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How to Respond When Asked For Salary Requirements

How to Respond to the Salary Question

The question "What are your salary requirements?" can strike fear into the eager hearts of job seekers. Here, a reader asks for advice on how to respond:

When you are applying for a job and an interviewer asks for your salary requirements, how should you respond, especially if you do not have a current salary?

Our answer: Your salary requirements are quite simply, and honestly, negotiable. You don't have a salary history to divulge, so you really are at a jumping-off point, and your salary will be based not only on what is a fair number but also on the other benefits offered.

If asked for your requirements in a cover letter, write, "My salary requirements are negotiable." Something so simple can help you get your foot in the door for an interview; naming a number too high could make them apprehensive about bringing you in, and identifying a number too low could hurt your chances of securing the best possible salary. If you've done thorough salary research using the Internet, made phone calls, and had discussions with other first-year associates, you could name a salary range, but only do so if you're very comfortable and confident that you've gathered accurate information.

It's also likely that you will be asked about salary during your interview. Prevent a deer-in-headlights reaction by having a prepared response. Choose from two options: Respond by saying something along the lines of, "My salary is negotiable considering other benefits and what your firm thinks is a reasonable start." The other choice would be to mention a salary range that leaves plenty of room for negotiation.

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