Salary Requirements: How and When to Disclose

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When you are applying for a job, your potential employer is likely to ask about your salary requirements. To make this part of the application process go as smoothly as possible, you should be ready to discuss a pay range. This article will discuss how and when to disclose your salary requirements during the hiring process.

Why are salary requirements important?

Salary requirements include the amount of pay you need to support your lifestyle. The salary a potential employer offers should compensate you for your experience, specialties and career level. When you know your salary requirements in advance, you can be ready to discuss pay when you apply or as you negotiate during the hiring process.

How to calculate your salary requirements

Here are four steps to help you calculate your salary requirements:

1. Research salary ranges for your field

Start by researching standard salaries for jobs in your field by browsing professional databases or reviewing job listings for your industry. Keep a list of job titles, locations and salaries for reference. Salary calculators like this one can help you understand the right competitive pay range for you.

2. Consider your education and skills

Evaluate your education level and relevant skills you have acquired. If you have the minimum educational and skill-based requirements for your field, your salary requirements may fall at the lower end of the range. However, you may be able to demand a salary at the higher end of the range if you have an advanced degree or a professional certification.

3. Think about your career experience

As you calculate your salary requirements, factor in your professional level, too. As an entry-level employee with a year or less of experience, you will typically be eligible for a salary that is lower than the median for your position. If you have five or more years of experience and are seeking a management role, your requirements might be closer to the maximum median salary.

4. Factor in the cost of living in your location

Finally, consider your cost of living in your calculation. Average salaries might be lower than the median if you are applying for a job in a small town with a reasonable cost of living. When you apply for a job in a big city with a high cost of living, factor the additional expenses into your salary requirements, such as housing and transportation.

How to share salary requirements in a cover letter

It is generally better to not share salary requirements in a job application unprompted. However, some job postings request that you share your salary requirements in the cover letter.

Follow these steps to share salary requirements in a cover letter:

1. State your salary range instead of a specific compensation number

Listing a range rather than a specific figure conveys that your salary requirements might be flexible and may increase your chance of getting an interview. The hiring manager can determine whether the company’s pay options fit into your stated range before deciding whether to pursue you as a candidate.

2. Indicate whether you are willing to negotiate your salary requirements

In addition to listing a salary range, you can state explicitly whether your requirements are negotiable. If the seniority level of the position is unclear in the job description, consider indicating that your salary requirements are negotiable based on the specifics of the position.

3. Consider additional compensation factors

If you are applying for a job that involves additional compensation in the form of bonuses, incentives and benefits, keep these in mind when stating your pay expectations. Consider stating that your salary requirements take these extras into account.

How to discuss salary requirements in an interview

Many companies include salary negotiation in the interview stage of the hiring process. Follow these steps to discuss salary requirements in an interview:

1. Deflect the question politely and respectfully if you’re not ready to answer

Discussing salary requirements during an interview can be challenging if you need additional information to calculate your expected salary. Consider deflecting salary questions in a professional way by expressing interest in the role and asking for more data about the job responsibilities.

2. Mention a salary range instead of a specific salary number

When you have enough information about the role to discuss specifics, consider outlining an acceptable salary range. Taking this approach implies that your requirements may be flexible and allows your interviewer space to negotiate effectively.

3. Discuss alternative compensation options

If your requirements include compensation not calculated in the salary, express your interest in the organization’s benefits package. By discussing alternative compensation, you can maintain flexibility while ensuring that the job meets your overall salary requirements.

You should reveal your salary requirements when prompted by your potential employer, usually in your cover letter or during your interview. However, you may wish to avoid disclosing your current salary, especially if it does not reflect the value you would bring to your potential employer. Simply state that you would prefer to negotiate pay based on your past experience and potential contributions, using your salary range as a guide.