This post has been retracted.
A message from DailyWorth founder Amanda Steinberg:
When I started DailyWorth, I had a lot of goals in mind. Among them was the desire to help women become great negotiators by learning the tricks of the trade. Another was to address money taboos head on, even if the discussion became controversial. Finally, we vowed never to be boring or formulaic.
When we released this post, we knew it would spark heated debate. And it did. We've heard from a number of HR personnel in the DailyWorth community that even slight salary history inflations are illegal and could jeopardize your job application.
Update from New York Times coverage of this situation: "While inflating your salary may not be a criminal offense that can land you in jail (assuming you don’t inflate your salary under oath or under penalty of perjury), it still can be a civil law issue. Specifically, according to Della Barnett, a plaintiffs’ employment attorney in California, “Affirmative misrepresentation of a material fact can be construed as fraud” and your potential future employer could sue you for it."
Many thanks those of you who constructively and thoughtfully shared your opinions with us.
A Little White Lie in Salary Negotiation
Ellen O'Hara is a book editor in New York City.
The numbers game
I'd found a position I liked and applied for it. The recruiter asked for my current salary. Let’s just say I inflated the figure—and told her I was earning $5,000 more than I was. (“Everyone does that,” a successful colleague had told me. “Just don’t puff it up too much, so that figure seems realistic.”)
Well, it worked
My first instinct was to happily accept the offer. After all, I'd given myself a stealth raise. But then, my mind flashed back to an article I’d read by a female manager, lamenting how passive women are about compensation. She said her male employees almost always pushed for raises while the women never did.
So I summoned up my inner guy, and politely said: “I was hoping to do a little better salary-wise."
Ask and ye shall receive
The following day she called to say they would bump up the salary by another five grand. Wow! Just like that! Between my white lie and my assertiveness, I’d managed to snag $10,000 more than I was making.
Needless to say, I learned that it pays, literally, to be strong and assertive when it comes to money. My only regret is that I’d been such a wimp about it for so long.