How to Answer “What is Your Desired Salary?”
- On October 10, 2021
Now that California employers cannot ask you how much you make during the recruiting process, they will likely ask you what kind of compensation you are looking for. (They are asking up front because they usually have a set budget, don’t want to overpay, and don’t want to go through the whole process to find out at the end the person is just too expensive.) Here are some tips and sample language on how to respond.
- Research compensation for this type of job in this industry in this location. How? There are a plethora of online resources. I would also develop good relationships with peers so you can share salary info. In-house committees of legal organizations often compile salary information as well so be a dues-paying member for access. Another way is to research the range for a similar job in Colorado because that state has required comp ranges be given with job descriptions. See here how to get the Colorado range, and know that it would be at least that amount for California.
- Ask the company for the range before you answer. You can flat out ask “What level is this position internally, and what is the base/bonus/equity range?”, but before that bald request, I would first show strong interest and explain relevant experience. That way the company doesn’t see you as someone solely motivated by money but rather a good fit and worthy of a champion through the process. Some other sample language from The Ladders: “What is the budget allocated for this role?” “I’d like my compensation package to be in line with what you would pay someone with my experience at your company. What does that range look like here?” “I am flexible – would love to hear what you had in mind.”
- If the employer refuses to go first, here are some ways to respond (from The Ladders): “I would love to better understand the job so I can share more appropriate salary expectations further along in our conversation.” “I am flexible for the right role.” “I’m willing to consider an offer you think is fair.”
- If you truly have no clue and want to keep talks going, you can say it depends on the all-in package but would like base somewhere in the 2s plus bonus plus equity. That response is super vague and will likely continue talks.
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