It sounds harsh, but it’s a cold world out there in the business world. One of my mentors made a general comment to me about working for a company you don’t own: “If you’re not getting over on them then they’re getting over on you.” He gave this advice to ease my guilt for lying about a sick day to interview at another company, but why stop there with lying as a career advancement strategy?
Here are the 12 Most Honest Reasons to Lie When Interviewers Ask Your Current Salary:
1. You’re underpaid
You can find yourself in this situation for many reasons, mostly when you’ve only worked for one company in your career. If you move up the ranks quickly at fixed promotion raises (e.g. 4% each promotion) but started out as cheap labor fresh out of college, your pay-to-delivered-value ratio tips heavily in favor of your company. This dynamic frequently results in people only being able to get the salary increase they want by changing companies.
Companies often like to use your previous job as a basis for their offer. Following that logic, if you think your salary is 20k below fair value and they offer you a 10k increase, you might be less miserable but you’re still miserable nonetheless. So give the interviewer a number you’re comfortable with as a starting point for negotiation and both sides can win. You’ll just win a little bit more.
2. You want to maximize your income
What if you’re not underpaid but want to make more than you do now? You might find an opportunity where a company needs you more than your current employer and you can get more money doing the same or similar amount of work. Who wouldn’t want that?! If you ask any HR person the salary range for a job, you’re going to get an enormous spread. Someone has to set the high bar, so it might as well be you.
3. Your target job commands more money than your current one
When the nature or responsibilities of the new job vary drastically from your current position, you may want to give a current salary number based on some strategic research on what your new job is worth to other companies. Using a tool like Glassdoor is great for getting an idea of where the sweet spot is for compensation for a job. You need to think about your salary negotiation this way: a 15% salary increase for 50% greater job responsibility and related stress isn’t a good deal for you.
4. You want to spend less time negotiating
The higher the number you give as your current salary, the smaller the gap is between what you make now and the number you want to hit with the new job. Less negotiating range means less time spent trying to squeeze as much money as you can out of the offer.
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