What Are Your Salary Requirements?

Salary is a sensitive topic for everyone – you want to get as much as possible when you join a company, and the company wants to get you at the lowest price possible. The system is definitely set-up in the employer’s favor, but you still hold some of the negotiation tools.

What are Your Salary Requirements?

You are worried about knocking yourself out of contention for a position based on your salary requirements. Which is a valid concern. However, and this is an important however, why would you be interested in a position below your actual requirements?

Most of us want to aim higher for our next role, ask for more than what our level can provide. More money is usually equated with success. So before you are asked this question, I want you to consider this: What are your actual salary requirements?

Before you feel the sense of desperation that tends to accompany a long job search, what do you need to make? What is your range?

Here’s a quick and easy way to determine your range:

  • It should be around $15,000 spread – anything more and you are either underestimating your worth, or not being realistic about your level.
  • The bottom of the range should be what you would feel comfortable with – the lowest number that will make the position worthwhile for you, on your balance scale. Most people’s lowest number is around their previous salary (perhaps unless you are in a lay-off situation).
  • The middle number should be what you perceive as a “step-up” and would have you excited for the next opportunity.
  • The top number is your, “OMG – I can’t wait to get out of bed!” number. It’s a stretch, perhaps reaching towards the next position level. It would make you grin from ear to ear.

Once you have your salary range, the thought around your requirements should be done! You know exactly what you are willing to accept, salary-wise, for any position.

So back to your original concern then – what if I knock myself out with these requirements?

Answer: It should knock you out if you don’t match what they can afford. Also, you have a range now, so you can flex your requirements based on each position you apply for. More on this, below.

Online Applications

Computers screen you in or out of contention based on many factors of your online application, including salary. So consider the title and level of position you are applying for and the type of company. General rules of thumb – if it’s a non-profit company, it will pay less; if it’s a huge corporation, you can probably negotiate more.

In the question about salary requirements, only insert your number if it is required. It usually is these days, but no need to include it before you learn more about the position if it’s optional.

Use your best judgment to determine which part of your range to insert. You can use resources like Glassdoor or Salary.com to do some research, but at the end of the day, it’s about what you are willing to accept. For example, for me – if it’s a position I am absolutely in LOVE with but I know that they may not be stacked with cash, I may enter my middle or lower number because I want the opportunity more than the money.

Make your decision based on what’s important to you for that role.

Phone Interview

Even if you did put your salary requirements in the online application, usually during your first phone screen, the recruiter will ask you what your requirements are. Again, it’s to not waste time for you or them, if they can’t afford you, or if you’re well below market (indicating not having the skills they need).

Give them your range, and stick to it. It’s something they are going to write down and share – so make sure you are very certain what your range is. This will be your negotiating zone during the offer – got that? This is the first step in negotiating your offer.

In other words, if you tell them your requirements are $50,000 – $65,000, then your final offer will be in that range. You won’t be able to negotiate again if they provide you with an offer at $65,000.

So be very comfortable with your salary range.

At Offer

I mentioned this above, but I want to be very clear here. You should negotiate your employment offer, always, but trying to negotiate outside of your salary requirements will not help your cause.

In fact, I have seen several offers rescinded because of this. It hurts your character and the perception of who you are before you even walk through the door isn’t something you will want to live with, if they don’t rescind your offer.

Your range is your range – respect that. They are working with you to get you within it, but if they offer you at the highest number, you have to change negotiation techniques as your salary is no longer on the table.

So what to negotiate then? I have a bunch of ideas here for you to check out. Think outside of the box here – benefits, vacation, bonus, and so on. But for the love of Nancy, leave your salary alone!