Are you getting paid what you are worth? What to do when you are asked what salary you are on.

Salary negotiation

This is one question, I get asked all the time. No matter, male or female, young or old everyone wants to know how to get the best salary.

The technical answer is no. You do not have to disclose your current or past salary. No one can make you do anything.

However, when you don’t disclose, a couple of things happen. You immediately raise alarm bells for the interviewer. As a recruiter, I can tell you nothing is worse than the vivid imagination of a recruiter. Also, should you progress to referencing stage, it is likely that your salary will come out in the discussion.

There are a couple of ways to handle this question.

Whether we like it or not, the truth is, for most people they will be benchmarked on their previous salary.

But, what if you are worth more?

What if you were able to confidently articulate your salary expectations and validate why you are worth it. What if you knew what the market value of your role was and why you are the best candidate for the position?  Would you then be able to secure the salary you deserve?

Here are some strategies to help you get the salary you are worth.

Know your worth 

When it comes to salary negotiation, know your worth. There is a myriad of salary guides and surveys that indicate what the market is paying. Use that as a guide but not the gospel. Why? To be able to negotiate your salary, you need to be able to articulate your worth.

What are your unique selling points? How will you add value? How will you solve their problem? How can you increase their market share? Whatever it is, make sure you can articulate why you are worth it. Click here to access the secret weapon to nail the second interview.

Have a strategy

Strategy is everything. From the perfect timing, to how you structure the conversation and how you negotiate. Make sure you have a strategy in place before you even begin the discussion. Layout what outcomes you want. What things do you value? It may not necessarily be the dollars. It could be flexibility, further career development or training.

Rules of engagement

Never lie. My belief, the truth always catches up with you. Don’t say you are on a salary that you are not. Don’t say you are waiting on an offer from a competitor when you are not. It’s not worth losing your integrity; the truth always catches up with you.

Ask for it

Did you know that a raise of $5000, invested over 30 years at 6% will contribute $395,290 to your Super? If you don’t ask, chances are you won’t get. After years in the industry, the biggest mistake I see in salary negotiations is that people don’t ask for it.

In my experience, I find this a more prevalent phenomenon in women. And research supports this GLOBALLY.

Over the years, I’ve questioned clients around salary gaps. The answer I always get “why would I pay someone more if they haven’t asked me for it?”

So please, ASK.

Back to the original question.

How to handle it? Perhaps you may want to try this approach.

“I understand this position is paying a salary between the range of X and Y. I have been considering roles in the market at this range (indicate what range you are looking at.) My experience and market analysis tells me that I am value for money because I am providing this (your unique selling point.) But, to me, the most important thing is finding the right role. I’m looking for the position that best aligns with my career ambitions.”

And if they keep pressing

“Sure, I can reveal my current salary, but I would like you to understand that I took this role on to cut my teeth and gain exposure in this field. My salary is under the current market valuation for my experience. I accepted this at the time as it was aligning me with my career ambitions.”

If you are looking at changing jobs and need help in negotiating your next salary package, check out our free e-guide “Master your job hunt.” After over a decade in recruitment, I share my strategies to help you find your dream job. If you are interested in a more tailored approach, contact me on for a confidential discussion about how I can help you.

Phebe Cho is the founder of Accelus, a new voice in the workplace. She believes in the power of human potential. She works with organisations and individuals to shape the future of work.