result is better for you if the company has to wheedle you down from 170k than if they anchor the price at 100k and you have to argue them up from there.

Plus, it saves a lot of wasted negotiation time on both sides if your price is just way too high for the company and this is clear from the beginning.

(edit: I'm talking about expected salary in general, not disclosing your current salary level)

Anchoring only works if the potential employer is ready to buy. Many, many organizations will simply use the number as yet another filter, and you won't even begin discussions.

By giving a number first, you're either too high and you won't have an opportunity to sell yourself, you're too low and you've literally already negotiated against yourself, or you're lucky and right at their expectation, which you could have gotten to by simply not giving the first number.

I do agree with the wasted negotiating time thing.

Pricing yourself out of a job with an organization that uses salary as an first-line filter is maybe not the worst thing in the world.

There are a lot of bad jobs in the world, you should be happy to turn down or be turned down by many jobs that you apply to. It's kind of a sad cultural trope that the employee is desperate for a 'yes' at every job they apply for, when that is often not true at all.

Unconventional opinion on this Valley bubble circuit, I'm sure, but I think you need to be mindful of what kind of business you're applying to.

Yes, salary is a filter, because money isn't infinite and the hiring budget is only so much. Yes, a certain category of hyped-up, massively funded startup may (temporarily) exist in an alternate universe where the laws of economics don't apply and all budgets are imaginary ("for the right people..."), but the rest of the universe doesn't work like that.

For example, a small company bootstrapped by the founder's limited personal funds simply isn't going to offer $250k pay packages to Full Stack JavaScript Rock Star Ninjas. In some cases, that's close to the entire gross revenue of the company. Yet there may be advantages to working for a company like that.

Likewise, large orgs and state agencies function in normal-law economics, not RockStar VC economics. There's only so much they can afford to pay, and that's that.

Negotiations aren't just a staring contest where, if you do the right things, you get paid like a banker, otherwise you toil in the lowly ranks of the unwashed proletariat. In theory, negotiation leads to compromise. Yes, employers have more leverage in these conversations often, but it doesn't change the fact that negotiation requires credible and bona fide compromise intentions from both sides.

Take the time to understand the nature of the business to which you are applying. Yeah, you might just be getting squeezed by MBA frat boys sitting on top of tens of millions in VC who are going to get rich off the sweat of your toil for peanuts, but in 90% of the country, that probably shouldn't be your first thought.

> Pricing yourself out of a job with an organization that uses salary as an first-line filter is maybe not the worst thing in the world.

"They try to filter people by salary" is not at the top of my list of reasons for why I wouldn't want to work somewhere. It's a reason, but it is dwarfed by many other ones.

I don't mean to imply that it's a primary filter of mine either, or even something I would attempt to find out to base my decision on. However, if a company makes a decision that we aren't compatible early on, they're probably right, for both of our benefit. That holds even more true the dumber the reason is.

It's an absurd example, but let's say you don't get hired because the hiring manager thinks your shirt is super ugly. That's insane and obviously completely improper and irrelevant -- but you're probably better off not getting that job!

There's an awful lot that's hiding under that word "often" in your last sentence. How often? How do we know?

Anecdotally, even as a software & full-stack web developer that's worked in half a dozen languages and has a math degree, I've been in both positions -- I've had the freedom to complain about people annoying me with unsolicited offers to interview while banking a third of my paycheck and treating another third as disposable... and I've been pavement-pounding in desperation.

The former has been more often the case than the latter for me, but I think it's probable that like a large portion of the audience here, I've been insulated by circumstance.

Yes, sometimes, many times, maybe even 'often', the job applicant is more desperate for a job than the hiring party is.

But it's not a rule that applicants are desperate, and hiring parties aren't. It's absolutely a stereotype of the hiring process though.

Hiring parties are desperate. Ever been at any startup or any hiring committee?

> By giving a number first, you're either too high and you won't have an opportunity to sell yourself, you're too low and you've literally already negotiated against yourself, or you're lucky and right at their expectation, which you could have gotten to by simply not giving the first number.

And that's why salary is a binary search!


"Basically, you need to perform a binary search. When you get an offer, you know that you can get at least that. Then you repeat the process a bit higher." https://thehftguy.com/2017/01/23/career-advice-and-salary-ne...

Except that isn't a binary search.

But it sounds cool when you call it a binary search. Poetic licence.

It's not a perfect binary search. Not all companies have the same top number and you're not equally valuable everywhere.

It doesn't seem to be a binary search in any sense of the computer science term. There is no half interval mechanics nor would that be appropriate. It seems like traditional bargaining.

In an otherwise excellent article, the missing negotiation calibration and example is glaring. The rest of the article would seem to suggest just as you will get your next big promotion from another company, if you find yourself considering coming down walk away. The heart of the approach is getting away from you becoming invested in being hired by a specific company.

Companies have a range they are willing to pay. Surprisingly, most companies in an area (and domain) usually have very similar ranges. Finding the top has a lot in common with binary searches.

I am not sure I understand your second paragraph.

Could your provide a specific example of how to use a binary search to find a salary? A binary search is dependent on boundaries. I don't see how it could be used effectively to find the boundary for a specific employer. Also, the flow chart shown in the article has no similarities to a binary search. The article describes the more reasonable approach: using networking to find out what a domain in an area pays.

You can't do it for a single employer because you only get one test per employer. You do the search across employers, in an area/domain. That gives you a rough idea of the prospect.

Yes, networking and insider information is much better than any of this.

right, it's the wife search algorithm (fun fact, it's really useful to find a refueling station while on the go)

A couple thoughts on that..

First, do you really want to work for the lowest bidder? I have before, and it was a complete waste of my time.

Second, Name a number that you can be happy with. If they meet it, then you should be happy.

Third, many companies use banding for salary range, and if you're below the median, then you're raises will be bigger than if you're at the top of the range. In effect, naming too small of a number is often nullified within 2-3 years.

I do agree that it's a psychological game, but don't play it. Name a number you want. If they are reasonable and they like you, they'll negotiate.

In one case, I was too high for the position, and they created a new position (title, really) to put me in. I thought that was good faith.

This is why we publish salary ranges with our job ads but also require a desired salary within that range from candidates.

Every time I ever tried this, the candidates hover around the top of the range regardless of qualification and experience.

Maybe try posting a minimum salary only? "Roles for this position start at $x for qualified candidates, negotiable based on experience" or something like that.

I don't think thats a viable strategy. I get lots of semi-spam offers. I usually just skim through them in 5 seconds and if I see salary figure way below what I would expect then it's 100 % I will not be replying.

Interesting idea

Which is fine; if you can argue that their experience may not merit top of the range, you just negotiate down a bit...

This might just be me and my own immaturity, but in my experience, employees often count their eggs before they hatch, and once I start negotiating them down, I create a scenario where I can't get them fully aligned with my goals. They become a simple exchange of cash for labor and not someone who grows loyal or feels a sense of fairness, ownership and excitement about the role.

Maybe I am naive, but I feel like this creates a dynamic that hurts otherwise promising prospects.

They become a simple exchange of cash for labor and not someone who grows loyal or feels a sense of fairness, ownership and excitement about the role.

You've hit upon a fundamental tenet of Marxism: alienation [0]. You haven't said whether or not you offer equity as part of your compensation. If not, then it is somewhat unreasonable to expect that sort of loyalty from your employees. If so, then you have a challenging task of convincing people to buy in to your vision at a potentially high personal risk.

Today's economy is rife with alienation. So many people are constantly changing jobs or dropping out of the workforce [1]. Meanwhile, they're struggling inside a system that produces rampant cost disease [2] and staggering inequality, as illustrated by the dreaded "elephant graph" [3]. Overall, I think there's a growing sense of discontent with capitalism and this can manifest in suspicion towards employers.

Now I'll grant you that it's entirely unfair to lay all this at the feet of just a single employer such as yourself. I don't intend for this to come across as some kind of blame game. I merely hope to provide a larger context for ideas that many people may not even be consciously aware of but contribute to their feelings and instincts nonetheless.

[0] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx%27s_theory_of_alienatio...

[1] https://www.brookings.edu/blog/social-mobility-memos/2017/02...

[2] http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/02/09/considerations-on-cost-...

[3] http://voxeu.org/article/greatest-reshuffle-individual-incom...

at-will employment basically guarantees a lack of loyalty. You have no loyalty to me, so why should I have any to you? Everyone is a mercenary out to maximize their personal gain at the expense of everyone else. Not a world I particularly want to live in, but it wasn't my choice and it's a hard thing to change.

Luckily, most people out there aren't purely capitalistic, do-whatever-it-takes-to-make-a-buck sociopaths, but they're definitely out there, will play you like a pawn, and it might be a while after (or never) until you realize what happened and what role you played in their twisted little game.

To me, it's sad that we have humans literally dying because they can't afford better health insurance in this country while others play pricing games having ships full of oil sail around to manipulate the market into paying them more, or toiling to shave off a tenth of a millisecond for their high-speed quote stuffing system. The idea of money has become so remote and intangible in some cases that I hate how it's also used for things people actually need.

or you don't hire them

Wonder how it would work out if you listed the top of the range at actually midway through the range. Maybe that would be the desired result - this is kinda similar sounding to my employer, where our "bring them on at" range is lower than the "expected pay at this role" range, because we want people to have room for nice raises even if they're not promotion-ready.

Problem is even with that I would wait for an offer from your company before saying a number, and then I would ask for more, because over the course of my career this has enabled me to consistently be paid more than average. So your "maximum" would be my minimum, and if I were to work there, I'd want more. Maybe that means I don't work there, that's fine, but it'll work somewhere else, eventually!

> So your "maximum" would be my minimum, and if I were to work there, I'd want more.

Oh, the "I better be the most well-compensated person on the team or I'm going to get upset" mentality. If our strategy weeds those folks out, all the better.

I don't care at all what other people at the company make. I just know for a fact that on average, across all the companies I apply to (don't forget, you see a lot of candidates, but at the same time we are seeing lots of companies), I will get more money if I push back on an offer.

Thank you for doing that.

I try to only ever apply to jobs with salary range posted. Although as a developer is becoming increasingly hard to find those posts

you can find plenty in italy, all sounding like 'in most expensive city x, lead architect, full time, 6yr experience, 30k$ RAL'

rip market.

That's how us government jobs work too :)

Unfortunately the negatives around government jobs far outweigh the benefits of having the salary a known quantity when you are applying.

If only the rest of the industry was so mature.

I think you're confusing two sales concepts - first to talk, and anchoring.

Anchoring is a more general marketing concept that works well in advertisements (crossing out a black $280 and putting a red $100 underneath it). Anchoring doesn't work so well for something much more fluid (and with much more at stake) such as a salary negotiation.

In-person sales meetings (which is what an interview is, for both sides) are where "first to talk" come into play. It's a concept as old as war meetings between opposing roman generals. First to talk loses, period. Why? I don't know, but years of sales and recruitment has taught me that whoever slips is going to give the advantage to the other side of the table.

You can only hurt yourself by giving a number. The company has set a budget, either you fit or you don't. Maybe the budget is higher than you expected and you take the job for way more than you would have asked for. Maybe it's less and you don't take the job. The key point is that company is not the only company you are dealing with - you can move on to another. And another and another, and as long as you don't give your number, you will win out.

I can't share this data but when I worked at a bootcamp our analysis showed this as well. Students that gave their number got paid less. There's a big push for bootcamp transparency so hopefully that sort of info will get published soon.

From my experience, naming your price works in your favor if you are aggressive. People having similar positions are paid at 20% difference all dependent on their negotiation skills. Also, companies usually don't have set budgets for positions. It's quite fluid depending on the person being recruited and their other offers and expectations. You need to make it work in your favor. If you send up leaving money on the table, it just shows you did not come prepared. Besides, there's nothing wrong in getting what you asked for even if in another set of circumstances, with some amount of luck, you could have gotten more.

I would disagree with what you're saying about companies not having set budgets. They may have a range but it's certainly a set range. The larger the organization the more hard the range likely is due to the fact that the hiring manager doesn't even set the range, HR does based on salary comps.

The problem is that most companies won't provide an offer until you've gone through interviews which are expensive for both parties.

So this reasoning holds if you have an abundance of time, but you can generally figure out what their likely range is going to be. Do research, ask colleagues, etc. Anchor at the high end of that - you can also leave it vague by talking about 'total comp' which can includes subjective things like equity, location, vacation, etc. You may loose some value by doing this but it'll also mean you won't waste time and so you'll only be interviewing in places that are in your ballpark.

We always (sort of) go first by sharing our comp ranges to candidates. If either of us are way off why waste each other's time? We do ask for comp history. We try to be very fair and we rarely end up needing to negotiate at all.

I almost always reject companies out of hand that ask for comp history. It signals a desire to lowball the candidate and/or a company's lack of faith in their own ability to ascertain talent. Neither bode well for working there even if the request is later rescinded.

Asking for the candidate's expected compensation, OTOH, is fine, although a little tacky.

I'm not confusing two sales concepts - you are. I don't know much about 'first to talk', but my limited understanding is that it means just that (the person who engages first in a negotiation comes out worse). Anchoring is about setting the parameters of the negotiation - you don't need to speak first.

>>In negotiations, anchoring refers to the concept of setting a boundary that outlines the basic constraints for a negotiation; subsequently, the anchoring effect is the phenomenon in which we set our estimation for the true value of the item at hand.[5] In addition to the initial research conducted by Tversky and Kahneman, multiple other studies have shown that anchoring can greatly influence the estimated value of an object. [0]

Do you or your Roman generals (who probably wouldn't be fighting each other anyway, but that's besides the point) have any hard data/sources you can show that demonstrate a link between anchoring and coming off worse in a negotiation?

You can hurt yourself by giving a number, but you're more likely to help yourself if you choose a realistic but slightly high number and indicate that you are willing to negotiate based on non-monetary factors.

[0] : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchoring#In_negotiations

Anchoring might work if there wasn't an information asymmetry dynamic at play. But companies have way more data on salaries than applicants do. If you anchor too high, they'll just pass since they know what others are paying and know you won't get that elsewhere. If you anchor too low, the negotiations will be win-win for them. When I was hiring and someone came in too low, I'd often offer well above their anchor since I didn't want them leaving as soon as they found out how much more they were worth. But most employers don't do that.

What you're saying would be true if companies were navigating the process as blindly as candidates are. Then a high anchor could lead the employer to negotiating from a position of weakness. But, armed with data, companies don't do that.

Anchoring requires information asymmetry¹, but it requires the field to be tiled the other way around. A company can easily anchor the salary target in a negotiation. You can't.

1 - With no asymmetry both peers would have a value anchored before negotiations start.

Are you sure companies know how much other similar companies are paying?

Yes. I managed a team and had to hire many people. My company provided me with a mountain of data that was broken down by location, job title and years of experience. The data was pretty accurate, at least for San Francisco, but I have no way of knowing if the other locations were correct.

Two stupid things on their part...I got headcount, not a budget. So when negotiating salary, it wasn't in my best interest to haggle. I'd rather have happy relationships with my direct reports than know that I screwed them out of a few dollars on behalf of the company. Had they made it my duty to make the numbers add up, I might have been a bit more frugal. Oh, and they didn't filter the data to only show me positions below my title. So I went into my reviews armed with the exact market salary data that the company used to negotiate with me.

Maybe your company also wanted their staff to be happy, like you did - is it only stupid for them to do it, but not you?

> You can only hurt yourself by giving a number.

That's far too big of a generalization and I think it's easier to talk about specific scenarios. The parent comment alluded to a quite common counterexample:

1. salary range for position is 100k-150k

2. candidate is first to talk and names anywhere from $130k to $170k

3. candidate gets talked down a bit, e.g. 10%

It seems to me the candidate will still end up higher than if the company is first to talk and names $100k!

Completely agree that giving previous comp information or comp expectations can only hurt you as an employee. The only thing giving this information will do is provide a company the information they need to pay you less than they might have otherwise.

I think it is difficult for employees to judge what they're truly worth. Therefore, when most people give a number, that number will be lower than what an employer may be willing to pay (and perhaps lower than the company's initial offer would be). I would guess this holds doubly true for graduates of a bootcamp, or recent college graduates, who have less industry experience on which to base their judgment of business value.

I never consider interviewing and negotiations a waste of time. It's very valuable practice, no matter what the outcome. Practice is how I get better at both. The more interviews I go on and the more times I negotiate salary, the better I get.

Also, even if a company can't hire me at the moment due to real budget constraints, they might be able to do so in the future, or perhaps one of the people I interviewed and impressed enough to get to the salary negotiation phase will remember me when they move to another company and want to hire me then.

