Salary expectations?

I had a phone screen with a recruiter recently, and I was asked about my salary expectations. I wasn’t sure how to handle it. What’s the best way to answer this question?


  • CareerServicesCareerServices Member, Sofi Team

    Hi JustLooking,

    Employers ask the salary expectation question early in the process to determine whether or not you should be considered for the role.

    If you quote a number higher than the budgeted amount, it can increase the risk of elimination. The bigger the gap between your expectation and what the employer is prepared to pay, the more likely you will be cut from the process. If you quote a number too low, then you may limit your self during offer stage (and also hurt your credibility). This limit/elimination risk can cause many problems for candidates, especially if they are unemployed or in an urgent situation.

    Given the risk, the goal is to not give them a number. Instead, tell the recruiter that you’re priority is finding the right opportunity and that you would only expect to be paid fair market value. If the recruiter still presses you, then give a transparent answer. Something like:

    “I’m really excited about this opportunity, but it really is too early to give you a number. I’d hate to pull a number out of the air and come in higher than expected before I have a chance to learn more. I promise to be completely transparent with you on compensation once I go through the process and understand the role/responsibilities more clearly.”

    If you are a passive job seeker, then the limit/elimination risk is not as high. You could be more aggressive and provide a number. However, we still advise that you wait until offer stage to put a number on the table. Employers are very sensitive to compensation early in the process, and may eliminate a candidate with slightly higher salary expectations. The very same candidate may actually negotiate even a higher salary later in the process, if they had waited until offer stage to quote a number. Basically, give them a chance to fall in love with you before starting the negotiation process.

    Hope that helps!

    SoFi's Career Services Team

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