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How should I respond to the Salary Requirement question on a job application?


Michael Clark Pittsburgh, PA

I would like to request advice on how to respond to salary requirement questions on both online applications and during an interview. I am currently marketing myself for a Senior Project Management position after obtaining my PMP, but don't want to over shoot my response.

I don't want to under sell my 20 years of military service and PMP certification, but I also don't want to eliminate myself from seeking a higher salary than I am making now.

Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.



7 January 2015 118 replies Career Advancement



Wilfredo Ruiz-Caban Mansfield, MA

Hi Michael,
Thanks so much for your service. You have an interesting query and if you allow me I could share a couple of lessons learned given my experiences at both ends of the question.

1.) Be knowledgeable about the industry and fair compensation practices - it is relatively easy to find comp surveys and assessments that will take into considerations factors such as geography/location, years of experience, and company size. Be careful asking direct bench marking questions to peers in industry - you will probably get wide swings, from incredible humble people understating their package to others that will simply, over-inflate.
2.) There is an appropriate time for answering direct compensation question, and it is usually when you are becoming a serious candidate. You need to develop a sense of timing of when is right to talk about this. Good companies will not seriously engage into that conversation until you are fairly advanced in the process. If anyone asks that question in the very early stages it is usually a very broad screening question, and to me that I would avoid giving a direct answer, and would state something like that my expectation is to be fairly compensated per industry and company standards/practices - but would avoid stating dollars. If pressed, give them a range based upon your research and your expectations.

3.) Be always truthful about your own compensation - besides a fundamental issue of integrity, your answer will be easily verifiable.

4.) Be realistic about your expectations and establish a range for your response.

5.) Do not forget to include other elements such as matching 401K, long term incentive, bonuses or flexible arrangements - they all become key elements into the compensation package.

I hope this gives you something useful to think about and consider - my other suggestion is to read the book What Color is your Parachute - it has great pointers on these matters, besides being a fantastic reference for career changes like the one you are considering. Check out the web for excerpts and references from the book.

8 January 2015 Helpful answer


Damon Jensen Yuba City, CA

As always, my opinion is just one of many.

As a hiring manager, I hate salary conversations. I want to pay my team fairly and equally. That doesn't mean everyone makes the same, but it does mean that differences are justifiable.

In answering the question be honest, accurate and reasonable. Most importantly be able to justify your number. Some people approach salary negotiations like buying a car. One start high, the other low and we meet in the middle.

From my perspective if you come too high, I probably will politely end the conversation. If you are unreasonably high you are telling me you are no concerned with the company only your own needs.

That is not to say you so take less than your value, but it does say you don't understand your value. Research is one site that can help you understand you value. Look at what the company pays for similar position to what you are applying against.

A reasonable value shows me that you are informed, have researched, and are prepared. These are tangible skills that you are demonstrating not just talking about.

For me, if you are lower than I will pay, I will always counter with pay in the band that I can support. Me personally I will never go low just because, I am prepared to pay a fair salary compared to others on my team and in my company.

No matter what you start with, you need to be able to justify it and explain why you feel that is an appropriate pay. Never use personal grandmother is in the hospital, I have a special needs child. These thing don't relate to profits for my company. Justify you pay on how you are going to make the company profits.

One last note, I am never free to just pay you any salary. I have contracts, legal, and trend data that sets what I can pay. I also have managers and compensation departments that have to approve my offers.

30 January 2015 Helpful answer


kirk schamel Denver, CO

First person to talk money loses.

Recruiters = used car sales people.... When speaking to a recruiter, ask them for the salary range. If they ask you to tell them first, tell them that you can't give them an accurate answer without knowing all of the details of the position - that is the only honest answer. Tell the recruiter to do their home work and get back to you.

If an potential employer asks, tell them the same thing.

If either of them push this, that means they are trying to get you under market rate. That will work out for neither you or them.

This will keep you from wasting a great deal of time chasing things that wont work out and will enable you to focus on good leads.

19 January 2015 Helpful answer


Chuck Burger King Of Prussia, PA

Hello Mike,

That is a difficult question if only due to the number of variables. First, you should have a sound basis of the salary range for the position you are seeking. may be useful for that research and I am sure that others will have some good suggestions as well.

Once you have that answer you can formulate your answer and vary it by the particular position’s potential and risk. I have always believed a response based not so much on a discrete value but rather one that is based on “what is in line with the competitive marketplace” for a particular industry and/or geographical location works best. You will sometimes be pushed for an answer and that is entirely up to you; and that will really be dependent upon the opportunity. As example, a position that has many challenges both professionally or personally may elicit a 90-100% of that competitive range (based on your analysis). Another opportunity that looks far more promising in terms of future opportunity and growth within the company, and just “feels right”, may change the response to something less, say 75% of the competitive range. Lastly, remember, there is always an opportunity to negotiate if only somewhat following an offer. The key of course is getting the offer!

I hope this information is helpful. Best of luck.

7 January 2015 Helpful answer


Greg Decoteau Napa, CA


Lots of great answers here already, especially do your homework, know and be be able to quantify your value add, make sure it as specific and directly applicable as possible to your target company's requirements and objectives for the position.

OK, now how a sales guy would look at it...

1) When it comes to a number; any number ALWAYS make the other guy go first. Be tactful, direct and firm but not coy. It is kind of like letting dead air into a intense conversation, five seconds of silence and the other guy will almost always involuntarily respond, and usually surprisingly candidly because people hate dead air. Salary it is a poker game, but an important one. Hold your cards and make the other guy go first.

2) With a solid company and strong manager/HR team this question usually does not come up until rather late in the process i.e. as you both feel it is a solid fit and you sense they are thinking about an offer. Although a salary question can be a lazy screening question on the very from end, with your homework done, a clear understanding of the job requirements, and your specific skill set established, each party should already be within about 20% or so of an eventual competitive number. Then the negotiation begins in ernest once they know and truly understand the value you can add and you have an full understanding of the real working requirements of the job. Until then you can't really negotiate because neither party understands the value the other party places on the job, it's requirements and your actual skills.

3) As you work through the process and the salary question comes up ask what value the company places on having this pressing need (the open position) taken care of; immediately, competently and completely.

4) Do your homework on competitive pay for equivalent positions but you may also need to factor in cost of living for the area you will be living/working in if it is not local. There are many online tools to calculate this. Example; you live in Dallas, TX and are making $50,000 but the job offer is in San Francisco, CA. You will need to be paid $90,000 in San Francisco to equal your $50,000 of purchasing power in Dallas. This can be significant.

5) Know that additional sweeteners can almost ALWAYS be negotiated into the "package" towards the end and be quite helpful if you are close but not quite there. These can be a signing bonus, maybe staggered over 6-12 months, extra stock options if available, extra week of vacation per year, car allowance, telecommuting one or more days a week etc. Get creative and focus on things that have true value to you.

6) Remember the best deals are always win/win for both parties. It is not about either side getting one-up on the other. Both parties should feel good about the final outcome and that the results are a fair and equitable deal.

7) If you have done your best to negotiate up but the numbers are still low, and and you really want the job, the last option is to directly inquire about expectations for pay raises, promotions, bonus etc. How can you get closer to your number once you have started the job? Ask to have specific objectives called out in writing which are necessary to get that raise promotion or bonus you are after. Then go for it but make sure you nail each requirement completely. People always notice and respond well to demonstrated competence and initiative. Make it fun, be humble but show your stuff, be yourself!

Best of luck,


22 July 2016 Helpful answer


Bruce Freedman Warwick, NY

The above are all great responses. I would just add to that: being prepared for the question will reduce any stress associated with it.

Do the research and decide the levels you would like and the minimum you would accept, keeping in mind that once hired, you may only get cost-of-living increases for several years.