If I name a number way out of their range first, though, they could reject me right off the bat, and I'd never get an interview in the first place, never get the practice, and never get a chance to impress anyone. All of these are worth more to me than the chance of a salary negotiation going sour because I wind up being too expensive. Besides, I'll always have the chance to decide whether I want to work for the company despite them being below my ideal salary. Salary isn't everything.

As for anchoring, that might work if you're negotiating with novices, but many employers have professional salary negotiators (either HR or recruiters themselves) who know about anchoring, and they're not going to get fooled by such psychological tricks. If I don't reveal a number first, however, they are forced to name one, and then the ball is in my court, and I can negotiate up from there as I see fit. There's really no downside.

> I never consider interviewing and negotiations a waste of time. It's very valuable practice, no matter what the outcome. Practice is how I get better at both. The more interviews I go on and the more times I negotiate salary, the better I get.

This. I get the impression that most software devs don't make an effort to learn this incredibly valuable skill. It doesn't even have to be haggling, per se. Just asking for a higher salary is often going to increase it by thousands of dollars. It just boggles my mind at how so many people will leave so much money at the table...

> Just asking for a higher salary is often going to increase it by thousands of dollars.

General life rule that so many people seem to have zero clue about - you only get what you ask for. Instead, so many people turn into passive aggressive assholes or sit in silence and stew. If you want more money, ask for it (in a polite professional way obviously). If the company says no, you now have a clear next step.

Whenever I have done that its been a "we can't right now" for such and such reason, have some extra responsibilities instead and make it feel like a promotion. It been easier to get another job with more pay.

Well, to be clear, I wasn't talking about promotions, but negotiating a new job offer. That is the time when you as an employee have the most leverage.

Ditto. The only way I've ever meaningfully increased my income was by leaving, even though it wouldn't have taken much for me to stay.

>I never consider interviewing and negotiations a waste of time.

As an employer, I do.

I once made the mistake of spending a lot of time interviewing a candidate assuming that their salary expectations would be around market rates...they weren't. This was years ago and it chaps me a bit to this day that I made such a rookie blunder. I won't make that mistake again. I ask for a range right off and give one in return. This saves a lot of time if expectations are way off.

Given that candidates are justifiably wary of naming a number first, if you don't want to waste your time, it behooves you to name your range first.

I fully agree. At the time my assumption was that candidates had a pretty good idea what a 'normal' salary range is for a position. I was wrong.

And my experience is that never, ever, has a potential employer expressed a "pretty good idea" about what a "normal" salary for a position is.

That's a bit strange.

It's like buying milk. I couldn't tell you exactly how much I could buy a gallon of milk for right now (without looking it up). But I could tell you that it is for around five or six dollars. I could also tell you that organic milk is a bit more and the store brand is a bit less. I could also tell you it is likely to be a bit more in a small, boutique store than a large chain store and cost a bit more in the middle of NYC or SF than it would cost in the outskirts of St. Louis.

In short, I know enough about the cost of milk that if it is priced at $16 a gallon or $1.50 a gallon that it is unusual and, despite not knowing the exact 'normal' cost of a gallon of milk, that I can assume I can walk away and get some somewhere else in the market for a 'normal' price.

I think most people are in my shoes when it comes to milk and I think most employers in tech have a pretty good idea what a normal salary for a position is, especially those who have written checks for those positions for a while.

If you are finding that is not the case, I would wonder why.

Alas, software developers are not an agricultural commodity with a highly transparent and uniform underlying cost structure. :-)

The "10X developer" may be a bit of overhyped mythology, but underneath it is the very real idea that developers vary enormously in their abilities and the amount of value they can add. While the variance in their salaries doesn't capture the variance in their productivity, perhaps, there are many situations where there is profound business sense in paying one developer 2-3x more than another.

The problems are: (1) Everyone thinks they're that 2-3x guy; (2) office politics would sooner or later lead to the news getting out and a profound sense of injustice spreading like a wildfire.

You'd be amazed by how vast the range for developer salaries is.

I've had employers think that $80k was a reasonable offer for me (when I was making $200k).

It definitely depends on the sector and situation. If someone told me that a dev that some would offer $80K was making $200K I'd say 'Oh. In the financial sector?'

Otherwise, what I'm talking about is the fat part of the salary curve...there are always going to be interesting situations at the edge.

I've never worked in the financial sector. The truth is that there's just vast differentiation in how companies treat and pay developers. Some companies basically don't recognize the need for quality and pay all their technical folks <$120k across the board.

I think it is less about recognizing the need for quality and more about not needing nor being able to afford those skills.

It's like mechanics: F1 mechanics make a hell of a lot more than your average wrench turner (for good reason). If you need someone to look at your Corolla you don't need that extra skill and you couldn't afford it even if you wanted it.

You're assuming management competence (ie. that they know what they need).

I've seen way too many companies where they have 3 or 4 developers doing work which 1 competent developer could do, but they're unable to hire or retain competent developers due to poor pay. They'd actually save a lot of money by paying better.

...where are you buying milk? $2.59/gallon here in the Boston metro.

Organic brand from a small milk boutique in Manhattan, apparently.

The difference is most people are in the market for hood and I see myself as the local brand organic fair trade vanilla soy milk. No one wants to be hood.

I am also often similarly loathe to apply to positions without posted salary ranges. Unfortunately, in my experience, it's often "taboo" to bring up pay early-on in the discussions. But on the flip side, I've found that people who don't like to talk about pay usually don't want to pay much either, so it almost is a self-selection criterion that has worked really well in the past.

But I really like that you approach it this way - practical, sensible, and acknowledges that both parties' time has value.

Companies should name their range first mate, or just interview and accept the fact that the job hunt sucks for everyone. Why do you think external recruiters exist? They work as middleman that have intimate knowledge of a company's range, as well as their candidates' range, without either party knowing. That allows them to find helpful matches without wasting either party's time... at a 20% markup of course ;)

> They work as middleman that have intimate knowledge of a company's range, as well as their candidates' range, without either party knowing.

That's comically naive. External recruiters routinely share candidate ranges with employers.

They also routinely share the employers range with candidates.

Believe me, if I told an external recruiter I was looking to make X and they sent me on an interview and I got a job offer at 0.5X, not only would that be the last time we ever spoke but wherever I eventually landed would not be using that recruiter or their firm ever again.

I can't think of a job I've been contacted about in the last 15+ years where I didn't know what the salary range was before I even agreed to have my resume submitted.

If it's such a big deal to employers, and they don't want to waste their time, why don't they name a number first?

I won't object.

I didn't at the time. I do now.

Problem is, is every potential employee worth the same to you?

Of course not. But every role has a range, more or less, which is a balance of the value that role creates vs the alternatives in the market. The range is due to factors such as the risk an individual embodies based on previous experience, demonstrable skill, references along with likely ramp up time based on those factors.

To take a silly but illustrative example: if I'm looking for a javascript developer, I don't care if the person I'm interviewing also has a law degree from a top tier school and can craft airtight patent applications even if I may have some use for that skill. I am hiring for a javascript developer. That is the role I need filled. I will offer a salary range based on that need.

It is a silly example but I see the issue so often: someone will apply for a role and then expect to be compensated for their other skills. While, sometimes, it may be worth it to do a bit of management gymnastics and get someone brilliant through the door and find out how to fully leverage their talents later, most of the time that's just wishful thinking on everyone's part.

Hit thread limit, but I'm asking about @clavalle's ranges here:

How often does your eventual accepted offer land at the high end of your offered range? How often at the low end?

I ask, because it often seems unproductive to negotiate within-range on merits. If you're willing to pay up to X, I as a candidate am going to expect that amount. Anything less is letting you, the employer, capture the surplus...

Replying to @clavalle... Thanks for the thoughtful reply - I appreciate the chance to engage on this!

I understand the concept of probabilistic valuation of risks/opportunities of a given candidate, and if that were practically quantifiable in the real world, I agree that it would represent a sound way to price an offer (provided you also factored in the cost of losing a candidate and having to put more resources towards finding an equivalent or better candidate)... [1]

Unfortunately, in practice, a candidate has to be evaluated more coarsely as "good enough to hire" or "not good enough to hire". There's no way you could in good conscience employ someone who couldn't do the work - even if they came at a discount. That means that there definitely is budget surplus any time you hire someone at less than your maximum budget. There is a fixed amount you're able to pay to get the work done, and that is at the max of your budget range.

Strategically, then, the max of the range offered represents the minimum a qualified candidate should target in a negotiation... Your mileage may vary, of course, with the skill of the negotiator.

[1] By the way, I highly recommend Algorithms to Live By for an interesting discussion around the use of such methods in practice.

> There's no way you could in good conscience employ someone who couldn't do the work

Oh, if it was only so simple as 'can do the work' | 'cannot do the work'!

It is, of course, a very course and rough estimate but it is more like 'This person is likely to be great! They will not only do the work but surprise and delight me and pull our organization forward more solidly and quickly then we even hoped. We are lucky they happened to be looking just at the time we need their skills!' or 'This person looks like a good candidate but they tend to jump jobs on a yearly basis and has experience in C# rather than Java much less Scala but we've been looking for a while and we really need to get started and they seem smart enough to get up to speed.'

Point is, it's a complicated process with complicated factors.

Also, there is the wider market to consider. If I don't think a candidate can go out and get another job for the same price or more, I am unlikely to offer a premium on top of that market price.

So I have to disagree; skilled jobs are not binary in nature -- the max of the range offered represents how much a top tier candidate that fits well with the position should target. For those others without the same risk/reward profile or market power, they will have to keep from overselling themselves and take those factors into account.

If you like Algorithms to Live By, I think you'd enjoy 'How to Measure Anything' which really gets into the nitty gritty of how to reduce uncertainty and how even modest reductions can lead to much more solid decisions with these kinds of inherently fuzzy and complex problems.

You assume there is a surplus.

If I tell you at the beginning of our conversation 'The salary for this position is between $80K and $120K depending on your experience, education, and demonstrable skill etc'...

Throughout the course of our interview it is revealed that your education is a good fit for the position and your experience, while decent and potentially transferrable, is not a great fit for the position. Also, the technical part of the interview was good in some areas and poor in others (though I suspect through mere ignorance and not raw ability) and you have no public code under your belt that I can examine. But, you seem to communicate well and get along with the team.

Well, you are a good candidate but represent a significant risk relative to some other candidates. I could hire you and it turn out that those skills are not as transferrable as I'd hoped. You could take significantly more training than I was expecting for the role which is a cost to me.

The 'surplus' goes toward the expected cost of the risk. It is possible that you could find a better fit employment wise and that I could find a better fit employee wise but that carries its own risk. We both weigh all of that call it good and are happy how it turns out. Or we don't and the search continues.

When you tell employees your number so as not to waste time, do you name the number at the top of the range or at the bottom?

Both. And I try to give them a rough idea of the things that factor into pushing one into the higher end of the range or lower end.

> I ask for a range right off and give one in return.

I wish more employers were willing to do that. Many that I've talked to want the candidate to state their salary expectation, but aren't willing to say what range they are looking to pay.

Well, it wasn't a waste of time if you gained some experience, which I think was the point. As a manager I've made tons of mistakes. Much of my management style today is based on "Well, I won't do that again." Every mistake I've made has made me a better manager.

I agree with you regarding interview and negotiation practice being valuable (albeit to a certain extent - sometimes negotiating with certain tech companies/recruiters is like wrestling a pig in a muddy field... after a while, you realise the pig is enjoying itself).

I also don't think salary is everything - far from it! Yet I've never had a problem saying "I believe my market value is $XYZk, however if the culture, team and product is a good fit for me then I'm sure we'll be able to find a salary level that works for both of us."

Normally I say this right off the bat and have not yet had bad feedback about it. I don't see anchoring as a psychological trick, rather an opportunity to save both you and your potential employer a lot of time.

One thing that's super important in this is to know your market value. Regardless of whether you like your job or not, it's absolutely worth dipping a couple toes into the water every year or so, just to get a feel for what your skillset is worth. Doing this when not actively seeking a change takes off a lot of the pressure for a move when you are looking for a change.

> Plus, it saves a lot of wasted negotiation time on both sides if your price is just way too high for the company and this is clear from the beginning.

This. I'm very upfront that if a company can't meet at least a particular dollar amount expected, it's not worth wasting both of our time. This saves a ton of time, and also serves as a nice red flag when a company agrees and then later tries to negotiate down at the last minute (if they're going to penny-pinch at the last minute, things like bonuses and vacation approval are basically never happening).

I disagree that it's to your advantage to try to anchor to a high number early on. The reason IMO is that, at the beginning of a negotiation, neither party knows much about the other. They don't know enough about you to know whether it would be worth paying you that much, and you don't know enough about them to know if you'd be willing to work for them for that much. Start naming numbers at the beginning, and both sides will name extreme numbers to play it safe, they'll be far apart, and no deal gets made if they both stick to those numbers.

Let them see what you can do for them, and let them show you what it's like to work for them, then you should find it easier to come to an agreement on a number.

In places that don't use salary bands, many companies will hit you with previous salary + 10%.

In one place that I worked at, salary for a common technical job title (n=100) varied by 50%. The mechanics were pretty obvious. People who worked their way up got screwed with the 10% raise bullshit, and people who came in through some other means were able to extract higher salaries.

Where I find this stuff annoying is where there is no signal about the salary level. One placed I spoke to many years ago was advertising for a position that was probably worth $100-105k in the market, but they were hiring at $50k.

The parent is discussing prior salaries. You are discussing requested salaries.

If specifically asked "What is your current salary?" you would typically respond with the actual current salary, not your ideal new salary.

I would rather talk what my salary expectations are rather than my current salary. Not because I'm underpaid but because salary is a very specific term and doesn't take into account many other factors.

For instance, I think the worst bonus I've ever received with my current employer is 15%. Best was 30% or so.

That's not salary. But it's fairly reliable. With the new employer the bonus might not be reliable even if it's comparable percentage-wise. Every company has different criteria they use to fund the bonus pool and it's unheard of for a potential employer to ever disclose that. Everyone at my current employer gets paid out of the same bonus pool as the CEO so I know we're getting paid :-)

Also, equity (at least in my case) plays a huge role. The last few years I've made as much or more in selling vested stock options as I did in salary.

So if someone were to ask me what my current salary is in a employment negotiation I would tell them that I don't think it's relevant and give them a few examples why. I would however, tell them what I thought I was worth and justify it by explaining what value I could bring AND-OR I would tell them what salary range I've already been offered elsewhere recently and ask if they were prepared to make an offer in that range. If they insisted my current salary, I pretty much know that's not the right place for me.

I qualified my comment by stating that I agree with the parent as far as current salaries go, yet that in the general case of salary expectation discussions it is nevertheless a better strategy to state a number first. IMO it isn't clear from the parent that they believe it is a good idea to disclose any number first (whether expected or current salary).

BTW, if specifically asked 'what is your current salary?' I would typically respond with 'my ideal new salary is $X'

In this case the prior salary is used for anchoring purposes, by the expectation that the new salary should not be too much higher than the old salary.

They're basically using it as a means to sanity check and calibrate their own assessment.

My first job paid me $25,000 CAD a year.

My next job paid me $90,000 CAD a year. (Investment bank)

My next job paid me $160,000 USD a year. (Google)

All numbers are all-in comp. All junior dev roles.

Should the bank, and Google have offered me $33,000 and $40,000, so that the new salary isn't too much higher then the old one? Would that satisfy your notion of fairness? When new grads hired by the latter are getting paid $150,000/year?

You are hired to do your new job, not the old one. What the old one paid has no relevance.

I did not defend the practice. I explained why they are asking. It has nothing to do with fairness, and everything to do with employers using it as a negotiating tactic.

In other words: If you don't know what you're worth, of course they won't give you what you're worth.

What if you are current job pays you $400k? In that doesn't it advantage you to talk about your current salary to set an anchor? Also, it helps you avoid jobs/positions who are way below that number.

If your current job pays $400K they are either grossly overpaying or you are in a very narrow band of people in your field and you probably should not be taking too many interviews with people who do not already know what they should be prepared to pay.

People at $400K a year don't apply for a job, they're recruited. Any of the problems mentioned in this thread would likely not apply.

Or you have the right pedigree, and are working like a horse for a NYC financial firm. Or you are a staff engineer at a SV megacorp.

It does, and there is no law against telling your employer your salary expectations.

The thing you might leave a job because you really, really disagree with that assesment!

by the expectation that the new salary should not be too much higher than the old salary

From where does this expectation derive, and what makes it a good barometer of sanity? On the face it just sounds like the same rationale used for basing raises on percentage of an employee's initial salary. "3% over your last job" is not fair.

The expectation derives from peoples lack of knowledge of what they're worth. It has nothing to do with fairness - it's about what they think they can get away with offering.

Based on experience, almost nobody negotiates their offers, and if you see people talking about their job moves, people are often excited about, say, a 10% increase.

That's why employers expect to be able to get away with anchoring it to your current salary.

Anchoring only works in this way if there's no definitive market value for what you're selling. I know what a software architect commands in my geographic area. If you come in asking for 1.8x that, you're off the table as a candidate immediately (which you mention in the next point). No amount of anchoring will change that.

Agreed. More likely, however, a software architect commands a range of salaries in your area (eg 80-130k with a few outliers either side). As an 'average' performer in this scenario, you would do well to anchor your 'value' at 120k and let them make excuses why 105k is more reasonable. The alternative (let them anchor you at 90k and then you have to explain to the recruiter why you are worth 15k more) will be trickier in most cases.

Your points are valid if we're talking about a neutral salary negotiation, i.e., prospective employer asks, "What salary range are you seeking?"

In this case, however, the disadvantage comes from a fixed number - your previous salary - not what you'd like.

In a situation where you were underpaid, declaring your previous salary will definitely put you at a negotiating disadvantage.

The problem I have with this approach is that with many companies, particularly larger established ones like AmaGoogSoft, base salary is just one portion of a compensation package that might have contributions of up to 50% from stock, bonus, incentive pay, benefits/matching, and perks. If you start anchoring on one piece of that puzzle, it limits your ability to move on others. If the goal of negotiation is to maximize your total offer (which it should be), then the only reasonable answer to the question is "depends on total compensation factors".

Anchoring fails because let's say the position is wanting to hire someone at $70k and you state an expected salary of $75 - 80k, negotiable. That employer may decide it's not worth their time because you'll want too much, so why bother with even calling you in for an interview. Asking for a salary number from applicants up front is not just a way to undercut them, but it's a way to quickly weed out and only interview those who are willing to take bottom dollar.

They get the talent and experience they are willing to pay for, and deal with the recidivism rate that paying under market gets you.

You're absolutely wrong.

You're negotiating from a position of weaker information. You have no idea what the other engineers are being paid, all you know is how much you're being paid, and what you would like to be paid. Meanwhile the recruiter/hiring manager knows exactly how much they are paying all the other engineers.

You are now tasked with trying to get as fair/high a salary as possible, without knowing what their threshold is for simply no longer continuing the negotiations, because as you said "the price is just way too high".

By hearing the other side first, you can then gauge whether or not your desired salary is acceptable, or you can try to negotiate up.

Note that this assumes your information about your market value is at least roughly in line with their information about your market value. If there's a big discrepancy in what you believe you're worth, then the benefit can easily flip the other way.

That isn't banned by this law, though.

>Generally, in price negotiations it is advantageous to name a number first.

This is absolutely 100% wrong. In price negotiations you will almost always fair better if you force the other party to bring up a number first.


There is a large body of research which disagrees with you...

Oechssler, Jörg; Roider, Andreas; Schmitz, Patrick W. (2009). "Cognitive abilities and behavioral biases". Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. 72 (1): 147–152. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2009.04.018. Jump up ^ Orr, D. & Guthrie, C. (2005). "Anchoring, information, expertise, and negotiation: New insights from meta-analysis". Ohio St. J. Disp. Resol., 597, 21. SSRN 900152 Jump up ^ Kristensen, Henrik; Gärling, Tommy (1997). "The Effects of Anchor Points and Reference Points on Negotiation Process and Outcome". Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. 71 (1): 85–94. doi:10.1006/obhd.1997.2713.

(edit as I can't reply to the child comment: Yes, you're right of course. Put it down to a mix of multitasking, iphone browser and university-instilled fear of using Wikipedia as a source)

Citation soup doesn't really add anything to a discussion.

Why not link to the Wiki article you copied the sources from? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anchoring

Source right here: http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/ (and it isn't a wikipedia article)

Exactly. Whoever names a number first puts themselves at a significant disadvantage.

Why do people, yourself included, insist on taking simple sides on complex issues?

There is no one size fits all to negotiations, there are simply too many. I would be hesitant to even apply some kind of 80/20 rule here. There are many kinds of negotiations and not all follow the same pattern, even if all of them in one person's experience have.

I have succeeded when demanding they present a number and when presenting a number. I think there are other important things in negotiations like how numbers are presented and what else is being exchanged, but I do not have good sources for this last bit outside my own experience.

>>I have succeeded when demanding they present a number and when presenting a number.

You can do this if you have a lot of leverage. But if you don't -- and most job seekers don't -- then giving a number first will put you at a disadvantage because it reveals how much you think you are worth and simply gives the other side a starting point from which to bring down the price.

So if you make the other party go first they will come up with a very low number forcing you to put effort into talking it up. And that is better because??

I remember with Ticketmaster I got into an actual eight minute long back and forth during a recruitment call about my "number." Eight minutes is a long time on the phone. It went something like

her: "Just so we have an idea of your range..."

me: "I understand why that information would be helpful to you, but I can assure you that if everything else is a good fit, salary is the last place we'll find ourselves disagreeing."

Back and forth. Eventually I had to just cut her off and let her know it wasn't a good fit.

I've never had a problem winning the "give us your number" battle before, I honestly have to admire the tenacity of that recruiter. Seems like Ticketmaster genuinely cannot hire without getting that information.

I've had a handful of potential employers ask straight up for my current salary, and they ALL got squirrely when I refused to disclose it. Currently batting zero with companies that ask for (and I politely decline to give) that info.

EDIT: Also I kind of disagree with your assessment that it's a "seller's market" for IT talent. A lot of companies appear to be fishing for good deals, but is there really that much actual hiring going on? A lot of companies saying they're looking for talent does not a hot job market make.

I'd recommend reading Patrick McKenzie's (patio11's) article on salary negotiation for engineers: http://www.kalzumeus.com/2012/01/23/salary-negotiation/

Yes, they may all get squirrelly when you refuse to give that information, but this is often simply a tactic to pressure you into giving the information up. Stick to your guns.

One tactic I would recommend is to say, "I'd prefer not to discuss previous comp or comp expectations at this stage. I'd first like to get to know the company and learn about the opportunities for me there. If we decide that we're a mutual fit, then we can figure out the comp. I can be flexible on the comp, and it's only one factor I'll consider alongside others like how passionate I am for the project, my team, and the company mission, and the opportunities I see for further personal growth."

Your objective at this phase is to get past recruiting and into the interview process with potential fellow employees and hiring managers. Once there, if you do well and are a good fit, then they will start pulling for you. The force that a hiring manager brings to bear on that outcome is much greater than recruiting, and if the HM thinks you're awesome and wants to hire you, then the fact that you haven't given previous comp or expected comp to recruiting probably won't matter.

Recruiting may respond to this tactic by asking, "OK, let's say we match you with a completely ideal job, project, team, etc. What would your expected compensation be in that best-case scenario?" This question is a trick designed to get you to reveal your lowest comp number, i.e., the lowest compensation you'd accept if all the other aspects of the job were awesome and made up for it.

Then you avoid the question by saying stuff like "oh, my salary range is this" or "I've received offers for this amount".

Or just make up a number. Companies bluff all the time in negotiations. You should do it to.

Both Google and Oracle made it a condition of getting hired. Meaning they were ready to walk away if previous pay wasn't disclosed. Oracle even wanted scans of W2s ...

>Oracle even wanted scans of W2s ...

Yet another bullet-point in why not to ever work at Oracle.

How long ago was that? I have interviewed onsite last year with every company in the Big 4 and some smaller others, and none of them made an issue out of me not disclosing my previous salary even during offer negotiations.

Google didn't do this to me, and I've never heard of them demanding past salary from anyone I knew.

Two big fish in a colossally big ocean.

Million of employers out there, many willing to pay at or near the same range without those onerous requirements.

> Oracle even wanted scans of W2s

I can't find anything corroborating this. I looked because it sounds so wrong that it should be illegal. My w2s are private and personal tax data. A future employer has not business knowing anything about them.

The only thing I can think of is they were trying to use the w2s to verify residency...

Is that after or before you have a finalized offer in your hands?

It was after a written offer, during the background check.

> Oracle even wanted scans of W2s

That's pretty easy to forge isn't it?

Everything is negotiable.

I've found it easier to just lie in these situations by giving a number that's significantly higher than what I'm currently making, and more in line with the top end of what I think they're willing to pay me/what I would be willing to work for. It has worked quite well for me. Obviously this only works if you are comfortable lying in this scenario.

I don't normally like to lie, but I see no moral issue with it in a situation like this where the system is intentionally rigged against you. They are systematically depriving people of pay; I'm not going to lose sleep over a small lie that rights that wrong.

I have seen places as a final step of an offer ask for proof of previous wage.

Not super common in software, I know people in law and a few other fields that always have to do it...

Answered more in depth in response to sibling comment, but fuck those places! Politely decline their request (they have no right to that info), or if you're comfortable doing so, continue the lie by forging your paystub or whatever ridiculous form of proof they ask for. This is a ridiculous request and should be treated as such.

There is no need to lie. Also, it can set you up for failure if that info comes back during a background check. Just say how much you want up front.

Saying how much you want is different from saying how much you currently make. It may be numerically the same, but there are big differences in how that information is treated. One of several examples: A recruiter who has been told to offer you up to 100k will probably not go back to the hiring manager if you just say "I want 120k"; they will tell you that's outside of the range for that position. But if you say "I make 120k and would need to earn at least that to consider leaving", that is much easier for them to escalate. This is something I've seen happen at two different companies, on the hiree and hiring manager side.

The background check thing feels mostly like a boogie man to me. It's convenient for recruiters that engineers believe that, but I've never seen it happen in practice. And if it did (how does this even manifest? they require you to send them a paystub? they can't compel your previous employer to divulge this info), you should be outraged! It's none of their business what your paycheck at your previous employer looked like or contained. I would respectfully decline to provide this information, and if they insisted I would edit or photoshop it, and give serious thought about whether this is the type of employer you want to work for. You should be indignant about the fact that an entity you are planning to devote the majority of your waking life to for the next few years is comfortable with systematically fucking you over like this.

I've never gotten a lot of grief about disclosing past salary. I generally try to set the anchor and conversation around what I want to be making to join their company. I have (very fortunately) never been in the position where I _had_ to leave or accept an offer on anything but my own terms, I feel that when you're negotiating from that position, the complete lack of pressure to accept a lower number becomes pretty apparent to the people on the other side of the conversation from you. Or I'm dense enough to not realize they were trying to wheedle me down and just flat didn't entertain the notion.

I've got a business partner (came from high on up in the land of the big four) that during a salary negotiation of our own he floated the idea of asking for our candidate's current salary, AND PROOF. Apparently over 'there', especially as you get higher up, it's completely commonplace. Having spent his whole career over there, it didn't occur to him that maybe people would rather just walk away from your company simply for asking than to answer the question.

Luckily, he's a great guy and after my half hour soap box tirade he came around to realizing that in an environment where people are _actually_ practicing a craft and have what would resemble real skills[0], they don't put up with it.

- [0] Not to say people working for the big megacorp accounting firms don't have real skills, but no, yeah, that's actually what I meant. I kid, I kid.

To me asking for the previous salary - especially asking for proof - shows a lack of respect for the candidate. It's on the employer to quantify the value a skilled employee brings to the organization. I've walked away from offers because I didn't like the way they negotiated.

> To me asking for the previous salary - especially asking for proof - shows a lack of respect for the candidate.

Totally agree. It really sets up a us vs. them before the employee even starts work.

As a freelancer, I'm fairly up-front about my hourly rate. If they want to pay it, I'm happy. If they don't, that's fine too. If there are other interesting aspects about the project that make up for the lower pay, we can negotiate. But it saves me time not having to talk to clients who can't afford me.

But freelancing is a different market than salaried employment. I think for salaried positions it's up to the employer to be open about their pay range.

As a freelancer, I'm fairly up-front about my hourly rate.

The law doesn't address your expected or preferred rate (for your next gig); but rather, about disclosing your past rates. Which is a huge difference.

(Actually, the rule applies to employment negotiations only, and has no effect on freelance discussions, per se. However, it seems it may give significant moral support to those on the freelance side who are, frankly, pretty tired of this pesky sales tactic).

Hijacking this for visibility.

If the recruiter asks repeatedly, a trick that I learned is to answer that it's in your employee confidentiality agreement not to discuss the terms of your employment. It's arguably a true statement as well (in case you were concerned about telling a white lie)--your employer could be considering your salary as confidential because they obviously haven't disclosed it publicly, so you are taking a very conservative approach on the confidentiality terms in most contracts.

edit: the statement doesn't need to be legally defensible, it gives you an opportunity to redirect and ask what they are willing to pay for the position or to learn about their benefits package.

> a trick that I learned is to answer that it's in your employee confidentiality agreement not to discuss the terms of your employment.

Except that this is a lie. In the US, it is ILLEGAL to have an employee agreement that states this (at least if you are an employee potentially capable of unionizing).

If I wanted to make up an untrue reason for keeping the data confidential, I would make up something more interesting than this. But instead, I'd prefer to simply keep mum. Or not... if I've been particularly well-compensated in my previous position I might be quite willing to share that salary information, accompanied with an assurance that I would be willing to negotiate a lower salary (if I am actually willing) in exchange for other things like flexible working conditions, autonomy, or greater responsibility.

> Except that this is a lie. In the US, it is ILLEGAL to have an employee agreement that states this (at least if you are an employee potentially capable of unionizing).

Then I signed an illegal agreement when I was working for one of the biggest investment banks in the United States.

I should really thank them for that - in future negotiations, once I said that my current employment agreement is confidential, prospective employers stopped asking me stupid questions about current salary.

Just because you signed it doesn't mean it is enforceable.

You sign a waiver at trampoline parks that says you won't sue if you hurt yourself or if they cause you to be hurt. The first part covers them, the second part doesn't. If they were negligent or failed to maintain the park and you were injured as a result you can sue them, that waiver is meaningless. [0]

[0] IANAL but I've heard of many cases around these sorts of waivers at parks, rock climbing walls, bounce houses, etc where the waiver is meaningless. They only have you sign it so you think you can't sue them because you signed a piece of paper - and that tactic works.

Obviously it is not enforcable. But why risk it?

What, is the employer that you are talking to going to say "actually, that contract is illegal, therefore tell me your salary"?

The second part of their message wasn't there when I responded or I somehow had missed it - which changes the context of my reply. I thought they were making a sarcastic quip.

I totally agree with using the fact you signed away your right to share your salary as a negotiation tool, regardless if it is even legally binding. Hell - I'd argue to say that even if you never actually signed a paper at all.

>In exchange for...greater responsibility.

So you would be willing to be paid less to do more?

Except it's illegal to prevent employees from discussing salary.

Not quite, at least nationally in the US. The National Labor Relations Act only bans prohibiting employees from discussing salary with other employees of the same company. Prohibitions on discussing salary with people outside the company are fine.

Also, it does not cover contractors or supervisors.

Some states may have more extensive prohibitions.

A) A recruiter isn't necessarily going to know that. B) Even if they did, companies do illegal things all the time and get away with it. Maybe it's technically illegal, but also maybe your company would come after you for something trivial and just ruin your life with litigation. I totally understand actually wanting to abide by an NDA even if it's unenforceable.

Why lie? Don't lie, there's no need.

Hop on linkedin and search "software engineering, bay area, posted last 24 hours." Typically I see 800-1000 jobs. My experience is that those are mostly unique. 1000 nearly unique jobs a day.

Just send your resumes, state politely that you don't give your number, and the companies that can't deal with that don't hire you. Everyone is spending eachother's time but that's the nature of the job search / recruiting beast.

If it was true you couldn't disclose salary it would make lots of things really difficult like getting a loan.

It sort of doesn't matter if it's legally true, it's an easy out of the question which is the goal. If the other side pushes harder you can simply assert that's your reading of the terms of the contract and you aren't about to risk breaching your contract.

Even better, after stating the above use it as a segue-way into them disclosing the range, e.g. since I'm not a liberty to share, perhaps you can tell me (the salary range | benefits package ).

I'd highly recommend not lying a hiring manager.

I'd highly recommend not hiring a lying manager.

I'd highly recommend not managing a hiring liar.

Are you a hiring manager?

Has anyone run into issues for sharing a current salary that anchors the discussion too high? I could see how an employer might pass on a candidate who's actually interested in the job, just because they know they can't match what the candidate is currently making and it's likely a waste of time to spend hours evaluating someone who's making 50k more than what you could ever offer.

Or is this purely theoretical and not seen in practice?

Yes, lots of times. Pay varies widely in our industry, and it isn't uncommon for a lot of companies to never pay above $X, where X is substantially less than your current salary.

