I've seen salary expectations on application forms, but I have never been explicitly asked in a pre-interview email what my salary requirements are. I am applying for an entry level software position in the greater Boston area, so salaries certainly vary. However, I don't want to cut myself short by asking for too little, or ask for too much and not even get the interview. How do I respond to the question?

  • In terms of at least one of the duplicate links suggested, note that a recruiter asking for an expected salary range is a very different case to a potential employer asking. – berry120 Nov 6 '17 at 16:07

It's a normal question. They don't want to waste their time, or yours.

And answering it is dead simple. What are you looking for? Don't low ball yourself, and it has nothing to do with what you make today.

  • Answering it would be dead simple if we assume everyone is perfectly honest, rational and generous. But in the real world you have to expect that people would try to pay you the smallest amount you'd be happy with (i.e. not what you're worth), and, if you state a number that's too high, they'd assume you wouldn't be happy with a smaller number. – Dukeling Nov 6 '17 at 16:13
  • 2
    @Dukeling assuming you only want to work with people who at least try to be honest, rational and reasonably generous (I know I do) then you should still go with your own 'simple and honest' answer should you not? If you name a reasonable value for your time and it's not respected by the employer then you've just filtered out a dishonest, irrational and cheap employer from your job search haven't you? Why would that be a bad thing? Give the dead simple answer. I can and do explain to recruiters that my salary requirements are x, based on y and z, and its not been a problem yet. – Rob Moir Nov 6 '17 at 16:21
  • @robmoir - same. What are you looking for, Andrei? X. Excellent, the range here is X to X + 5, I'll try to get you something higher. Or, oh, well the range is X-10 to X-5. Too bad, moving on! – AndreiROM Nov 6 '17 at 16:26
  • 1
    @Dukeling Remember that since a recruiter is often paid by commission of x% of salary, it's actually in their interest to get you as much money as possible. – berry120 Nov 6 '17 at 16:34
  • 1
    @berry120 It's not in their interest to present you to a company when they think there's a mismatch between the target salary of you and the company. – Dukeling Nov 6 '17 at 16:40

This is common (and not the same as a company asking what salary you'd want), as there's no point a recruiter spending time looking at salaries for $20k if you're only interested in, say, $35k as an absolute minimum. (Figures completely pulled out the air.)

Do the research, decide what you're worth given a few positions you might find, and then just give the recruiter a range that you're happy to work with.


I think it's reasonable for a recruiter to ask what your salary expectations are. If they are recruiting for a particular company, they can avoid presenting candidates who are outside of the company's budget. If they are recruiting for many roles, they can put you in for roles that meet your salary needs. Both of these assume that you are asking for a reasonable rate.

As far as trying to figure out what to ask for - do research. Look at various postings and use services like LinkedIn and GlassDoor to find what companies are paying people with similar backgrounds. Be sure to consider geographic area and industry. Give a good range (not a single dollar value) based on what you find. You may also want to consider mentioning benefits that are very important to you, if any, especially if you are willing to work for a little less cash in favor of some kind of benefit.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.