Responding to Requests for Salary Requirements


Faye writes:
How do I respond to job advertisements that ask for a desired salary? I don’t want to take my resume out of the mix by high balling the range or hurt my chances for a better salary by low balling the salary range. This I find a very difficult question to answer in my cover letter. How would you handle this question when the candidate is required to give a desired salary?
Thank you.



The Career Doctor responds:
A request for a job-seeker’s salary requirement is used by employers in the same way as salary histories are used — often as a screening device by employers. When I was a
hiring manager for an employer who requested a salary requirement from applicants
we placed job-seekers into three categories: job-seekers who requested a salary that
was below the minimum for the position (and were perceived as not qualified) job-seekers who requested a salary in the range for the position (and were perceived as being the best candidates to interview assuming they had the skills and experiences we desired) and job-seekers who requested a salary well above the range (and who were perceived as being over-qualified for the position or just people who thought too highly of themselves).
So what’s the moral of this story? As a job-seeker you MUST do your homework! You need to conduct some research before you submit your salary requirement. The ideal situation is when you have a contact within the organization who can provide you with the actual internal salary range for the position but if that is not an option then look at your own company for the salary ranges for a similar position use your network to get salary ranges for similar positions in other companies and use one or more of the salary guides (such as Salary.com) to develop an estimated salary range. Keep in mind that the size of the company the industry it operates in and the geographic location of the job will all need to be factored into the equation.
Once you have an idea of the employer’s salary range for the position the next step is to see if your salary requirements will fit within the range. If your desired salary fits the range then you are in great shape. If you are well below the range but feel you are fully qualified for the position then request a salary on the lower side of the range (which also allows you to grow into the positions in terms of raises). If you are well above the range you may need to consider other options.
I encourage you to read my article Responding
to Requests for Salary Requirements or Salary Histories: Strategies and Suggestions
. This article gives you a good overview and provides you with strategies for responding to a request for a desired salary.