Earlier in my career, I was less willing to share salary information. But now that my compensation is above average, I always have the "I am paid toward the top of the range in this area, here is what I make now/would be looking for, so that we don't waste our time" conversation very early in the recruiting process and it ends up being a pretty good filter.

They are usually pretty open about saying "yeah, that's more than we can offer, thanks for your time", so if it were one of the few types of jobs I'd be willing to take a paycut for, it seems like there'd be an opportunity to let them know you are open to making less and go from there.

That last bit is the tricky part, though! You don't, unfortunately, know the actual range of salaries the company is willing to pay. But if you get ahead of yourself and say that you're willing to work for less for this particularly interesting job but they're actually willing to pay more, that's potentially leaving a substantial bit of money on the table.

Well, you're only disclosing that AFTER they've decided to filter you out because your salary requirements are too high, so you aren't leaving much, if any, money on the table.

Of course, it is possible they are bluffing, but given how much the market currently favors developers right now, such bluffs would rarely pay off and I'd expect them to be rare. And, it is really no different than if they'd bluffed before you went through the rest of the interview process, is it?

Yes, though that generally falls into the category of "problems you want to have."

It happens all the time, but I consider that a good thing. It's a waste of my time to interview with a company when the highest they'd ever pay is well short of my expectations.

For me, all the time. I've negotiated well throughout my career, so I'm above a lot of pay bands.

My concern is I hope to be doing this for another 25 years...

If you're at the top of employees, it might be time to become the boss...

To fulfill the Peter's Principle?

Nah, I mean OP should start their own venture if they've run out of salary headroom and want more.

> I never answer questions about my past or expected salary, not to employers and not to recruiters.

That's great for you, but a prospective employer refused to put an official offer package together for me until they had proof of my recent salary.

And no, there weren't other contemporaneous offers on the table at the time, nor were there other employers in my industry whose practices greatly differed from above.

In short, I think this a great consumer protection rule. Not really consumer, but little guy/girl protection rule.

In the interviews I've been to, it is not unusual to have them ask you how much you are expecting for a salary. I've thought about this before and I don't see a way to refuse to answer that question without breaking the flow and tone of the interview.

Do you recall any specific responses you've made to that question which allowed you to avoid answering it but still yielded positive results?

I simply say that I don't discuss that until I have an offer in hand.

I was like that a few years back, when I felt I was underpaid. I am now on an above average salary for the location I am in (though I still feel underpaid - Spain!)

If I disclose my salary early it saves a lot of time wasting though it probably limits what I can ask for or will be offered.

If you don't mind me asking, what's your reservation with revealing it?

Is it more of a privacy/principle? Or do you actually lose an edge in salary negotiations by revealing it?

The idea is that the first person to give a number loses, since that anchors the conversation. As an employee, it's an counter to the asymmetry of information. Employers know their own salary structure, and even have access to anonymized salary survey information. Employees don't have this information.

Conversely, encouraging employees to not talk about your salary to other employees is another tactic to keep the information asymmetry. If you're underpaid, you'll never know it, and that's how they like it.

> I never answer questions about my past salary, not to employers and not to recruiters.

You answer it by accepting an offer or giving a ballpark number for negotiations.

> Most employers don't ask

In the UK, they don't need to.

> It's great that NYC is taking the lead on this, and I really hope the rest of the US follows suit.

There's a lot of positive remarks in this thread, that I don't really understand. I see the advantage if your current salary is unusually low, but it cuts both ways: without knowledge of the company, (and within an industry) salary contains more information than job title.

I think part of the idea is that you still have the option to use your current salary as part of negotiation. If they make you a low offer just come back with "I make X right now, you need to at least match that".

> In the UK, they don't need to.

Yeah they just phone your reference and ask. Sigh.

and the reference will tell them to get stuffed. Leaking salary details of employees to a competitor will get you fired.

Some organizations use a month to month standard salary table for position which are not negotiable. Leaving the question as more for surveying the industry than a negotiating piece. However this is not often revealed until after the answer is given.

I very much doubt that many organizations do this, though I have experienced it myself.

> It's great that NYC is taking the lead on this

How do you rectify this with constitutionally protected free speech?

Is freedom of speech meant only for the little guy?

    > Most employers don't ask, and the few that 
    > have have never made my leaving that information 
    > out an issue.
That is some serious English gore.

Once upon a time I interviewed for a role in NYC. An employee that I spoke to said they paid pretty well, and I could expect about 120. The HR person wanted my previous salary, and I refused. Eventually they said their range was 130-150. I said it wasn't gonna work cause I was looking for something more like 220. They said okay we can do that no problem. My previous salary was 110.

Not bad man, although I have to wonder what you'd have made if you never gave your number ;)

Luckily they gave 3 numbers first, so you avoided a trap many people fall into on both sides of the table - not negotiating at all.

Imagine the first thing a company says after an interview is "what's your number" and you shrug and say "100," and the company reps blink and go "no problem," then pass you an offer. Wouldn't you feel a little skeeved? "I bet I could've gotten more," you'd think. You'd be right. Companies can feel that same feeling.

A bit of back and forth is healthy. It makes both parties feel like they struggled and finally settled on a number that is fair for both (whether or not that number could have been higher or lower). That's why I always recommended bootcamp grads to push back on an initial offer. Always. Worse case the company says "no, this is the limit." Best case, you get more money, the company feels like you were a little bit harder to get and thus more valuable, etc.

I thought I was throwing out a crazy number. They agreed so quickly that I had no idea what to do. It's interesting to see whether people's first reaction is "that's amazing" or "you messed up." I felt both. I still wonder how high I could have gone.

Well, you could've gone higher. Oh well! Next time.

This happened to me, not necessarily in a bad way, but makes me think what I should've asked for.

I attempted to do research on the company and their salaries for that position via glassdoor, salaries in the area, etc. (they are rated as an open company). They asked what I was looking for in compensation, so I went little bit higher than what my homework said they were paying (this was still substantially more than my current pay), we negotiated a tiny bit on bonuses, but eventually got the amount I was "looking for" in my offer letter.

In the end they ended up being a great company to work for, and I'm really happy there.

That's a huge jump. Nice job.

care to share your position and some discreet information about the company (size, industry?)

NYC, 220 - finance


I think the age of the account increases the likelihood of the story being true: the person was so compelled to tell their story that they created an anonymous account just to do so.

Probably the information should be used as an allegorical example, rather than a "huh I can make 220 in NY" example.

It is very easy to lie on the internet. I try to hedge my bets on this website by essentially doxxing myself on my profile, but not everyone is willing to do that (nor should they necessarily be expected to).

Finance people regularly get paid $400k+ as new grads. Well done dharma1/showmethemoney – next time ask for 500k!

> Finance people regularly get paid $400k+


> as new grads.

Not so much.

> Finance people regularly get paid $400k+ as new grads.

Have you ever worked in finance? New grads in any position don't make that much.

Don't believe me? There's public data on offers for top schools that corroborates it. At most people make $150-200k.

I don't want to speak for the OP but I believe he/she was illustrating my point.

i'm not saying it has to be true, but there is more incentive to create a fresh account to post that information than there is incentive to lie about it.

Maybe, but that number is not particularly wild for NYC finance.

I don't connect the two really. The account is clearly a throwaway, but that doesn't really bare on whether the story is accurate or not. It very well might be.

Lots of people here talking from their own experience as highly skilled, in-demand professionals.

However, helping friends apply to jobs in other industries - specifically medical - I saw that most of the applications involved filling out an automated form that required prior salary information to complete.

There's no advantage to an employee from being forced to disclose this information and it perpetuates compensation discrepancies by gender/race/guts to ask. Very glad to see this made illegal.

Now, if they were really serious about fixing pay discrepancies, they'd make it mandatory to post salary ranges with job listings.

Have a google for: "can i lie to a employer about past salary" - it really really messes with people - people feel super uncertain about how to approach this situation. Throwing any confidence they have during the negotiation out the window.

Even now I hesitate to write this as a million people will come out and say never lie - what if they found out.

More than banning. There needs to be acceptance that if someone asks you. You are totally free to make any damn number up that you like. Seriously. Its a sales situation. It should not be like your under oath on the stand. Which is how most people view it.

Interesting. An additional argument for lying is that you're probably already lying in other parts of the interview.

Why do you want to work here? (money, and the desire to pay the bills and feed my children)

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (probably not at this company)

What is your biggest weakness? (not like I would actually tell a stranger a real answer)

If these are honestly your answers to these questions and you in fact give lies as answers, you sound like exactly the type of person I absolutely hate working with and actively try to weed out during interviewing.

To anyone reading this new to the industry, there are absolutely legitimate ways to answer these questions without lying.

> Why do you want to work here? (money, and the desire to pay the bills and feed my children)

That is a given for nearly any job. If it's your only reason you want to take this particular job, it tells me you have zero passion for your work. The people I know who are like this are what I'd describe as "9-5" employees, don't learn anything outside of work, and basically do the bare minimum at everything.

I want to work with someone that's at least somewhat excited about the job they're going to be doing, and bring some energy, new ideas and actually care about doing a good job. It's the difference between a day labourer and a craftsman.

> Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (probably not at this company)

So? That's fine. Is anyone hiring with the expectation or even desire their employees stay for 5 years?

There are many good ways to answer this, but it's definitely not "doing the same thing as today, with the same technology stack, tools and level of knowledge".

> What is your biggest weakness? (not like I would actually tell a stranger a real answer)

This is kind of a crappy interview question, but there are decent ways to answer it [1]. They are not asking for your deep, personal failings, but for your weaknesses as they apply to the job at hand.

[1] https://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/66620/which-ow...

> The people I know who are like this are what I'd describe as "9-5" employees, don't learn anything outside of work, and basically do the bare minimum at everything.

What's wrong being a 9-5 employee?

If you're a creative person, like a developer, it's inefficient.

Context switching is expensive, and going home for the day is a big context switch.

If it's 5:00 and you have 30 minutes left on something, most likely it'll take something like two hours tomorrow to get back into and finish it.

If you always go home exactly at 5, it means you are either constantly being inefficient and doing the context switch, you are not doing anything late in the afternoon to avoid the context switch, or you are extremely good at both estimating and optimizing your time so all your tasks are quantized within working hours. While things may work out to look like the third case sometimes, I find it hard to believe anyone is that good that it can happen literally every day, which leads me to believe they're often doing one of the other two things.

Or, I consider time with my family worth more than the context switch I'd have.

And just to take this further: there's a massive context switch for the dev team when a burned out developer leaves after 1-2 years, compared to the 9-5 dev who's still there and happy.

They only work 9-5, duh! /s

From your perspective or the company's perspective?

From the company's perspective an unmotivated 9-5 employee not as good of a hire as one who deeply enjoys the work subject and actively learns about it on their own.

From your perspective reduced job security because you probably don't perform at the level of someone internally motivated.

Even if that is not true there are enough of these sentiments floating around to affect decisions.

EDIT - If you disagree, a well worded comment carries more weight than a downvote and avoiding the discussion.

>The people I know who are like this are what I'd describe as "9-5" employees, don't learn anything outside of work

So, you just don't hire people with kids, medical problems or other responsibilities outside of work? If you want people to bone up give them time during the work day, have sr. devs run workshops on new tech you're adopting. Don't create the expectation people should work in their time off. If you want effective employees you should invest in that and not shove the cost onto the individual.

Even if it produces the results you'd (which is pretty questionable) like these kind of criteria have obvious and well-known biases.

> Don't create the expectation people should work in their time off.

I have no such expectation, nor did I say people should work in their time off.

I think people need to keep up their education. Learning doesn't stop when you graduate. Your company should be willing to pay for training/courses/conferences, but I also think people that are passionate about things will naturally grow on their own.

At the least, this might mean staying current with news and/or community, especially within your current toolset/ecosystem. As an example, if you don't usually know within at least a week or so that your main language/framework/database/etc has a new release, you're in this category if people I'm talking about.

And to clarify when I say "9-5" I mean the type of person that always has their stuff packed up and is walking out the door by 5:01pm. This tells me either you've stopped in the middle of something, which means instead of staying for 10 or 30 minutes to finish it you will take two hours tomorrow to regain context, or that when you're done something and it's after say, 4 o'clock, you just don't start anything new.

I don't believe in working crazy (or even just 'extra' hours beyond what you're paid for): that leads to burnout and that is bad for literally everybody. I do think it's better to stay longer to finish and not waste time on the context switch of going home, or other days just leave "early" if you are done and can't finish anything further.

Why isn't it acceptable to leave in the middle of a project? If I have a very regular after-work schedule (like picking kids up from daycare), I don't understand why I shouldn't leave at exactly the same time every day. Even if that means leaving something unfinished, that I'll get back to when I get back in the morning. And I might not have anything I can "do" by leaving 30 minutes early, because I can't go home and I can't get to (regular obligation) early.

I think you are dramatically overestimating the amount of waste that results from context switching.

"I want to work with someone that's at least somewhat excited about the job they're going to be doing, and bring some energy, new ideas and actually care about doing a good job. It's the difference between a day labourer and a craftsman."

If you're paying craftsman wages, then there really should never be a problem here, even if people just want to bring their A game for the money.

> If you're paying craftsman wages, then there really should never be a problem here, even if people just want to bring their A game for the money.

Agreed. The biggest problem I find is that day labourers act/talk like they are craftsman and ask for corresponding wages. In other words: wage is not a good filter to separate people out. Craftsman won't work for day labourer wages but day labourers will not only work for craftsman wages -- they'll ask for them.

> That is a given for nearly any job. If it's your only reason you want to take this particular job, it tells me you have zero passion for your work.

Your reasoning seems flimsy. I'm extremely passionate about programming and technology. You definitely wouldn't describe me as a "9-5" employee (I'm constantly working on new projects and learning new things), but I'm also very broad in my programming interests. It's extremely rare for me to find a development project which doesn't interest me.

Hence, the reason I'm in technology (in general) is about passion but the reason I'll work for you specifically is because of how much you'll pay me. I take pride in my work, which means I also expect to be paid well for it.

>>What is your biggest weakness? (not like I would actually tell a stranger a real answer)

>This is kind of a crappy interview question, but there are decent ways to answer it [1]. They are not asking for your deep, personal failings, but for your weaknesses as they apply to the job at hand.

As best I understand the literature on it, what they're (effectively) asking is:

"Are you one of the cool kids who knows we want to hear a pre-packaged, nice-sounding answer about a time you overcame some weakness?"

I don't think I lie to interviewers. Sure, I don't interpret "why do you want to work here?" as a broad inquiry into my decision to sell my labor, but I think the salary requirement is generally well understood by both parties.

I've always answered "where do you see yourself in x years" and "what is your biggest weakness" as honestly as possible.

>> What is your biggest weakness?

Answering retarded interview questions :) (actually said with a smile on my face)

100% this. It's all a game, except prospective employees are guilted into thinking they're the only ones lying (or that doing it is wrong). It works the other way too:

Candidate: "What do you dislike the most about working here?" Interviewer: (My asshole boss...) "The office is a little noisy sometimes."

Companies are under no obligation to be truthful.

I totally lie any time a recruiter asks for my current/past salary. How much I lie depends on what I think I should be getting for the role, and how likely it is that they can and will confirm the numbers I gave.

At my most recent past job, I was working for some guys at a small startup for next to nothing in salary (~$40k). I had a 10% stake in equity, but it was worth nothing, since the company was in debt. When I left I told the CEO and CTO "Can you say I made $160k salary?" Response - "Sure!" Next job was a $120k salary raise, + bonus, and I was able to work in RSUs.

At my current company, if I plan to leave, I'll fib by adding in my bonus % into base salary. I can't get away with much since I'm at a large corporation now. If they check and find a discrepancy I can blame it on a simple error.

With fibs, you can get a decent bump. But if you have complicit conspirators, then the sky's the limit.

Something I would not suggest is giving the number of a friend who will pose as HR/a past employer. This is pretty risky if you aren't attentive to detail.

There is 0 chance any past employer is going to divulge compensation details of a former employee to some random jackass recruiter that comes calling.

That depends. Larger corporations tend to avoid asking things other than "Did John Doe work here as title Z from date X to date Y?" However, many smaller companies aren't legally savvy and will divulge too much information, if the other side asks questions they probably shouldn't be.


I've mainly worked for small companies, and have had two situations where way more than was appropriate (or, you know, legal) divulged.

Neither caused me problems, but I made a point of getting back to @last_employers to point out that the next person they do that to might actually sue them.

Not true. This is often included the questions asked by background check companies when they confirm previous employers. Its up to the previous employers whether they provide that information. I have seen both (ie company refuses, company provides) in my own background checks.

... so you probably want to think twice about outright lying. There are many ways to avoid lying but still getting your point across. In most cases, employers will be scared off more by someone blatantly lying (which would also be cause for termination in most cases) than someone delivering a compelling case for why they are worth more than what they were previously paid.

As a contract recruiter I can't imagine asking this during a reference check or employment verification. I'd have gotten fired so fast I'd still have the phone in my hand on the way out.

I hope I never hire someone like you by accident. I have a feeling it wouldn't take long until this outlook would lead to other problems in the workplace that would have you on to your next con.

Yes, because deceit runs through my soul and my heart is as black as damask cloth. The fact that I want to be paid what I feel I should and can be paid has no bearing on my performance and attitude at work. If you were to speak to any of my past employers, they would probably use the same sideways compliment my high school calc teacher wrote on a college recommendation: "brilliant, but like lightning in a bottle."

You'd be fortunate to hire someone like me.

Honesty and integrity are pretty high on the list of qualities I like in people I associate and work with. The fact that you would conspire with your previous employer to artificially prop your value up and then tell a bold faced lie in an interview, does make it seem like you are not above doing whatever it takes to get what YOU want and feel you deserve.

It is not propping up your value.

If you interview someone and they ask for X, and you agree to hire them for X, then you have made the decision that he is worth X.

That fact that he did not make X at his last job should have zero effect on his future job.

If you do not think he is worth X, then don't hire him. He is either worth X or not.

I don't see anyone arguing that your past salary should have any effect on your future comp. On the other hand, the position that a candidate seems to be with X, but is actually worth Y << X if they've down themselves to be dishonest in the interview process seems pretty reasonable. In places with good labor protection, lying during the hiring process is a great way to waive all protections from being fired.

> make it seem like you are not above doing whatever it takes to get what YOU want and feel you deserve.

Absolutely true. I'm also not an idiot and I apply this technique selectively. If I have to prevaricate to get something I want in a business setting, I have no problem with that. It's business, not a church confessional. However, when I'm at a company I align my desires with theirs and we BOTH get what we want.

Honesty and integrity in a corporate environment is a myth. To succeed you just have to project an illusion of those qualities. This is especially true higher up in the ranks.

Do you think your manager would tell you you're being laid off after having asked him? Hell no! He'll lie by omission or commission to save his skin. Is that honesty? Is there integrity in it? No! It's business. Get off your high horse.

My life goal is to retire early so no one fucking tells me what to do with my time. It's working out so far, so I see no need to change my means.

This kind of naive thinking only hurts good people. Bad people already know not to listen to you.

>I hope I never hire someone like you by accident.

It's likely employers like you that force employees to lie. It's amazing when employers are handed resumes that are anonymized, such as names, race, and sex information are removed they choose resumes with less bias. Yet you refuse to see that pricing information will cause additional bias on your part.

> Yet you refuse to see that pricing information will cause additional bias on your part.

This is why I chose to have my former employers give a different salary figure. If I had told my prospective, new employer I had been making $40k/year, I doubt they would have taken me seriously, and even possibly ended recruitment. "He only makes $40k! He must be bad or stupid!" I don't consider myself bad or stupid, I'm just not afraid of taking calculated risks.

Or you could simply say, "I prefer not to disclose that information". If a potential employer continues to push you to make the first offer, you can dodge the bullet and walk away with your integrity intact.

Personally, I never ask a candidate what they previously made. I do occasionally ask what their salary expectations are, but only when someone has applied that I perceive as far overqualified for the position they are applying for. e.g. Someone with a PHD and 20 years of experience applying for a Jr - Mid level position.

I find it so weird to see a lone person here defending integrity. Capitalism, the kind that enables startup culture, is built on trust. Starting an employment relationship with a lie is not good way to build trust.

I don't think employers should ask this, and they do employees should hold it against them. Employees shouldn't disclose it unless they want too. Anyone lying about this or anything else in the all too brief hiring process should be enough of a red flag to make the other party consider leaving.

> Capitalism, the kind that enables startup culture, is built on trust.

I see you've never run a business, because that kind of textbook ideation of capitalism is not practiced in the real world. If you'd been paying attention to labor conditions under capitalism in the US, you'd know that trust is the exception. Child labor, sweatshops, discrimination, wage theft, monopolies, companies colluding to fix wages - these happen in most economic systems. As a worker you can level the playing field by engaging in behaviors in the same vein. Do it, or you'll lose.

Fiat monetary systems are built on trust. Economic philosophies are not.

I see you have already been downvoted heavily. But I feel that despite being completely wrong you were attempting a real rebuttal, with real thought and content.

Companies colluding to fix wages - This couldn't exist without the companies trusting each other.

monopolies - These don't need trust between customers and business. But they also represent a failure mode were capitalism breaks down... perhaps because customers don't trust vendors.

Wage theft - This can't go on long before the people earning those wages leave for a more trustworthy environment. There are plenty of examples of people switching jobs (or even countries) to get a more trustworthy employer to prevent this. It is far from perfect, but people generally don't like to be stolen from. Those that tolerate make life harder for those victims that don't.

Discrimination - I am not sure what this has to do with anything here. But even groups like the KKK have trust between member to not out each other. It is fucked up but trust does exist and enables them to operate.

Sweatshops - People wouldn't work in sweatshops if they didn't get paid, otherwise its called slavery. In slavery the slaves aren't economic participants, they are products. Even in slave trades there must be trust. The slavers trust they can sell and the consumers trust they they can buy. This sadly comes with all the assurances of quality that any other transaction comes with.

Child labor - Is very sad, but still requires trust. The kids were either bought/sold so again the slave transaction or the kids are employees and have the employer/employee relationship.

All capitalism requires trust. I never said blind trust, and never trust in the product beyond its ability to function. You cannot buy things from or sell things to someone you do not trust to not attempt to kill you as the most base level. The more valuable or nuanced the transaction the greater the trust required.

Or you could have integrity and refuse to answer the question. I've never had a recruiter push back when I said "I can't disclose my current salary, but I'm looking for around $x."

That's nonsense. Just like innocent people with integrity who plead the Fifth. The recruiter will think you're hiding something and you'll be bumped down the list. The analogy of the Fifth is quite appropriate, as the US court system has had bias against defendants who might/do invoke that right. It was only in the previous decade that the Supreme Court made a definitive ruling (in a liberal interpretation of the Fifth) about the subject.

The only integrity involved is the integrity I have toward myself and my goals. The goals of the company are ancillary.

I can't prove that it's never caused me to be bumped down the list, but I don't think it's every hurt. For anyone where I've gotten to that stage I almost always get the offer. Plus, I feel a lot more confident when I'm being honest and straightforward. Confidence is much more useful in a negotiation than any marginal gain you get by lying.

Employers should not be asking previous salary anyways. Its the same tactics aggressive car salesmen use. People should be paid what they are worth and this is a tactic to maximize corporate profit at the COST of individual suffering.

Yep. "How much are you looking to pay?" No, stop it.

"You can probably discern by the cars that I'm looking at or asking about a good ballpark of my range and desires."

It's not a con to negotiate a price and agree to it with mutual consent.

Anchoring a prospective customer of your labor to a high price is not a con. Nothing forces them to take the deal.

Please don't be a jerk.

In Geemany you are allowed to lie to any question the employer doesn't have the right to ask (e.g. Are you pregnant?)

Did not know that. Is asking for past salary in that category as well? I've been asked about past salary many times.

I think it depends if it's relevant (see https://www.verdi.de/service/fragen-antworten/++co++61c52da6... for example). I guess a court would judge on a case by case basis.

The immediate information I found when doing that was that background checks, which almost always happen at least in Georgia, disclose the exact amount. I would rather just be honest and say I've been making below market rate and I'm looking for that to change. I feel asking my current salary is a tell whereas asking my expected compensation treats it more as it should be, a negotiation. Being asked both my current rate and expected doesn't sting as much because I feel they understand the realities of the situation but at the same time I still feel like I don't have as much bargaining power. I know I don't have much on my own merits coming in but even having the illusion helps tremendously for someone like me.

Unfortunately there are employers in NYC who do call previous employers to verify salary. Remember that most white-collar employees are in much less demand than developers and have to deal with far more employer bullshit.

Before you're hired? If I found out that a prospective employer was calling my current employer, I would decline to continue interviewing and tell them exactly why.

How can it be legal for an employer to disclose a specific employees salary to a third party?

This has me thinking, if that is legal, what is to stop any old random person who wants to know what you make from calling your employer posing as a recruiter/hiring manager looking for current salary?

It would be odd if that were illegal. There are some well-known "radical transparency" startups that publicly post all employees' salaries.

Is there any express reason it is illegal?

I've had prospective employers call for reference/jobs description check and ask this question. It's really easy to not answer, or to answer "market rates".

I find it interesting that you find it OK to lie in sales situation.

I'll not be doing business with you. Just as I don't with the skeezy used car salesmen you seek to emulate.

Most of us on here are trained and work in disciplines that allow us the luxury of saying to every potential employer "nah, I don't give my number, sorry," and simply moving on to the next one out of a thousand potential opportunities.

This, I think, is going to be very good for the classes of people that don't have that luxury.

You don't need to be a shit person to get a good deal (and yes, lying to someone in hopes of getting money generally makes you a shit person, even if that person happens to be a recruiter). If someone asks what your salary is, just say you don't disclose it. Tell them what you want your salary at this job to be. That's all they're trying to figure out, anyway.

That question (usually) isn't asked because they actually want to know what you used to make. It's asked because they want to know what number they can offer you that will make it likely you take the job. If you make $80k and are applying for a job where their range is $120-140, saying "I don't disclose previous salary but for this position I won't take anything less than $135" you will very likely get it provided you merit being in the top portion of their range.

Not sure what the big deal with this is! Whatever the recruiter wants to think, you are offering what it would take to make the move over. It's not like if they offered less that you would just as likely make the move. You are saving both parties times which is positive overall.

Except in countries where it's required to hand over past salary information (pay slips and tax receipts) to HR at your new employer. Then it's clear you've been telling a lie.

That's not how (good) sales works.

Tell us how good sales works.

Sales people doing relationship/long-term sales can build trust with customers. If you are purely transactional about it (and willing to say anything to get maximum salary) then it may work, but it also may backfire.

If your hiring manager is the one you are lying to, they will also be responsible for your raises, promotions and bonuses. It's a long term relationship, one which can last beyond the current company you are at.

It's a small world in technology, and beyond hard skills, your reputation is all you've really got.

Thanks for the quality response.

haha. yeah ok. My company has sales guys closing 6 to 8 figure deals every quarter and they "stretch the truth" all the time. Its part of sales. Thats why I only did sales for 2 years... the pay is the best but its an emotional roller coaster.

> My company has sales guys closing 6 to 8 figure deals every quarter and they "stretch the truth" all the time.

Best term I heard for that was 'overhang the market'. Sales people promising features that are only sort of on the roadmap at some point in the future :)

It will be interesting to see how this affects the hiring markets. Out in SF/etc it came up in just about every discussion I had last time I was looking for work usually as part of the first phase. No point interviewing candidates that wouldn't accept the job. It's pretty much a risk mgmt exercise from the hiring side. Similarly, I always asked what the compensation range they're targeting is as I don't want to waste my time either.

I wonder if this ban addresses background checks covering the same information, because some companies do ask for this data from previous employers although not all provide it. Without protection there this ban seems fairly limited.

Anyhow, I don't agree with all advice to never disclose current/previous salary. In some scenarios certainly it makes sense, but in others it is the opposite. You want to justify a higher market value and set the expectation that you're unlikely to be interested unless they're willing to compensate at $X or higher. Of course it's different in terms of leverage if you're employed currently or not. Recruiters and interviewers will waste tons of your time if you don't get on the same page quickly. Lack of transparency around your compensation expectations will exacerbate this issue. Whether that means you tell them what you're making or what you'd like to make doesn't really matter, but you better do at least one of the two.

In my experience (external contract recruitment) the background check usually happens after an offer has been negotiated and accepted. I've also never seen a background check request for actual salary information. I'm not even sure how that would work... we would just send the candidates' information to this company that churns through court docs to see if they have a criminal history, send them to Quest to get drug tested, donesies bananas. Maybe in the employment verification stage? Even then though, I highly doubt a previous employer would offer that information up - oftentimes they weren't even allowed to comment on the quality of the candidates' work. Nightmare for reference checks to the big EPCs and operators like BP or Jacobs.

I was asked in my last background check, and the proof (of that and employment) was my tax forms.

You being asked is a bit different than a background check. You can refuse quite easily.

I agree. Just pointing it out it does sometimes come up in background checks, since you said it never had for you.

My past salary is an irrelevant information for my potential future employer. If they ask about it, my response would be: "Why would you like to know it?" Any answer to this question is bad. If they do not bail out and stop asking at this point, then I bail out.

The point is that if I want, I can completely change my way of life by switching to a job which pays 50 % of my current salary. Or 400 % of my current salary. It does not matter. What matters is that it is solely my decision and none of my potential future employer's business.

If they want to know my current salary, it is a red flag. I do not care about them knowing it, but there is a high risk that they will use that information to try to make an offer which they think that I ought to consider good. They can offer e.g. my current salary + their negotiating margin and think "hey, we have offered you more than you have now, so you ought to be happy". While in reality, the only person who can responsibly decide whether I am happy about it or not is me.

Note that I am not criticizing companies which want to hire for cheap. This is all right. But they need to do it transparently, from the beginning. They should say it clearly and upfront: for this position, our budget is somewhere in this range ... are you interested or not? This is a fair way to go.

"But they need to do it transparently, from the beginning. They should say it clearly and upfront: for this position, our budget is somewhere in this range"

This goes both ways I think: For this position, I am looking for something in this range, are you interested or not?

I'll have to look it up, but there are few large groups that basically track and record a number of industries including tech. I'll have to look it up Monday. They use this info to help companies to pay in a range of +- 20% for any position. At least that's what I've learned from the management training part of this gig.

Good. Not enough people realize the best way to answer this question is with a straight-up lie.

It took me a while to understand that most people don't realize you can lie on this with almost zero downside. Very few employers are checking, and very few times is that information legally available to them.

The most they can typically get is the "typical" salary for a given position at a large company. There are exceptions of course, and the good ole' boys network can sometimes run deep.

But in the end, if you are let go or not hired because you lied about a salary they were otherwise willing to pay you? You dodged a bullet. Who would want to work in such an environment to begin with?

The correct answer is to say with what you think the current position is worth and what you want to get paid. There is no upside to being truthful here.

This is legitimately hard for a lot of folks to understand, the same type of folks who equate violating corporate policy as being "illegal".

I'd even go so far to say it's close to immoral not to lie on this question given the power imbalance when it comes to hiring.

I've worked with 100's of people in the offer stage with companies and the only companies I've had check in the past are financial companies.

You have some leeway. If you say "My compensation was $70K" and your salary was $50K, you may well be telling the truth.

Going forward I'm including calculations for free lunch, the relatively excessive amount of PTO days I get every year (30+), and the relatively affordable insurance I have ($140 per monthly for a family). Locally I think it will be hard to get a similar benefit package so I'm going to quantify those benefits and bake them into my "salary".

At a previous company I found an internal excel document with everyone's salary, from the CEO down to his assistant. On the doc my salary was inflated ~25K to what my actual gross was, I can only assume these perks/benefits were included on top of the salary. But it shows they see that on paper that's how they saw my salary hit. I think it would be wise to include these in your previous "salary".

I never did find any more details on the document though :(

There is a fully loaded cost for an employee. It includes the salary, the companies portion of taxes, benefits, etc... The employee may not know those numbers exactly, but the employer must because that is real cash leaving the door every month.

True, and on the flip side many employees don't factor this in when asking for salary raises and negotiations. A $20K bump is viewed as a fraction of your "fully loaded cost" as opposed to your base salary which you will be benchmarking against.

There was a post on hacker news a few months ago that explained exactly this. I believe it's a fair way of calculating it (if you feel that you must disclose something for whatever reason).

Exactly! My company's internal benefits page tells me my compensation is "salary + employer side of medical, dental, vision + employer 401k match". I always chuckle at how high that number is compared to my actual paycheck...

Raganwald had a good write up on how to do this: https://github.com/raganwald/raganwald.posterous.com/blob/ma...

> The correct answer is to say with what you think the current position is worth and what you want to get paid. There is no upside to being truthful here.

No. The correct answer is nothing. Maybe ask what their budget for the position is, but never give a number first.

Agree. I do this every time and always get a nice salary bump. Stating what your salary should be as previous pay is perfectly ok in my book.


There's quite a few ways to verify past salary. Specially some employers report employment information to private databases and your potential employer runs a "employment report," like banks run a credit report, as part of a mandatory background check. To see if you lied.

Of course, they can't do that without your permission but agreeing to a background check is a condition of employment.

The database i am thinking of is, IIRC, owned by Lexis Nexis and they claim to have employment data for the majority of Fortune 500 companies.

