ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES – Question: Do I have to reveal my last-drawn salary to a prospective employer?
According to rewards advisory leader at Mercer Singapore Andrea Tan, employers commonly ask candidates for their last-drawn salary.
This is because the payout is frequently used to determine a recommended salary to offer a candidate, alongside the level of pay increase from the previous job and the new job’s salary range.
“In most cases, employers want to assess whether salary expectations align with the budget,” said regional director Anurag Garg for Michael Page Singapore.
Tan added that candidates in Singapore are generally not required to disclose their salaries when asked, a sentiment Garg echoed.
“Recruiters may try as much as possible to ask for the last-drawn salary, but we are seeing more candidates preferring not to disclose it,” said Tan.
She added that more people here are choosing not to disclose their pay following the European Union’s directive on pay transparency earlier in 2023 that prevents employers from asking candidates about their pay history.
Tan added that the primary concern for candidates who do not wish to disclose their pay lies in not wanting to be limited by their current salary. She advised candidates disinclined to disclose their last-drawn salary to be upfront with their discomfort.
Garg noted that it is uncommon for companies to outrightly reject candidates who do not disclose their last-drawn pay.
He said candidates should set expectations upfront on whether the role they are applying for likely entails a pay cut or a pay jump.
“Most companies or candidates don’t like to be blindsided at the tail end of the process. Even if candidates don’t disclose their current pay, assuming the company is receptive of such a position, the best case is to outline their expectations around compensation and benefits.”
Candidates who do not want to disclose their salary should politely turn down prospective employers who ask, said Garg, noting that a delicate balance needs to be struck until employment norms shift away from asking for last-drawn pay.
Garg said employers are increasingly receptive to such situations, but he still recommends that candidates “take a more consultative approach” amid the tighter job market.
Both experts say companies should not always rely on last-drawn pay as a hiring consideration, because it is not always an accurate representation of a candidate’s capabilities.
Those working in early-stage firms, like start-ups, might not be paid the market’s benchmark wages for their experience level as well, Garg noted.
He advised recruiters or interviewers to initiate a conversation with candidates who decline to share their pay history, adding that in most cases, a candidate’s reticence to share such data comes from a bad experience of a “lowball” offer or the lack of a reply after disclosing their last-drawn pay. – Tay Hong Yi