I got the job offer last week. However, I realized that I may made a silly mistake. Since I wasn't comfortable when asked about my current salary during the interview and I was afride they will benchmark it, so I gave out a number a bit higher than what I'm making. Now I seriously regretting making that false statement. If they find out at backgroud checking, they can fire me.

Now what I should do? To confess it to the HR representative or simply live with it? If I choose to confess, will they still trust me? If I not saying anything, I may put myself in constant fear.

My friend say don't worry about it, most company care more about your credentials not your salary history. But I feel uneasy.

Please help me!!!!

Mark's picture
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How much DO you make, how much did you SAY you made, and what did they offer?

PM me if you must.

I'd recommend you own up to it before. If you lose the offer, it will be a good lesson, however hard, but it won't hang over you.

"Make us to choose the harder right rather than the easier wrong, and never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won."

And your friend is wrong.


jryan06's picture

Thanks for the reply. I'm making $74k, and I said I'm making $79k. They offer $80k. Apparently they did benchmark.

How should I approach it since I really don't want to lose the offer. Should I call the HR person and say I mis-spoke? Should I explain why I lie about it (since I don't want to disclose it at the first place)?

I know there are people who lied about it but got away with it. it's kind of tempting for me to do the same...but I think I should get it done right to gain back peace of mind.

Mark's picture
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I have pm'd you.


Greenest's picture

Without seeing the specifics, but thinking the discussion may be of use to others..

I think it not a bad idea to grow the current salary SLIGHTLY. (Sharp intake of breath all round?) The question as I have usually heard it has been, "What is your current package?" That is a very different question from "What is your current salary?" The difference being the need to include pension, health care, car allowance, bonus, staff discounts etc..

Mark's picture
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That would be a lie. That's wrong.

The question comes in MANY different forms. Unless you are quite specific in your reply to a specific question (which are rarely asked), naming a number without qualification is a CLEAR implication that you are stating your gross salary (cash) compensation.

"Growing" this number is wrong. Period. If you did it and I found out, provided I asked for your salary, I would never hire you.

If you were to qualify your answer, as in, "my total package is..." that's completely acceptable. And, you better be right, and not have inflated that. And, frankly, be prepared to answer the question, "what of that is current gross salary?"

This is more than a sharp intake of breath.


cwatine's picture
Training Badge

If I can give you the opinion of a company owner ...

I think lying about your salary or acomplishments or diplomas is ALWAYS VERY wrong.

I have seen it several times when hiring ...

It has even become a test for me : I always ask about the cadidate's salary at our first phone contact and, then, I ask him to send me his last 3 salary statements ... It teaches you a lot about the kind of person you are talking to ....
I also have diplomas and accomplishments checked by having schools and references called by my consultant. I found out that a lots of people are able to lie about their diplomas, too ...

Now, lets imagine a recruit would have lied to me about salary, and then, without beeing forced to, would have said "Well, I lied because I was under pressure ..." or any understandable reasons ...
I would then dig the subject and maybe consider it as [b]very[/b] positive.

I would have thought "this person is honest and she can't live with a lie." I think I would have kept her ...

But if I had known about the lie by myself, I would not have kept her.

Loyalty and Honesty are my first criterias ...

Mark's picture
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Sweet post. Thanks.


joolzb's picture

Could turn out to be an expensive lesson that will bit you on the butt.

I don't really understand why you lied about such a small increase?
I would be interested to learn why you felt that you needed to inflate you current earnings?

What you currently make in my experience does not always influence what you will be offered unless they are very similar roles and you are just looking to jump ship from one business to another and maybe better opportunities or benefits.

If your looking to progress you have to be HONEST give them your current earnings (basic is usually best as they may match or better the basic and give you a bunch of benefits, commission or whatever making a better all round package).

Honesty and Integrity are traits that are very very difficult to measure at interview and I suppose its down to taking up references an gut feeling, when you do something like you did over what you earn, your putting your own hurdles in the way of being hired.

If you see a large gap between what you earn and what the position is being hired at, you need to use show the recruiter that you can do the job and are worth the increased renumeration by stating your specific achievements cross referencing your resume and job role description.

Greenest's picture

Rapidly put in my place there!

Let me draw a distinction between lying about accomplishments, lying about qualification, and exaggerating salary.

Qualifications are an absolute - you either have them, or you don't. Stating anything you don't have is a lie.

