Want to Make More Money? 4 Reasons to Lie About Your Salary History

Oct 14, 2014 - Joe Matar
If you want tips on negotiating a job offer or asking for a raise, you’ll find plenty of advice on how to talk your way into a better compensation package. Yet you’ll rarely receive this crucial piece of advice that could almost double your paycheck: It pays to lie about how much money you already make. The thought of lying during a salary negotiation may make you uneasy at first. But the sooner you come to grips with the concept, the closer you’ll be to landing the salary offer you deserve. Below are four reasons you shouldn’t lose sleep at night about lying through your teeth about your salary history.

1. Companies lie during salary negotiations

Have recruiters told you they have a set salary range for a particular job? Well here’s something they don’t want you to know: They’ll always find ways to work around the company’s policies if they want to hire you badly enough. If they can lie to box you into a range, it’s only fair you do the same so you can get the best deal possible. (Click here to tweet this bit of advice.) Oh, and if you apply for a job and the recruiters tell you “we don’t promote up?” Lie. That’s also more of a guideline than the hard and fast rule they’d like you to believe.

2. Cash is king

In your research on salary negotiations, you’ve likely read you should try to negotiate other benefits like extra vacation days or a flexible work schedule. While these perks and benefits are great, they won’t reduce your cost of living. Will your rent or mortgage get cheaper if you work less? Do you plan to use all of your extra free time to sit around your house while not spending any money? Didn’t think so. The number of people living paycheck to paycheck is staggering. If you’re one of those people -- and the numbers indicate you most likely are -- then you need to focus on maximizing your salary. The most effective way to line your pockets with more cash in your next job is to lie about how much money you make now.

3. Telling the truth makes you look greedy

As crazy as it sounds, the only difference between you getting paid what you’re really worth and you receiving a pathetically small pay bump from your last job will be how you answer the following question: “What’s your current salary?” If you come off as greedy before you even start negotiations for a job offer, your future employer might see you as entitled. No one wants to hire an entitled employee; they might even withdraw from the negotiation. The negotiation process will go more smoothly if your new employer thinks you’re getting only a 15 percent bump on your fictitious current salary.

4. You won’t get more unless you ask for it

One of the most basic concepts in sales is asking for the sale. It’s amazing what you can get people to do if you just ask. If you don't think of your job interview and negotiation as a sales opportunity, you’ve already put yourself at a disadvantage. Practice saying the numbers out loud until you can say them without hesitation. When your employer asks about your past salary history and requirements, you’ll be ready to answer with conviction so you can make the sale.

One last tip: Timing during salary negotiations is everything

A skilled negotiator not only has the nerve to ask, but also understands how much a reasonable person would ask for. Before you start pulling numbers out of thin air in job interviews, understand the timing of communicating these numbers to a recruiter is crucial. Share your salary history too early, and you could talk yourself out of an interview.  Don’t share it soon enough, and you’ve wasted your time on a position that never had a shot of meeting your salary requirements in the first place. In a perfect world, you’d be confident the company can meet your needs (read: demands) without having a conversation on salary until you’re certain they’re ready to hire you. This creates a situation in which you have all the negotiation leverage. Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t get paid what they’re worth. We don’t live in a perfect world. But if you take advantage of this negotiation secret, at least you can live in a financially comfortable one. Eric Butts is a Management Consultant, MBA and CPA. By day he solves complex business problems for some of the world's most well-known brands, and by night he teach others how to carve out successful careers in the business world. Follow him @EButtsCPA.