Here's an E-Z way to make more money the next time you change jobs: Do NOT tell the HR department or hiring manager of the company with which you're interviewing how much you make in your present job....


Trust me, they'll always ask "How much are you making now?" Do NOT tell them! They'll look irritated and ask again, as if you might not have understood their question. But simply stick to your guns and politely say, "Until we reach an agreement, I'd prefer to keep my W-2 figures private. I understand that the salary range for this job is $___, and that is acceptable for me." End of story.
Here's why: On the one hand, you might be the best qualified candidate for the job, even though you make $20K less than the other candidates under consideration. No good deed goes unpunished: If you tell the company your salary, they will low-ball your offer -- thereby penalizing you for the fact that you just happen to be underpaid in your current job. Happens all the time.
On the other hand, if you currently make $20K more than the job for which you're applying but would like the position for personal or professional reasons, the company might throw out your application on the grounds that "no normal person would be happy taking such a pay cut." This happened to a very good candidate of mine recently. I call this "salary discrimination," and although it's not illegal -- it's still unfair, in my opinion.
The fact is, it doesn't matter what you make with regards to a new job. As we used to say in the beef trading business, the market is the market.
Think of it this way: Suppose you wanted to buy a 20-year-old house from a seller who originally paid $100K for it, and the seller wants what other houses on his street are currently selling for: $500K. Would you say "Sorry, but you only paid $100K for it, so I'll give you a 15% raise and you should be happy." No, you wouldn't. But employers do this all the time with job applicants.
Don't let this happen to you! Just tell them that you wish to keep your W-2 figures private and leave it at that. They'll brow beat you -- but if they're really interested in you, they'll keep the dialogue moving.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Harry Joiner is an executive recruiter specializing in integrated marketing and "new media." He has been featured in MarketingSherpa's Great Minds in Marketing series and received coverage in the Wall Street Journal's Career Journal Online. According to Viral Garden's weekly rankings, Harry's weblog MarketingHeadhunter.com is one of the top 25 marketing weblogs in the world.