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 » Blog Archive » How to Answer the ‘What Did You Make at Your Last Job?’ Question

How to Answer the ‘What Did You Make at Your Last Job?’ Question

How to Answer the 'What Did You Make at Your Last Job?' Question | JTandDale.comDear J.T. & Dale: I hate the “What did you make at your last job?” question. I used to make a lot, but now I know I’ll never make that again. As soon as I tell the recruiter what I made, the interview is over. What can I do? — Christian

J.T.: If you lie, and they check your W-2, you’ll be in trouble.

Dale: So, instead of hating the question, consider it an opening to ask one in return: “If I don’t name a number, will that put me out of contention?” If they say it will, then your rejoinder is, “OK, but when I tell you, will you promise to keep an open mind and not write me off?” That might just give you some room to explain.

J.T.: I’d go on the offensive and say, “Honestly, I was paid too much.” That will get their attention! Then, tell them what you told us — that you don’t expect to make as much money as you used to make — and make it convincing by stating your expectations: “I want to make between ____ and ____ , depending on the opportunity and the benefits package.” Then, seal it with: “I know first-hand that money isn’t everything. I’d rather have a fair salary and be working in a job I love than to lose out because I earned too much in the past.”

Dale: Perfect. You still might get rejected, but you’ll have done all you can to turn a negative into a positive, and if there’s any fairness left in the economy, they’ll consider you a bargain, not a risk.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

One Response

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