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I am about to graduate with a PhD. I have an accomplished advisor (whose advice I value very much) who told me that I should always include the salary of my previous and current job in my CV when applying for jobs. Her argument is that the academic job market is very competitive and university administrators want to see at first glance how much money you will cost them should they choose to hire you.

I did this without any question several months ago and was able to find a decent job, but I want to get a second opinion on this idea. Many of my peers thought I was crazy for listing pay on my CV, and received the opposite advice from their mentors.

It worked for me this time, but is this standard practice?

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    I have never seen that, and honestly salary information is not useful at all. How can you compare the salary working in NYC to a small town in Mississippi? (And that's well before you consider differences in duties, etc). Public universities (in the US at least) have their salaries available for you to look at as a matter of public record. If you think you're too rich for their blood, don't apply. – user0721090601 Jun 21 at 3:36
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    Can you specify to which country this applies? For example, in Germany the negotiation margin for academic salary is zero in most cases, so the suggestion wouldn’t make sense. – Wrzlprmft Jun 21 at 6:01
  • Seems strange. Maybe it is common in your field, but it is not in mine. But it also seems strange that people answered "no it is not standard" without knowing the field, or the country. – GEdgar Jun 21 at 11:45
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    You don't "win" negotiations by disclosing everything up front. Why tell the selection committee "this guy's current salary is so low that he/she's unlikely to be good enough for the job" or alternatively" this guy's current salary is so high he/she won't accept what we can afford to pay, so there's no point considering him/her for the post." – alephzero Jun 21 at 11:50
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    I'm curious to know what country this is? I also don't know if you mean your current salary or your salary requirements. I think both are important to know for any proper answer. – Buffy Jun 21 at 12:25
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This is not standard in any academic or industry context I am familiar with.

Typically salary negotiations (if they exist and a position is not simply funded at a fixed salary) occur after a hiring decision is made, that is, a step past when someone is reading your CV.

I would find it odd to see salary information in a CV.

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No this is not standard practice and is probably detrimental to obtaining offers and maximizing the salary of the offers. If your past earnings are too high, a company may not make you and offer for fear of you not taking it. Why let a company decide if you will take the job. Once an offer is made, it is generally held negotiating strategy that the party that says a salary number first "loses".

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    "detrimental to obtaining offers" - you're phrasing like it's a bad thing. That's the whole point: to stop offers below your expectations, saving everybody the time. – Agent_L Jun 23 at 7:15
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A CV with a salary stated in it will certainly come across as "don't bother contacting me if you can't offer at least that much". It could send your CV to the bottom of the pile, so even if another candidate will eventually request exactly that much during the in-person interview, they will get the job instead of you. By being upfront and honest about your salary expectations (which is technically a good thing), you give up on a sort of lock-in effect (the more time a department spends interviewing you, the more valuable you become) which would work in your favour.

Now, if you're awash in position offers and you want to be contacted only about the most lucrative ones, such a filter may sound like a sensible thing to do. But it really isn't, because such offers will automatically be capped to something like your current salary +10%, even if the employer initially had a higher salary in mind. It doesn't mean you cannot request a higher salary or that you will be automatically denied one because your current salary is too low, but it does make such negotiations an uphill battle. You lose the initial chance to "high-ball" by making an unrealistically high offer and expect that the counter-offer, although substantially lower, will still be higher than it would be otherwise, which is a common negotiations technique.

  • Your cap is generally true (at least in USA), but not universal. At one job I took (after seven months unemployed, I got a 35% raise. The company had academic origins, and the salary was determined by degree and number of years experience. Where I got the experience and how much I got for it was irrelevant. – WGroleau Jun 21 at 18:21
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Depends on your location. In my country (Chile) it is normal to put your salary expectation (not your actual salary) on your CV and it will be one of the filters that will be used to get the job.

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If you are about to graduate with a PhD, your current salary has no bearing whatsoever on the salary that you should be getting after you graduate. A postdoctoral fellow should be making a lot more than a graduate school teaching assistant.

And even if you are talking about a former real job that you had, rather than a graduate school teaching assistantship, your educational credentials were different for determining your previous salary — a PhD should generally increase one's salary by quite a bit. (On the other hand, if you were a quant in the financial industry before you decided you wanted to go back to graduate school and become a biochemist, your previous salary was much too high, and you'll be pricing yourself out of the market if you put it in your cv.)

So there is absolutely no reason to put any salary on your CV ... any salary you put down will probably be too low, and thus it can only hurt you.

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    I agree with answer in general. However: "A postdoctoral fellow should be making a lot more than a graduate school teaching assistant." . Around here, PhD students and postdocs are employees and the difference in salaries is not huge, though it certainly exists. – Tommi Brander Jun 21 at 13:05
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Lacking additional information about location, this is a bit tentative. But, for many places, especially those with diverse economic situations it would be a mistake to list requirements. Let me give some of the reasons, though they may not apply to many readers.