Then I usually prepare a pitch along the lines of "I currently make X; I feel that my skills and experience qualify me for this position. Regarding salary, I am flexible based on the opportunity. (A non-answer that may cause the hiring manager to give you more information, or defer the question until you've established your qualifications further.)

Hope this helps.

5 March 2015 Helpful answer


Don Hammond Jacksonville, FL

Hi Michael,

I will he blunt with my response... the topic you are addressing is the biggest trap door for all applicants in the recruitment process. And the first side to answer is almost always the loser.

Answer too high, you could miss out on a great opportunity. Answer too low and you could cost yourself thousands - and more importantly, possibly create your own mental resentment for the company before the relationship even begins.

Plainly said, as companies, we already have a range that we are and aren't willing to pay so answering is only going to shift leverage away from you.

So how do we handle it?

By answering without limiting your options (because just sitting there quietly and ignoring the question doesn't seem like a good strategy either!).

First, do your homework and get an idea of what that position pays on average and in your market ( is a good resource).

Second, determine what is the minimum you would feel comfortable earning.

Lastly, remember that you can always negotiate additional income such as bonuses, SPIFFS, etc based on performance metrics to enhance that salary.

Once you've determined those items, continue to answer the "salary question" with online submissions such as "Negotiable" and for in-person discussions you can offer responses such as, "I'm sure a company as respected and well run as 'ABC' already has a range in mind. I'm confident that your offer will be professional and I look forward to receiving it".

Short. Sweet. And you don't hurt yourself in the process.

If they continue to hound you for an exact response, continue to answer in a similar fashion, and then immediately look for new and additional opportunities.

- - -

I hope this response finds you well and as always, thank you for your service.

Don Hammond

2 October 2015 Helpful answer


David Alhadeff Buffalo Grove, IL

One way to think about this question is to view the job as an "asset" that has a market value, which is its "price". So I will often ask the recruiter or the hiring manager ..."How have you priced this position". That changes the discussion to one of "value", and you can then discuss your experience and attributes and potential as dimensions that warrant a higher "price" should you ultimately need to negotiate a compensation package.

Thank you for your service.

2 June 2015 Helpful answer


David Limato Fremont, CA

I agree with Wilfredo. If its early in the interview process I typically decline to state with a statement like, lets not spoil the discussion with a salary requirement. This is especially with recruiters. They will ask your salary requirements without even understanding your skill set.

If I get pinned for an answer, I will give it to them. But if its someone doing the screening I simply say lets not spoil the discussion with talk about salary. Lets see if I am the right person for the job then we can open the discussion.

Know who you are talking to in the interview.

8 January 2015 Helpful answer


Sasha Dunwody Arlington, VA

Hi Mike,

I'm a recruiter for Deloitte and wanted to provide you with my feedback. As of just a couple months ago, it's actually now illegal for any organization to ask/require current salary information from a candidate. Companies may ask what salary you're seeking, but they are no longer permitted to ask what you are currently making, or what you have made at any prior job.

I hope this helps, best of luck in your job search and thank you for your service!


8 June 2018 Helpful answer


John Breault Basking Ridge, NJ

Michael: Above answers are great. To add to them:

For most people, its the job, the co-workers, your manager and how much will you be able to contribute, will you be able to make a big difference, how much training will you get, etc. that are the most important elements.

As long as compensation is fair, the above will control. Fair has two aspects to it - is the amount similar to what peers in the company and outside the company make for the same type of work and do you FEEL the compensation is fair (subjective determination).

It never hurts to ask how the company determines what to offer you and make sure that makes common sense.

Don't sweet compensation is my advice. Do sweat the factors in the first paragraph.

I've had my own recruiting firm so please contact me at 908.630.9090 or email me at if I can be helpful. Good luck.

8 January 2015 Helpful answer


Henry Gorman Hurst, TX

Usually I leave the salary out of the application. Sometimes, prospect employer ask you that question to determine if they could afford you. I rather going through the interview process and see what is the offer. Some prospective employer even eliminate your application prior consideration of negotiable.


Ken Vennera Norristown, PA

1) I would do the background research to see what the range in your region should be for that position so you have a good idea of range.
2) I would stick with the "negotiable based on competitive jobs in the area" and let them make you an offer. If it's within the range you researched, go for it. You can sometimes get them to "bump" a bit, but don't be too aggressive in a market where the job market is saturated.


Philip Lantz Kansas City, MO

BLUF (details and thoughts follow): I answered this by saying, "I make about X in my current position located in/at Y. I am looking to make an amount allowing me to maintain or improve my current life style." That will give the potential employer a ball park to work with. Neither you or they want to waste time if you are so far apart on a number that you wont be able to meet in the middle.

Here are my thoughts....
1. Are you AGR? I see you are National Guard...and that usually means experience working in the Civilian Sector.
2. Know what you are making now. For active duty I advise using the calculator that takes in to account tax breaks, etc to tell you what you are making.
3. Know the industry, what similar positions make in the area you are applying for the job.
4. Expect to make a counter offer. Most HR professionals expect this.
5. DO take into account time off, perks, benefits. You may find two positions (we shall call them position A and B). A pays more but has less benefits such as matching 401K contributions, vacation days, etc. B pays less but you have more benefits. From there its a personal choice.
6. Understand that you will probably not start at the top in an organization. I know many retiring COL and LTC who think they will start as a VP or Director level. This is usually (although it happens) not the case.
7. Be realistic with your number. A O6 with 25-30 years makes a bunch. They will probably not make that much in there first post military position. That doesn't matter as much because their retirement will make up the difference and then some.

Let me know if I can assist or support you. I just retired...and am one of those cases that was atypical.

Phil Lantz
Deputy-Director of Global Security


Alex Haseley Washington, DC


This is a tough question to get. First, you should know that there is no law that requires you to disclose any historical salary information. Additionally, by you disclosing salary information first, you are automatically at a disadvantage in negotiations. You can respond to the question by saying that your salary requirements are negotiable depending upon the total compensation package.

Good luck!


Melissa Poole-Knight Erie, CO

Knowing what I know now I would leave it blank.


Thomas Pear Cape Coral, FL

I used to teach resume-buiding and job-hunting classes.

I suggest you research the average salary for the position in which you are applying and in the geographical market where you are applying.

One note: Do not rely on solely A 2011 article in Reader's Digest noted they are not always accurate. That may have changed in the last seven years, but I would definitely cross-reference numbers with other sources.

In fact, cross reference any number you come with at least two or three confirming sources.

Do a little legwork: Maybe call competing companies in the same geographical area and find what they pay for the same position. If someone from a competing company is willing to talk to you, tell him or her the numbers you came up with in your research, and that person can tell you if you are in the ballpark. (People rarely discuss their own salaries, especially with someone they do not know personally.)

You can also check with professional organizations in your field.

Do not rule out community organizations in which you belong that have local chapters in the area where you are applying: The Masons, The Knights of Columbus, The Rotary Club, The Kiwanis, The American Legion, etc. They can also give you valuable information on the cost of living in the area in which you are applying and information about taxes.

During the interview with the prospective employer, I typically give the number that I have researched and tell them that is based on my research. Then I add: "you probably have a set salary range you can offer, and I am willing to work with you."

Good luck, and thank you for your service!


Darlene Casstevens Boonville, NC

The short answer to this is to always put "negotiable." It could be considered rude to ask about the salary on the first interview. Know the amount you want for your salary and know the least amount you are willing to accept so that you can be ready when it is brought up by your future employer.


Morgan Hoogvelt Helotes, TX

Here is my advice: on an electronic application place in a $0...if the system does not allow for a $0, then put in $1.00

If you are asked in a face to face interview...answer the question with a question:

Q: Michael, how much money are you looking to make?

A: Great question...can you tell me what the salary range for this position is?

The reality is that your salary requirements are nobody's business but yourself. Its can be a tough 'game' to play and you have to play it right in order to get the most out that you can in a fair manner.

