What is your salary history?

Talking too openly about your salary early in the hiring process may eliminate you. Don't say too much too soon.

What is your salary history?

A salary history ban is in effect in 19 states.

Asking someone, "How much money do you make?" is considered a rude question in most circumstances. Normally, the answer would be, "None of your business." But when applying for a job, especially one you are interested in, you should prepare for eventual questions about salary. However, there's a salary history ban in some states and local governments that prohibits employers from asking you how much you make as well as information about your salary history during the screening and interview processes.

As of June 2, 2020, the salary history ban is in effect in 19 states and 21 local governments.

States and territories: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington.

Take these two examples:

Arlene is applying for a position as director of community relations at a major hospital in a state without a salary history ban. The ad asks applicants to include a salary history with their queries. Arlene dutifully adds a salary history to her resume and sends it off.

Debra is applying for a similar job but in a state that prohibits the interviewer from asking about her salary history. She takes a different approach and writes on the bottom of the cover letter, "Salary history is confidential information to be supplied in the interview."


In Arlene's case, her letter and salary history will be opened by the receptionist, picked up by the HR coordinator, copied and then sent to the hiring manager for review. The hiring manager will make a judgment based on appropriate experience and salary expectations. If he decides Arlene is not the right fit for the job, he will tell HR he is not interested. By this time, three people will have viewed Arlene's salary history, and she will not even get an interview.

Debra's letter will be handled in the same manner, but the salary history will be missing. Now the hiring manager will have to judge Debra based on her experience and background. He may call Debra and ask for her salary requirements, but she can still postpone the discussion and inquire about the salary range budgeted for the position.

Consider this first

  • Verify the job's scope before you talk about salary. It is difficult to discuss compensation before you have sufficient information about the position and level of responsibility.

  • Research the job market before the interview to give you an idea of what the position is worth. You should know the going rate for the same position for a person with your experience and skills. Check out Monster's salary guide for help.

  • Consider the timing. Depending on where you are in the interview process, it is best to delay giving your salary history or expectations until you are sure of the employer's interest.

  • You may decide to voluntarily reveal your past salary or history at some point after you receive a job offer, at which point you will be on firmer ground to discuss compensation.

Get more job offers

Although a salary history ban can help ensure a more balanced job search, you will likely have stronger grounds to negotiate a better salary based on the number of job offers you get. Could you use some help with that? Join Monster for free todayAs a member, you can upload up to five versions of your resume—each tailored to the types of jobs that interest you. Recruiters search Monster every day looking to fill top jobs with qualified candidates, just like you. Additionally, you can get job alerts sent directly to your inbox to cut down on time spent looking through ads.