Salary Requirements: How to Respond with Confidence

It’s the question many job applicants dread: What are your salary requirements? If you’re responding to an ad that asks for this information up front, what should you do?

  • Offer a Salary Range
    Instead of giving a specific number, provide a salary range, suggests Mike Worthington of Remember that it’s impossible to give an accurate answer before you know the details about the job’s duties and employee benefits. You can explain this to the prospective employer while still providing a general idea of what you’re expecting in a simple sentence like this: “My salary requirement is in the $xx to $xx range, based on the job responsibilities and total compensation package.” That way, you still have plenty of room for negotiation after you learn more about the job.

    Instead of providing salary requirements in a separate document, Worthington recommends mentioning them in your cover letter. There, they will be next to key bullet points explaining how you can bring value to the company, which helps justify what you’re asking.

  • Research Your Salary
    But first, do your research to provide some realistic numbers. See how much similar jobs with your level of experience are paying in that city or town. “Don’t respond to an ad without doing your homework and knowing roughly what the position pays and what you could reasonably expect in terms of compensation,” says Christopher Elmes of human resources consulting firm DBM in New York City. “It’s getting caught unaware that can get you into trouble.”

    Your bottom end should be slightly higher than your absolute minimum. “That gives you some more negotiating power and flexibility,” says Worthington. And be reasonable on your top end. “Some companies say they put that question in because they want to see honest and reasoned responses,” says Elmes.

  • Salary Requirements vs. Salary History
    If the employer specifically asks for your salary history rather than salary requirements, you can add that information to your resume at the end of each of your job listings. ut be very careful about providing these numbers if you’re moving to a new city with a different marketplace and cost of living. You can explain this difference in your cover letter or mention that because you’re moving to a more-expensive city, you’d prefer to discuss salary requirements at your interview.
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