EDIT: The database I am thinking of is called The Work Number and is owned by Equifax.


>One woman interviewed by CNBC had a Work Number report that was a whopping 22 pages long, complete with a copy of all of her paychecks over the years.

They claim to have employment information for over 1/3rd of American adults.

That's why you just say "around" and add 20% to your current salary.

And even if a company does find out, who cares? What I made at a prior job has zero bearing on my next job. If the new company thinks I bring in enough value to be paid X, then they paying X should be fine.

Our internal recruiters ask but it's not a deal breaker if someone doesn't answer. You know what is a deal breaker? Lying.

I've personally seen two offers rescinded after it came out that someone added an egregious amount of money to their previous salary (one to the effect of made approx $100k, said they made $185 and took $175 while complaining loudly about their "pay cut").

What sucks for them is:

A) Everyone involved in that process knows they're a liar.

B) They were now unemployed because this was during the post-acceptance background checks

C) They won't be able to work at any company anyone from A is doing hiring stuff for

Wait, so you were ready to pay someone 175k until you found out they only made 100k at their last job and rescinded the offer? How about name the company so people can make sure to avoid them. I hope this company also lists their internal budget for every position, since you know we want to all be honest and everything.

If the user's summary is accurate / I found the correct individual on Linkedin the company is [redacted]. I agree with your assessment that this sounds like a unethical company, not to mention the amount of glee expressed in the post over an individual being screwed by the company is disconcerting.

On HN users aren't allowed to pursue each other's personal details and bring them here as ammunition in an argument. That crosses the line into personal attack, which is emphatically not allowed here, regardless of how wrong you think someone else or their employer may be. Please don't do it again.

How did the recruiters find out?

Who cares? There's a -huge- difference between dodging the question with a vague answer, defecting, or refusing to answer and -outright lying- about your previous salary! These reports are run to catch lying. Do the former, don't outright lie.

Similarly, I know part of my job when I do an interview is to sell the company and the position. So I'll put a positive spin on things but I won't outright lie.

My preferred technique is to mentally baseline my current total comp, then shoot for that as my base at my next position.

You really shouldn't compare salaries, since benefits can vary so much.

So if I'm making $100k in base now, but have a good bonus structure, a good vacation package, health, retirement, etc., could make that total comp closer to $150. So that's what I say is my current compensation -- most people will anchor to that in salary negotiations.

in tech companies, bonus + equity is usually multiples of the base salary.

1. Parent post was just for illustration, he's probably not talking about his actual salary + equity.

2. Is that really true? Multiples? Maybe for the CEO! I've been in tech for almost 2 decades and have never seen an equity package of more than ~25% or so of base salary. Usually it's about 5-10%, no?

I have more than 25% at a public company at the initial offer, but not multiples.

However, I left a company that wasnt liquid which was multiples in equity. But once you risk-adjust it for ever being worth something...

Yea, I'm talking actual, vested, liquid equity, sellable per year. Not monopoly-money options.

Depends on the company; My current employer added 2 times my annual in RSUs.

0.05 is a multiplier.

i am talking x >= 1.

Please name 5.

I'm not a recruiter, nor a hiring manager, but personally, I'd be more concerned about the competence of someone who answered truthfully. Yes, engineers probably aren't hired for being good at salary negotiation, but still.. it isn't hard to figure out that telling the truth isn't beneficial.

I'm probably making $30k less than I could be making right now because I tell the truth! Had no idea so many people lied. Makes sense to do so but didn't seem to be worth the risk to me. I wish I had a way to quanitfy how many companies actually check for this. My last two times out I used the same recruiter so couldn't really lie to him, I think going forward I won't work with his agency and just make up my number.

A rule of thumb is most big companies will utilize big data in employment decisions. I currently work for a mid-size company and I had to go through a whole third party background check.

You obviously don't have what it takes to be a good HR worker.

(I mean that as a compliment.)

Correct: a service called The Work Number by Equifax. http://www.theworknumber.com

My current employer uses that, so I checked my report. It has a 13 year gap. It also neglected the RSU grants that vested at a previous employer.

It's a risk I'm willing to take for the potential upside.

The best way to see if your company is willing to give out salary information to random verifiers, is to ask HR yourself.

In most cases they would not give out that sensitive information unless they have a written consent specifically stating that you allow salary information to be given.

It's not as sensitive than your credit history which is bought and sold by credit bureaus. It's also not as sensitive as all sorts of public records like foreclosures, personal bankruptcies, and criminal records.

Anyways, its likely subject to the FCRA which means you can get a copy of your own report once a year to see what it contains.

EDIT: Here you go, you can request a copy right here, https://www.theworknumber.com/Employees/DataReport/index.asp

Also to add, if you work for a public institution, your salary for the past three years is in public records.

This points to an interesting method of poverty reduction - identify the little tricks which knowledgeable people use to get ahead in the system, and tweak the system to make the tricks less necessary.

Also, I think salary negotiation is partially responsible for the man / woman wage gap.

I think men are more inclined to agressive negotiate their salaries, and women might be less prone to lie or hide their current salary too.

Yes, there's a whole book about this, Women Don't Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation.


> Yet, as research reveals, men are four times more likely to ask for higher pay than are women with the same qualifications. From career promotions to help with child care, studies show time and again that women don’t ask–and frequently don’t even realize that they can.

One thing I never see studied on this topic is the differing impacts of social expectations on gender roles related to how much someone is willing to work extra for extra salary. At least for the part of society where I live, a man's income influences his perceived value as a partner more than a woman's, and in general there is an expectation that a man is the provider who pays for dates. (I'm not defending this double standard at all, only say it is what I observe.) Wouldn't this create a stronger force for men to do more to increase their salary than for women?

Possibly yes, but it's too easy to create narratives like this. For example, women are more likely to become the caretakers of children and elderly parents, so they have a stronger force to ask for a higher salary now. You can't say how the factors balance out without serious research.

Why lie? Just say you don't provide that information. If they don't like it, move on to another company.

Why are people so blase about lying? I don't get it. It's arguably far more helpful to just wait for the company to state their number first - bearing in mind the fact that there's tens of thousands of other companies out there. Eventually one will budge. In my experience, they all do.

Rather than lie about your salary, which can be verified, lie about something that can't be verified. Just say that your current employer is awesome, amazing, has a great culture, coworkers you consider close friends, and you're sad to leave, but you realize that you can't afford to keep living in $bigCity on your current salary...

Could that be considered fraud?

Employers lie about salaries all the time. I Know plenty of people who were told their salary was one of the highest of their coworkers where in reality they made less than most. Is that fraud?

No more than:

* We hire only the best

* We value your career progress

* We are transparent about the company's strategies and financials

* We value taking the time to think through the design of features and products

And so on. Most of which are, to be charitable, only very loosely applicable when they aren't outright lies.

* We think of you as family!

If lying during a job interview is fraud then lock me up.

No more than "my wife thinks we need to take the children out of school, so I'll need the money to make that possible" is.

The problem is, recruiters/hiring managers will sometimes call your former employer to verify your actual salary.

Do any employers actually provide that information? The most I've ever had any previous employer ever say about my time there is, "Eric worked here from $start_date to $end_date." I understand there to be liability involved if they say anything more.

Yeah that has always been my understanding as well. Past employers are only allowed to say yes or no to you working there if asked.

Where this comes from I don't know. I'm sure there is a law that this common belief comes from.

Past employers can say whatever they want. They open themselves up to legal liability in doing so, though, with basically no value to themselves. Theoretically as long as they're telling the truth, there is no legal liability. In reality it's more nuanced. e.g. An employer who reveals that a former employee was absent a lot might be sued successfully if the absence was within the company's sick day policy, or the reason was a disability.

Saying nothing is the safest choice. Most employers only confirm employment as a courtesy to their former employees.

> Most employers only confirm employment as a courtesy to their former employees.

Lie. It's to cover their arse from lawsuits.

Not sure what you mean. Employers would prefer to give no information about previous employees, specifically "to cover their arse from lawsuits". They confirm employment dates as a courtesy because it can be difficult to get a job without confirmation of previous employment.

Tangentially, it's really abrasive and generally unnecessary to start a comment by calling someone a liar. You can disagree with me here, and that's totally fine. To call me a liar for holding a different opinion than you makes you seem really petty. Arguing about the reason companies will disclose employment history doesn't seem to be the time to break out this sort of accusation.

I've had a reference disclose my salary (UK)

If your former employer releases salary information without your consent, sue them into the ground.

What's the law that says they can't do that?

I've had recruiters on two occassions ask for ph# of former employers, saying they just wanted to verify dates of employment and salary.

Here's what I don't understand about this argument - if you're negotiating for a new job, wouldn't the implication be that your current employer is not aware of it? And that any contact for this kind of information by your potential new employer would be an obvious breach of that secrecy?

Do you all quit your jobs before you find new ones? What am I missing here?

How often do employers give that out? Are you telling me I can tell how much my friends used to make?

a good way to find out is call your previous employers saying you are a recruiter for "Big Company X" and see if they divulge your previous salary. I would bet most (all?) would not.

It's depressing to me how many responses there are on this, without anyone simply saying: "Lying is wrong"

I know there are a lot of purely utilitarian thinkers around here, but is there no moral compass at all?

I am also surprised at how many responses are "Well, just lie". Maybe having integrity is old fashioned? I never lied about my salary - it wouldn't have even crossed my mind to do so.

> is there no moral compass at all?

Yes but potential employers don't get the benefit of the doubt. I'm looking out for myself first.

No. There isn't. Unless it makes you feel good. Then there is.

Yep, take the true answer and inflate it 20% or more. Make them think they're getting a bargain.

If you are going to lie, just pick the number that's best for you. No need to have any relation with any true number.

There's a case to be made for an employee protection preventing an employer from firing an employee for refusing to produce pay stubs from a past employer. However, I've said it before -- preventing a question from being asked is state overreach and constitutes a violation of the first amendment, in my opinion.

There are already loads of questions that employers aren't allowed to ask. Are you married? Are you pregnant? How many kids do you have? Is your significant other black? When was the last time you went to church? So, you're about 50, is that right?

Technically they can ask those things, they're just not allowed to discriminate based on the answers, so asking them is a bad idea.

A) They can legally ask all of these.

B) All of these are in reference to one or more protected classes, which is why it's not legal to discriminate based on one's answer(s) or refusal to answer.

C) Last I checked, "previously made {less,more} than a certain salary" is not a protected class.

About (C), it has just become one.

While it's a smart move not to disclose your prior salary during negotiations, I really don't want there to be legal implications for the back and forth during this process. It's great in theory, but micromanaging businesses like this is over reach, though typical for NYC.

Contract bargaining is great in theory as well, because in theory bargains are made on a level playing field between free agents. In practice employment bargaining is usually highly asymmetrical and employees are held to contracts of adhesion rather than being able to negotiate the conditions of their work.

Why is it overreach when government promulgates policies that support the interests of citizens, presumably at the request of those citizens? Businesses are constantly lobbying government to change the rules in their favor, but any time rules are changed in the ways that don't benefit them they howl about government overreach.

The government is not some meddling entity that barged into a happy marriage between you as employer and your workers as employees. In theory - though governmental behavior is also flawed in the real world - it exists to serve the interests of all, individual or organizational. It's apparent that a majority of people dislike answering questions about pay and do not wish to be pressured into revealing such information, but as soon as they formalize that preference by making it into a rule folks like yourself are labeling it as overreach.

How is it state overreach but employers aren't engaged in corporate overreach? The state is not there to look after only the interests of the employed, but also of the employees. You don't have a right to know that information, and as an employer you potentially exert significant economic leverage over the potential employee, so the question has great potential to be coercive. It's none of your business how much a potential employee earned in their previous employ. Your only reason for asking is to improve your own negotiating position by making it easier to guess what the employee will settle for.

The only question you should be asking the employee about pay is how much they want in exchange for what you want them to do. As for your first amendment argument, that's total nonsense. You are not engaged in speech to promote your views, nor are you being prevented from expressing your views in any way. If this should be protected speech then so should 'your money or your life' when uttered by a highwayman, who by your logic is merely proposing a bargain that the recipient is free to decline.

> you potentially exert significant economic leverage over the potential employee

The keywords here are 'potentially' and 'significant' -- the difference is that the state has absolute power over you and the fundamental rule of law protects your right to free speech in a public context. Private, consensually entered job offer negotations are a different thing altogether. Certainly, answering a question does not strip you of any of your rights. You can say whatever you want. As I said in my original comment, discriminating based on refusal to produce prior pay stubs is a completely different category and has nothing to do with the first amendment.

> You are not engaged in speech to promote your views, nor are you being prevented from expressing your views in any way. If this should be protected speech then so should 'your money or your life' when uttered by a highwayman, who by your logic is merely proposing a bargain that the recipient is free to decline.

The first amendment doesn't come with the 'strings attached' that you seem to think. There's a nice outline here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_exce...

Your hyperbolic example of "your money or your life" is clearly in the 'Fighting words' category, constituting a threat or intimidation, if used as such.

No, the state does not have absolute power over you. I'm not even going to engage with an argument based on a self-evidently false premise.

The first amendment doesn't come with the 'strings attached' that you seem to think. There's a nice outline here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_free_speech_exce.... Your hyperbolic example of "your money or your life" is clearly in the 'Fighting words' category, constituting a threat or intimidation, if used as such.

Yes, I'm using a hyperbolic example to expose the flaw in your argument, while saying that there should be restrictions on speech. Trying to invalidate a counter-example directed at your by appealing to my priors is tantamount to an admission that you have no meaningful point.

> Trying to invalidate a counter-example directed at your by appealing to my priors is tantamount to an admission that you have no meaningful point.

No, it's not. I provided you with a list of exceptions to free speech in the United States, and your hyperbolic counter-example is clearly excluded by it, whereas a hiring manager asking a question about past salary is not. Are you able to find a category there that corresponds to simply asking what your previous salary was? If so, please share.

> preventing a question from being asked is state overreach and constitutes a violation of the first amendment, in my opinion.

IANAL, but asking about salary as part of an interview seems likely to fall under commercial speech.

> Commercial speech, such as advertisments, has been ruled by the Supreme Court to be entitled to less protection under the First Amendment than noncommerical speech. [0]

[0] https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/commercial_speech

Commercial speech clauses do not apply to everything a business (or person engaged in business) does or says -- certainly not private employment negotiations where it's unclear which party would be the 'customer' and which the commercial seller.

From your link, I think it makes it clear that the commercial speech distinction is almost exclusively used for advertising.

I mean, they could fire you or just demote your pay otherwise. So your best bet is multiple offers.

If we want to prevent discrimination based on the answer, then why should we allow the question to be asked? In that case, those that either are new and lack experience, or don't feel they have a strong enough position to say no to answering are still going to feel the negative effects of it. Ban the question entirely, and everyone is equally protected.

So people on HN are pro employers posting their employee salaries publicly but against previous companies asking what their salaries are. WTF. I must be missing something here.

I personally believe your salary is your business. Period. Getting salary information bad, forcing employees to divulge salaries from a position of power is disgusting.

Here is me being publicly quartered on HN for pushing back on forcing employees publicly posting salaries: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12805814

Companies asking for your previous salary means theyre going to try to pay you with your past salary being a benchmark to work with, not necessarily what the position is worth.

Companies posting employee salaries publicly aims for employees at said company to be paid at the same level (with similar experience).

There's a subtle difference.

Every time I've been asked about salary its been an obvious ploy to lowball my salary due to previous experience of working in a lower cost area. Employees literally have zero incentive not to lie, since employers can't verify

Employers ask for your salary to make sure it makes sense to talk.

Everyone mentions it to be lowballing you. But what do you think happens when you mention a higher number than they expect?

While it sometimes will end the conversation (because they're unwilling to pay), sometimes they'll match that, leading to a higher salary than what the offer would have been.

Of course, often, including in big companies, the background check isn't done by the hiring managers. So you can straight up lie about your salary, get a higher offer, then when they background check they get the real one, and they're none the wiser ::shrugs::

Even without lying, In the couple of occasions where I was underpaid and trying to go up, it's simply what I would say when asked. "My salary was X, but I'm looking for X + Y".

It's just not that hard.

It's a classic negotiation problem.

From the employee's point of view:

If you specify a number, you have either A) disqualified yourself due to it being too high or B) set a cap on your potential salary (they may have been willing to pay more). Neither scenario represents upside for you.

From the employer's point of view:

If the company specifies a number, it has either A) disqualified itself due to it being too low or B) set a minimum that it will have to pay (candidate may have been willing to accept less). Neither scenario represents upside.

> If you specify a number, you have either A) disqualified yourself due to it being too high or B) set a cap on your potential salary (they may have been willing to pay more). Neither scenario represents upside for you.

