When Employers Want Salary Requirements Up Front, Make Them a Deal

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Career Coach & Author Jack Chapman Tackles All of Your Salary and Negotiation Questions

We’ve been listening to your questions and the vast majority of them revolve around salary. This week’s mailbag query is no different.

How much money? You want to know how much a company is going to pay you and they want to know how much you’re going to accept. And more and more often lately—especially with the advent of automated job application forms—companies want the answer to that question sooner than later. Prevailing wisdom consists of putting off talk of salary for as long as possible, but what about when an employer insists upon knowing your salary requirements before you’ve interviewed or even talked to a hiring manager?

Far too often the job seems like a good fit, but qualified candidates are screened out either because their salary requirements were too high, low or the candidate failed to include the pertinent information on the application. So what do you do about it? Jack Chapman, our resident “Salary Expert,” has an outside-the-box solution.


Lately, every time I apply for a job the Human Resources department asks me my salary expectations. And when I tell them I don’t usually get the interview. What’s going on and what can I do to improve on this situation?

You have asked one of the hottest questions for today’s jobhunters. Now that hundreds of candidates often apply for the same job instead of a few, employers are utilizing the salary question more than ever.

The answer to your question is the same as it has always been. The employer is screening out applicants rather than considering them for the job.

The screening process has become an increasingly important part of candidate selection. Note that this is not the hiring process. That comes later when enough candidates have been screened out. Therefore, how you answer the salary question becomes very important. If you don’t answer it, or if you go too high or too low, chances are you will not be invited to an interview. And if there’s no interview, there’s no job.

There are several strategies you can try, but I advocate for the “Let’s Make a Deal” method.

When asked, say something along the lines of “Would it be fair to say you’re probably wondering if you can afford me in the event that you want to hire me?” Assuming their answer is yes, follow that up with “Well, I’d be glad to share all my financial information with you and I can even bring in documentation if you’d like. But the fit for this job seems so good, I wouldn’t want to be screened out just because my last salary was a couple thousand dollars too high or low. So can we make a deal? Why don’t we set up the first interview and I’ll bring all the information you want?”

All the best,
Jack Chapman

Career coach and author Jack Chapman, who wrote “Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute,” is teaming up with Salary.com to offer a weekly Q & A on all things related to salary negotiation.

Using real questions sent in by actual Salary.com readers, Jack will help you navigate the choppy waters of interviewing for a job, negotiating a salary and asking for a raise or promotion. Remember all those times you desperately wished you had someone to help you answer all the tough questions that invariably surface around negotiations? Now Jack has your back and he’s providing easy to implement, real-life solutions to your salary negotiation dilemmas.

Check back every Tuesday for the FREE advice that could prevent you from losing thousands of dollars in unnegotiated pay, get you the job you want and steer you clear of potential pitfalls during the interview process.

If you have a question or need some advice from Jack, we’d love to hear from you. Send an email to salarytalk@salary.com stating your problem or question, and we’ll send it to Jack for his expert advice. Although Jack will do his best to reply to your question, the large number of responses we receive make it difficult to address each one.

Jack Chapman is a Career and Salary Coach, and author of “Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1000 a Minute.” For more negotiating advice go to www.salarynegotiations.com or e-mail jack@salarynegotiations.com

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