If you focus on doing a great job on the interview and knocking it out of the park; the money will take care of itself. Feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss further.

Thanks - Morgan


Michael Rotch Bethel Park, PA

Mike, What kind of Projects? I am in Pittsburgh and work in finance for a contracting company. I sit right next door to the senior recruiter at my company and would be glad to ask some direct questions if you can provide some additional information. I may be able to get you some direct, industry specific insight if that’s helpful.


Mike Grayson Mckinney, TX

Find out the salary range paid for the position and experience (Google search). When they ask , tell them that most companies pay between x and y for that position.


Joe Pierce Jonesboro, AR

I would respond "as much as you can afford to pay me" Then go to "I'm flexible as long as the wage is competitive and fair"


Bob Molluro Wilmington, DE

Lots of good answers. First you need to know what you are worth and what the job pays in the marketplace. Whenever I was going to negotiate compensation my game plan was to get multiple offers so I would have some leverage. I would always say I expect to do an excellent job and therefore want to work for a company that will compensate me fairly. If and only if, you have other offers can you do the practiced flinch. You like their offer but they are significantly below your other offers. Don't make this a show stopper and make it clear that you would like them to see if they could do better. Using these techniques I was able to get a better offer in two situations. In one situation where I took their offer it was still below my best offer but 12% higher than what I was initially offered. Better still it was the right decision for me in the long run as it was a commissioned sales position where three years later I was making twice what I would have gotten had I took the "best initial offer". By the way these tactics work best when you already have a job and are looking elsewhere.


Mark Chaney Milwaukee, WI

This can be tricky to answer, because if you undershoot, then you'll lose out on a potentially higher salary if you receive an offer letter. And if your overshoot, you may appear too rich for their blood and not get an offer at all.
I recommend conducting research on what the role you are seeking typically pays. In the past, I've used the salary /compensation tool at "" (non-paid endorsement). There are also specific company reviews left by employees, and some of them are brutally honest.
So when you think you have a good idea of how much you *could* get paid in the job your interviewing for, you should ask for compensation near that target. Next, be prepared to justify why you - as a candidate - merit that upper range of compensation.
Lastly, if you receive and offer letter with a salary that seems too low for you, you can always counter-offer. You'll be surprised that you can actually get somewhere with a counter-offer. Remember - at least a few people on the hiring team like you, or you wouldn't have received an offer letter. But keep it realistic. Lastly, if HR / the hiring manager can't or won't budge on salary, then ask for more vacation in lieu of more salary.
I hope this helps. Good luck!


Scott Pawloski Allen, TX

Hello Michael - Thank you for your service. My advice is to always go in with a salary range but also consider the benefits offered by the company - Paid Time Off, Flexible Work Arrangements, Medical, etc.



Ron Ethe Commack, NY

I suggest saying something like "I'm looking for an overall compensation package in the $xxx range." That allows the interview to progress on the basis that a mutually agreeable compensation package including things like incentive bonus, 401K match, stock grants or options remains a possibility to be worked out later. I also don't recommend stating a minimum and maximum. First, it essentially says you'll accept the minimum, so you are not incentivizing the interviewer to offer you more. Second, the interviewer could interpret your minimum as a hard requirement, which if not consistent with the pay range for the position, could possibly cut the interview short or at least dampen the interviewer's enthusiasm. You don't want the interview to be about salary. You want to use the interview as an opportunity to show that you will be an asset to the company, so that the company sees it as being in their best interest to bring you on board.


Tedrick Holmes Killeen, TX

Look of the Centurian Military Alliance on LinkedIn and contact Jarod Meyers. This is his specialty.


John Gelinne Burke, VA

In my experience, salary is normally discussed as the decision to hire is immanent... My recommendation is to leave that question blank.


Wesley Calhoun New York, NY

Well, it sounds like you are open for negotiation --you're interested in the position and said yourself you don't want to overshoot, so include the statement that you're open for negotiation in your response. PM compensation varies by industry, seniority, company and job market, but the range typically hovers between $80k--$140k.


john holmes Los Angeles, CA

On application: "Open"

In person or in writing: Money is not unimportant but what is critical is how I can make a difference and what the job will do for me, personally, regarding career development. What is the range you are contemplating for the position. (allows them to divulge something if not an exact number----then you can react as you feel. You might say "That is an area I've got to receive and have been thinking in the upper part of that range". If you want the job and the compensation is not what you want ask them if they will consider an increase in 3 months.


Charles Rounds Miami Beach, FL

All the answers above are great. I would add that you should definitely ask for about 10-15% more than you think the job will pay because it will give you a better position when salary comes up. The economy is doing really great now so take advantage of that.


Ed Lecco Pleasanton, CA

Its important to be honest with your answer. As part of the hiring process many companies (mine included) will perform a background check and typically will want to see your last few pay statements from your current or last employer.

The salary question is often asked to ensure you fit within the budget for the position. If your leaving the military then do your research and understand what the market rate is for the job your applying for and provide a range of what your seeking.


Laura Zoerner Littleton, CO


The first thing I would suggest is to research the position you are going for on a salary website. Find out what the range for that level is IN YOUR AREA. Same job in different cities will have different salary ranges due to cost of living etc. This can help you get a specific answer for each city you are considering.

Good luck!


Monty Crandon Tucson, AZ

You should always share your value and experience to insure they are aware of talent, abilities, and history. Then a safe response is " I believe that I would be a strong assets to your company and willing to entertain your best offer". You have not given up anything and I believe it safe to repeat if asked again. You may find they need an answer so at that time respond with a number 10/15% higher than you feel is a fair number. It leaves a little room for negotiation.


Juan Carlos Cruz Brooklyn, NY

Do some research online for the position you are applying for. Google is a great tool just to have an idea on compensation for the position, years of experience in your specific geographic area. If you know what your experience is worth then go after what you truly believe you should be paid for your time and serves.


David Eastman Gresham, OR

Dear Michael,

First of all, thank you for your service. I agree with all those who wrote you that the salary requirements question and the challenge you have in setting a fair market rate for your experience and education is always tough.

I would contact others in your profession and ask them for an informational interview or just a simple phone conversation and ask them what the industry is paying. Of course, some are getting more and some are getting less, depending on the size and value of the company they work for, but it will give you a good idea of range.

What I generally do is find the range and this is what I provide as an answer. I use the low number as my mid-number because, more than likely, after much negotiation this is probably where we will start and the company will want some upper range flexibility to give you raises, performance increases, bonuses, etcetera, and so they need flexibility.

Besides asking like professionals in the industry, I would go into It is an excellent HR-reference website that can tell you what professionals in your field make. To get good range numbers, low to high and what is the mid-range in the industry, you can type in where the company is located, the zip code, the size of the company, the number of employees, the type of manufacturing or services they provide, and all this information feeds into your salary survey result.

I wish you much success in your career and don't be shy by placing a high value on your work and having the courage to negotiate in your best interests. Although employers and HR professionals may not like candidates asking for the highest salary possible, they also don't respect candidates asking for the lowest salary and undervaluing there value. Just be fair.


David F. Eastman, CEO
Gamma Therapeutics, Inc.
US Navy, Vietnam-Era, Avionics Technician on P-3 ASW Planes.


Carlos Martinez Salinas, CA

Use linked in and network with folks in the same industry. Post the question to the folks there. While writing this I'm not sure if privacy is an issue, if it is, then use a fake name. Many employers check out potential applicants especially those that are being seriously considered, using online resources like Linked in and Facebook. Anyone can get a better idea what you are really like. On linked in you can network with folks in the career you are considering.


