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The Discussion of Salary...

The job search process will often include salary negotiations or discussions. It is important to be prepared for this by knowing your monetary value in the workplace. Start by taking a good look at your own salary requirements as well as developing an understanding of what your skills are worth in the job market.

Salary Discussion Tips


  • Specify an exact salary figure when asked.
  • Under-value your worth.
  • Talk salary figures over the phone or via email.
  • Fail to assess employer's needs.
  • Lie about your past salary.
  • Always believe what an employer says about salary.
  • Discuss salary until you have details about the job or until a job offer has been made.
  • Appear desperate for any offer.


  • Demonstrate your value.
  • Postpone salary talk until you have had time to sell yourself and assure the employer of your capabilities.
  • Take some notes during a salary negotiation.
  • Research industry salary standards of the position for which you are applying.
  • Request for additional time to decide on an offer.
  • Ask for a salary proposal in writing if you accept the position.

Salary Negotiation Tips

  • Maintain the proper attitude be sure to be enthusiastic, polite and professional
  • Ask for a fair price. Make sure your requests are reasonable and within the ongoing salary range for the position and your experience.
  • Start high and work toward a middle ground. Do your research and suggest a bit more than what the employer is willing to pay. But always within a realistic range that is standard for the job and the industry.
  • Continue selling yourself. Remind the employer of your worth throughout the process, confidence is extremely important.
  • Be willing to walk away. Obviously, the less you want the job the easier it is to negotiate. You want to be compensated fairly to avoid jumping from job to job in hopes of getting your ideal salary.

Do Your Research Ahead of Time

Research salary ranges before beginning the job search process by utilizing websites such as and, which provide detailed salary information.

Utilize the following resources for your research:

  • Ferguson's Career Guidance Database accessible at
  • EUREKA Career Exploration Database accessible at
  • O*Net Online developed by the U.S. Department of Labor accessible at
  • Keep in mind that taxes will eat up 28–35 percent of your gross monthly salary.
  • Factor the organization's total compensation package (i.e., company car, tuition reimbursement, health benefits, etc.) into your salary negotiations.

Be Prepared to Tackle the "Salary Question?"

  • Do not bring up salary in an interview unless the employer brings it up.
  • When the interviewer asks for salary history/range she/he is interested in establishing a starting point for negotiation.
  • It is appropriate to stay away from the discussion of salary until the second or third interview.
  • If you are required to state salary on an application be honest
    and accurate; reference checks can easily provide this information.
  • When asked for a salary range by an interviewer it is appropriate to let them know you are seeking a 'competitive salary' or that 'salary is negotiable.'

Salary Strategies and Tips For Special Situations

Ads, Application, and Salary History Requests

  • It is best to be honest.
  • It is not necessary to give exact dollar amounts or salary history. However, consider the consequences for not providing such information, especially if an employer is requesting the information.
  • Typically, employers request salary information to identify if the company can afford to hire you.

Suggested Strategies

  • It is best to comply with the application process; therefore, pro- vide salary information especially if it is part of the application process.
  • You can also consider including a statement in a cover letter that states Ã’I understand that you have requested a salary his- tory, and I would like to take this opportunity and assure you that I am compensated roughly at the market value of a Hu- man Resources Assistant with two years of experience. Furthermore, I am open to discuss a fair compensation package with you during an interview.Ó

Paper Applications

If a paper application asks for salary, consider the following:

  • Write "Open*" in the salary request box. At the end of the page write "*I would be happy to discuss this with you in the interview." or Write "TBD*" and "*Gladly to be discussed in the interview" or "Negotiable."

If the application asks for current or past salary history, you can write

  • "Competitive*" or "TBD*" and write "*To be further discussed in interview" at the bottom of the page.
  • You can also consider providing salary ranges. Salary ranges can be a range of your starting salary to your current salary (i.e. Human Resources Assistant, Optimal Staffing Services, $37,000- $45,000 yearly).

*Be aware that not providing salary history when specifically requested by an employer may be viewed negatively.

Online Applications

Most online applications will want number figures as oppose to explanations. In those cases you may not be able to type in "TBD" or "Negotiable" in their salary request box, or a salary range. In many cases, online applications will not allow you to move forward with the application process without filing out all of their fields, salary being one of them.

