This post has been retracted.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."
At the same time, we also heard from at least one recruiter who admitted that she was trained to make the lowest salary offer first. "Men always negotiated more. It pained me when women would always accept the first offer."
After considerable soul-searching, we have decided to retract the post, rather than jeopardize anyone's job. But we regret that the larger point--that women stand to gain financially by the simple act of Asking--was overshadowed by this controversy.
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
In most ways, I’m a pretty assertive woman. But when it comes to money, I can be a total wimp. Case in point: In a 20-year career, I’ve never asked a boss for a raise. Not once. But a recent experience while I was job-hunting taught me how silly it is to be passive about pay.
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
Fast forward six weeks: The recruiter called to offer me the job. “I’m pleased to tell you we will match your current salary,” she said.
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
Here’s what didn’t happen: She didn’t angrily hang up the phone and move on to someone else. She didn’t sound annoyed—or even surprised. “Let me see what we can do,” she said.
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.
Would you inflate your salary in a job interview? Is it ethical?
TAX ALERT FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED: Estimated tax payments due today!