How To Research and Talk Confidently About Salary Requirements

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated August 16, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Salary requirements are a critical element when considering a new job offer or accepting a promotion. Many factors make up a salary expectation for each individual. Speaking confidently about your wage requirements can help you during the hiring process or increase your existing wage. In this article, we discuss the definition and purpose of asking about salary requirements, identify how to research wage expectations, and offer tips for confidently negotiating your salary expectations.

What is the definition of salary requirements?

Salary requirements, also called salary expectations, refer to the amount of money an individual needs to accept a job offer from an organization. Many companies request this information to be included in a job application or cover letter when sending in your resume. Recruiters or hiring managers also ask this question during the interview process to gauge your wage expectations. Alternatively, they may ask about your salary history, which allows you to share your previous positions, salary, and benefits package information.

Many factors contribute to the decision of a salary expectation, such as industry, salary history, work experience, benefits package, and the cost of living in your area. When determining your desired salary, you also consider your personal quality of life, short- and long-term goals, and living expenses.

Why do companies ask about salary expectations?

There are several reasons a company might ask about your desired salary during the hiring process. These reasons include:

Fitting into their budget

The most obvious reason a recruiter or hiring manager may ask about your salary expectations is to see if your request fits into their budget. When preparing to hire for a position, an organization typically has a salary range in mind based on the duties and responsibilities of the job. Therefore, they want to know if your wage requirements fit into their range or if they desire to negotiate with you for your employment contract.

This information also tells a company if they're out of touch with the current pay standards of the position. For example, if most candidates expect more than the company's range allows, the hiring manager can have a conversation and potentially ask for a larger compensation budget. In addition, by asking about your wage expectations, they can determine if they are competitive in the industry.

Gauging your worth

When an employer asks you for your wage requirements, they gauge your confidence in knowing your professional worth. A self-assured job candidate with well-developed skills and expertise understands the value of their knowledge in the marketplace. When determining this number, be sure to factor in your years of experience, professional level, and career achievements you bring with you to any new position.

Determining your professional level

Asking about your wage expectations also provides a company with insight into your professional level within an organization. For example, suppose you state a number that is higher than average. In that case, they may consider you as a senior-level candidate when they're only seeking to fill a junior-level position. Alternatively, giving too low of a number compared to their range can make them think you're less experienced than they desire for the job.

How to research job salaries

One of the best ways to prepare to answer the questions about your wage expectations is to research job salaries. Here are three simple steps to follow:

1. Use an online salary search function

The first way you can research job salaries is to use Indeed's Salary Calculator and Indeed Salary search function. When you go to the Salary Calculator, you can fill in relevant information about your job title, years of experience, and employment location. The calculator then provides you with a range of wages, allowing you to compare the high and low end of the salary range. This is an excellent tool for comparing salaries in your geographic area based on position and experience level.

Alternatively, the Indeed Salary search function allows you to research different job titles across Canada or a specific geographic location. The results provide you with detailed information about the average salary for the job title along with top employers, highest-paying cities, and wages of similar professions. Both pages can support your wage research to know the market and industry average and what you can expect during an interview or salary negotiations.

2. Complete an informational interview

Another excellent option for learning about a job, including the salary range, is to complete an informational interview with a desired employer. Similar to a hiring interview, you speak one-on-one with a recruiter or hiring manager. The goal of the interview is different, though, as you focus on learning about the organization, the company culture, the position's duties and responsibilities, and other information like wages and benefits. Many companies offer informational interviews to job seekers looking to expand their knowledge and do their homework before applying for a position.

Related: Informational Interview Questions

3. Ask your network

When researching wage expectations, you can also ask your professional network. This can be especially helpful for receiving real-time feedback across various industries and professional levels. Although not everyone feels comfortable sharing salary information, asking your network can provide valuable insights into factors to consider and what different markets are paying based on geographic location, skill level, experience, or academic qualifications.

Tips for speaking confidently about your wage requirements

Once you've completed your salary research, you are now prepared to speak confidently and negotiate for your wage requirements. When answering an employer's inquiry into your salary expectations, you want to give the desired range, aim high, and remain flexible. Here are some tips for confidently asking for your desired salary:

Know your desired salary range and limitations

There are two key numbers to have prepared when negotiating your salary: the highest and lowest amounts you're willing to accept. You can base these numbers on your research, along with your years of experience, academic qualifications, and skill level. Identifying your limitations is also essential so that you can determine if a wage is too low for your living expenses or personal situation.

An employer is more likely to offer on the lower end of the scale when providing a range. For this reason, give a range of your desired wage closer to the bottom amount. It's best to keep a tight variance of between $5,000 and $10,000. For example, if your desired amount is $70,000 and the minimum you'll accept is $68,000, you can state your salary range to be between $70,000 and $75,000. This way, there's a good chance you can begin the negotiation above your minimum expectation.

Related: How To Negotiate Salary (With Examples)

Ask about your employer's expectations

Asking about your employer's expectations can provide insight into their limitations and requirements to consider your desired wage. Consider asking what they need from you to take your salary expectation into negotiation. For example, they may require further information about your credentials, examples of your work, or time to complete a background check. Listening to their perspective builds goodwill during the negotiation process and shows that you want to add tangible value to the organization.

Consider other negotiable benefits

When negotiating your salary expectations, another area to consider in the total offered wage is the company's benefits package. Some companies may not provide the pay you desire because of budgetary constraints, expense reduction, or other company policies, so they instead bolster the salary with a significant benefits package. Benefits can include health, dental, and vision health care, life insurance, RRSP contributions, or profit-sharing. Other negotiable benefits, such as paid time off or a flexible work schedule, can also factor into your desired salary.

Related: Workers Perks and Benefits: 20 Most Common and Explanation

Select an appropriate time

When negotiating your wage expectations, it's crucial to select an appropriate time for a discussion. For example, it may not be ideal to bring up during the initial interview, depending on the situation. As a potential employee, you can expect salary negotiations after the company has presented a job offer. The employer often provides a timeframe for you to consider the employment contract before they expect a decision. During this time, you can submit a counteroffer and begin the negotiation process. Finally, you can consider booking a meeting to talk face-to-face with the hiring manager about your wage expectations.

Practice negotiation skills

Effective negotiation is a learned skill that you can develop and improve with practice. Begin by organizing your thoughts into an outline, listing out all the points you want to make. Then, with each qualification or skill that you bring to the company, include the value the company receives in kind.

For example, suppose you have over ten years of experience in accounts receivables and payables with a data entry accuracy rate of 97%. They don't need to train you because of your experience level and can rely on your accuracy and efficiency. This saves the company money, improves customer service, and provides them with an experienced professional who can train other employees when needed.

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