Ken Hjerpe Saint Petersburg, FL

This is a "screening question" designed to keep the high-price miscreants out. I answer 1 penny when a website won't allow me to put in these very important words: SALARY ONLY DISCUSSED UPON JOB OFFER. When they ask you for your salary what they're really asking you is how cheaply can they get you for? You want to secure a job offer before you negotiate a salary. If they're insistent, then remind them why you're there interviewing for the job - YOU'RE THERE TO SELL THEM THAT YOU'RE THE MOST QUALIFIED AND BEST FIT FOR THE JOB THEY NEED TO FILL. Some people contribute greatly to whomever they work for at minimum wage while others are earning millions for their effort to put their company out of business.


Morgan Hoogvelt Helotes, TX

If its on an electronic or paper application put zero. If its electronic and it requires a number put $1. Your salary is no business of anyone's but your own.


Bob Stinchcum Americus, GA

The company has salary ranges for each job. Tell them you do not know exactly. My advise is answer that they know the market and skill set required and they will make a fair offer.


Henry ("Hank") Stevens Fort Lauderdale, FL

As broad a brush answer that sounds specific, is best. For example, "Depending upon your benefits package, a salary range from the low- to mid-6 figures would be attractive." Keeping in mind that A) does not work well with written communications and B) the first person to put money on the table loses.


Michael Apt Bend, OR

Hi Michael,

In your position, recall this sensation, reluctance to state salary requirements.

In your position, would leave it blank if a mindless form, seeking a first person opportunity to reveal my motivation, capability, joy, in serving is augmented by a salary that includes rewards for effectiveness.

Backstory. I heard that Toyota, some decades past, would offer a temporary, tiny, reward for suggestions improving Toyota products, means of manufacture, assembly, and design. Toyota would receive hundreds of tips per day. Employees would receive for a short time (a year as I recall) a tiny amount of the money saved. Imagine the power and drive created in employees. Contrast this meritorious approach with having to do something wrong, knowing it, thousands of repetitions per day- it would suck a soul dry, methinks.

If you are the type that delivers suchlike, make every attempt to reveal your salary requirements are such that you want a piece of the action, such as the Toyota example. Perhaps, just maybe, you will be sifting companies able to appreciate your gusto, fidelity, capability, by answering the salary question.

Good luck.


Kristina Azab San Diego, CA

I work in the pharma industry and in our industry it's best to just tell the truth. Sometimes as part of the pre-employment phase they might actually ask for pay stubs.


David Eastman Gresham, OR

Hello, Michael

Thank you for your service.

Negotiating your salary is probably one of the most difficult things a job seeker does and most job seekers do it poorly. A lot of reasons. Not aware of what the job pays, Not aware of what the industry pays for the position. Not aware of their worth and, worse yet, don't know how to value their experience and education.

What I have done in the past--and new online tools help you with this approach--is go into, put in the job title, the level of the job.i.e. manager, supervisor, VP, etc., the size of the company and what part of the country it is in, and then allow to give you a salary range of like jobs. It really is a useful guide and hopefully will prevent you from undervaluing your job when asked to give an employer a salary start range or answer that question on an application. I like to find out the range of a job, let us say $75 K on the low, $90 K in the mid-range, and $110 K on the high range and I use the mid-range as my low. If you are in the process of negotiating salary, better to start high than low and negotiate from there.

The truth is, I think most employers want you to value yourself high. That does not mean they will give you a salary to meet that expectation, but it tells them what you think of your value and that is what motivates them to give you a good salary that reflects the industry and the position, and that they feel will keep you with their company.

Any way, that is my two cents. Be tough in negotiations too. It is a buyer's market right now and so you are a little in the cat bird seat as far as finding good work in product management.

I hope this is helpful.


David F. Eastman, CEO
Former US Navy, Anti-Submarine Warplanes, Avionics


John Humphreys Doylestown, PA

IMHO, just put "flexible"


Mark Ryall Greensboro, NC

Hi Mike, The fine print of a formal job application especially one that a candidates must sign, is an agreement. Some companies will verify all the past positions' compensation starting with the most recent one. Job offer letters will state "This offer is contingent on a successful background check". This checking could happen even after one starts the new job and depending on the findings of the research, that company may terminate if they find information inconsistent with the job application data. So honesty is the best policy, for salary, dates of employment, and job title. Good luck!


Ryan Watson Littleton, CO

That is a great question, and one that is frequently argued in many forums, blogs and posts. From my perspective, being a recruiter for almost 7 years now I will offer a couple of tips. Number one, don't be afraid to ask the recruiter what the range is, and what the structure/total compensation looks like. ANY GOOD recruiter will give you that information. Second, understand the level of role you are applying for before giving your range. I have seen it many times over the years where a senior PM will apply for a mid-level role expecting senior salary. Many times the budget is not there. Lastly, when asked the question I always recommend telling the recruiter and hiring manager a range, not a specific number. When I was most recently interviewing for my role and I was asked the question I answered by saying "I have made up to this, I would like to be in the ballpark of that, but what I accept will be based on total compensation to include benefits offered." The main thing to remember however, is that every recruiter and every hiring manager are different. Like some of the posts, some companies can negotiate and build a great package and others can't. is a great resource to get information on those companies.


Der-Min Fan Fremont, CA

For a reputable company, every opening to hire has a salary range. Therefore, I'd answer the question as "fair market salary" and let the company to decide. I'd check salary information from internet such as Glassdoor to make sure the offer is reasonable. A good company will not underpay you. If you feel the offer is too low, you should do some more research to make sure either the company is the one that you want to work for or your expectation needs to be adjusted.


james cahill Placerville, CA

Michael see my Linkedin publications about transferability.Also see Texas has a college credit for Hero's program that gives college credit for military. "Education and experience
James Cahill


michael convey Longboat Key, FL

Thank you for your service to our country. There is no right and wrong way to answer this question. Just be aware of the following: some potential employers will not consider any submission without salary history, while others will eliminate candidates on the basis of what they consider a high salary. With the aforementioned being the case, I would recommend including salary history, but also a statement that informs the potential employer that you are equally concerned about the type of company you are working for, the self fulfillment aspect of the position and the career path that may exist within an organization. Furthermore, I would reinforce what you bring to the table in terms of experience, work ethic, ability to learn and demonstrate the success you have enjoyed, and how you can apply these abilities to the position you are seeking.

mike convey


michael convey Longboat Key, FL

Thank you for your service to our country. There is no right and wrong way to answer this question. Just be aware of the following: some potential employers will not consider any submission without salary history, while others will eliminate candidates on the basis of what they consider a high salary. With the aforementioned being the case, I would recommend including salary history, but also a statement that informs the potential employer that you are equally concerned about the type of company you are working for, the self fulfillment aspect of the position and the career path that may exist within an organization. Furthermore, I would reinforce what you bring to the table in terms of experience, work ethic, ability to learn and demonstrate the success you have enjoyed, and how you can apply these abilities to the position you are seeking.

mike convey


Mark Levine Southeastern, PA

If you're applying for a job in Massachusetts, you won't run into this awkward interview question.

One of the most awkward questions you can be asked in a job interview is "What are your salary requirements?" or "How much are you making in your current job?"

But if you're interviewing for a job in Massachusetts, lucky you — you won't have to answer that question anymore.

On August 1, Massachusetts passed an equal-pay law that prohibits employers from asking about salary histories until they make a job offer that includes compensation, unless the applicants voluntarily provide the information, ThinkProgress reported.

Massachusetts is the first state to ban employers from inquiring about salary histories.

As ThinkProgress noted, asking candidates for their salary histories may reinforce the gender wage gap. Women generally earn less than men, and when they disclose their salary, the prospective employer may base their new salary on their previous one.

The passage of the law is heartening news for those interviewing in Massachusetts — as for the rest of us, there are ways to dodge the salary question artfully.

In an episode of "The Tim Ferriss Show" podcast, bestselling personal-finance writer Ramit Sethi gave some advice on how to avoid giving a direct answer.

If you're in a job interview and a hiring manager asks you how much you make or how much you're looking for, Sethi says, say something like, "You know what, I'm happy to discuss money down the road, but right now I'm just trying to see if there's a good fit for both of us. I'm sure you're trying to do the same thing."

