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Listing Salary on your Resume

October 7, 2003

Kenneth Bredemeier

Q: I recently accepted a position with a new employer and gave two weeks' notice with my former employer. During the afternoon of my last day there, I received a call from a human resources representative at my soon-to-be workplace indicating that a discrepancy had been found regarding the salary indicated in my background check and what I had listed on my application. I explained that I had included my base salary, my bonus and a portion of some stock options that I received to reflect total compensation. The new employer called the discrepancy "disconcerting," and the end result is that I am now out of a job.

I'm trying to recover and move on, but I'm not sure how to address this issue with potential employers when they ask, "Why did you leave your last company?"

ADeborah Keary, who answers hundreds of employment questions each month for the Society for Human Resource Management in Alexandria, said she thinks the worker in this case was wronged.

"I guess she could have spelled it out -- X for her salary, X for her bonus and X for her options," Keary said. "But she couldn't have seen this one coming."

"It wasn't deceptive," Keary said. "She didn't falsify anything. I really think the company overreacted, very much overreacted. You give an explanation and move on. So she gives an explanation and the company doesn't move on. It seems like they were looking for a reason not to hire her."

As this worker looks for new employment, Keary said, she can say "she thought she had negotiated a better opportunity but that it fell through at the last minute."

She said the job seeker need not give any details, but if a would-be new employer does inquire further about why the job fell through, "then I'd tell the truth."

Keary added that "I don't think [the incident] will have any lasting effect" on the woman's career. "It won't be a black mark for life."

Source: © 2003 The Washington Post Company

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