Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Ask the Career Coach: Salary Requirements


Hey Cheryl, just had a quick question I thought you could answer well. When an employer asks for a "salary requirement" of a job applicant, how should that be integrated into ones' papers they submit(i.e.resume, cover letter,...?) andh ow would one go about coming up with an accurate or fair number? Thanks!


  • First, when an employer asks for a salary requirement, you must give them one. To fail to do so is to invite rejection.
  • Second, you offer this info in your cover letter, never on your resume. Add a sentence to one of your final paragraphs, something like: The most important criteria I value in a new position are (add yours; eg, advancement opportunities, scope of position, quality of match between you and the employer). Based on my (name specific skills you would bring to the table) skills, I believe I would qualify for a salary in the range of $X to $Y.
  • When you list your salary range, list it in a range of $10,000 to $20,000. For example, $40,000 to $50,000. To arrive at the correct salary range to note you will have to do some research:

  1. Search similar positions online in your targeted geographic area to see if you can find any job postings with salaries listed.
  2. Visit salary sites (see the ones listed on my blog) and/or online salary surveys in your field to identify salary ranges in your geographic area.
  3. Consult your network to see if anyone knows anyone who can offer insight on the "going rate" in your field in your targeted area.
  4. Conduct your own salary survey by calling the HR departments or hiring managers of local employers in your targeted field. Tell them you are conducting research on salary ranges and ask them to indicate the ranges they use to hire in the positions you are seeking.
  5. Visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook for national salary averages for the 200+ most common occupations in the U.S.
  6. Once you've identified a target range you may want to add some negotiations elbow room. Let's say you discover that the average for your profession in your state/region is $45,000 to $55,000. To prevent yourself from being low-balled, try adding 10-30% onto both ends of that range. The resulting salary range will still be in the employer's ballpark, but will demonstrate clearly that you believe you are worth more.

  • Of course if you do this you will need to make absolutely certain that you demonstrate your skills and experience are worth that amount, which means your behavior-based interviewing and salary negotiations skills must be fine-tuned - otherwise you will come off as arrogant.
  • Since you are new to professional-level job search, Will, you might want to take a look at my online job search class, Guerrilla Job Search in 30 Days or Less. This 5-lesson virtual class offers email support and jam-packed details on how to conduct an efficient job search campaign. And it's on sale now for $39. Check it out at .

Hope all this helps!

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