Lying about your salary

By Jennie Bragg, producer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Congrats! You landed an interview for a great new job.

If raises at your current job have been meager or non-existent over the past few years, you might be tempted to tell the prospective employer that your salary was a little bit more money than it actually was.

In fact, 23% of job seekers say they have lied or would lie during the job interview process, according to a recent poll by Vault.com.

So, where do you draw the line between fact and fiction when it comes to your salary and what will give you the negotiating power you need?

Tell the truth

Honesty is usually the best policy, but in the case of a job interview, there is such a thing as being too honest.

"Too much information applies in this case," warns Rod Kurtz, executive editor for AOL Small Business. "An employer might press you for an exact number, but play it safe. Hint at the range. Remember, in most cases they are going to be calling your references, so they are going to have an idea of what you make."

Whatever you do, don't report a false number, especially in writing.

Many applications state outright that reporting false information is grounds for termination from the company.

Inflate your salary and you will likely suffer the consequences. "For some jobs, it is downright illegal to lie about your salary, especially government jobs," warns Matt Wallaert, a behavioral psychologist for GetRaised.com. "A job is a relationship and you don't want to start any relationship based on a lie."

Increase your compensation

Instead of giving yourself a salary bump, report your "total compensation."

Your total compensation figure should include your salary as well as any bonuses you have received or plan to receive in the near future, as well the value of any stock options or other perks from your current company.

This will make the number you are putting out there for potential employers grow without twisting any of the facts.

"This is completely fair," says Matt Wallaert. "What is important is wording. You want make sure to say total compensation, not total salary." Additionally, this approach should allow you to negotiate all aspects of your compensation package with your new employer, not just salary.

Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate

Once everything is on the table and your prospective employer is aware of your current salary, or at least the range, the first step to getting more pay at your new job is to do your research.

Research salaries for similar positions at comparison websites like GetRaised.com, PayScale.com or Salary.com.

"Be transparent about your logic," suggests Wallaert. "Come in with a number. Once you have set the bar, you can talk about previous experience, about education or why you are a good fit at that particular company."

And don't be afraid to negotiate your salary upward if you feel you deserve more that you are being offered. "If you are unemployed you have a little bit less leverage," warns Kurtz. "But if an employer won't budge on salary, then you can start discussing bonuses or extra vacation days."

It never hurts to ask for more, and it shows you think you are worth it.

Talkback: Have you ever lied about your salary on a job application? To top of page

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