Those are hardly the only outcomes. An impressive salary history can raise the esteem of a candidate. It's a signal that makes the candidate look good, should the employer attach meaning to it, which they're free to do or not do. But it won't hurt you.

The real world is more fluid and complex than just these two rigid outcomes. An employer can put a salary range in writing and then find a great candidate who's simply worth more, and in a market where talent is hard to find you don't turn away great candidates, you reshape the job description. Or maybe the hiring manager passes the employee to a different department or different company with an opening with a higher range. Or maybe the hiring manager passes because they just can't do it but 6 weeks later you get a call back because they haven't found anyone better and the manager got more desperate or fought their boss to increase the hiring budget.

And if your previous salary is higher than the absolute range of the job you're interviewing for, you're still free to tell the employer you're okay with that, if you are. I've done it before. You can also use it to negotiate other benefits. Maybe they're inflexible on the top end of the salary range but you can get extra equity or vacation out of it.

> If the company specifies a number, it has either A) disqualified itself due to it being too low

You must believe ranges have some flexibility or else a company disqualifying itself is upside for them because it saves them the time of interviewing candidates who aren't willing to take the disclosed range.

Everyone mentions it to be lowballing you.

Because lowballing behavior is very common. It's nice to imagine negotiations taking place around a table where bluffing and tough dealing exist but within a spirit of camaraderie between peers, as at a friendly poker game where there are winners and losers but everyone sits down at the table on an equal footing. But that's not really how it is, is it?

> But what do you think happens when you mention a higher number than they expect?

if they think you're a really good candidate they interview you anyway and try to negotiate. if they think you're a borderline candidate they don't waste either your or their time. this is the best outcome for both parties. in other words, the prospective employee should ALWAYS highball the company.

The obvious consequence of a company publicly posting salaries (or even having clear salary ranges that nearly all the employees at the level of experience fall into) is that a thorough recruiter doesn't even need to ask your previous salary to be able to use it as a benchmark to work with though.

I don't think I've ever seen public salaries at places that pay on the lower-end. Usually I've seen it with startups that pay fairly well, but I could be wrong.

Gitlab is an interesting case: they publish their compensation formula, which yields different pay for the same work depending on the employee's geographic location.

Non for profit salaries are public, they aren't paying top salaries usually.

I also don't think this is what was meant.

In the US non-profits have to disclose this because the law says so and generally the non-profits do so in the most minimal discrete way possible. Few people, rarely recruiters, know where to go to get the information. This is even a service some background check companies provide.

I think the comment was referring to companies that celebrate the high wages they pay as a way to attract the best talent.

It's also worth recognizing that things are very different if this becomes universal. If one company asks for your salary at another, they get a chance to underpay. But if every company publishes salaries, they don't get to low-ball no matter what you were getting before.

Yep. I find that in the US people are very reluctant to discuss salary amongst themselves, which makes it super hard to figure out if you're getting screwed or not. Europeans tend to be much more open about their earnings.

> Employees literally have zero incentive not to lie, since employers can't verify

That assumes you feel lying is wrong only because of the circumstances of getting caught vs. valuing honesty for its own sake.

Morals are nice, but if you're being underpaid purely based on your previous salary vs actual worth, then it doesn't do you much good except to feel good.

If I'm underpaid it's because I took a job with bad pay. Presumably because I failed to demonstrate I was worth more, was incorrect about being worth more, or I chose to accept an offer that didn't match my value.

I can take personal responsibility for any of those scenarios. Transparency is not the root cause of them. Taking responsibility is in general a better option than assigning blame. Acting in bad faith because of perceived bad faith just feeds into a downward spiral that makes the world worse for everyone. You don't act right because it feels good, there are practical reasons for it.

I think blaming people for letting themselves get screwed is rather egregious when firms have every incentive to screw you. In a lot of situations, its either you take the job offer or you don't eat. How long do you think most people can survive unemployment?

> Employees literally have zero incentive not to lie, since employers can't verify

Bad assumption.

A previous employer might reveal it. The future employer could ask for W-2's

Employers barely check if you have a college diploma, let alone for W2's

"So [some] people on HN are pro employers posting their employee salaries publicly but [some people on HN are] against previous companies asking what their salaries are. WTF. I must be missing something here."

I added some words to your quote in the square brackets that should resolve the confusion for you.

It's all about information asymmetry. The employers have information you don't so you can't use that information to your advantage in negotiations. They really don't want that information to get out so they can continue to push salaries lower.

The only reason they want to keep that information private is to use it to their advantage.

I believe, last time I researched this topic, is that transparent salaries tend to increase pay across the board and make pay more performance based rather than negotiating skills based.



> Beginning in 1989 the National Hockey League Players’ Association began annually to reveal the salaries of all its members. Over the next five seasons as contracts were renegotiated wages rose precipitously. Over the same period the role of player performance in determining wages gained importance while the identity of the team with which they negotiated lost all significance.

I'm confused by why these things are so connected for you; I think it benefits potential employees to both not have to talk about past salaries and to be able to know what other employees are being paid.

Here's one argument: the logic changes if the data is universal.

The usual complaint about asking for salaries is that it's a trick to underpay new hires - you can give them the lower of your normal salaries or a 10% raise. That's because they don't know what they're worth, but you know what they got before.

If everyone publishes salaries (and they already do in practice, thanks to Glassdoor), that trick goes away. No matter what your previous salary was, you have leverage to say "look, you pay everyone else double that, cough up". So the primary objection to asking for salary is negated.

I'm not sure the logic is totally sound - some people will end up moving from published to unpublished employers - but I think there is a distinction.

Posting salaries anonymously and in aggregate does not disadvantage the employee. HR depts. already have a rough estimate of the average paid by other companies. Those postings merely level the playing field for job seekers.

Though I don't support the law, the two points you raised are completely consistent.

> So people on HN are pro employers posting their employee salaries publicly but against previous companies asking what their salaries are. WTF.

You are treating a heterogeneous group as though it were a homogeneous individual. I hope Individuals strive to avoid hypocrisy, while groups almost mandate its existence. Consider how easy it is to attack any political party because of their superficially contradictory beliefs.

This is the #1 rule I always tell people who are interviewing for a new job. Never tell a potential employer your past job salary, especially so if you are unhappy with that salary.

When my girlfriend was interviewing for a new job two years ago we talked about this because the recruiter was very demanding about knowing what her current salary was and I told her to stay firm on it because the salary in her current job was, frankly, shit. In the end she got a 50% pay increase over her previous job and then six months later got promoted with a pay increase that effectively doubled her salary from her previous job. Which brings me to another point- a lot of people will justify disclosing the amount by reasoning that they can always ask for a raise after they get hired and the important thing is to get a foot in the door. The problem is that anchoring is a very real thing. If you start at $50k instead of a $75k, every raise you get at that company for the rest of your career will be based off that first salary. If you stay at a company for 10-15 years, that is an enormous difference that could be well into the six figures.

Bottom line, don't disclose salary history to employers. You'll seldom find an employer who will tell you what your colleagues in the same job make. Why do you want to show your hand?

As for this law, I'm actually mildly opposed to it. I don't think that the government should have a hand in determining salary beyond minimum wage, because that is an agreement made between two consenting parties in private industry. If you are a more experienced negotiator and are willing to ask for more money than your counterparts, why shouldn't you be at an advantage? There's no law that says you have to disclose it and the rest is up to you.

Why should you be at an advantage? Why should the negotiations have anything to do with your current salary?

The same reason somebody who sells a house or a car or anything that involves negotiating should be at an advantage if they are a better negotiator. It's a fundamental part of a free market. Should the government make sure you don't sell your house for less than you could possibly get or should that be left to be decided between yourself and the potential buyer? Why should a salary negotiation be any different?

They need to be at the advantage, their life and time is being bought. And because if the pay is shit, they'll only end up doing shitty work. Possibly leaving much not finished the next chance they get somewhere that is willing to compensate appropriately.

"They need to be at the advantage, their life and time is being bought."

Same is true for someone who is not good at negotiating, or is negotiating from a weaker position.

"And because if the pay is shit, they'll only end up doing shitty work."

So why not just have the company pay well for everyone?

"So why not just have the company pay well for everyone?" That's just not something they do.

I'm not sure how effective this will be. When I was recruiting It got to the point where I would never ask salary's I would just say, "I'm assume your currently making between XXk and XXk?" and 9 times out of 10 I was in the right range. 1 time out of 10 they would say no and correct me. I just took a educated guess based on knowing the market. Any good recruiter should be able to do the same.

The bill also makes it illegal to "rely on the salary history of an applicant in determining the salary, benefits or other compensation for such applicant during the hiring process, including the negotiation of a contract" even if you find out without asking.

I advocate for all salary data being public.

To get a better salary and better work conditions cannot depend of hiding a figure. It is a weak position, to say the least.

That is fantastic news!

I recently interviewed with a prominent Drupal company, Forum One, and was shocked that they not only asked for my previous salary, but previous 3 salaries and also wanted me to verify them with pay stubs! I told them no and the interview stalled after that. That was a sad day, I really wanted to work with them but what they asked for was unacceptable.

They were not in New York but I welcome this law everywhere.

>I told them no and the interview stalled after that. That was a sad day, I really wanted to work with them

You assumed you wanted to work with them based on a false idea of what that company was. It sounds like you lucked out.

They are trying to pass this in Philadelphia in May. Comcast and the local Chamber of Commerce are suing to stop it citing that it's a Freedom of Speech violation.

Besides being able to freely low ball candidates who started behind the 8 ball (women/minorities/people who didn't go to elite schools), is there a real argument for companies HAVING to know your previous salary?

There really isn't. In a negotiation knowing the price paid for a product previously, or in this case a person, is a distinct advantage to the person paying. And will do nothing else but perpetuate low pay for underpaid people. Think of the scenarios:

1. I made X at my last job where X is far less than what you are paying your current employees. Well as a business owner and negotiator if I offer them X + a small bump I can probably get away with paying less.

2. I made X at my last job where X is far more than you are paying your current employees. You either are going to stretch the budget, or negotiate.

So it is always a negotiation unless the person says they made less. A true negotiation is "How much are you asking for?" A person selling products isn't going to tell someone what they are selling their products for to a competitor. They are both going to negotiate a price or decide not to do business.

This is a very contentious subject. There has to be a negotiation at some point and employees have to share what they are willing to accept and the employer has to share what they are willing to pay. There is some validity to the idea that an employee is worth whatever they can get an employer to pay them, so their previous salary is an indication or ballpark of what that amount might be.

I think a less infringing question is for the employer to ask for the salary the employee is expecting. Then there is no lying and the employee can try for a 20% jump or more and see what happens. They can also just ask for the employer's offer but in practice the employer is going to go up slowly and find the lowest salary they would take anyway.

> Comcast and the local Chamber of Commerce are suing to stop it citing that it's a Freedom of Speech violation.

that's gonna be a hard case to make. freedom of speech is typically your right to say something that you want to say which is not at all the same as compelling someone else to say something they would rather not.

The analogy is not perfect, but all the time people like to know how much a house or car sold for in the past, or how much a stock traded for the in past, etc. Seems like useful data.

Now, I'm not advocating for or against this particular question, but I sure do hope there is data collected and studied on the effect this has in NY before anyone jumps to conclusions. I feel it's too easy to have a knee-jerk reaction on this one.

There is no way to know whether this helps/hurts/is neutral for any particular class of people without studying its effects.

The problem is the one way communication. I would personally have no problem giving out my past salary, in return for the current salaries if all comparable current employees at the company.

You can refuse to answer their question. You can also ask them how much others are making at your position (and they can refuse to answer that, too). I don't see where the asymmetry is.

It's often more a power asymmetry. You need the job, they have a line of candidates out the door.

It doesn't go that far, but this bill does specify that asking about salary history is allowed if at the same time you communicate a proposed salary range.

The analogy is completely broken. People aren't houses, cars, or stock certificates. The information that is pertinent might be references from former coworkers - can they do the job you are hiring them for? Asking for the previous value of the person as if they were any other commodity is nonsensical. There's not an inherent price to the person, and a higher or lower salary says more about where they have worked (which you can see on the resume or ask about) than how well they have worked (very generally).

Knowing a candidate's compensation history can save an employer a significant amount of money which they otherwise might've spent on the same candidate. This gives them an unfair advantage, and the way I see it, it's unavoidable to remove this advantage. By restricting employers from asking about previous compensation, we're just shifting this advantage to the employees, for better or worse.

Can you actually rationalise your argument a little further? Why on earth should your salary for a new role be benchmarked to your previous compensation? Do you realise how ridiculous that sounds? Ultimately, the market sets some value for a role - largely based on competitor analysis - and that is a fair value. Your previous pay is irrelevant.

A lot of the analogies and reasoning I'm reading here is faulty. Nothing stops HR depts. from sharing information which to a first degree of approximation would give them an idea of the market rate for the positions they're filling. Companies are already free to rescind offers if they find out that you've lied about aspects of your past work history. It's part of what at-will employment is. This is about interfering with the negotiation of the individual job seeker. If I can't ask for your salary history, then I might miss out on the competitive advantage you as a candidate have in that you're willing to work for less over potentially more qualified people as you build your skill-set and expertise. The right way to help those who are taken advantage of is education about how to bargain and what information they need and need not share, not legislation.

Here in India, you are not only asked your previous salary, you have to provide your last (sometimes three) payslip while joining. Some companies have a policy of NOT giving more than a 30% hike from your previous salary - you need top management approval for such a hike.

At the time of joining - is usually for background verification. Most companies don't even care what your last pay was. Even if you are paid higher, they are going to play in their range.

However, during negotiation, if you lied about your previous pay just to get a better hike - you would get flagged, may get fired and get yourself listed into an unofficial blacklist. Its more of an ethics issue than just a pay mismatch.

> Some companies have a policy of NOT giving more than a 30% hike from your previous salary These companies are telling you "loud and clear" - "we don't care about talent".

There are other companies that would pay "fairly" as per their bands - even if that means a 100-200% hike

I have been through job searching recently in India and I have applied for 10s of companies most of them are statups.

> At the time of joining - is usually for background verification.

Not just during joining, many companies asked my previous salary and expected salary during the first talk. Some companies did not even contact back when I refused to disclose my previous salary.

Salary discrimination is everywhere in startups, not just by gender also by number of years of experience, University, Degree, previous company...

My opinion is "every employee doing the same job should be paid the same."

Seems like an ethics test. Will you tell the truth about your previous low salary or lie to make sure you don't get lowballed?

Then for the employer, will you decrease the salary to match previous low rates or wages? Or will you pay him/her the market rate regardless?

Personally, I have always been asked how much I made at previous places. I prefer to give a range than specify individually.

> I prefer to give a range

I've never understood this tactic. Specifying a range seems like a good way to underprice yourself. If you give a range, the recruiter will simply assume that your current salary is very close to the bottom of the range.

Now, if you mean that you give a range of previous salaries, the recruiter will know your best previous salary anyway. And they'll probably knock a fair bit off the top assuming you're padding.

> I prefer to give a range than specify individually.

FWIW, this is likely almost as bad for you in the negotiation as giving the number. You will simply always get offers towards the bottom of your range. It is better to refuse to answer, and just say you're looking for a market rate salary for this role.

Giving the number doesn't have to be bad for you. (But it can be.)

But yeah, never give any range. Not when talking about previous compensation, and not when talking about what you want. Just give them straight up numbers, if you give anything at all.

And you should definitely give them a number about how much you want to be paid. You want to set the first reference point. And yes, that means you will have to do your own due diligence about how much the market can currently bear for your (interviewing) skills. But you need to know these numbers anyway.

But it's not a dilemma. There's nothing wrong with saying "I don't disclose my past salary. It's personal. Let's focus on this job, and if you make me an offer, we can discuss that."

Some ethics test. The employer is already failing at ethics by asking this in the first place, so I have no problem lying to them. This is no different than them asking if you have kids, if you're married, etc.

Laws like this one that restrict businesses from asking questions that individuals could ask strikes me as very strange.

I could ask my buddy how much he made at his last job.

I couldn't ask my buddy how much he made at his last job if I'm considering hiring him to work at my company.

Why is this information legal to acquire when I'm wearing my business hat vs when I'm wearing my friend hat?

Do you plan to have children in the near future? Are you currently pregnant? Do you prefer men or women as romantic/sexual partners? How old are you? What religion were you raised with? Do you currently attend a church?

>Why is this information legal to acquire when I'm wearing my business hat vs when I'm wearing my friend hat? You tell me....

It's like context is an actual thing.

I'll have to find some way to bring it up myself. A higher than usual salary history is a good tangible signal to future employers and I'm not going to give it up.

