University at Albany

How to Handle Questions About Salary

Salary questions can come up at any time during the job search process. Try to defer the discussion until later in the process if you can.

Some job applications or job postings request salary requirements right from the start. Sometimes salary is only discussed when an offer is made. Unless you do have specific salary requirements, it is best to wait till you receive an offer to discuss salary. Do your research in advance! Know what a resonable slaray is. To find salary averages, take a look at salary and relocation information.

What Are Your Salary Requirements?

When an employer asks you for your salary requirements you can respond by saying “negotiable” on applications or cover letters.

If you feel you must provide an answer, it is best to give a range rather than a single number. Do some research and be prepared to say how you came up with that range.

If you are asking for a salary above the standard salary, be prepared to discuss why you feel you deserve that salary. What unique qualifications and experience do you have?

Can You Negotiate?

There are no hard and fast rules about when you can or cannot negotiate. Some companies or agencies do not negotiate with entry-level employees, and some do not negotiate at all. If your talents are rare you may have more bargaining power. Here are a few suggestions if you do want to negotiate:
  • Do your research so you know if your request is reasonable.
  • Be prepared to justify why you are worth a higher salary.
  • Be prepared for them to say no, at which point you can certainly still accept the position at the originally offered salary.
  • Do not bluff, they may just call you on it. Do not say you have a higher offer from another company, unless that is true. Do not say you cannot accept anything less than a certain amount, unless that is true. As always, honesty is the most ethical choice.

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