We’ve all been there, whether it’s on the initial phone call with the recruiter, or at the final stage of the interview process: At some point, the hiring manager asks about our salary history.
The problem is how to answer this innocent yet very loaded question. In the past, have you named a number without much hesitation? Did the recruiter have to pry it out of you? Perhaps you’ve always volunteered your salary history, because you really wanted the job or for the simple purpose of general transparency.
No matter what bucket you fall into, you’ve probably wondered what would happen if you just straight up refused to answer. Are there consequences to refusing to provide your salary history? Does it benefit you in any way? Could it lead to a higher salary? The truth is, refusing to provide your salary information can hurt you or help you. But it depends entirely on who you are.
Who Benefits From Sharing Salary History?
In PayScale’s latest report, Is Asking For Salary History … History?, we surveyed over 15,000 workers to get a better understanding of how people react to salary history inquiries. One of the lenses we examined during this study was how gender affected outcome. Our data show that women who share their salary history are paid 1.8 percent more than women who don’t. On the other side of that same coin, men who refuse to disclose their salary history actually earn 1.2 percent more than men who do disclose their salary history.
Sharing Salary History and Our Unconscious Bias
While women have traditionally been encouraged to not share their salary history during the interview process, the data show that withholding salary information could be more damaging for women. Why? Most likely, because of unconscious bias. Women may get punished for withholding salary information because they are seen by hiring managers as uncooperative, unfriendly and unladylike. Over time, this helps perpetuate the gender pay gap.
So what should women do to get paid what they deserve? You may decide to disclose your pay history — but then do your best to move the conversation from your previous salary to the one that’s appropriate for the role under consideration.
At the end of the day, companies should be pricing jobs, not people. Keep this narrative in mind as you go through this process and be persistent. You can also arm yourself with data before you even enter the interview, so you already know the market rate for the job you’re applying to, and thus the salary you can expect for that job.
Tell Us What You Think!
Have you ever refused to provide your past salary? What happened? We want to hear from you! Comment below or join the discussion on Twitter!