What to Do When a Prospective Employer Asks for a Salary Requirement

by Miranda Marquit · 1 comment

At some point during a job hunt, you will be asked to share your current salary, or to throw out a number for what you would like to make.

In many cases, talking about salary during a job interview can be a daunting task — and it could be detrimental to your long-term income prospects. If you didn’t negotiate for a higher salary on your first job, sharing that in a job interview for a new job could mean you’re setting yourself to keep under-earning.

On top of that, sharing a salary requirement could mean that you are dismissed for budgetary reasons. You might throw out a slightly high number, willing to be negotiated down, but never get the chance to do so because the employer moves on.

Instead of just sharing a number, it can help to try to dodge the question a bit. Here are some things you can do if a prospective employer asks for a salary requirement:

Turn it Around and Ask What the Position Pays

Instead of directly answering the question, ask what the position pays. Find out what the company expects to pay for the job. That way, you at least have an idea of whether or not you are in the correct range. Plus, if you don’t want your pay based on your current salary, knowing what the position pays can help you move on from having your next salary based on what you’re making now.

Find Out About Benefits

Before talking about salary, consider finding out about benefits. What perks can you expect? You can also make sure that your potential employer understands that you are including the value of your benefits in your figure. This is a great way to boost your number if you have to give a salary. Let them know that you had a salary with a great benefits package (if you did) and that figures into your number at the new company.

Use a Range Instead

If you need to throw out a number about your salary requirements, use a range rather than a hard number. A range can help you give a number without actually nailing yourself down. I recently did this when I interviewed for a job. I offered a range that covered a $15,000 spread. It seems a little wide, but it allowed me to give a minimum that was only slightly less than I would have liked to make, while leaving a ceiling above my ideal number (I was actually offered even more).

Look for a way to avoid answering directly so that you can get the best chance of success.

Do Your Homework

No matter what you do, make sure you go in prepared. Research salaries in your area and for the job description. If you are asked what you want to be paid, say that, according to your research, someone with your experience and education is making between $X and $Y. This shows you’ve done your homework, and allows you flexibility by providing a range.

In the end, you’re walking a tricky path and you may have to give out the info, but you can try to avoid it for as long as possible.

I know it’s the holidays and the last thing on your mind is a job search, but you just never know when you’ll need to search for a new job. What’s your advice on getting a higher salary?

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  • Ten Factorial Rocks says:

    Good advice but you should comsider presenting a range where the lowest number is at least 10% higher than your current salary. Employers anchor on the lower number while the employee likes to hover near the upper range. You can always say that you are willing to consider other perks (like longer vacation, work from home privileges and other things that matter to you) in lieu of more money. It’s all negotiable,

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