Tired of getting asked about your salary history?
The good news is that, in many states now, questions about that are illegal. Salary history information has historically perpetuated pay gaps based on gender and race, hamstringing pay negotiation attempts by people who started at lower salaries. Additionally, there are many municipalities with similar laws, so while there are notable exceptions, questions about what you’ve been paid previously are getting less common.
But if you live in a state where these questions are legal (Michigan, for example, has expressly prohibited bans on salary history info), you will probably still need to navigate this tricky question. You have a few options, depending on the situation. Some places (again, I’m looking at you, Michigan) may require an old pay stub as part of your background check, in which case I’m afraid you just need to provide it. Other places will simply ask for the info as part of the interview process, in which case you can decline to answer (tricky and awkward), ask them why they want to know (“I’d be happy to provide that, but first can you tell me why you need to know it?”), or you can simply answer. None of these options are ideal, so I recommend deciding which feels best before an interview, and practicing how you want to approach it so you’re relatively comfortable with it.
And don’t think it means you can’t negotiate! You absolutely can and should. Regardless of what you’ve been paid in the past, you deserve a fair wage for your work. More on that next week!