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Generally why does your last salary matter?

Interviews General Queries

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( 6 months ago )

I've been going through new opportunities lately and for many opportunities I have found HR and recruiters saying, "Well you were making X amount before so they wouldn't feel comfortable giving you Y"

I was wondering why this would be the case despite having the experience and qualifications for the job? To me this implies that if I had been making more they would pay me more but since I wasn't I'm less desirable?

I can't make heads or tails of it.

Apologies if this question may end up being too open.

edit: I should add this has happened very recently where I was told that they couldn't justify the pay boost... but they are not my previous employer



( 6 months ago )

It matters because it hints how much the previous employer valued your work.

It matters because it suggests how much you might be willing to consider a reasonable (or at least acceptable) offer.

Neither of these is hard data, but soft data is also useful in negotiations. And for that very reason, you may not want to share it.

As many other answers have said, you aren't obligated to answer this question. But they want at least want some indication of whether your target salary is at all rational, so they don't waste time on the people who price themselves out of the market. So you want to have some answer prepared, even if it's the relatively weak positioning of "I think I'm worth above industry average, but I trust you to realize that I'm talking to others and make a competitive offer."

what's your interest