What to say when an employer asks for your salary expectations

It’s increasingly common for employers to ask for your salary expectations early in the hiring process (some wanting you to include it with your cover letter or in an online application). And while there is plenty of advice out there telling you not to give a number until you are further along in the application process, the truth is you might not be able to move forward at all if you don’t give a number. With this fact in mind, how should you determine what number to give?

On US News and World Report – Careers, Alison Green tackles this issue again by highlighting six tips to keep in mind when an employer asks for your salary expectations at the beginning of the hiring process. Here are two that stood out to us:

Don’t base your salary range on what you want or need, rather than on what the market says you’re worth. Too often, people come up with their desired salary by thinking about what they’d like to earn, rather than looking at hard data about their market value. This can make you come across as naive to employers, so make sure your number is correlated to the market.

Don’t name a range if you’d be unhappy with the lowest end of it. If you give a wide range like “$40,000 to $55,000,” don’t be surprised if you’re offered $40,000, because that’s what you told the employer you’d accept willingly. So choose your range carefully, realizing that the employer may only focus on the lower end of it. (Similarly, many employers resist giving out their own ranges because so many candidates only hear the highest end.)

Read the rest of her advice on US News and World Report – Careers.

How have you handled this request? Any tips to add? Share your experiences in the comments.


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Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Idealist.org. Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.
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    • smrk
    • August 27, 2013

    I feel its so degrading to workers already facing a lot of competition and pressure to get a job. Employers want to know, how low will you go? Like, the job will go to the lowest bidder. They don’t want to reveal their pay range because they want to see if you’ll work for less. They’re taking advantage of us and exploiting us.

      • ggbl
      • October 7, 2013

      I agree! Not only are employers exploiting people, they are also contributing to the change in the mentality of the worker. People are now being forced to work for less so the employer must realize that they will often be getting less from the employee. Employers need to be reminded that a good employee is an investment in the future of the organization!

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