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What Are Your Salary Requirements?

It's never easy to discuss your salary during the interview process. You should, however, be prepared to answer the question what are your salary requirements? Below we will help you best formulate an answer when it comes to salary information.

Preparing your salary requirement response before an interview

Before you come up with a salary range, think about why you are looking for a new job. If you are unhappy in a role but getting a paycheck, you can aim a bit higher. Candidates that have been out of work might want to lower their salary expectations. If you are desperate for a new job, you want to keep your options open when it comes to salary. Until you know what a company is willing to pay you, tread lightly.

There are two common situations where you will be asked about your salary requirements.

The initial conversation with human resources or recruiter

Often times, candidates have initial screening interviews with human resources or a recruiter. These can be phone calls or in-person interviews. This is typically where the salary question will be asked.

Be honest with the interviewer. Let them know what you want to get in terms of salary. You can also say that you are willing to entertain a lower offer depending on other aspects of the job. Unless you are looking for a new job just for a new salary, make it very clear that you are flexible.

Be careful not to be too insistent because you never want to take yourself out of the process before it even begins. There will always be time to negotiate once you get closer to an offer.

A screening email

Your first interaction with a potential employer may be over email. You want to be very careful to not take yourself out of a potential job opportunity when responding about salary. Do not provide a firm number that you aren't willing to budge on. Rather, give a salary range you are hoping to land in. Make sure you also say that you are flexible and willing to discuss salary options. Making specific demands can occasionally come off in a negative way and cause you to be taken out of consideration.

Things to avoid when discussing salary requirements

Discussing your salary requirement is stressful and many candidates can make mistakes. Here are a few tips on things to avoid when it comes to discussing compensation.

  • Don't put your salary requirements in your cover letter
  • Avoid one number, ranges are better to include
  • Do not lie about your current salary
  • Do not discuss other company's salaries
  • Avoid saying you don't have a salary requirement

Formulating your answer about your salary requirements

Get used to discussing money if you are going to a job interview. It's impossible to get a job offer without answering this interview question. We know interview questions about salary can make you squirm though, so here are some tips to keep in mind when formulating your answer.

  • Consider your experience level and your current salary.
  • Do research on what salary ranges your industry pays for the role.
  • Decide if you want the job even if the salary is lower than what you were hoping to get.
  • Get career advice from a mentor before discussing an amount.
  • Keep your responses flexible to increase your chances of getting a job offer.
  • If you are switching industries, ask people you trust for help coming up with your salary requirements.

Think about the current state of the market and business in general. If things are trending down, you might find yourself giving up a little more when it comes to salary. If the industry is booming, you could potentially ask for a relatively high figure.

If you are in the process of a move, consider where your job will be located. If your location is changing, your salary expectations may need to be adjusted. Often times employers take cost of living into effect when it comes to salaries. For example, if you used to work in a major city, your salary was likely higher than someone doing the same job in a small city. You want to get as much data and information as possible before answering a question about your salary.

Final thoughts on discussing salary requirements during the job-seeking process

While it might be hard to know exactly what the company is willing to pay, there are ways you can get more information. If your first salary question comes from a recruiter, you can ask what the company is willing to pay. It's good to share your honest salary requirements early in the process so you aren't wasting your time or the company's time.

Remember, there is always time for negotiation. Experts say you can get creative when it comes to your salary requirements. Make a list of what is important to you and ask yourself:

  • Is this your dream position that you are willing to lower your price for?
  • If the salary isn't what you were hoping for, does a bonus or commission get you close to the right number?
  • Based on my previous experience, what number is a must for me to leave my current job?
  • Is this job a big opportunity to advance my career regardless of the salary?

Based on your answers to these questions, you will be able to better answer what your salary expectations and requirements are. If you tell a company what you want and they still can't get there, don't be discouraged. Maybe this isn't the right job for you. Feel free to turn down a job offer if it doesn't work for you and your current life situation. Focus on the bigger picture and you will be better off in the long run.

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