One of the most daunting parts of the interview and hiring process is discussing your desired salary. The target salary question can be uncomfortable, tricky to navigate, and may even catch you off guard. Although there is not one “right” answer for everyone, being prepared to discuss your desired salary can pay off (no pun intended).
What a Salary Is and Why It’s Important
Indeed defines desired salary as “the compensation that you would like to receive for a new job.” It’s important to have a solid idea of your desired salary so you will be paid fairly for your work. A target salary that’s too low may give the suggestion that you are happy to work for less than you’re worth. One that is too high could knock you out of the interview process completely to save a company’s time and money.
Why Do Employers Ask for Your Desired Salary?
While no employers are the same, there are a few reasons why they will ask how much you want to be paid:
- They have a budget and need to know if they can properly compensate you.
- They want to see how well you know/evaluate your worth.
- They want to know if you “did your research” during the interview process.
- They want to gauge if you’re overqualified or underqualified for the job.
How To Find Your Desired Salary
The key to determining your target salary is knowing your worth. You want to be paid based on your education, your experience, and market salaries for similar jobs. There are many online resources that can give you salary estimates for various job positions.
Here are some websites that offer salary insights:
- LinkedIn: Insights based on salary information submitted by LinkedIn users.
- Indeed: Explore which careers have the highest job satisfaction, best salaries, and more. You can get a more personalized estimate of your target salary here.
- Glassdoor: Salary information from employee reports. You can also find salary information for specific companies.
- Other free salary insight tools can be found at Comparably.com, Payscale.com, and Salary.com.
Keep in mind that there are other factors that can affect your target salary such as location and benefits. The above resources allow you to filter salary information by location and some have information about benefits such as paid vacation and insurance. It’s also important to note that user-submitted salary information can be potentially unreliable, especially if it accompanies a specific company review or is not submitted anonymously. In the end, all of your research should be combined to get the best overall impression of what your target salary should be.
How To Ask for Your Desired Salary
You finally get the question: “What are your salary expectations?” Now is your time to put that salary research to work! Although you may have a certain number in mind, provide a range instead. For example, if your target salary is $45,000, your range could be between $43,000 and $50,000. Employers are likely to opt for a number from the lower range, so consider putting your target salary there. A range also opens the opportunity for further negotiation.
Next, be prepared to explain why you are asking for that salary range. Use evidence such as your prior experience and relevant education to back up your numbers. If you held a similar position to the job you are interviewing for, keep your previous salary in mind as well.
Lastly, be confident! Don’t second-guess yourself when discussing your salary requirements. Remember that your desired salary represents your worth, and you should not settle for an offer you aren’t satisfied with. Putting these steps together will look something like this:
“While I am open to negotiation, I am looking to receive between $43,000 to $50,000 annually. I believe that this range would accurately compensate for my prior education and experience in this field, and I am certain that my knowledge would allow me to excel in this position.”
While it may not look exactly like your response, this example can help guide you in the right direction when creating a clear answer about your desired salary. With the right research and preparation, discussing your target salary can happen with less stress and more confidence.