Career Center - Salary Center

When Your Salary Makes You Too Expensive

Q: What can I do when my salary history makes me really expensive in my current job market? I don't want to take a huge salary cut, but I am not having success interviewing.

A: Ironically, years of experience or having valuable expertise can sometimes put you in a tough spot and leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged. You cannot control where your salary history places you in the job market in your geographic location - other than to move. On the other hand, there are some actions you can take that may help:

* Find out if the reason why employers are reluctant to interview you is related to your salary history, as you assume. You may be right, but there might be other reasons, too. In any case, the best way to gather this information is to persist in asking for it.

* Since you may not get an interview if the employer uses salary history as a screen, try different ways to get in front of their key decision makers. Perhaps through networking or informational interviews, you may find a receptive senior-level contact. In that case, you can use that personal meeting to directly address their concerns about your compensation expectations, impress and interest them in your skills, and turn them into an advocate in the interview process.

* Try to target your job search on those companies who pay higher than the norm for your position. These might be local offices of multinational companies, or in an industry that has to pay more to attract talent (such as high-tech firms).