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How to Answer When You’re Asked About Your Desired Salary

August 16th, 2019

As your interviewer sits across the table from you, she’ll have plenty of goals that will frame the meeting. She’ll want to find out if you can handle the job. She’ll want to assess how you’ll get along with your team. She’ll want to know if you have the personality to enjoy this job’s unique challenges. Some of these things are not up to you; you have no way of knowing if you’ll click with your new team, and you can’t really assess your readiness for the role if you can’t see behind the scenes. But your interviewer will also want to assess something only YOU can possibly know: How much would you like to be paid?

In other words: What is the lowest possible amount the company can give you without going so low that you reject their job offer?

How can you answer without a) underselling your skills and accepting a rate that’s less than your time is worth, or b) asking for so much that the offer isn’t made? Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Don’t be the first to state a number.

No matter how direct, firm, or polite the request, don’t provide a number when your interviewer asks you how much you want. Simply smile and say, “I’d rather not share a number first.” There’s no need to play games (such as changing the subject to avoid answering); just say you aren’t ready to share a number and stick to your guns if pressed.

Never share your previous salary.

Your previous salary is a private and personal data point that should never be shared with a potential employer, ever. Even if you’re a government worker and your past salary is publicly posted, don’t share it. Let the company look it up on their own. Why keep this info private? Because once your interviewers have it, they can make you the lowest offer you’re probably able to accept. If you want an offer that’s twice or ten times your past salary, you can get that. But it will be harder if your interviewer can peer into your history.

Recognize that this is a negotiation, even if the company says it isn’t.

This is a negotiation and the number is NOT firm until you both agree to accept it. The offer may be presented as non-negotiable, but here’s a secret: every offer is negotiable. Before you dive in and try to bump the number up, remember that negotiations come with specific rules. Know the rules and respect them. (For example, don’t suggest a higher figure and then continue to raise it after the company agrees). If you’ve never negotiated before, get some coaching before you step in.

For more on how to receive an offer that matches your skills and experience, talk to the job search pros at Merritt.

Online Applications: How to Answer the “Desired Salary” Question

November 23rd, 2012

Online applications have a few standard features that seem to carry across from one industry and position to the next. One of the trickiest of these universal questions has to do with salary. When employers ask you to enter your desired salary, or a salary range, into an online application box, how should you respond? Here are a few of your most likely options, along with the pros and cons of each one.

1. Enter the lowest salary you’d ever accept.

This will please your employers if they register the number as “affordable.” But they won’t be impressed if they read your number as “desperate”. Shoppers on a shoestring buy the cheapest item in the store, but those can afford to do so tend to move upscale. Be careful not to undersell your hard-earned skills or compromise your self-respect.

2. Enter the highest reasonable salary you can possibly expect.

This shows that you’re confident in your marketability and proud of your skills and experience. But if you’re bluffing, remember that your employers are more experienced poker players than you are, and they know a weak hand when they see one. Before you ask for too much, gain a sense of how your resume and accomplishments stack up when measured against those of your peers.

3. Enter the salary of your last job.

This is an easy solution with minimal risk and minimal reward. It may keep you out of trouble, but it won’t help you stand out.

4. Conduct some careful research and enter a number just above or just below the exact average for this job in your geographic area.

This is probably the wisest and most practical option. It shows that you know the value of the position and that you’ve taken that number and carefully factored in one of your two most appealing features: either your affordability or your general excellence.

5. Enter a range between the option 1 (the lowest you’ll accept) and option 2 (the highest you can possibly expect.)

If the application will allow you to enter a range, this is probably your best and most open-ended response to the question. But be aware that your employers probably won’t offer a cent more than they need to for the health of the business, which means their attention will fall to the lower end of the scale.
For more compensation request and salary negotiation tips, reach out to the Connecticut staffing and job search experts at Merritt Staffing.


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