How to Handle Salary Requests

How to Handle Salary Requests

What is your salary requirement, or compensation expectation? A commonly asked question by interviewers. Here’s a good way to handle those requests. 

Most job seekers don’t know how to respond when an employer requests a salary history to be submitted with a resume. Nobody wants to price themselves out of a job, but by the same token you do not want to give the employer the opportunity to offer you less than the going rate for the position. Your response to a request for a salary history is best handled in your cover letter. The question should be addressed at the end of the letter, after you’ve highlighted your skills, background, accomplishments, experience and interest in the position. 

What are your salary requirements?

Once an employer has determined that a candidate is the right fit for the company, the next step is determining the financial feasibility for both parties. Interviewers might ask how much money the candidate makes in their current position. This is a straightforward question and should be answered without hesitation.


Tip: It’s best to let the employer know that you will consider the entire compensation package, including benefits, healthcare, 401K, tuition reimbursement, etc. Also, make sure that the employer is aware you will consider cost of living indexes (if relocation is involved), commuting time, and other factors such as quality of life.


The Salary Game: What Are You Worth?
As you prepare yourself to go into the second interview, chances are you will probably be discussing salary. Most people seeking a job get uncomfortable when it comes to talking about money. The bottom line is most people want to make sure they get a fair salary. 

There are many cases where people start working without ever knowing what they will be paid because they feel a job is better than not having one. Often people fear discussing a salary because they are afraid the employer will withdraw the offer of employment. Knowing ahead of time what the compensation arrangements are eliminates problems later.

The employer will likely try to offer you a lower salary to start and promise to increase your pay based on your performance, or based on the company’s profit. If an employer asks you about your salary, the safest way to respond is to tell them it is “negotiable.” The first step in negotiating salaries is to do some research. Check the list of sources we mentioned earlier of where to find salary information, so you can research how much other companies are paying for the same position that you will be doing.

Remember to keep your cool during the interview process. You should be willing to negotiate, but don’t be overly confident while discussing money, because it may backfire on you and you may potentially lose the position.

These steps are important in negotiating your salary. Being too demanding in these negotiations may put you in a weaker position for getting the salary you want. Employers are willing to discuss salary if they believe you are the right candidate who is worth the investment for the company.















  • Respond to the question positively without giving any specific amount. “My salary is in the low 40’s.”
  • Mention your desired salary. If you are responding to this question in an application, you can state “competitive” or “open.” You can also state that the salary is negotiable depending on the position, or give a $2,000 to $5,000 range. Caution: Give a range only if you know the market value for the position and for someone with similar skills and background.
  • Know your salary requirements ahead of time. Know what you hope to make. These numbers shouldn’t be mentioned in your response to the salary history question. You should, however, give this some thought for when you get to the negotiating phase.
  • Be prepared to respond to a request for previous salaries in an interview. It can be handled by responding without stating specific amounts.




  • Include your salary history on your resume. What’s important is what you did in your job, rather than what you were paid.

Lie about your previous pay rate. Employers can easily verify your salary history through reference checks.

You are at the final phase of the interviewing process, and it’s imperative to gather information prior to your meetings. In order to accurately assess your position, you need to understand your strengths, accomplishments, and available resources. The information that you gather will give you bargaining strength.


Important factors to help you capitalize on salary negotiations:


Know the industry:

  • Do research on what the demand is for the industry in which you are employed.
  • Understand the status of the economy and how it affects the industry you are competing in. 
  • Review and determine the current unemployment rate and the long-term employment outlook. 


Know the company:

  • Is the company profitable or going through difficult financial times? 
  • What is its position in the business cycle (startup, developing, constant, turnaround)?
  • Is the company in a downturn, growing, merging or about to be acquired by another company, an industry leader, or struggling to maintain employees.


Know where you stand: 

  • Your technical capabilities, expertise and unique selling features. 
  • Your resources, including networking contacts. 
  • The caliber of your competition and the availability of other candidates in the market.


Know the hiring manager:

  • Is this an urgent position that the company needs to fill? 
  • Understand the entire decision-making process, influencers and hiring budget.

Is the manager you are interviewing with able to extend an offer, or do they need to go higher up?