Negotiations... How to answer the salary question

What are your salary expectations? : What is the right answer?  

If you are looking for a new job, be prepared to answer the infamous money questions, “what are your salary expectations or what did you make in your last position?” Recruiters and Hiring Managers need to know  if you fit within the salary range of the position, not to get you for a bargain. Companies follow compensation guidelines for their industry, so  if you are looking for more money outside the job scale pay range,  more than likely you are not going to be a fit.   

Before you begin to apply for positons.

  • Know your market value based on your years of experience using  factual compensation data

  • Go to to research and assess where you fall within the salary range

  • Use for what people are saying and keep in mind, it not always based on industry trends and compiled company data.

  • Network with people who are currently doing the same work  and inquire with Recruiters or HR “what is the typical salary range  for people in this field with X amount of years experience.”

Be prepared to adjust your mindset and expectations based on your research.

  • Thinking that you deserve to be paid more or friends told you how much they make is not enough to know your market worth.

  • You can have an idea of what you are hoping to make in your next role, but it needs to be based on actual market data.

How do I answer “ what are your salary expectations? “

I strongly recommend you almost  never answer what you want in salary. If you think about this question, someone is asking you what are your salary requirements  before they  talk about the job, the challenges and ask  how your experience would be a good fit for the role. I correlate “how much money do you want to make” to “how much do you want to pay for a car” without even sitting it in, driving it and asking more questions about the history. Would anyone really give a number and if so, how realistic would it be?

Another reason why you don’t want to give a number , when you begin the interview process you learn more about the role, responsibilities and challenges and realize it is more than what you thought.  Fast forward, If they offer you the job, you really cannot give them a number higher than what you expected.

Best response to “what are your salary expectations?”

Two options, one is, “ I know we will have to talk about salary at some time, but I do not know enough about the position, the challenges and responsibilities, so can we table the salary question until later?”  Be aware that you might be asked the follow up question, “what were you making in your last role?” This is a direct question that you need to answer. If you stall again, the Recruiter or Hiring Manager will be frustrated and you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot.

What were you making in your last role?

I was making in the  (give them a range) low, mid or high  and follow up with “does that fall within the range of this position?” They will come usually  back with a “yes that falls within that range. “ All the want to know is do you fit within the  salary range of the position you are seeking?

Second option is, (which I am not crazy about) , “I don’t have a particular salary in mind, as I am looking  for the right fit.  There is more to the compensation than salary ect…. Ect… ect…” Who  doesn’t want the right fit and we all know there is more to the package than just salary.  Hiring Managers and Recruiters know this  is another way to stalling answering the salary question, which is why I prefer option one.

Next year in July 2018,  Recruiters and Hiring Managers will not be allowed  to ask “how much did you make in your last role”, but for now they can. Answering the question using the right language  in the initial screening will enhance your chances of negotiating when you receive an offer!   

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