Sethi says this communicates confidence to the interviewer and can suggest that you have multiple offers on the table.

His advice is to hold off on salary negotiations until the hiring manager comes at you with a job offer, but you may run into an interviewer who will keep pushing until they get an answer.

In an interview with Business Insider in May, HR consultant Lynn Taylor also recommended the dodge tactic, but said that if you get an insistent interviewer, answer truthfully but with an explanation.

That is, answer the range question based on what people already in that position make at the company — which you should know from your research — and answer the current-salary question by fleshing out your other benefits and the possibility of recently increased duties that have yet to be reflected in a raise.

Whatever the case, never answer directly.

Otherwise, you've already lost the edge in a negotiation before it even began.


Gloria Brown

I recommend that you go to pay in order to explore your options.


Gloria Brown

You might want to go to a site like and see what people in your area with same credentials are payed and then ask for that amount.


Ravi Cherukuri Coppell, TX

If my guess is right you might have got the answers to your questions and may be in job by this time since your post is an year old. Either way if you didn't get your PMI certification yet then get it ASAP that add lot of value to your resume and to the package.


Robyn Brands West Chester, OH

All great answers so I only have one tidbit to add. I suggest as many others did that it would be best to put in a range with some qualifiers such as dependent upon job scope & responsibilities as well as benefits. For the low side, you owe it to yourself to determine what is the lowest salary that you'd be willing to accept. On the high side, I agree don't sell yourself to short.


Michael Del Vecchio Killingworth, CT


Good question, I had the same one when I got out - be prepared with an answer - I would search on "project manager salary guidelines", see what pops out. Also, contact the reference librarian at the local library, your university library, or alumni association for some help. Good luck. I did senior PM work for a long time, it's more rewarding than line management.


Mark Hannah Incline Village, NV

Additionally, I go to, search "Project Manager $200,000" and the targeted zip code. Then iterate down by $20,000, noting the open jobs and relevance to my experience. Do this exercise down to $100,000 and you'll better dial-in the market salary/hourly rate thats a best fit. I've gleaned at but note its like Yelp and you must trust the folks posting their salaries whereas using is real-time what companies will pay. From my experience its a pretty safe bet in major cities that for every year of experience is $10/hr (8 yrs is $80/hr or ~$160k) for San Jose, SF, NYC, Chicago, etc. I favor working a contract (dating) before marrying (full-time) as negotiating an hourly rate is much easier to gauge and typically tied to what a full-time salary would be; most times the salary is less than contract rate however. All the best.


DF Jackson Washington, DC

Unless the application forces you to supply a number, I would put salary negotiable. If a number is mandatory, I would put the lowest amount you would be happy with. Try to find out the pay range of the position first, if possible. Good Luck


June R Massoud Burlington, VT

I usually throw the ball in their court and I ask them: What are you offering? or you could just indicate, the standard salary offered for this position with other high quality employers.
June R Massoud


Stephanie Z Jersey City, NJ


First, thank you for your service.

You have received many very helpful answers to this question. I would do as much research as possible to determine a good gauge for setting your salary expectations. For example, many career placement firms offer free guides on salary ranges by field, level, and geographical area, but the differences can be fairly significant even within a . However, when I went from working in Manhattan for one company to a higher-level position in the same field at a company of comparable size and revenue in New Jersey, the salary range for my new position was significantly lower. You should always be honest in answering questions about past pay, because employers can easily -- and will -- verify that information. (Regarding past pay, I always first state my base salary and then state what my average annual bonus was.) When I am asked for my salary expectations up front, I always try to defer answering at that moment by countering that I could better answer that question if I knew the scope of the position's responsibilities and the reporting structure. For example, does the position have direct reports or is it an individual-contributor role? Or, if you are you going from a consulting role, where you may have made more because you had to pay for health insurance out of pocket, for example, to a position as an employee, where health benefits are usually provided by the company, you should expect to have a lesser base salary than what you made as a consultant.

Although there is some room for negotiation, you have to remain flexible and realistic and balance the pay with the opportunity for professional growth and development that the position or company may offer.

I also have found that when I use a career placement firm and tell them my salary expectations, the recruiter is able to determine which jobs are optimal for me to apply for because the he or she knows what the company is willing to pay and whether they would be willing to pay more, particularly if you would bring to the role something more than what they are looking for but that could make you even more desirable as a candidate.

Best of luck to you.


John Chamberlain Coventry, RI


I would say your most important factor is what you are making now, how secure and fulfilled you are in your current job, and what salary you would expect to make a move into a new position. When making that decision, recognize you will be faced with all new challenges both from the work expected and from the new people you will partner with to do that work. Temper that with the understanding this economy has put tremendous pressure on salary growth for all of us.
As someone who has hired in the past, salary expectations can impact your ability to even be considered if you price yourself out of the range of the position you are targeting. However, going into a job that does not meet your needs or expectation in the area of compensation has its own set of challenges. I would not recommend settling on what you believe your worth.
Lastly, when you get that offer I am sure will come, make sure you understand the growth in the position you are accepting. If your salary does put you near the top of a range for the position you have accepted, you should know that, and understand what your next position is within that organization so you can hone your skills for that next move.
Best of luck in your search and thank you for your service.



James Bishop Columbus, OH

With 65 other answers, you will be numb by the time you read this. However, its a great question and lots of other searchers will read all these answers. I see plenty of good advice for an interview but the online application probably doesn't let you write and answer but requires a number. You need to answer it, leaving it blank is a great way to get passed over.

As others have said, lower your number and the pass you over because you don't value yourself, raise your number and you get bounced because you exceed the range. Give it your best, honest answer with knowledge of the pay scale for the job. You may be able to actually see their job description if you hunt for it online and it may have a pay scale to help you out. Putting a low number to compensate for a lack of or mismatched skills doesn't make you a bargain, it makes you the wrong candidate.


David Limato Fremont, CA

I use this one, but you better be confident if you choose to use it as well.

If I think the interview is in the early stages, and that the person answering the question is not in position to identify the true value of the position, and not capable of making the offer I will say :

"I think it looks like a good match, lets not discuss salary until we know more". Or "We are having such a great conversation, why talk salary now".

If they press I will say "I am willing to entertain any reasonable offer".

If I think the person who I am speaking to has the authority to make an offer I just tell them my requirements, usually based on pervious employment, and what I would like to make.

I think employers generally want to meet your expectation when they make an offer. Otherwise they may be trying to fill the position again in a year once you find a better offer.

I have also given my offer, and have had it increased when the offer was made. For these jobs I was truly grateful and motivated to let the hiring manager know they made the right decision.


David Moore Spokane, WA

Hi Michael,

The answer to the salary question is you don't give a number --- ever! You stated a range. What end of the range do you think a prospective employer will focus on? If you state a figure and you are high, the employer will write you off as being out of the ball park. If you're too low, you may get hired and find out later that others in the company at your level are making a higher salary. This isn't just a disservice to you, it's a disservice to the employer as well. You will feel like you were taken advantage of and that resentment most likely will not go away. This isn't good for you or the employer.

Does the employer know at what salary the job will be offered? The answer is yes. In fact, the answer you should give if asked the salary question goes something like: "Mr. Employer, you are probably in a better position to answer that question than I am. You know the requirements of the job. You know what you are paying other employees who are doing the same job at the same level of responsibility and I am open to consider any fair and reasonable offer." If the employer asks you what you are currently earning, go ahead and give it. It's historical fact and a fair question. However, what your current salary has to do with what a prospective employer might offer you is unfair. Each job has its own value and the only reason you are asked this question is to determine if your current salary is in line with the new job and could the employer make it interesting for you.

I hope this is of help Michael. The candidate should leave the believing that the job and the company is the greatest -- even if an offer is not forthcoming.

Good luck.