Way to see the bigger picture for employee rights here.

I didn't say I'd fight against the existence of the law. I said people who are hurt by the law should retain the same negotiating power they had before rather than lose their right.

You won't lose any negotiating power. Just because they can't ask doesn't mean you can't counter an offer and ask for a higher salary. If they want you and think you're worth it, you'll get it. Just don't see them not being able to ask really shifting the negotiating power much if any for you.

Likewise, just because an employer offers a lower salary than you want based on your salary history doesn't mean you can't counter with the salary you want. If they want you and think you're worth it, you'll get it.

The benefit of telling a prospective employer that a previous employer decided you were worth an above-average salary vs. simply requesting an above-average salary without context is obvious.

Nothing wrong with saying just that.

I have gotten out of discussing past salary by saying that I believe salary history perpetuates wage discrimination. I am a white man, so I think this only makes me seem idealistic rather than disgruntled. But I do honestly believe this to be true.

Smart people who negotiate your salary do not want to get anywhere near a conversation that has the phrase "wage discrimination" in it for any reason, even hypothetical. They do not want to argue about what is or isn't wage discrimination, even if they disagree. So it can end the discussion with both parties feeling they are being high minded by avoiding the topic.

Whenever I'm asked for my current or former salary I tell the recruiter/HR person to first tell me the salary of all the peers I'll be working with. If it's a contracting company I also ask how much they'll be paid for my position.

If they don't provide those money details why should I?

This will be tricky for banks and hedge funds etc. These firms typically, in London at any rate:

- never quote a salary (or even a range) for a job opening

- following many interviews any offer is always based on prior "comp", of which you will have to provide 3 years of info (base, bonus, deferred awards, retention awards, benefits etc) plus, of course, documentary evidence to support. HR departments start squealing if uptick is a greater than 20% increase, although some people do manage higher (anything over 30% is almost unheard of, except for a handful of big producers)

- they go through your background with a fine toothcomb and check EVERYTHING you supplied on your CV and in the screening questionaires you have to complete. They employ specialist third party agencies to do the research on you.

If you do not comply with this you simply won't get hired. It is universal and practiced everywhere in finance, I've never heard of anyone not being subjected to this.

Not sure how it's tricky for them. They just have to stop doing it or never hire anyone.

Mandating that employers are forbidden to ask about previous salary seems like a pathway to more government intrusion into a complex process. Part of job seeking involves learning how to negotiate with a potential employer. I've side-stepped many an inappropriate or premature question about salary with "Are you making an offer," followed by agreement to disclose the "details" if and when such offer is forthcoming at which point I know far more about what the position involves, am in a much better negotiating position and can explain, if necessary, why the pay scale was lower. If that doesnt satisfy a recruiter or potential employer, I tend to think they're not very serious about me as a candidate and I havent disclosed personal information that might limit my future job search.

No. Why should the negotiation have anything to do with the prospective employee's current salary?

Not to mention, you're saying that prospective employees shouldn't answer the question anyway. However, that only protects those who feel they're in a strong bargaining position. It does absolutely nothing to help those who aren't, and those are generally the ones that need the most help.

This is a beautiful worker protection, and it makes me feel optimistic about our country's future.

keep telling yourself that... this law is bullshit

How so?

you will see...

so no answer? If you have a reason I'd like to hear it. I cant think of a problem with this cause it makes the information disparity between employees and employers more equal, but Id like to hear any counterargument

i don't think the law will improve the information disparity. I think employers will quickly find ways around it as they always have and it will promptly be business as usual.

I see perspectives like yours very frequently in many topics of discussion.

The point I'd like you to consider:

The ease with which something can be done can affect the probability and frequency of an action without affecting the possibility of the action.

I know one employer this will impact: Goldman Sachs. Not only do they demand you tell them what your current salary is during the interview process, they force you during a rigorous background check before your first day to prove it.

"Closing the gender pay gay is important" Come on NYT....

I'm a bit skeptical that this will have a real impact. It may stop employers from asking, but it does not stop them from low-balling someone based on race/gender, etc. HR departments calculate this in to their offers already.

Don't get me wrong, I think this will help some folks and is a great step forward. People who know their value and what the employer pays will surely benefit (or great negotiators). But for the people this is touted to help, they can still very easily be kept in the lower-end of the pay scale.

It seems to me that the only way to close the pay gap is to have employers release what they pay. That in itself is a tough thing to write legislation for. In my mind, it would need to take into account experience, actual role/leveling, etc. A lot of it is subjective and easy to manipulate to help the employer. And of course, if we just release a straight list of all employees' salaries (with the details needed to calculate where you fall), you may run into privacy concerns.

"It will take $xxx k base salary to leave my current company" -- The ultimate answer to life and the universe and everything.

Personally I think it's good when they ask. I no longer answer that question with the truth, but as if they asked "what do you think you're actually worth?" - and you can find out pretty quick by their response/reaction whether or not they are going to try and lowball you.

Totally avoid this question Being asked by setting the salary you seek in stone before going to the interview. Especially if your working with a recruiter!

If they suddenly ask this question then they are trying to renege on their promise and for me it's time to go.

For me it's not the salary (been out of tech and would not expect much nego. power), but how do I quantitfy primo health insurance, 31+ days off a year, 5 months sick leave and a 1/2 mile commute.

I really don't know how to assign a number to all that.

My experience with this was in London, a twitter.com recruiter contacted me a couple of years ago. At the time I was searching for a job so I replied that I was interested. We had the usual HR/Recruiter call. It ended with them asking how muh my previous employer was paying me. I said that was confidential and would not share. Their reply was "this information is mandatory and we cannot continue the process if you will not provide it." I said I wouldn't and it ended there... two months later their recruiter contacted me again saying it was ok for me not to share and provide expectations instead.

> Underlying the bill is the notion that employers “anchor” the salaries they offer to potential employees based on their current or previous salary — if an employee had faced pay discrimination at a previous job, in other words, the employer’s subsequent lower than market value offer would effectively perpetuate the discrimination.

> “Being underpaid once should not condemn one to a lifetime of inequity,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James

... Or if a person does not know how to negotiate.

As far as I know, there's nothing to stop employers from exchanging salary information directly with previous employers under quid-pro-quo agreements.

And there's nothing to stop employers from buying/renting this information from third parties, such as recruitment agencies or brokers in personal data.

All of these are arguably more reliable sources of salary information than asking the candidate directly.

Well done New York City! London needs this desperately, most recruiters here won't let you proceed without it, unless you apply directly.

I think this law is silly.

If you don't like this question, then you can either choose not to answer it or use it to your advantage by 'rounding up' your numbers - This should actually help you with your negotiations as an employee.

In the unlikely event that they ask for proof, you can always tell them that your personal finances are a private matter between you and your accountant.

Not really. Someone who is not in a strong bargaining position is not going to be able to push back and say no. The company will say, "Answer or we don't hire you." And while you might say "You don't want to work there anyway," I know I like being able to buy food and pay rent much more than I like not being hired. By banning the question outright, they make sure that your ability to not answer the question is not related to the strength of your bargaining position.

It should also ban potential employee disclosing the pay of previous employment. Otherwise it would become a norm soon that the companies specifically won't ask about it, but will hire only the candidates who disclose it by themselves, which makes the candidate to disclose the previous income by themselves for having a better shot at getting hired.

Wow, this is yuge. Sure I can refuse to answer the question, but nothing beats a law that makes the question futile and unlikely to be asked in the first place.

Granted employers will just scrounge around on the internet for your salary info instead, which is slightly creepier, but at least they have to work for it.

Can't wait for other states to follow suit.

I was asked this before. When I refused, they said it was mandatory. I put my number as 30% more. There is no way for them to confirm, I think this is an unfair practice, so if they are forcing you to play the game, why you would be fair? I have got the job, as a junior, I was making same money as senior minus the benefits.

It's a sellers' market. If you're looking, just state your requirements and negotiate from there (or not). If you're not looking, then your current compensation is your current job's best offer, and you might as well share that information in case somebody wants to beat it.

When IBM hired me, the only question I was asked about salary was "how much would you like?" I picked a number and he said "I think I can do that, let me check" followed the next day by "yes".

Maybe I left money on the table, but I'm happy, and I've gotten good raises since.

More than likely you left money on table. I found asking people what salary they would like, they always low balled themselves with a 10% increase of current salary. Minimum i give is 15% because that is average for people changing jobs. Devops engineer i just hired was well under priced for the market so i gave him 45% raise. He didn't even ask for increase in pay.

Not every company/hiring manger is trying to rip off their employees. Paying people industry/local a bit above averages for the job duties makes for happier employees that are less likely to leave or have moral issues.

I dislike employers who take advantage of employees.

I dislike New York City's solution too. There are other ways to empower employees and not asking about past salaries won't eliminate the pay gap. But I'm not an expert so maybe this is a step in the right direction and can result in lasting changes.

In the interviews I've had so far the 'how much are you making' question comes up at the beginning of the process almost everywhere. It's an obvious lowball play, anywhere that is super aggressive about asking for this is a giant red flag to me.

Instead of salary it may worth disclosing ballpark of total compensation including shares/options vesting, bonuses, etc, without breaking it down.

After all "desired salary" question is answered sooner or later but in reality - the total compensation is more important.

throwaway for obv reasons. This is fantastic news. But for those of you wondering what to do if you are asked this - it's pretty simple: you lie. This is a negotiation. If you ask a car salesman how much the dealership paid for a car, you think they're going to tell you the truth?

"What if they find out?" They won't. How could they? There ARE laws, very clear and absolute ones, about what a past employer can share about you. Your salary history is most certainly protected by them.

"What if they ask for a paystub?" Ask yourself if you know what you're getting into here. This is not a company that is going to treat its employees well.

I never understood this one. I have always told recruiters straight up that I'm not going to disclose that information. Nobody involved with making the hiring decision is going to be asking you how much you made at your last job.

What effect is this going to have if the state agency wages are already online: https://catalog.data.gov/dataset?tags=salary

I interviewed at a big phone/ISP company a few months ago in MA.

They would not make me an offer unless I shared my past W2 with them for them to make sure my past salary was what I claimed it was.

Needless to say, I laughed at them and walked away.

Personally I have found disclosing salary to be far more beneficial in negotiations. I guess who wish to disclose their salary still can right ? Or has the law banned employees from disclosing it ?

I once worked for a large trade association in Georgia. The Director had a general policy that anyone who refused to provide expected salary was not even considered, at all, no exceptions.

Did you find other things that Director did made the company less effective or unpleasant to work at? In other words, if that's the company's policy, is it possibly a sign the company is not the best place to go?

So I should not be divulging my current salary to recruiters? Interesting.

we should make it illegal to ask about college degree. That would erode the signaling value of a degree and bring down the price / paper value of a diploma.

Would have rather seen a bill also legitimize complete and total lying in response to the question. Answers or claims regarding past salary may not be verified or used as the basis of any employment action.

A bill to legitimize lying would help people who know about it. But the people who most need the help are those who have never heard about this controversy or don't think they have the power in the negotiation to consider lying. The way NYC did it, the law protects the most vulnerable.

True. I edited my response to say "also" thinking about your point. I like my proposal less and less, honestly. I'm personally not a very good liar, so it wouldn't help much.

Also, there's just something that feels wrong about normalizing lying instead of fixing the root problem.

Is it legal to lie about the past salary in the US?

This is bad for the free market and freedom of speech. I hope it gets challenged on First Amendment grounds.

I see my past salaries as trade secret of my business. So it's good that I can protect this secret.

...yeah but imagine you're trying to hire a contractor to do some job. Of course you're going to ask, "how much does it cost?" Generally you will shop this job around to get an idea of the range of prices for similar work from qualified contractors and then make an informed decision. If you go at it the opposite, "I'm willing to pay X for this job Y" then you've skewed your capability to make an informed decision unless you already have an accurate basis for what the job should cost.

In the employment world, folks use Radford and similar as guidance which of course can steer them of course from where the local talent market actually is.

They are asking for past salaries not the salary an employee wants for this particular job. You aren't demanding a full list of past work and its price from a contractor either.

People can ask about trade secrets just fine. It's just that you don't have to answer.

The balance of power during an interview is often very much on the side of the employer. So I am happy if that balance gets shifted the other way a little.

Sure, that's a valid preference to have. It just doesn't have anything to do with not being legally allowed to ask about trade secrets.

How is this bad for "freedom of speech"? Please elaborate on this ludicrous claim.

Let's say they make a law saying you can't ask your coworkers what their salary is - wouldn't you agree that is against freedom of speech?

No, I would not. Freedom of speech pertains to legislation from congress preventing political speech. Most companies already prohibit employees from discussing salaries, under penalty of termination. Any business can ask you to leave, as a patron, for using profane speech in their establishment, or any number of other reasons. Please stop participating in this absurd and obnoxious fallacy wherein you decry anything you dislike as violating your "free speech"

> Freedom of speech pertains to legislation from congress preventing political speech.

Freedom of speech is broader than that. Freedom of speech not only extends beyond congress (which the Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed), it also goes beyond political speech. You have the right to espouse openly racist beliefs. You have the right to espouse religious beliefs, and beliefs on the best way to grow corn, and what the best auto maker is. These are not political opinions except to the extent that they are protected from suppression by politicians. (Alternatively you can argue that basically all speech is in some fashion political, in which case the "political" distinction is meaningless.)

Retribution for discussing salaraies is a violation of federal labor relations guidelines. Companies can write that in their handbook but not enforce it. If they do, contact a lawyer and the national labor relations board.

>Most companies already prohibit employees from discussing salaries, under penalty of termination.

This is actually illegal in many states. Workers have a legal right to discuss salaries.

>Freedom of speech pertains to legislation from congress preventing political speech.

Not correct. Free speech is about any freedom of expression, not just political speech. There is endless amounts of case law to back this up.

Please document some of this case law!

Come on. It's not even difficult to find examples of non-political speech being protected.



You can find a big list of free speech cases here. Many cover non-political speech.


A mountain of first amendment case law at virtually every level of public life disproves your narrow definition of freedom of speech.

How on earth is this a free market problem? Someone who does not feel they have a strong bargaining position will not be able to fend off this question. That's about as anti-free market as you can get.

What does this have to do with freedom of speech?

Making a law that says "Employers can't say or ask X" goes directly against freedom of speech.

That sort of concept of freedom of speech is so broad that if actually enforced, it would effectively prevent any laws that regulate businesses.

While it's true that businesses can assert First Amendment rights, as with this recent Supreme Court case https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/business/supreme-court-cr..., that doesn't mean that laws that make it illegal to inquire about or take into account past salary history, marital status, pregnancy status, etc. are all unconstitutional simply because spoken communication might take place during the process of flouting the law.

Or to put it another way, it's not the words, "So, are you pregnant?" themselves that are the problem. The problem is the implicit idea that an interviewee's answer to this question will affect the employer's hiring decision, and the law says it should not.

it has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

This is fitting into the same category of not being able to ask candidates; what's your sexual preference? what's your religion? do you smoke? are you planning on having children? etc. as part of the hiring process. They are rules that help avoid discriminatory hiring practices. At the end of the day they help companies more than the individual. The individuals are already protected from discrimination and could sue if these questions came up during an interview and they didn't get the job. Banning these questions ensures companies and their interviewers avoid situations where they could become legally liable.

Whether salary info helps the company or individual more is debatable since this does not represent a protected class, but obviously the goal is to support the individual.

No it doesn't, any more than "employers can't lie to you" does.

Do laws against fraud violate freedom of speech?

The free market is trash. Employers must be regulated.

Worker Unions should do that, not the state.

Unions are part of the solution, but so is the state. Unfortunately, the state has been destroying union power for years with things like "right to work" laws.

I happen to think that all workers should have protections, not just those in unions.

Just think of the state as a more inclusive union.


My guess is that political ideology demands it.

When does this take effect?

umm... laws like this don't last very long. employers quickly develop work arounds. I will be interested to see what hiring managers try (or fail).

This can't be true 100% of the time or the hiring/working condition would be roughly the same regardless of legal environment. This, at least to me, does not seem to be the case.

Don't have to ask. The data is open:


Source: https://catalog.data.gov/dataset/civil-list-2014

> The Civil List reports the agency code (DPT), first initial and last name (NAME), agency name (ADDRESS), title code (TTL #), pay class (PC), and salary (SAL-RATE) of individuals who were employed by the City of New York at any given time during the indicated year.

That is only for employees of the city. This law is for all COMPANIES operating in the city.

This bill applies to private companies too. In cases where a company discovers your past salary without asking, the bill makes it illegal to rely on that to determine an offer.

good to know, I was wondering if this would include information from previous employers on background checks... which it sounds like it does.

The vast majority of employees in NYC do not work for the city.

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