Ask the Experts: Providing Copy of Performance Review and Current Salary Information

Posted April 21, 2009 by


At the end of an interview, I was asked to provide a copy of my most recent performance review and also to tell them how much I’m making from my current employer. I would rather not give them a copy of the review because it was not good. Am I even allowed to? If so, must I? As for my salary, I make a lot less than I would at the new position so I’d rather not provide that information to them. When they call my boss for a reference, are they allowed to ask for it? Can I prevent them from getting it?

First Answer:

An employer in the U.S. cannot ask information that provides illegal criteria for selecting a candidate. Illegal information includes your age, your country of origin, your marital and parental status, and your race.

Employers can ask for whatever performance and salary information they wish. You can refuse to provide your review, but understand that your refusal will be perceived as an effort to hide information detrimental to you. To the extent that the prospective job is different than the current one, you could suggest that your review speaks only to the current job and your references will provide a more complete picture of your performance in several recent jobs. If you decide to provide your performance review, be sure to accompany it with what actions you have taken since the review to improve your performance, better yet a letter from your supervisor stating that you have made major improvements since the formal review.

You can also refuse to provide your salary, but this will likely result in the end of your candidacy. Your boss probably will not reveal it, because most companies muzzle employees and advise them to confirm title and dates employed only. However, many employers make their offers contingent upon your authorizing your current employer to release your salary information. It is your job to prove why you are worth the salary of the new job. If it’s a more responsible position, demonstrate why you are ready to take on a larger role. One good “proof” is to be getting interviews for jobs in the salary range to which you aspire, and offers; that means other employers see your value at this level. A few employers still try to offer no more than 15% above current salary to hire you; smarter employers know they have to pay market rates to attract top talent. If you can demonstrate you are worth the market price for this job, your current salary should matter less.

Carol Anderson, Career Development and Placement Office, Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at New School University in New York City.

Second Answer:

I’d consult my company’s policy concerning dissemination of employment information (including personal references and performance reviews). Most companies only release only the most basic information (E.g. job title and dates of employment ) and would not release something as confidential as a performance review. I would also suggest that you tell interviewers that you would be happy to supply references from people who have very worked closely with you and are qualified to holistically assess your skills, performance and personality. You might also provide a few written letters of recommendation, along with a list of references with your resume at the start of the interview.

If a prospective employer does get negative feedback about you, don t offer a long, anguished explanation about how you don’t get along with your supervisor, but also don’t lie about it, either. It’s the rare person who makes it through an entire working career without making a mistake, or clashing with a colleague from time to time. In most cases, a bad reference can explained as “differences of opinion,” or an inability to work in the job based on significant changes in staffing, job duties, or work.

I’d also give some deeper, serious thought to why your last review was poor. Once you know where you derailed, you can avoid the same pattern elsewhere. If I were you, I’d sit down with my supervisor and say: “I’d like to turn things around for the next review. What can I do to improve?” Then, without excuse or delay, I’d work hard to take positive action, even if I didn’t plan to stay much longer at the company.

As to the issue of salary, as any good salesman will tell you, the first person to state a price, loses. Telling your specific salary, especially if it is below market value, can knock you out of the game before you even make your first play. Many interviewers use information such as salary history as an easy way to eliminate you and narrow down the competition. If you’ve done your homework, you’ll already know approximately what the position’s salary range is and how much you are worth in today’s marketplace based on your specific skills and experience. Do your best to divert the salary discussion (especially if it is a first interview) or talk in generalities (e.g. I’m making in the high 50’s but I am due for a raise and promotion next month…). In the end, what matters most is that you ve convinced the interviewer that you’re the best hire and that they’re getting a great employee at any price. If you are convincing, it won’t matter what you’re currently making, and you may even be able to negotiate a better salary than what you think is being offered!

Alison Blackman Dunham, life & career expert, columnist, personal public relations consultant, 1/2 of THE ADVICE SISTERS®, and author of the ASK ALISON career advice column.

Third Answer:

Don’t worry about providing a current performance evaluation. Those are generally kept only by employers and are strictly confidential.

Re: Salary question – The current position is much different than your last position, therefore, salary can’t really be compared. You were making a bit less, but then again, the responsibilities weren’t as big and the schedule wasn’t as strenuous.

They are allowed to ask your boss (if you put him as a reference) for salary information…usually they will not ask this information or your boss will opt not to give it out.

(Sounds like the interviewer is trying to trip up the applicants!!)

Candace Davies, Director and Founder of Cando Career Coaching and Resume Writing and All Trades Resume Writing.

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