Dave Moore


Anthony A Clifton Philadelphia, PA

There are web resources like which indicate salary ranges for different types of job. You could refer to these and even mention the range when being interviewed. By offering a range of compensation expected, you offer an employer some latitude and flexibility. Better still, research the prospective employer company and personnel and offer to work for one month free to show your passion and performance potential.


jamie leifker Minneapolis, MN

Difficult question that many mess up early and end the interview process because it starts by feeling greedy. My opinion...

1. Does it fee to you like a great company and a company you want to work for long term. If so tell them that.
2. Let them know you are looking for a role that allows you to leverage your experience, skills and work ethic and create value for the company and that at the end of the day you aspire to align compensation with value provided.
3. ask for the opportunity to sit down and explore whether the organizational needs align with your ability to deliver and if it's a company you want to be with and they want you, both will figure out how to come to an agreement that we both feel good about.

best of luck and god bless


Erin-Todd Hansen Boise, ID

When I am hiring - and I ask this question early - it is mostly so I can eliminate candidates I can't afford. I don't want to waste my or their time. If they give me a range then I'm good. They don't have to be super specific. So, find out why they want the salary. Most will tell you.


Sammy Upton Henderson, TX

I agree with at least one of the previous responses about indirect answer to the salary question. From what I have learned, the best response is be prepared with salary research data on the position you are seeking together with the history of the company you are applying to. Consider your experience and education along with what you can bring to the table that will enhance the overall profit margin of the company you are interested in. Remember, one key no-no in the interview process is never be the first one to bring up salary, pay, or benefits. This makes you appear desperate and leads to other potential questions.


David Eastman Gresham, OR

Hello, Michael

The salary requirement question is so important and needs to be answered with some good knowledge on your part of what the position is worth in the context of the company, the industry and your value.
I would go onto the site and look up similar jobs at similar companies and see what the salary range is. This will give you some general guidance as to how much you want.
My personal strategy is to provide a range, you know $95,000 to $105,000 with your preference to start at the mid-range.
Another strategy is to simply ask the company what their salary range is going to be. If their high is too low for you, then you need to enter a negotiation where you are willing to take the high as your low but you want another salary review in 3-6 months.
Funny story, when I got out of college with my first degree--too many years ago to remember--I was hoping that the company hiring me would start me out at $19,000. Fortunately, the hiring manager said they valued my experience and education and would start me out at $27,000. Imagine if I had opened my mouth first--I would have been out $8000.
All that said, place a high value of your experience, education and mostly your value to the company. Then go for the best salary you can, even if they initially think it is high.
But, again, back to, arm yourself with as much information as you can about the value of your position, industry, and proposed job. It will help you in the negotiation.

I hope this was helpful. David F Eastman, CEO. US Navy ASW


William Bahrt Sequim, WA

With 56 replies you certainly don't need my two cents, but here it comes anyway. First of all, conduct research from a variety of sources that cite what the salary ranges is for someone with your background. Know for yourself what the going rates are. Then, when you are asked re: your salary expectations in an application avoid giving a set figure. Instead cite a range within which you would be comfortable. Be prepared to justify your higher figure with documentation of your skills and abilities and set the low figure on the scale with a line in the sand that you don't want to go below. In an interview the terms "market rate" and again a range sometimes works. If possible, avoid giving a solid figure unless you are backed up against a wall. Then, refer to your research and add that there is some wiggle room if job benefits are extra good. Don't be afraid to haggle a little, keeping in mind your skill level and abilities in the work place. Good luck to you and thank you for your service. Bill Bahrt


Doug Hill Kearneysville, WV

I always answer that the have a number in the contract for the position and I would like to hear that first. I will assume that it will be a reasonable offer.


Bob Molluro Wilmington, DE

Lots of great answers. I believe the real answers lies in what value you bring to an organization. I believe this is an exercise in research and being realistic based on your experiences. If you don't value what you do don't expect others too. One way that I have always personally used is to have competitive offers. Then you can play one off the other. The other is to come across as the best candidate. Always look at the current opportunity and what could happen based on your performance. I love variable compensation based on performance. By having competitive offers I was able to get the company I preferred to join because of the longer term opportunity to increase their offer by 20% because I had a better competitive offer. When I decided to leave I had a lot more clout. Later on in my career when I had an established track record I was able to negotiate stock options into my compensation. My 70,000 options @ $5 per share vested after 5 years were eventually worth $30 per share. That was real money. You need to consider all factors as others have mentioned.


Drew Schildwächter Wilmington, NC

I like Jennifer's answer about how this question is sometimes used to align both parties' expectations. i.e. if you want more than twice what they are offering, then why waste time with the expensive hiring process

A great recommendation that I received from a senior manager in Deloitte's Talent organization was to talk about total compensation. Take your desired salary, check it against industry offerings for the role, add 10-15% and phrase it as "I would like total compensation in the neighborhood of...". This gives them flexibility to discuss it without forcing you to throw down a hard number and limit yourself.


Thomas Steele Riverside, CA

You can go online and look at "SALARIES" for job positions in your area. So now that you would have an idea, you can measure using a range of -10% or -15% to +10% -1`5%. if the company looks like its rich with education and advancement opportunities, you may wish to take a discount in pay in exchange for more growth, Remember be a good negotiator for your time, once it's gone its gone. Best of luck


June R Massoud Burlington, VT

When they ask you: What is your salary expectation, you ask them: How much are you offering, in what range?
That's all.
June R Massoud


John Green Cary, NC

Hi Mike - My response has always been "a well rounded compensation package that includes base salary, discretionary bonus, and health care." The next question will invariably be, how much for base, my answer is usually a finite number calculated at ten percent more than I am currently making. So for example, if you are currently drawing $120k on your current base salary from your current full time job, I would add $12k to that number to get a base ask of $132k. Notice this is your asking price and most hiring managers will offer less than that. Best regards - John


Michael Clark Pittsburgh, PA

This is a very popular question and I am overwhelmed by the wonderful responses. Thank you very much to everyone that provide their insight.

Michael Clark


Jeff Pascoe Mount Pleasant, SC

If you are being asked in a routine on-site job application, then I would bypass and not answer if possible. If you are pressed then go with some of the advice already posted. And add about 10%.


Jon Snow Los Angeles, CA

Hi Michael,

I know I'm late to this thread, but my favorite one is simply, "Negotiable." Works like a charm.

Good luck!


Betsy Jones Charlotte, NC

Hi Michael,

This is a great question and clearly one that brings a lot of different and insightful perspectives! I think it's important for a candidate to be honest and open about what they've been earning and what expectations they may have. As a Recruiter, I can say it helps me tremendously to represent the candidate when there is an open dialog about compensation and what someone is aiming for, if they're flexible, if they think they're underpaid etc. The majority of companies are going to offer a competitive package that's in line with your skills and with the market in order to bring you onboard. Alternatively, if a firm cannot meet your expectations, they should tell you in the initial conversations and then you can have a conversation about your level of flexibility to determine next steps.

I hope this helps! Thank you for your service, Michael!

Betsy Jones


Morgan Hoogvelt Helotes, TX

Long and loaded question. Lot of good answers above but also too hard to explain in a paragraph or email. You can't just put something on an application - you NEED to know how to discuss it as well.

For an application - put zero's. If you need help talking this me and I am happy to speak with you via phone to walk you through proper verbiage.

Semper Fi,



Eric Miller Virginia Beach, VA

Admittedly, I've not read every response above, so I'll apologize up front if this is redundant.

There is one piece of salary that should be considered very early on. If you are going to be required to relocate, either with your family or as a geo-bachelor, you do need to know up front where your line in the sand is. If you get to the end of the hiring process and find out that you can't make the numbers work for basic subsistence due to the relocation, then you've both wasted your time.

