Understanding your value in the employment marketplace -- including in your current organization -- is critical information you should have at your fingertips.
You may think you need or deserve a certain salary -- but no employer cares about your wants and needs. What employers WILL listen to is evidence of your value -- proof that validates your salary request.
If you can't give a range and have to provide a single salary, choose the middle of your range, maybe even a little bit lower," she says. "You'd rather be lower than their target rate than over it."
Just remember that naming a rate doesn't lock you into accepting it. At the vast majority of companies, you can still negotiate after getting an offer. In fact, negotiating for a bit more might work in your favor, since companies will see that you believe in yourself and have done enough research to know the value of your work.
If that's the case, research the job title and give a salary range. Pay Scale's Research Center lets you look up salaries by job title, location, and years of experience.
Once you're negotiating, remember to include benefits in your salary calculation. For example, if the prospective employer offers better health insurance that would save you money in the long run, that's worth money.
One final note on salary ranges: be sure to name a lower number that you'd be comfortable with, since that's probably where the hiring manager will start your offer.
There are ways to get around this question, if you really don't want to give a number right off the bat. One good tactic is to say that you want to learn more about the job first, before you think about the salary that would go with it.
One downside to this, as Alison Green of Ask a Manager points out, is that many employers will want to know what your salary expectations are right up front, before they'll even consider your application.
Whether it's during an interview or on an application, no one wants to answer this question, however it's one that must be asked. Firstly, it's a quick way for employers to eliminate candidates with overly high expectations. It also lets the employer know what they will need to offer you if they decide you're the person for the job.
Answering this question is tricky. If you say a figure that's too high, you're likely out of the running, but if you give a number that's too low, you have undervalued your work and your potential contribution to the company.
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, but sometimes withheld because it may spoil future negotiations. You could respond by saying something like:
► "I'm flexible and especially interested in your company and this position. What is the range being offered?"
You will usually get a factual response that the position will pay in the $X to $Y range depending on qualifications. But be prepared for a response such as:
► "The range is open and we usually offer what's necessary to hire the right person. But first I need to know if we are on the right page. What are your expectations?"
Again, avoid boxing yourself in but if pressed give a wide range and state that you are flexible and feel as though you could come to mutual understanding when the time comes.
Answering the salary question poorly may eliminate you from consideration. Salary is a touchy subject and somewhat of a balancing act. If you answer too high it may create sticker shock and be a turn-off, or you could be viewed as a top notch candidate who must be deserving of the high price. On the other hand if you answer on the low side, the employer could consider you cheap with fewer qualifications, or they may view you as an attractive candidate because of the attractive price. It all depends.