If an online application asks for salary, consider the following:

  • It is always best to be honest and provide a rough estimate of your current salary.
  • If the online application requests for your desired salary, in most cases, it will only accept number figures. Do your research beforehand so that you do not sell yourself out of a job or sell yourself short.
  • Remember that employers ask salary questions to determine if they can afford you. 

Postponing Salary Talk

It is best to first sell your skills, strengths, abilities, and showcase what you are worth to an employer. You can then negotiate a fair salary that is compatible with the position and your worth. Once you have convinced an employer that you are the ideal candidate for the position, you will then have more of a negotiating advantage.

Examples of How to Postpone Salary Talk

  • "I am sure we can come to a good salary agreement when the time comes, for now I would like to tell you more about my strengths for this job."
  • "I am looking for the right opportunity and while salary is important, the position and company are more important. I am sure you will be fair with your offer and I have some flexibility when it comes to salary."
  • "I am sure that your company will offer something fair that is comproable with my education and experience. If I am selected as a final candidate, I will be more than happy to hear about your hiring salary range for this position."

Diverting Salary Back to the Employer

To avoid selling yourself short, you can divert the salary question back to an employer and give them the opportunity to tackle salary figures first.

Examples of How to Divert Salary Back to the Employer

  • "Well, I am sure you have something budgeted for this position, what sort of salary range did you have in mind?"
  • "I am confident that your company offers fair salaries, what did you have in mind?"
  • "I have an idea of the ongoing rate for this position, but I would first like to start with your range for this position."
  • "I have an idea of the general market rate, but being that this job encompasses additional responsibilities, I am sure you have a better idea of what would be a fair salary range for this position?"
  • "I am paid fairly for my responsibilities in my present job, and I expect a fair salary with respect to my responsibilities here. What did you have in mind for this position?"

What Should I Say If...

...The employer asks what I was currently making in my last position.

  • First, use the suggestions given to postpone salary talk.
  • If that does not work, you can provide a broad range such as, "My salary range is in the high $50,000."

...The employer offers a salary that is below my salary range.

  • "I am very excited about being part of your team, but according to my research the salary is below the ongoing salary market. Would your budget permit $55,000 instead of $50,000?"
  • "I am really looking forward to being part of your organization, and I am confident that I can make a strong contribution to your organization. However, the salary range is below what I had in mind, considering the level of responsibilities this job entails. Does your budget allow a salary that is closer to the mid $50's rather than the low $50's?"

...I decide not to take the position because the salary is too low, but I still want to keep the employer as a contact.

  • "Although, I understand your salary limitations, I believe it would be unfair to both of us for me to accept this position. I would like to stress that I think we would work well together, and I am very interested in being part of your company. If another position becomes available with a salary more aligned with the ongoing market, I do hope you will consider me."

Evaluating the Offer...

Once you have been extended a job offer, you will be evaluating the opportunity to see if it meets your career goals and needs. If you have not already done so, make a list of your career goals to better assess this opportunity and its congruency to your end goal. When evaluating a job offer, take into consideration the frequency of salary increases and the average salary increase.

When evaluating your offer, consider the following.

  • Advancement opportunities
  • Benefits
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Level of autonomy 
  • Lifestyle of employees
  • Mentoring
  • Nature of the work
  • Organizational culture 
  • Organizational structure
  • Quality of higher management
  • Salary
  • Support for continuing education
  • Training/development opportunities
  • Travel/location
  • Stability of organization/industry
  • Work hours

When asked to provide a salary history consider the following examples as a reference:

Salary History Sample #1

Human Resource Assistant
Optimal Human Resources Inc.
Fullerton, CA
($50,000–$55,000 yearly)

Human Resources Intern
Fullerton, CA
05/13- 12/14
Summer Internship
($6,000 - $7,000 summer internship)

Customer Service Representative
The Dental Company
Orange, CA
($20,000 - $25,000 yearly)

Salary History Sample #2

Graphic Artist
Dynamic Graphics
Irvine, CA
($50,000–$55,000 yearly)

Graphic Assistant
Creative Designs
Orange, CA
($20.00–$25.00 per hour)

Graphic Artist
(Contracted at $15.00–$20.00 per hour)