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How to talk about your salary expectations?

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Talking about salary expectations is not something people are comfortable with. 

And it’s even harder when you’re out of work or underpaid because your current earnings (or lack of) can make you feel a bit worthless. 

But that’s not true! 

You are not earning enough because:

  • You are not currently providing a service to a company in exchange for money (AKA working), 
  • Your current employer is not paying you what you deserve,
  • NOT because your work is worth nothing. 

Big difference!

What you are on right now or your previous salary are irrelevant to your job search. 


Because you’re talking about a different situation, a different job, at a different time, in a different company. 

What has it got to do with the job you’re applying for?

When you’re asked by a recruiter to discuss your earnings, what you need to do is focus the conversation on what you want instead of what you are/were on. 

If you’re not in the job market or are frankly underpaid at the moment you need to figure out how much to ask. 

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3. 

1. Do your research

Go to Glassdoor and find out what the market rate for this kind of job is by looking for:

  • The average salary for a similar role in the same location
  • This job or level of job in the company you’ve applied for

2. Be vague

You don’t want the recruiter to disqualify you for being too cheap (you’re obviously not experienced enough) or expensive (you wouldn’t consider their offer anyway) so you have to be a bit vague about what you’re looking for and give them an approximate figure.

Recruiters tend to work with a salary band, that is a minimum and maximum salary they can offer for the role. They’ll never tell you what the salary is but can give you an indication of whether you are in the range or not. 

3. Aim higher

It’s pretty common for employers to try and go for a low offer when someone is successful for a role. I don’t agree with it as people quickly feel overworked, underpaid and end up leaving or unhappily staying but I guess they’re just trying to save the company money.

So whatever you want, ask for more (at least by £5K). They’ll feel like they’ve got you cheaper and you’ll have what you wanted. 

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Let me give you some examples of what you can say.

When a recruiter starts talking money just dodge the question, tell them what you want and ask them how much they pay. 

● Recruiter: What is your current salary? What was your previous salary? What are you looking for?

● You: Based on the role, the current market rate and my experience I would be looking for something in the region of £45,000 depending on the bonus structure and other benefits on offer. Can you tell me more about the salary and benefits on offer for this role?

What if the recruiter tells you that it’s too high? If you’re ready to consider a lower salary you need to understand how much they can offer. 

● Recruiter: Unfortunately, this is more than what we can offer for this position, would you like to continue with your application?

● You: I understand, can you give me an indication of what salary you have in mind for this position and tell me more about the overall package and benefits to help me make my decision?

What if the recruiter pushes for your current or previous salary? Avoid answering if you’ve been out of work for a while but if you’re going to give them a figure round it up to cover your overall package rather than basic salary and quickly redirect them to what you want. 

● Recruiter: Ok, thank you. Can you tell me about your actual salary?

● You:  I left my previous position over 5 years ago so the salary I was on at the time is not relevant to this application. I have extensive experience of X,Y,Z and am available to start immediately. Based on your job description and the market rate for this role, I am looking for around £45,000. 


● You:  My package was around £40,000 and I’d be looking for an increase so £45,000 is what I’ve got in mind for my next role. 

Remember that what you’re on now has nothing to do with how much you should be paid in your next role. 

Go on, smash this interview and ask for what you deserve. 

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One response to “How to talk about your salary expectations?”

  1. Руслан Avatar

    When an interviewer asks about your salary expectations, having a well-formulated, data-backed answer will ensure you re not undercutting yourself or aiming over the market value. By giving an honest, informed response, you can help the interviewer better understand whether your expectations align and, if things go well, what sort of salary will be attractive enough to get you on board.


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