Awkward call about my salary history

“We would love to have you on our team Jennie; you were unanimously our first choice across the board.”

I’m humbled to hear that, thank you…

“…but given your salary history and what we can offer you, we decided to choose a different candidate because we feel there’s a chance you’d leave us for a higher salary when it came along and we’d prefer to bring somebody aboard who is in it for the long haul. We’re actually pretty disappointed because we were excited about bringing a veteran on board, you know? You’d be our first veteran hire.”

*clears throat*

“Are you still there, Jennie?”

I am. Yes, sir. Indeed. I am. Still here.

“Well, do you have any questions or anything else for me?”

*shakes head* Ahhhh, no, nothing. Except I’m sorry for your loss.

“It was a pleasure to meet you Jennie, you gave us a fantastic set of ideas to incorporate going forward and I hope you understa–”


Yeah. I hung up.

Sophomoric, I know, but it was the easiest way to ensure I didn’t say anything inappropriate.

Because no, I don’t understand and I certainly don’t want to spend time on the phone assuaging your guilt or getting to know you or fielding any more ideas about how you might use social media to increase your sales and develop a customer base here in the area as well as online.

I don’t understand why you can’t see past my six figure salary history and see that I applied for a position you posted KNOWING FULL WELL what salary you offered.

I don’t understand why I have to disclose my salary history at all, really.

I don’t understand why you can’t look at it from the macro level and see that, while you’re offering less than half of what I’ve made at any position in the last decade; (almost 2/3 less than what I made in NYC), we’re also in a zipcode that costs almost half to subsist than my last zipcode.

By that I mean, of course salaries are lower here, dude; the cost of living is lower, too!

I don’t understand how I was the “unanimous choice” if you didn’t actually choose me.

I don’t understand how you appreciated my ideas enough to implement them and yet chose not to, in essence, pay me for them.

I don’t understand why you felt compelled to bemoan the loss of the opportunity to add “we hire veterans” to your brag book somewhere … when it was your decision not to hire me.

I don’t understand why I have to disclose my previous salaries to begin with. (repeated that, I know, because it rankles me tremendously. It has for a long time.)

I don’t mind you asking my age (41) my marital status (divorced) how many kids I have (0) and whether I’m a dog or cat person (I like both, have neither)–these are all questions I’ve fielded in interviews without raising an eyebrow or missing a beat. Two of these came up in my May interview, in fact.

All of this was running through my head when he called back, apologized for dropping the call.

You didn’t drop the call, sir. I hung up.


Have a great day.

And so. I will not be managing a social media community and online marketing and customer engagement for a growing midlevel organization in the adjacent zipcode.

And that’s fine.

Truth be told, I interviewed with them -and followed up- before I left for France and I assumed they’d made their choice already and simply hadn’t the tact to let me know.

C’est la vie, non?

I always hesitate to fill in previous salary history; I don’t unless the web form requires it. I’ve zeroed it out before but it returns as an error. A friend suggested today I should massage the numbers, factor in cost of living there and here and then use that number on future applications.

I won’t, though, because it’d be lying and it’d tell them I’m used to working for less which in turn gives them an opportunity to lowball if there’s a salary range included.

I typed that and then stopped to re read it.

I dunno, dude. I’ve heard that response a few times over the years “your previous salary history troubles us” but I’ve never received it sammiched between such self serving platitudes. I think that’s what irked me. Him telling me how they were missing out because I wasn’t coming to work for them.

I got nuthin’, dude. But I WILL lurk about your social media sites to see how things change for you in coming months, see if you meet the objectives stated in the interview in May and maybe take pleasure if you don’t. Not a lot of pleasure. But some. #schadenfreude

Upside? I’m kind of glad I’m not a token veteran hire, you know?

I’ve been out of the Corps for a decade now. I realized that yesterday when I was filling out my Team Rubicon profile. I left active duty 30 June 2006. A D E C A D E has passed since I wore combat boots.

That’s far enough removed to insist on being hired for my experience and my merit, not just my DD214.

Or not hired, be that as it may.

Laughed with a friend who said “Well now you’re free to come to our event in Vegas for a week in August” when I told her about the call. Perspective. It’s a thing. And no. Can’t book a flight to Vegas.

If you know anyone who needs an editor, content manager or social media community manager or … someone to put their words in order, let me know. I’m offering everything but my byline. I mean, not everything.  You know what I mean.  #freelancenopants is a thing. I have a résumé, even.

Oh, and sir? If by some chance you read this?  Unanimously across the board is redundant.

That one’s free, too.



3 thoughts on “Awkward call about my salary history

  • July 11, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Jennie, you handled yourself completely appropriately. It is not your job to make that idiot feel better. He would have been more respectful if he just said they went with someone different. I also hate when someone asks me my previous salary. I do not mind when a prospective employer asks me what my salary requirements are but it is not their business to ask my salary. I do ask them to share their salary.
    I am sorry that this prospective employer decided not to give you a chance to show your talents. It is their loss.
    Keep posting, i love reading them.

    • July 11, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Thanks, Annemarie!

      Definitely didn’t stick around to listen to him talk it out. =)

      Some online applications REQUIRE the previous salary question; I graciously refuse to answer it in a face to face. It’s been a while since I was in a market where salaries were… around this mark, though. I’ll have to find creative ways to handle it (again.)

      Thanks for reading!



      • July 11, 2016 at 8:46 pm

        Love your posts, you make me think which is always a good thing.

        On a separate note, i really enjoyed your France trip (sorry you got sick) ( see, i overuse parentheses too)



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