One of the questions our team at Evolution Coaching is asked on a daily basis is, “How do I name my salary?” On one hand, you’d like to ask for a trillion dollars; on the other, you want to give a reasonable answer, incase they decide you’re out of their price range. Or worse, what if you choose a number that’s lower than they would have accepted?

So, how do you answer?

Determine a Baseline.

Depending on your place in life, there’s likely a minimum amount of money you can accept from a company. Before you can begin to research your expected salary, you need to find out your (unbiased) minimum. So, add up how much it takes to pay your bills, the mortgage, your kids college bills, etc. and go from there. While a low paying job is better than no job, don’t be skimpy, give yourself a little extra room—you’re trying to determine how much you can reasonably accept so you can live your life without financial stress!

Find Context.

Ideally, your goal is to anticipate the answer the employer is looking for (while keeping the number above your baseline). One way to do that is to do your research. Look around online to find comparable salaries—especially from their competitors. This way, you’re looking at companies that are in the same range as the one you’re interviewing for and knowing the normal salary for your position will keep your options open so you aren’t getting taken advantage of by the company.

Once you’ve established the normal salary for an individual in your position, add a little (say 10%), because you’re worth more than the other guy!

Try Asking.

Even though it seems like a copout (and in a way it is), the best way to know what your employer wants to pay you is to ask them! Instead of simply repeating their question back to them, ask them how much they are willing to pay. In many instances the person doing the hiring has little to do with how much the company is able to pay you, so it’s important to know their maximum before you attempt to negotiate.

When all else fails, Be Vague.

Even once you’ve decided what to tell your employer, it’s important to mention that the exact salary you’re willing to accept depends on the other benefits they offer. How is their insurance plan? Do they offer tuition reimbursement if you go back to school?  It’s okay to be a little vague in your answer because the number you offer won’t be your final salary anyway!

From everyone here at Evolution Coaching, we wish you the best of luck in naming your salary and accepting your dream job! Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help! We can create a strong Salary Negotiation Letter to assist you!