A common question at a job interview or on a job application form is ‘What is your Salary expectation?’ But it’s a tricky one to answer.
It can be awkward, the majority of job seekers don’t want to discuss money. If you say a figure too high you may miss out on a job offer. If it’s too low, you may miss out financially.
This is a question depending on how its answered could price you out of the job or get you an offer that is lowered. The salary you ask for today affects all future salary raises. Ask for too little and you could be shooting yourself in the foot or ask for too much and be shown the door. Just like many jobs have a salary range, you should never walk into any interview without your own salary expectations.
You want to aim high, but what if you put yourself out of salary range? On the other hand, if your target compensation is too low, you leave the employer room to go even lower and you could end up miserable.
As difficult as it may be to answer the question, it’s more difficult not to – especially on an electronic job application. Try and skip the question and you can’t move on to the next page, and the field only accepts a number. That is when the exact number is important.
If you are in an interview, you could try to skirt around the question with a broad answer, such as: “My salary expectations are in line with my experience and qualifications.” Or “If this is the right job for me, I am sure we can come to an agreement on salary.” But the recruiter or interviewer will likely be looking for a number, so come prepared with a target salary figure or at least a range in mind.
Make sure you’re realistic and honest about your salary expectations. The best practice is to do some research to give you a rough figure. You can do this by looking at job vacancies for similar roles and see what their salary rate is. Another way is to check out some of the salary guides which you can find easily online.
Other points you may want to include could be your number of years’ experience, your qualifications or any qualities you have that gives you an edge over your competitors.
Just because you don’t want to appear greedy doesn’t mean you settle instead for whatever is offered. Think about your needs first- the cost of living. Will what they are offering cater for your specific need including living expenses or will it leave you wallowing in debt? Weigh your needs against the salary research you have done. If the numbers don’t add up, this could be a sign that the role is not for you.
Asking for your salary level is a fair question and a standard part of information gathering. Conversely, asking what the range is that’s being offered is also fair. This can be quite a good tactic, as it forces you interviewer to give a salary range which you can then negotiate to suit you.
At the end of the day it’s all about what you want and what you are comfortable with as a job seeker.
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