Salary History- legality

Let me preface this conversation by adding that I understand why this is a requirement in the hiring process…but…
I (like most people) have a signed agreement- usually in the non-disclosure agreement- regarding my compensation with my company. My compensation is supposed to be “company knowledge”. How then, in good taste, can I offer my specific salary history to other companies… who in general, would have me sign the same kind of agreement with them.
Let me close by saying that I don’t think it’s right (maybe legal) to disclose this information immediately upon submitting resumes, but could be used during the hiring process to facilitate salary negotiation. I also know that if I don’t submit this information, I would have taken myself out of contention before my resume even gets read- not matter how good (or bad) it is.


I’d suggest simply stating a range. If you make 62K, say “65-70K” and add that your salary includes quarterly bonues or something. It’s private information and there’s no way that the company could actually find out.

I guess it’s like somone asking another player in a poker game what their cards are. The player could be stupid/naive and simply tell all, or hold their cards close to their chest. I suggest the later.

giving your salary history is in your own best interest i think.

consider it this way- you wouldnt like to go out for a job and go through the process of interviews, getting excited, etc. then find out the position didnt offer what you expected.

in general I believe that if you give your history and an “expected” salary range within reason, it will help you get a good job with a good fit.

Most employers only really use a past salary range to screen out candidates that would be way too high outta range, and dont really use it to low-ball a salary based on your past jobs.

A good employer will pay a fair salary for the job. Maybe your past jobs might be lower, but it might have been a reason you left, so no sense in making a direct comparison.

Just my $0.01 - 0.03 worth

I have never experienced a company including salary history and compensation in a non-compete company secrets clause. what kind of industry was that? I’m no lawyer, but doesnt pass the smell test that your own salary would be subject to a non-discloure… Would disclosing your salary to the goverment (IRS) then break the clause?


The thing I find strange is a company will ask me for an expected salary range but will become very nervous when I come out and ask them what the budgeted salary range is for the position. I always try to point out the hypocrisy of this.

I don’t know why we need to play this dart game of salary. If a company tells me what there budget is, for the position we are discussing, then I will very quickly know if I am interested or not. When I tell them this they look at me like I have three heads.

So next think about changing the rules and have your answer be the question “How much have you budgeted for the position?”.

Its a classic negotiation process. They want to pay you as little as possible, you want to make as much as possible. Depending on the position and timing, it’s either a buyer or sellers market. I don’t see that at hypocrcrisy.

Also, in most corporations, the range changes depending on the candidate. This is good because it allows wiggle room. If you had a senior position open, but found a great junior instead, of course you’re not going to give them the senior title or salary!


Trust me, I understand negotiation. You just have to decide if you want to play that game or not. What has been described is the Walmart mentality “The best for the cheapest”. If you want to be a commodity then follow that route. If you want to be considered a valuable item then you can’t follow that route.

I was negotiating with a company last year that wanted a Design Manager and did not have that much to spend. I talked with the CEO on three occasions and changed his mind to the fact that he needed a Chief Design Officer (I wrote the job description and business plan). Based what he would gain he changed the salary by three times and gave the individual more incentives as well. I didn’t take the job but i am consulting with the company to develop Design Thinking within the company.

That is what I mean by changing the game.

I figured you might living in Hong Kong.

Thanks for all the insight. On a couple notes…
I understand that most of the reasoning behind the salary history is to sift through the “highly” paid applicants.
Next, I’m afraid I wasn’t completely certain as to what document specifically refers to the non-disclosure of the your salary, but I could most certainly be fired/ reprimanded if it was found out that I was speaking of my salary to other employees.

Thanks again for the all the insight though. I’m going to post another topic shortly that I’d appreciate some ideas there too.

IT IS ABSOLUTELY ILLEGAL to fire, or discipline an employee for discussing salary or compensation. You have the right to discuss this with whom you want the disclosure you signed was not enforcible.

They can ask you to sign such an agreement, but it means absolutely nothing (yes, strange, I know). I can’t believe how many people don’t know this and how many companies still attempt to forbid these discussions… so:

Discussions of salaries benefit employee bargaining positions – keeping quiet about such things drives down compensation therefore benefiting employers.

here’s a link:

Thanks for a seeming definitive answer to this one. As I said earlier, I have never heard of such employee clauses to limit discussion about salary and to me always sounded a little sketch…nice to know there is some common sense in the law protecting employees.


Thanks Viva for the information. That is nice… the funny thing is that I have had this discussion with several companies I have worked for.