Worse, if you take the job deciding to bite the bullet and work for less than desirable, and then find that you are not sustainable, you'll may need to quit to look for a more compatible opportunity. Now you've really wasted everyone's time and taken the employer's hiring process back several notches in progress.


Louis Schwarz Somerville, NJ

All the responses are great. Take the best from each. Determine your current needs and remember once you get an offer, the growth is slow after that. Bottom line is, get it coming in the door, there are rules after you enter. Integrity is key. Once I determine I cannot trust your word, you are done. Drive, self reliance and integrity get compensation increases.
Good luck!!\


Gerald Thomas Tulsa, OK

As a hiring manager, i have found that a number of veterans either have a unrealistic view of salary requirements or the do undersell themselves. The upfront research needs to be done before filling out and application. Make sure you understand the salary range for the position applying and offer up that range. Your interview, experience and education will dictate how much you will be offered.


Bob Molluro Wilmington, DE

There are lots of great suggestions however let me add one. There is nothing like competitive offers. Yes it takes more time and you want to make the decision. For me personally I always wanted to makes sure that they considered me to be a top candidate and really wanted me. Once I reached that position then playing one competitive offer against another gives you some bargaining power. To be specific in one situation I had an offer that was 30% higher than another offer and I knew I was the top candidate. The other job offer while less was more attractive from a career move. I was able to move the lower offer up 20% because I was in a strong bargaining position. In addition the fact that this employer was willing to relook at their offer was a strong indication of their interest. I took the lower offer and because this was a sales position with variable compensation down the road I probably made twice as much in retrospect. Do your home work and don't let someone devalue what you are worth as you will pay the price for many years.


Ron Schaefer Santa Barbara, CA

I think the biggest risk with this question is that you either shoot too low or too high. If you shoot too low, the employer might think you don't bring the value for what they expected to pay this position. If you shoot too high, they may not consider you.

I think the key is to do some good homework to know that the position *should* pay relative to other similar positions, and be middle-to-slightly high of that. Expecting a little more than they want to pay usually establishes you as a higher-value candidate, oddly enough.

You could also say "here's what I expect, but would be willing to negotiate based upon benefits package". That gives you both some wiggle room.

I agree with what others have said here, too, that it is vital to portray your skills, abilities, and experience as invaluable to their organization (in a non-arrogant manner, of course). I like the word the Munoz' used: "irresistible"! That puts you in a much stronger position to survive this question.


Anastasios Handrinos Port Richey, FL

Look at what similar jobs are paying with the same experience and create a salary range.


Robert Jung Houston, TX

As a start, please give me an offer which is reasonable and comfortable to you (the employer) .


Lawrence Lundin El Segundo, CA

My advice regarding a salary requirements question is to say competitive market rate or if pushed for an actual number give your most recent or current salary. Be sure to factor in your housing and subsistence pay, if you are on active duty, as it will makes your salary higher as you receive money that is not taxed.


William (Liam) Hickey Evans, GA

On an application, leave it blank. If that doesn't do it, put in "confidential." Of course they don't want to waste time, but it's more about getting you to tip your poker hand. More often than not, employers want to know your salary expectation in order to win the negotiation.

Read "101 Salary Secrets: How to Negotiate Like a Pro." Practice the techniques with a friend. (Employers practice these techniques all the time.)


David Akre New York, NY

Only answer that in person.
If they insist before the interview, find another employer.


Bill Felice Springfield, PA

Hi Michael, along with these other fine responses, I'll add my own. I've always stated that salary is negotiable, but do consider what salary range is acceptable to you and reseach and find out what the occupation typically pays at various levels of experience. I've found that if you get to the phone interview with HR, the rep will ususally disclose the salary range. If not, just ask and they will. Thank you for your service. Bill


David Eastman Gresham, OR


I am a great proponent of using a salary range rather than giving an employer a set annual salary figure. I would set that range on the low end as the absolute lowest amount of money you are willing to accept, the mid-range as the salary you would prefer, and the high range as a blue sky estimate. All salary negotiations are just that, negotiations, so put yourself into a good negotiating position from the start.

As for your salary for your skill set, I do think that the website, is useful in looking at salary ranges for the fields and positions you are interested in and also the size of companies you plan to work for. will give you some good guidance and also will give you some insight into salary negotiations.

Good luck. David Eastman, former US Navy Radar Technician. ASW


Dennis Malin Vancouver, WA

It seems like so many people sell themselves short these days. My best advice is that there are no friends or hurt feelings when it comes to your wallet. There is nothing worst or more demoralizing than feeling under paid or under appreciated.

That being said, each industry and job has thresholds it can support. With your background and experience, I wouldn't think a company would sacrifice for a lesser candidate over a few thousand dollars. Many recruiters or hiring managers feel like they have done their job if they can negotiate you down a little bit, but don't give too much. when it comes down too it, if they really want you, and you are close, they will tell you.


Jerry Welsh Middleville, MI

A couple of rules 1) the one who uses a hard number loses, use ranges of $5-$7k 2) do your research on careeronestop, or and know your range and the cost of living in the area $50 K in Atlanta needs $70K in the southern CA area 3) do your research on the benefits, how much of healthcare do they pay, the can bee $300 to $500 a month sometimes with a $5K deductible- 3) it is important to know your thresh holds as one answer had, keep this logical try never to make it emotional, then you or your family may suffer on that dream job that can not pay the bills. Can not emphasize enough learn the career field and know by area and title what the salaries are. I negotiated billions of dollars in contracts for healthcare a year, the more we knew about our negotiation base the better decisions we made-the hiring company holds the most information no different than the manufacture holds the true cost of a product-the ones most informed create a win win! Good Luck and thanks for your service. God Bless.


Jeff Shoemaker Lake In The Hills, IL

It's harder to respond to the answer on the application instead of a during an interview. if possible provide a range and in person you could also respond with a statement such as " One of the reasons you are interested in working for them is because their reputation is one of treating their employees fair and equitable". You are interested in being compensated at market value for the position and its associated responsibilities


Bill Garrison Lake Wales, FL

Put down the middle of the road you can live with. Say you need $45k a year to live on and be comfortable and $35 a year to survive then put down $40k. If a company isn't going to pay you a living salary then you don't want to work for them. Things are tough now but don't give up.

Putting too little down shows a lack of self confidence and will lose you the position faster than putting too much down. Good luck.


Keith Fulton South Orange, NJ

Personally, I don't think providing a range is a good strategy. If you give a range like 85k-100k, and then they offer you 85, what leverage do you have to negotiate? You have already told them you would take 85.

A better approach is to be truthful but vague. When they ask what your expectations are, give them your current base+bonus % and add that you would need to stay at least even with that, or that you are happy where you are and would expect a bump to move jobs, or whatever, but don't soecify how big of a bump. This lets you assess the attractiveness of the situation as you learn more.

Also a personal opinion here, but I think it is a faux pas for the candidate to bring up money. Wait for the company or recruiter to do it.

On written applications, btw, I wouldn't specify anything. Just write "competitive" in that blank and let them figure it out.


Gregg Thompson Louisville, KY

Be honest with yourself and the company you are seeking employment with. In most cases you should be prepared to take a few steps back to get in with a good company but don’t sell yourself short!


Michael Clark Pittsburgh, PA


Thank you very much for all of your responses. I've looked at websites like, glassdoor, and indeed, and while I agree they are helpful, they aren't always accurate. It would be very helpful if recruiters would post the ranges and/or be up front with you when they conduct their telephone screenings. I also realize the reason why they don't post ranges, so the recommendations you provided will be helpful moving forward.

There's nothing more frustrating than having a telephone interview and never receiving any follow up communication even after sending a thank you letter and/or email to the individual that interviewed you. The applicant is just left to wonder whether they were either too qualified for the position or under qualified for the position, or just out of the organizations price range.

I'm continuing to plug away and appreciate everyone's responses.


