Your expected salary is something you usually discuss on a job application or in job interviews. It is important to know how to respond when an employer asks you about it. Providing a salary in the right range can help you get a job that can compensate you appropriately for your experience and skills. In this article, we discuss how to calculate your expected salary and how to communicate this information with an employer.
What is expected salary?
Expected salary is the compensation that you desire to receive for the job you are applying for. It's common to be unsure of what to put for expected salary when you are attending interviews or completing job applications. If you provide a salary range that is too low, your employer may eagerly accept it and pay you less than you are worth. If you provide an expected salary that is too high or over the company's budget, you could risk losing the job opportunity entirely.
You need to have a smart strategy when negotiating your expected salary so you can provide an amount that's likely to get you fair compensation for the job.
How to determine expected salary
Follow these steps to figure out the best salary request for your desired job:
1. Do your research
Before you negotiate, research how much people in similar positions make. You can use Indeed Salaries to determine the average salary for the position you have applied for. These salary estimates come from data collected from present and past job advertisements on Indeed as well as information submitted anonymously to Indeed by users. You can also use Indeed's Salary Calculator to get a free, personalised salary range based on your experience, industry and location.
2. Consider your cost of living
The average salary for a position varies depending on your geographical location. Salaries in Hong Kong tend to be higher because of the high cost of living and expensive housing.
If you're relocating for your new job, make sure to understand how much it will cost to live in a new city. In some places, utilities, groceries, gas and housing are cheaper. Thus, if you are moving outside of Hong Kong, you may accept a salary offer that's slightly lower than the salary of your previous job.
3. Factor in your education and experience
If everyone else in your industry has an advanced degree and you don't, your salary base will likely be a little less. If you have experience managing people or have a training certificate, assume your standard salary will be a little higher. Search online to see how education and experience influence the industry standard salary in your field.
How to answer "What is your expected salary?" in a job application
If your employer asks for your expected salary, you may have to provide this information prior to the job interview. Follow these steps to handle a request for your expected salary within the application process:
1. Follow the employer's instructions closely
It's best not to inform your employer about your expected salary until you get a starting offer from them, so you don't price yourself too low. However, if the employer asks you to indicate your expected salary in your resume or cover letter, do so.
If the job advertisement asks that you include expected salary in your resume, you can meet the requirement without the need to give a concrete amount by including a note that says, "Pay is negotiable and can be discussed during the job interview."
Some online application forms come with a checkbox that allows you to specify whether your salary is negotiable. Make sure to check this if you are given the option. If not, you may be able to indicate that your salary is negotiable if there's a section for notes. This may help you get further consideration from potential employers.
2. Provide a salary range
If you are not comfortable providing a concrete number, you may offer a salary range instead. However, keep in mind that your employer may choose the lower end of your range, so make sure your target salary is as close to the bottom number as possible. For example, if your expected salary is HK$30,000 per month, you may indicate that your range is HK$28,000 to HK$38,000 per month.
How to answer "What is your expected salary?" in a job interview
Potential employers often ask what your expected salary is in an interview. This is the best time to engage in a salary negotiation, as you have the flexibility to discuss the topic fully in person. Here are a few steps you should consider when addressing this question:
1. Wait until you are ready
If the employer asks about your salary expectations before you have a full understanding of the role, you can delay your response. You can say, "I'd like to understand the position in more detail before I consider what salary I feel would be acceptable."
If the employer or interviewer persists and asks you to provide a specific amount, you can give a diplomatic response such as, "Well, after doing some research and considering my skills and experience, I am anticipating a salary between HK$30,000 and HK$35,000 per month."
2. Back up your answer
Research the industry prior to your interview so you can provide an answer that is supported by evidence. If you want a salary of HK$35,000 per month, provide a solid argument for why you feel you deserve that amount. You can point to your experience and what's unique about it. If you have particular skills that are not common in the industry, you can also highlight those. You can also share about the results you have achieved in your previous jobs, such as the goals you have met, awards you earned and revenue you've helped drive. If possible, use actual figures.
3. Include negotiation options
In addition to your salary, there may be other perks, benefits or forms of compensation that you can include in your negotiation. For instance, though the employer may not be able to meet your expected salary due to budget constraints, they may be willing to offer you stock options, extra vacation days or goal-oriented bonuses to make the compensation package more attractive to you.
4. Take time to consider any final salary offer
After the employer has made a final salary offer, ask for a couple of days to consider it. Take the time to clear your mind and consider the offer objectively. Giving yourself time to review the offer can help you make a sound decision as to whether to reject or accept the offer. Remember, an employer that wants you will make an effort to come as close to your expected salary.
There are several ways to answer the question about your salary expectation. Here are some examples for inspiration:
Responding with a request for a salary increase
"My current salary is HK$20,000 a month, which is the maximum compensation that my company allows for this role. I have recently completed a master's degree in marketing, which gives me the expertise and skills necessary to move into a higher position that I'm now applying for. As this position has a greater number of responsibilities, I'd like to request a 10% salary increase."
Responding with an expected salary based on relocation
"Based on my research, the average salary for a registered nurse in Hong Kong is HK$140 to HK$150 per hour. I have over seven years of experience as a registered nurse and recently completed a master's degree in nursing. I believe this qualifies me for a higher pay within this range, and request compensation of HK$35,000 to HK$40,000 per month."
Responding when you are not sure of your expected salary
"I don't have a specific amount in mind yet, as I'm focused on finding a job that suits my career goals, skills and experience. Once I have done that, I am willing to consider a salary offer that you think is fair for the position."
Responding in a cover letter to expected salary in an online application
"On the application, I chose a salary range of HK$25,000 to HK$30,000 per month. I believe this salary range is appropriate for my experience level and skills. I'm open to negotiation about the compensation package for this job and look forward to discussing this with you further."
Tips for discussing your expected salary
Here are a few tips that can help you comfortably discuss your salary expectations:
- Be confident: If you seem unsure, the employer may see this as a chance to negotiate a much lower salary. Thus, confidently state your expected salary and briefly explain why you deserve that amount. Showing that you believe in your own ability will give a potential employee the confidence in you.
- Ask for more: One fundamental rule when negotiating a salary is to provide a slightly higher amount than your goal. This way, if the employer negotiates down, you will still end up with your target salary.
- Let the employer offer the first number: This helps you avoid providing an amount that is too low. If the employer asks you to provide an amount, you can counter it by asking what the typical salary range is for employees in this role at the company, or by saying you will consider any reasonable offer.