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How to determine salary requirements

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How to determine salary requirements and figure out how much you are worth

How to determine salary requirements can be almost as daunting as that first interview. How do I find comparable salaries? What if I don't put down a wage figure? What are the different factors to look into as I try to find the best wages for my experience and this particular position?

Below, we'll take a look at a few ways which can prepare you to answer that all-important question for employers: What are you really worth? And can (or should) it be quantified?

Why Do Employers Ask for This?

To help them in screening potential candidates, employers may ask for the resume to include salary requirement or history. This can help them screen out wages that are too high (or too low), allow them to save money by choosing potential candidates which will work for a lower overall wage, or simply find out more information on the prospective worker.

Overall, one can decide against working for that particular company. In this economy, though, the second option is usually the one chosen. It involves figuring out a way to answer the question while still keeping your options open. 

How Do I Come Up With the Correct Number?

According to Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., in his article at Quintessential Careers, there are several factors which one can focus on to help them to answer the question of potential wages:
  • Career path: It's important to understand comparable wages for employees who have taken a similar career path. This will give you a great starting place and a better understanding of what you may be worth in your specific niche marketplace.

  • Demand for other applicants: Look at whether or not the demand for your particular line of work is rising. If so, do you possess a specific skill set that makes you better qualified for the position? If so, you may be looking at a higher salary.
  • Industry: It's all about industry. For example, workers in the tourism industry will normally be paid less than a technology firm within the manufacturing industry. Know your industry, and in essence, you'll have a better understanding of your worth to the company.
  • Location: Cost of living will be a factor, depending upon which city or state you may be looking for work. Over at the RMA (Resource Management&Acquisitions) page, they provide an example of workers in New York and Arizona. Those in New York obviously take home a higher rate as the cost of living will be considerably higher as compared to Arizona.
  • Overall compensation: Look at your Cost to Company (CTC) by researching the compensation structure for your specific industry. This will include more than just salary, with items such as commissions and benefits to boot.

To know and understand these various different facets of location, career path, demand, total compensation, and industry type is an important first step toward getting a clearer idea of total yearly wages you should be earning.

How to Play the Game

What are the best ways to go about responding to the employer's request? If you go either too high or too low you may find yourself completely screened out even before the interview process. To combat this, try working with a wider range. For example, work in a salary of somewhere in the mid-whatever (mid-30's, mid-40's, etc.). Or go with a range that fits in your highs and lows.

You can also simply state you are willing to be flexible about your wages, but this can have a detrimental effect if you don't actually put in a specific range for an employer. You can even add in you will be willing to discuss your ranges at the interview. But this can have the same effect as trying to be flexible -- If you don't provide an exact number, some employers or HR personnel will simply use that as an excuse to weed you out.

The last thing you can do is ignore the request, but this is more detrimental than the previously mentioned items. Employers like their potential employees to follow directions, so it's best to use the aforementioned bullet points to figure out (to the best of your ability) what you are truly worth to the company.

Thus, how to determine salary requirements can be important, not only for you, but the employer or hiring agency as well. In the end, it's about finding the right wage to get you noticed and show you are willing to do the research necessary to come up with a figure that works for both parties.


Quintessential Careers: Responding to Requests for Salary Requirements or Salary Histories: Strategies and Suggestions. Resume Tips: How To Determine&Articulate Your Salary Requirements.

Above photo attributed to CharlotWest

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