Michael Clark


George Oestreich Fort Lauderdale, FL

Many great responses----my style with the pre-interview discussion (telephone call after reviewing resume) is to ask that question and also reveal what I am willing to pay. If the numbers are close then I will proceed with scheduling the interview appointment. Time is too valuable for you and me.


Dan Theno Green Bay, WI

Say that you would like to receive compensation in the "X range" but that a salary is negotiable.


Julia Rivera Burbank, CA

It is helpful to know what the median salary is for the job you are applying for. You can use a site like to determine that. Also do a search for your own job title and level of experience to see what you should be paid in your area. I use this when I need to create a new position and hire new staff.


Christianah Adesida Fayetteville, NC

Hello Michael, thanks for serving our great nation. As an HR manager and Recruiting firm owner. I will advice you to always do your research before you discuss anything about salary or compensation. You want to look at the so salary range in the field that you are going into. A good site to use is Onetonline. You want to determine the highest and the lowest range. Then you need to decide on what you worth and set a range for yourself. I will suggest you start with the average of what you see on Onetonline for your state.
Also avoid setting yourself short. But if you have to ask for the high end of the salary range always refer them to the added value that you are bringing to the organization. An organization will work with you if they really need your technical or the value you have to offer them.

Good luck with job hunting,



Tim Keefe Washington, DC

Particularly useful for better-known companies and find out what the going salaries are for the job and the particular geographic areas.

I agree, also, with the advice to factor in other things like cost of living, commute time, commute costs, moving costs, benefits, etc. You can do this kind of research online and on your own.


Ron Geromini Dover, NH

Thank you for your service to our country. I agree with Tracie's approach here. Additionally, I would add another aspect. It very much depends on the company you are talking with. Larger companies tend to have standard salary ranges across different job levels and HR recruiters use guidelines to keep new hires within certain salary ranges so new hires won't create pay inequities across the other existing employees who have been there. On the other hand, smaller companies, especially those that are privately held, have much more flexibility in paying their staff mainly and tend not to have as much structure in place (and in some companies I've seen no structure) and hiring managers have a little more leeway to set their own salaries for their employees as long as it fits within their operating budgets. I have worked for a few of these smaller companies and learned I came in paid more than some folks that were there for years. So keep an eye on this and know that one size doesn't fit all. Do your homework and check out websites such as and try and find how this works from people on the inside if you can.
Ron G


Karina Figueira Oxon Hill, MD

Michael, I would use or similar sites to have an idea of what the salary range is where the job is located.
If you currently at 50K and you can't make less, your salary requirements should reflect an honest expectation.
If a range is something like minimum 50K, mid-point 65K and max 90K, pick something between the start salary and mid-point, but be honest. Let's say it is not worth for you to make a move for less than 80K, that should be your number. Some online applications will ask for your current salary, perks and benefits as well as a dollar amount for desired salary and you can add a range. Benefits and etc are importart, but the take home money is what pays the bills and it is important to have an honest conversation.
Have a great day, Karina.


Brian Chapman Burlington, CT

Hello Michael. There are two questions that you can ask that can help you locate the discussion a little more clearly: 1) "What are you looking to pay someone who will perform well in this position?" 2) "What's the budget for the position?" Getting concrete guidance from the person who's going to hire you will take some of the pressure off him or her and will allow you formulate a more appropriate response. I would also add the best definition of sales I ever heard and it applies to interviewing as well. Sales is establishing value and then discussing price.


Judy Tomlinson Richardson, TX

I always provide a salary range and say "based on my skills and experience my salary expectations are...." add that salary is negotiable based on the benefits package offered. Career Builder has a salary estimator function or just use other similar jobs and see what they are offering. Keep in mind that salaries on both coasts will be higher due to the cost of living.


Helen Wilson Dallas, TX


My response would align with Jennifer's recommendations. It is the role of a recruiter to ensure they are screening a candidate for compensation requirements, just as they would other role considerations.

I recommend candidates research the prevailing wages for a given role, in a given market to ensure they are educated. You should further benchmark based on your specific level of directly-related work experience to determine your appropriate positioning within the range.

I would always recommend responding with a range " based on your research" and indicate that "your salary expectations align accordingly depending on the scope and responsibilities of the role and the benefits package."

If you have a specific range, I would recommend you be upfront, if you are flexible indicate as such. The best thing you can do is be honest, open and do your upfront research.

I hope this is helpful to you in your job search.


Al Hope, Sr. Water Valley, MS

Hi Michael,
I agree with all of the above, however, let me go one step further. There is for every state an occupation outlook. I don't know what state you are planning to settle in so I will give you the federal level which is located at This site gives salary information in the percentiles. Select your career field from the broad topics and go through the steps. It will show 10, 25, 50, 75 and 90 percentiles. For an example: 10 percentile will equate to 1-3 years of experience, 25, 5-7 years of experience. It will also give the salary ranges for each percentile. This is a good way to start. So then, do the same for the state you plan to settle in. An example I will use the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES). Go in and look for Occupational Wages. This will give you a range compared to the federal level for you position and experience.

I hope this help. You can always contact me a

MSG. Al E. Hope, Sr. USA (Retired)


Tracie Bertaut Destrehan, LA

Hi Michael,
Something that I've used, and have coached others to use when I was a career management consultant, was this response: "I'm sure my salary range is more flexible than yours. Will you share the range for this position that you are looking at?"

If it's lower than you expect, be honest and say it's a little lower than you'd like but that it's not the only consideration in whether you're interested - job responsibilities, flexibility, benefits, etc. are all part of your decision. Ask how much room there is for negotiation.

If it's higher than you expect, yay! Let them know it's within your requirements and you look forward to learning more about the position.

Happy to discuss further and provide some scripting.

Tracie -


Ethan Margalith Los Angeles, CA

Thank you for protecting the country!

Many times I will ask early on what is the candidate's compensation requirement or history. I often do it because it is hard to tell based on the particular resume if there is a good fit on compensation.

It is not unusual for people to totally ignore the question. I will sometimes disqualify them for that , although it often depends on the position, or other factors.

Personally I think you should answer it with some kind of range; it can avoid wasting time. And what is the point of holding back?

A great answer in my view is something like :

I want the job and I will do
whatever it takes to get it.

I desire to earn $X as soon as
possible. However, I will accept
whatever reasonable amount the
position pays if I have the
potential to earn X within 3 to
6 months if I achieve clearly set
out performance requirements.

I am the guy for the job. Hire me
and you will not regret it.

Good luck with your job search !


Jordan Liner Coventry, RI

Hi Mike. First of all let me thank you for your service. From my experience, most companies that will utilize the project or program management approach, are more interested in qualification then they are salary. Therefore my suggestion to you would be to high-light your qualifications as primary. Once you know the company you're interested in, I'd try to tailor your dialog to emphasize how your military experience relates to their project. Let them know salient points like: personnel supervised, project or budget size that you were responsible for, and functional responsibilities (e.g. Sales, Contracts, Engineering, Purchasing, Manufacturing, Production Control, Quality Control, etc.) that you coordinated. Research the Companies interviewed, and ask good questions, so you have a good understanding of the job in question, and show how your background fits well. Dress properly, good posture, maintain eye contact, be confident, and stay away from big words. Be yourself. Best of luck, and thanks again for your service to my country. Sincerely, Jordan


Michael Clark Pittsburgh, PA

I want to thank everyone for the advice.


Sandy and Phil Munoz Orange, CA

As Chuck pointed out, be aware of the salary and interest the job may induce. Your answer may depend on the competition. You may want to state a lowball salary with the stipulation of a probationary time where you can prove your worth and therefore an increase in salary. Make sure upon hire the raise possibility is in the job offer. Many businesses a receiving discounts and credits for hiring servicemen, so this will probably give incentive also. I adjusted my salary to the lower quarter of average and prove I'm valuable and earned the pay raises. Sell yourself, but make yourself irresistable.

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