Salary expectations

How to answer: “What are your salary expectations?”

At the end of every HR interview you will hear this question “What are your salary expectations?” and I would like to share with you a few tips and tricks about “the right answer” and the way you can get to that.

Why do recruiters ask the salary expectations question?

For a quite simple reason: no one can know your salary expectations better than you. This is a simple finance exercise each of us should do before applying for a job. Take a piece of paper and a pen and put down your-day-to-day expenses together with your nice to have things: groceries, mortgage, monthly bills, rent, family events, savings, pension, life insurance, new house, new car, nice city breaks, a motorcycle, new camera or any other hobby you would like to invest in. You already know some of the costs, but others will be only generic approximations. Add up the day-to-day expenses and then add to those all the other numbers and so you get a range that starts with your basic daily needs and ends up with lots of smiles. 😊

Next step is to intersect that range with the reality.

How much money should you ask for?

Do your homework and understand the added value you bring and the labor market you want to dive into. Take your time and answer these questions:

  • Who are you? What is your level of expertise? What are the skills (both technical and soft ones), experiences and/or personal projects you bring to the table? What is your current income?

The result is the income you need in order to have the type of lifestyle you want or wish for.

  • What does the labor market looks like? What is the national/international environment you are living in? How many companies are searching for people with your skill set? What companies are compatible with your career wishes? How much money do other people with similar level of knowledge gain?

If you don’t know the answers, Google the above and find out 😊. For the IT field check websites in your country offering good information about the salary and benefit packages, or go internationally with websites like www.indeed.com and www.glassdoor.com.

The result is what the labor market can offer you at this moment.

The intersection of these two results should be the “right answer” about your salary expectations. This isn’t a magic formula but is the easiest way to come up with an answer and have a realistic approach about it.

5 Myths about salary expectations

  1. If I’m asking too much, I will not get hired because of high salary expectations
  2. If I’m asking too low, I will be offered less than I deserve because companies will take advantage of this
  3. It’s better to say that I’m in for the projects and career opportunities while money is not that important
  4. It’s better to challenge the recruiter asking the question back: “What are you willing to pay me?/ What are your salary ranges for this position?”
  5. I’ll wait for your offer and then negotiate

The short answer is NO.

Some clarifications about these myths

M1.& M2. Good companies have salary ranges and according to your technical level they will make you an offer. If they show respect to you and to their employees no one will offer you less or more than you deserve because they care about their people and the equity inside the company. If this is not happening maybe you should think twice before starting a job there.

M3. You get paid once a month so for the rest of ~20 days the most important things are the projects, colleagues, internal atmosphere, clients, career opportunities, or perks. And yes, there should be a balance between compensation, learning, challenges, colleagues and the work environment. When you say YES to a job, you are taking all these into consideration.

M4. There are countries where legislation forces the employer to share the salary for a specific job when advertising it. In Europe there is no legal obligation to publish either the offered salary or the ranges when advertising an open position, so companies are quite sensitive about sharing this information during interviews. Surely you will find companies willing to share this information with you, but the majority will not do it. The reason is quite simple, the technical knowledge and attitude will dictate your compensation package.

M5. First of all, you should share your salary expectations because no one can read minds. Secondly, it might be the case when the offer is not negotiable, so you will lose the opportunity “to share your side of the story”.

My piece of advice: do your math and go prepared to the HR interview. 😊 It shows honesty, self-reliance, and rational thinking to share your salary expectations.