“What are your salary requirements?” Here’s how to answer.

Most careers experts will tell you to never reveal your salary requirements in an interview or when responding to an ad. Like a lot of career advice, this is fine in theory but almost impossible in practice.

When the job posting states that you must give your salary requirements, or when the interviewer asks you directly, what are you supposed to say? “I’m sorry but I don’t want to answer that question” will probably not go down very well!

The key to answering is to be honest but to give as much scope as possible.

There are two things to keep in mind here:

1. There is probably a salary that is too low for you. Only you know what that is, but there’s no point wasting time if this particular job doesn’t meet your income needs.

2. On the other hand, you don’t want to just tell the interviewer something like “well, I must make at least $40,000.” The company may have a budget to pay $50,000 or higher, but your answer might result in them offering you $45,000, meaning you just cheated yourself out of the extra $5k.

So what can you do to ensure that you state your minimum salary requirements without limiting the potential upside.

My recommendation is to provide a range, rather than a set figure, but also to express a willingness to be flexible.

Here\’s an example:

Salary isn’t my main consideration when making this decision, but in recent years my compensation has ranged between x and x.

The first x should be the lowest amount you are willing to take. The second x should be the highest amount you have ever earned, including bonuses and the cost of all perks and benefits (as a rough guideline, a full-time employee can add 20% to his or her salary for benefits).

Whether answering an interview question, or including this statement in a cover letter, these words will ensure that you have provided the information the company needs (can they afford you?) and ruled out underpaying positions while keeping your options as open as possible.

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