How to talk about your desired salary.

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What are your salary expectations?

As uncomfortable as this question may make you feel, you can count on it coming up whether you’re filling out an application or going to an interview, so it’s best to be prepared.

On applications, do not leave this field blank, as some hiring managers won’t even consider you for the position if you do. In interviews, deflecting by asking to “learn more about the position first,” being “flexible” or turning it around to ask the employer what their typical range is may communicate that you’re unprepared and/or difficult to work with. Instead, do your homework and have a pragmatic answer ready to go:

  • Research ballpark figures for similar positions in the same industry using sites, likepayscale.com, glassdoor.com and careerbliss.com. Remember, these sites can provide insight, but should not be the only resource you use, as they do not take into account differing responsibilities, location, additional compensation (i.e. paid health insurance, PTO, etc.) or type of company.
  • Ask around. Ask your professional connections for their advice and suggestions, based on their experience and industry knowledge. Instead of asking them how much they make (or made at your experience level), ask them if a range you’re considering is cohesive with experience and industry standards.
  • Be comfortable with your range – specifically, the lowest end of it. This is the lowest number you are telling your future employer that you will accept willingly, so be comfortable with it and happy if this is what you’re offered.
  • Know your market value. Do market research, consider your qualifications, evaluate your experience, determine your supervisory level and know how you will contribute to the revenue and health of the business.Do not determine your desired salary based on what your lifestyle requires to sustain itself, what you “think” you should be making at this point in your career or what your friends earn in similar jobs.
  • Consider the full compensation package. Maybe achieving a specific salary number is less important than paid health insurance, more vacation days, travel opportunities or catered lunches.
  • Don’t negotiate until it’s time to negotiate. If you’re asked for your desired salary, name it; however, hold off on negotiating until the employer knows you’re the man or woman for the job. Once they’re made up their mind about you, your future employer will most likely be more open to negotiating. Also, unless specifically asked to do so, refrain from naming your desired salary in your cover letter.

Do you have your own salary negotiation tips that work well? Share them with us on Twitter!

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