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Salary verification

(CareerBuilder.com) -- Q. Recently I was told that prospective employers cannot ask previous employers my salary. Is this true?

A. No, it's not true. Prospective employers can verify your salary once you've left your previous company, and they can certainly check with any other employers with no problem. When you complete an Employment Application with your prospective employer, you fill out a section that specifies current salary, other bonuses, perks, etc. When you sign your name at the bottom of the application, you will notice that most employers have a written clause to the effect that "everything I've written here is true to the best of my knowledge." By signing your name, you have agreed to allow your new employer to verify your income level from past employers.

Your new employer may not be able to get your past employer to give them an exact salary figure, but what usually happens is the prospective employer asks his HR counterpart, "Did Lisa make between $71,000 and $71,500." The usual response would be yes or no --- and the guessing game could continue. I have witnessed on a number of occasions candidates being fired because they had misrepresented their income level, academic accomplishments, or embellished chronological dates of employment to hide gaps.

Presenting inflated salaries or bonuses to a prospective employer is dangerous and not really worth the risk. What you can do, legitimately, is state that you're due for an increase in X months from your current employer. If you are within two to six months of this, a new employer must factor in some portion of that increase to make a competitive offer and compelling financial reason for you to make the switch. The bottom line is job content and being happy doing what you are doing, not always the money, right?

(c) 2002 CareerBuilder.com

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