What if a salary history is "required," and I don't send one?

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

Q. In job announcements in the newspaper and elsewhere I sometimes see "send resume and salary history to..." If I respond, I respectfully decline submission of the salary history information until I get more serious interest from the prospective employer. However, I have yet to get an interview from any of these employers, in spite of my apparent qualifications, which in some cases have been significant. I think my salary history is irrelevant, as I have recently completed a master's degree and attained a related certification, though I haven't yet worked in any position that called for these qualifications. Am I hurting my chances by not providing this information? How does one best handle this matter?

A. You pose an interesting question: do you hurt your chances for a potential position if you decide not to disclose your salary requirements? To answer, I'd need to know whether you meet the qualifications of the job you're applying for. Remember, having a master's degree and a certification does not necessarily mean you meet the requirements of the job.

Consider an experiment: send your resume without your salary history to two or three companies. Wait a couple of weeks, and if you don't get a response, send your resume with your salary history and see what happens. If you do get a response and are called into an interview, ask the recruiter why they didn't call you for an interview without the salary history.

Remember that the role of some recruiters is to screen and source applicants for positions within a company. Some recruiters use salary requirement as a means to screen candidates. Of course, this is never a good idea because salary requirements don't tell you whether an applicant is competent or has the experience to perform the job for which he or she is applying.

Professional recruiters with experience usually take the opposite approach; they typically screen applicants based on experience and skill sets. If a candidate meets the requirements, the recruiter will call and ask about experience and then ask for salary requirements.

Good luck.