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  • JLM Consulting

Strategies For Handling The Salary Question When Job Searching

The dreaded salary question that often gets asked before you have even had a chance to answer the question "Tell me about yourself.."

Responding too high and you could be eliminated early on, too low and you could shortchanged yourself. It's a tricky question to manuever and below are some strategies you can try to better respond to the question.

First and foremost the optimum time to discuss salary, is after you have an offer. This is the sweet spot, it's been established that they want you, and now is prime time to negotiate as needed. So what can you do if asked beforehand:

Research - Find out the market range for the type of role you are going after within that locale and company size. Use tools like and to educate yourself.

Defer -Works best early in the interview process.

"I would prefer to learn more about the role and how I could contribute before discussing salary."

"While salary is certainly important, for me it’s just one part of the picture, so my requirements are flexible depending upon the rest of the compensation package and the opportunities provided.'

"My sense is that XYZ Company has a fair compensation strategy. So, if we decide that this is a good match, I’m confident we will be able to come to an agreement."

Toss Back- Allows you greater control by asking the employer to provide a range that you can respond to.

"My research indicates that compensation for this type of position falls in the range of X (if this is an executive or "C" level position, use total compensation range, plus commission, bonus, stock, etc.) Is this consistent with your range?"

Provide a Range-When the interviewer is unwilling or unable to provide a range and presses for you for specifics. The goal is to use language that indicates this is only a ballpark figure, not written in stone. Sharing total compensation (not just salary) will give the employer a more complete picture of your expectations.

When Salary Information is Less -"This is a little lower than I would have expected, given my research and the responsibility level of the position. How flexible is that amount? Are there other components we can consider?"
Recruiters – When working with recruiters, you will need to share your expectations with them since they may be unwilling to present you to the employer without knowing whether there is a potential fit. Again, answer with a total compensation package range. Then ask for feedback on how your range fits with available positions. This is an important question for you to ask as this information may be valuable for other positions you are considering.
Unfortunately it is very common to be asked about your salary expectations during interviews. Fortunately, managing a salary questions using the suggestions above will help you defer this important discussion until the time is best for you, hopefully the offer stage :)

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