You should respond to the question positively without stating specific amounts. (Examples: "I’m earning in the low 30s." "As a student, my jobs to this point have been geared toward gaining experience and making money to cover my educational costs.")
Try to mention your desired salary, either saying that salary is negotiable depending upon the position or giving a $3-5,000 range (if you know the market value for the position and for someone with your skills and background). You may also use terms like "competitive" or "open" if you are responding to this question on an application form.
- Know your salary requirements as well as what you hope to make. You shouldn’t mention these in your response to the salary history question, but you need to give this some thought for when you get to the negotiating stage.
- Be prepared to respond to a request for previous salaries in an interview. It can be handled by responding without stating specific amounts. Avoid specific amounts if at all possible.
- Prepare a list of your positions (in reverse chronological order) for your own reference and just in case an employer in which you are very interested is absolutely adamant. (This will not happen often!) The list should include name of each company or organization, your position title, your compensation, and a brief synopsis of your position.
- Research Salaries in Your Field: Look at recent salary surveys, talk to others working in your field, and contact your trade or professional association to find out what other people are paid for doing the same work.
- Be Flexible: When going through a salary negotiation you aren't likely to get the exact amount of money you want. You will probably have to compromise. The trick is to figure out how much you are willing to compromise and what you will do if your boss doesn't offer you a salary you find acceptable.