Can refusing to declare current salary affect a job seeker?

Friday July 3 2020

Caroline Mboijana

Caroline Mboijana 

By Caroline Mboijana

Dear Caroline, my company demands that our salaries remain confidential yet a job I am interested in, has current salary declaration as one of the application requirements. I am not comfortable declaring my current salary as it would be breach of confidentiality. Also, some companies have a habit of giving salary offers according to how much one was earning at their previous job, thus giving low offers to those who were earning small salaries. How should I handle this? Julie

Dear Julie,
You are correct to be mindful about the issue of confidentiality of salary information. This is usually applicable within an organisation. When you start searching for work elsewhere is it common practice for the recruiting organisation to ask for this information as it informs the final decision making process but also it ensures that recruiting organisation has the full appreciation of your expectations.

I think you’ll find it difficult to proceed within a selection process if you withhold this information. Appreciate that future employers want to make sure they can afford you as well as make sure they are meeting your expectations.

Starting a new employee on less than what they were earning before is demotivating and does not benefit either party, the impact will be reflected in the level of engagement of the new recruit. While salary is not the only form of remuneration it is an important aspect of the entire reward package. You are correct to think some employers reward based on salary history. This is a policy issue that a particular company has already defined.

If you think your salary offer is low there’s always room for negotiation at the point of contracting. In order to protect yourself you must understand how much you are worth. My advice is to disclose your position to the recruiting organisation, this communicates what your baseline or stating point is .

You should then share what you’d like to earn, please make sure you’ve thought about this and think beyond just the salary, present your entire package expectations. Presenting this data in this format gives a more comprehensive position.


You’d surprised some organisations may offer you less salary, but the package is quite large in terms of the different components. As I shared above salary is not the only factor of your total reward. If you withhold this information prospective employers may find difficult to place you and it could possibly jeopardise your opportunity.

Caroline Mboijana,
Managing Director,
The Leadership Team (U)