I'll assume a fairly large and diverse country, and also one that, like the US, doesn't have a national educational system. I'll also speak only about academic jobs.

First, the cost of living is vastly different in large cities and in small towns in the US. A dollar in NYC is more like two in Kalamazoo, MI.

Next, the quality of life is vastly different in those places, though you get to decide what is positive and what is negative in those various places. NYC is crowded but has many cultural attractions. Kalamazoo has a quieter life style, but museums are farther away.

Next, it may be that, lacking a national system, some perks of the job may be more valuable than salary. An extra dollar of a travel or research fund is better than an extra dollar of salary, since it isn't taxed.

Next, in a diverse system, I think stating your requirements early is an excuse to reject you more than one to accept you. And if you give a too-low figure, you might get an offer worse than one you might have gotten if the university was less certain about what you would accept.

Yes, there are places in which my assumptions don't hold.

My final position before retirement may be a case in point. First, I convinced the university that I would be a good match for them and for their students. I had experience and I had (have?) ideas. They were interested enough to, only then, ask me about salary. This was in a place where salaries are generally pretty high. I gave them a very large figure, which scared them a bit. I heard later that they had discussions about it. "He is good, but very expensive." However, along with the large requested salary figure, I gave reasons for it. The main reason was that I had a lot of international collaborations that required a lot of travel to conferences and such and that was expensive. The dean suggested that I accept a lower figure, but still pretty good, and she would promise to make sure that travel got covered. We came to agreement on that and it was never broken.

But, had I given the same salary figure, even with reasons, at the beginning of our discussions, I doubt that I'd have even been considered.

Make them want you. Badly want you. Then talk about money.


Note that in many places in the US, there are no salary "schedules" that might put your request out of bounds. They do exist some places, I think, which would make it even more likely to get an early rejection. And, your CV should be tailored to each job offering if you can make that happen.

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Since you said "I should always include salary information in my CV when applying for jobs", I am assuming you mean expected salary for the job you are applying to. While expected salary on your CV is not standard, it is important to note that this is from the perspective of maximizing money. And as your mentor pointed out, the point of his tip isn't about the money, it's about pushing your resume to the top of the stack, and maximizing the chance you are chosen at all (since a low salary in your field is usually much better than a high salary in another field).

As the other answers mention, by saying the first number, you "lose" the negotiation right off the bat. That gives a major advantage to the university over you in the hiring process, and all other variables being equal, makes you a much more attractive candidate. With how much opposition there is to giving up this advantage, it should be pretty clear already why giving it up makes you look much more attractive.

People have noted that by listing an expected salary, you may deter offers (you get pushed to the bottom of the stack because you are either "too rich" for them, or they fear you are too cheap and will be a liability). It should be part of your research before sending a CV to know what the average salary is for your field in that area (and for competitive fields, you should be doing research on the company/area to make sure you have the highest quality CV in the stack). If you are doing your research right, this shouldn't be an issue at all, and how to do that is another question for another site. But a low yet reasonable expected salary will maximize your chances of success.

I believe your mentor's advice is actually good, as long as you remember that you are trading a portion of the salary of the job you are applying to, for a higher rate of success getting that job. Since your mentor said you are in a highly competitive field, you should follow his advice. If you are in a non-competitive field, the trade isn't worth it (because you can more easily get the higher pay by putting out more applications at a lower success rate; not a valid option when the success rate and number of jobs is already terrible from the start).

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That is not a standard practice and I would not recommend it
Most of the time you interview first and then they ask you your salary expectations. By putting a number on your resume you are closing the door on a potentially higher salary. For instance you put 100k to your resume as your current salary, however, the job that you applied pays 200k. Finally, they won`t offer you 200k they may offer 120k maybe and think it is an attractive offer for someone whose current salary is 100k.

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In addition to the above comments about it not being standard practice: This is the sort of thing, you should be looking at articles, books, websites, multiple people. Job searching is a huge activity that many people do. There has been an immense lot of good stuff written on it. There is no reason to consider your particular advisor the oracle of this massive societal activity.

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    On the other hand, it’s notoriously difficult to get any robust data on this, since the reasons for decisions are rarely revealed and most people only go through the entire hiring procedure in a comparable situation once. In my experience, the literature you can find on this is strongly contradictory in many aspects and therefore it’s a very tedious process to extract the advice that is actually generally valid and not based on a whim of the author. (It’s similar for the literature on raising children for the same reasons.) – Wrzlprmft Jun 22 at 9:00

protected by Wrzlprmft Jun 22 at 8:50

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