Accomplishments. How many resumes have we all seen that claim the individual reduced expenditure by 30%, increased sales by 50million, or organised and implemented the relocation of Head Office? The reality is the applicant played a role in the achievement, but rarely did it all on their own, even if as team leader, project manager, or CEO. That is where good interviewing gets to the bottom of the claim.

Now salary is more of a negotiation. If I were to interview and be asked what current salary is, I would worry. Why does the interviewer want to know? Are they going to try and offer the lowest possible amount above your current in order to say they offered a "better" package. The interviewer, if they could have been bothered, should have done their research to find the market rate for the post they are offering and worked out what they can reasonably afford to offer.
What I am currently paid is irrelevant, what we should be talking about is the offer of remuneration that is commensurate with the responsiblity of the post on offer. The truly honest answer maybe should have been, "$74k, however the job I am currently doing is not comparable with the one you are offering as the responsibilties are significantly different - that's what attracted me to your company" (You may actually be thinking "$74k, but I am worth a whole lot more than that") The fear being that if you say $74k they will offer $75k - now I would not go through the hassle of interviewing, settling with a new employer etc for a 1.3% pay rise! The lowest I have ever negotiated was 15%
I just think it strange that a large number of jobs require negotiating skills and we want to see those skills and all stages, except salary negotiation. I would never sit with any contractor and say "I currently pay my contractor $1million" As I know the answer from any prospective would be "I can do the work for $999,999"

As a note, I rephrase the question when I am interviewing, "What is your salary expectation?" It is the one recruiters use, for a prompts the conversation - "That's a little high. Why $xx,xxx?"

Mark's picture
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If you have to murder the language, the thought is at fault.

Your current salary is NOT a negotiation, it is an objective fact. The intent of the series of questions that might be following is NOT relevant.



JohnGMacAskill's picture
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[quote="Greenest"]What I am currently paid is irrelevant, what we should be talking about is the offer of remuneration that is commensurate with the responsiblity of the post on offer. [/quote]

I think you have it there. I was always advised to decline to answer that 'current salary' question for reasons stated above. A very difficult approach and one that resulted in a few difficult moments. I have also answered truthfully. There is a 'trick' to this though.

It is negotiation. The name of the game is to get the other to first name a figure. They will not offer anything below your salary, will they. You can explain that one of the reasons for moving is the fact they undervalue you. If the recruiting company have stated a salary range for the role; I expect applicants will start the negotiations at the top figure of the band.

I know people who have answered truthfully, but have negotiated great joining packages. I think that those who tell fibs, may have less faith in their negotiating skills.

A recruiter friend of mine stated that there is an old Arabic proverb: "You are always in time to wave a wooden sword". :D

Mark's picture
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I disagree folks.

First off, what you make now IS relevant. I've described that elsewhere in the forums. The short rationale is that what your company pays you has meaning to me, based on my knowledge of the industry, what your company pays normally, what you do, etc. It also affects my ability to hire you, and it's reasonable for me to want to know that.

And, if you decide to stand your ground, and walk the talk of it being irrelevant, that's fine, and your call. And it would be my call not to hire you.

John, be wary of recommending negotiation to most folks. This is a dangerous game that most - the VAST majority - play poorly and to their own detriment.

Answer truthfully. Period.


JohnGMacAskill's picture
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[quote="mahorstman"]And, if you decide to stand your ground, and walk the talk of it being irrelevant, that's fine, and your call. And it would be my call not to hire you.Mark[/quote]

I can see your point. As I stated above, I did this once and found it very difficult - though the training I got to do it made it sound very logical and a lot easier than what it was. Also, it is a bit hypocritical of me as I always ask for a salary number from candidates!

[quote="mahorstman"]John, be wary of recommending negotiation to most folks. This is a dangerous game that most - the VAST majority - play poorly and to their own detriment.[/quote]

You don't mean never negotiate a starting salary package do you? I was trying to say that by being truthful, even if you think you are under paid in your existing role, does not mean you cannot negotiate a better salary. The end result would have to be equitable to both parties. I would never qualify a negotiation as successful if one party leaves unhappy with the result. The result would have to be seen as fair and reasonable for both parties.

As a candidate you should have an idea of the budget that is on offer and it should not be your job to exceed it. Just work for the fairest result within those boundaries. Too strong a result for the candidate could undermine the recruiting manager and he or she could end up with an albatross of a salary.