How to answer a question about your salary history


Money might make the world go around, but it’s still a subject that many people are uncomfortable talking about. We know that salary transparency is essential if we’re to overcome gender and cultural bias within the workplace, but while we still struggle to discuss salary with our colleagues, surely it’s a subject we should discuss freely with employers and recruiters? Well, no actually. Experts are in agreement that while salary transparency is essential in the workplace, when it comes to the recruitment process, discussing salary is a big no no.

It’s easy to assume that the Great Resignation and the subsequent struggle companies are facing when it comes to finding talent has made it easier to throw a figure on the table and expect a company to match it, but the opposite is true. Some recruiters believe that showing your financial hand too soon can result in a lower offer, especially if you’re moving industries and haven’t done your research. Like a poker game, you don’t want to show your hand too soon.

While statistics show that on average 70% of U.S. companies plan on implementing salary increases this year, new hires are gaining an average 10% salary increase when moving companies. The fact remains if you want to secure the best offer, you need to be smart when answering the salary history question.

Why is this? Because it’s not just workers who are facing a harsh winter — rising inflation and cost of living increases are also impacting employers and getting the best talent for the least amount of money is their primary aim in the current market. What can you do? Use the deflection of the question as a way to showcase your communication and negotiation skills while holding space for the best offer. Check out our top tips below.

Don’t fudge the answer

Prepare your answer to the salary question ahead of time, and be prepared to state why you don’t want to discuss figures prior to an offer. Fudging the answer or being vague in your response is off-putting to an employer, you want to show that you’re able to communicate your point of view in an articulate and professional manner. Explain that you’d rather have a full understanding of the role before discussing salary or state that you’re aware of industry standards and you would expect something similar.

Answer with a question

Don’t be afraid to answer the salary question with a question. When asked what your salary expectation is you can ask what the salary range for the role is. That’s a polite and professional response and requires the hiring manager to share financial information first. Every company wants to get the best talent for the lowest salary, and sharing your financial history first gives the employer the upper hand.

Do your research

What can you do if you’re leveling up or going for a new role after gaining extra training or education so you are hoping for a large bump? Don’t lie, but do your research to ensure your offer matches industry standards for experts at your level. So instead of saying you were paid X in your previous role when you were paid Y, say that you know other employees in a similar role with your skillset are paid X and that figure would match your salary expectations for this position.

Open up the conversation

Open up the conversation to include more than just salary range. Explain that at this stage in your career you’re interested in the entire package and that benefits such as healthcare and pension contributions as well as non-financial perks such as hybrid working or staff equity opportunities matter to you. This is a great way to bulk up your compensation package when the salary range doesn’t quite match your expectation and show that you are able to think in a creative way.

If you’re interested in testing the market, there are dozens of companies hiring on the VentureBeat job board. We’ve selected three great options below but make sure to explore all opportunities.


The tech giant is constantly looking for talent at all levels and is currently hiring for a number of roles based in its Seattle HQ as well as a number of remote roles. Opportunities with Apple currently exist across software engineering with positions available for cloud designers and data managers. Check out all available opportunities with Apple.


CrowdStrike is a global cybersecurity company which uses cloud-native platforms to protect people and businesses while online. They are currently recruiting for a number of fully remote roles, including software engineers, security analysts and data scientists. Browse all available opportunities at CrowdStrike.


Operating within the fintech sector, MoneyGram is hiring for a number of engineering roles based across the U.S. with remote opportunities available. MoneyGram currently has 150 million customers across the globe with a staff of over 2,500. Explore all vacant positions at MoneyGram.

Browse all available roles on the VentureBeat job board.


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