LiveCareer Blog

Call to Action: Sharing Your Salary Expectations

When your interviewers ask you to share your salary expectations, how should you answer? If you start too high, you may close the door on a great opportunity. But if you start too low, you’ll leave money on the table. What should you do?     During your interview, your employers will need to assess your readiness for the position in question. This will only provide half of the information they need in order to make a hiring decision. Once your qualifications are out of the way, they’ll determine whether or not they can afford you.   You may be the greatest candidate in the world, but — no matter how brilliant you are — most savvy managers would like to pay you the lowest salary you’re willing to accept. At some point, the tone of your interview will shift from evaluation to negotiation.   Let the games begin.  

How employers assess your expectations

  When this moment arrives, some employers will choose a common way to get to the heart of the matter: They’ll ask you what you’re making at your current job (or what you made in your last position). This move works especially well when it’s used on entry level candidates who don’t have much negotiation experience. By simply putting you on the spot and asking, point blank, for your current salary data, your interviewers can close the books by offering you exactly this amount, plus one dollar (so to speak). Who are you to say no? The offer on the table is better than what you have, right?  

But you don’t have to answer this question

  Here’s a simple fact about this aspect of the negotiation process that many younger candidates don’t know: You don’t have to share this information. Unless you’re a government employee and your salary is publically available, this number is your business. Your interviewers can’t force you to answer. So, don’t answer. Provide a range instead. No matter how the question is phrased, answer with a range from the lowest you’ll consider (you’re not bound to accept this figure if it’s offered) to the highest.   

Research will prepare you for negotiation

  Of course, you’ll have more leverage and confidence during this process if you spend some time online beforehand. Do some exploring to identify a reasonable set of expectations that account for your experience level, industry, and region. Base your chosen range on the averages and medians that your research reveals; don’t base it on what you’ve made (or not made) in the past. The past is past, and it should play no role in this conversation.  

But I don’t want to be rude!

  If you’re asked a point-blank question, it might feel awkward to ignore it. Don’t worry because it is 100% okay to do just that. This discussion isn’t personal, it’s business. And second, a diplomatic tone can mitigate this concern. Here are a few examples that can help you frame a polite response in the midst of your negotiation:   Employer: Tell me what you made at your last job.   You: Well, this job differs from my last position in several ways, so I’ll give you a range instead.   Employer: I assume that in your last position you made about $45,000 per year. Is that correct?   You: Right now I’m looking for something in the mid-sixties, between $64,000 and $68,000.  

What happened to “the first person who states a number loses”?

  That’s right in some ways, but don’t take this advice to the letter. The first time you’re asked to provide a number (or range), you can respond by asking your employer to share the budgeted amount for the position. When you’re asked a second time, you can push for more information about the job and the weight of your responsibilities.. But you can’t do this all day. Sooner or later, you’ll need to answer and allow the give-and-take negotiation process to begin. When that time comes, trust yourself, your research, the value of your skills, and share your range with confidence.   For more on how to negotiate for the salary you deserve, explore the tips and guidelines available on Quintcareers.   Image courtesy of