Negotiating A Higher Starting Salary

Fanning out 100 Dollar Bills

The last company I worked for was small and didn’t pay very well. I gained a lot of experience but my pay doesn’t match my last position. I am attempting to get interviewed/hired into a position that is a step up from my last position and a large jump in pay but I am having trouble overcoming the “what was your last pay rate” question. One person who called me actually laughed at me. How can I handle this situation?”

You need to focus on what you bring to the table:
  • Research what the market pays for the job you want.
  • Match up your experience and skills to the position description for that job.
  • Put together your compelling accomplishment stories that back up the results you will bring to that position and demonstrate that you are worth the market pay.


Now present yourself relative to the market, not relative to what you happened to be making before. When the question comes up, don’t play their game:

  • Start with an answer about the market value of the position, and why you are worth that level.
  • Focus on the value you bring to the table for that role, rather than attempting to explain why you are making less than market value.
  • If/when what you were making before becomes an issue, make your answer very simple, along the lines of the following:


“As a small company, XXX didn’t have the budget to pay market value, but I saw this as a chance to gain valuable job experience. I am confident I will be able to do x, y, z for the right company, and from my market research understand that this is worth “$XXX,XXX.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *