I applied for a job about 10 days ago and today I got a mail response asking about my salary expectations. They did not say they are interested nor anything else about my application, nor did they invite me. I'm German and want to work in Spain, and the company I applied to is German but has a small office in Spain (and one in another country). I think they are about 80 people in total with only small teams working abroad. I already had some preliminary talk with the HR person before applying and (s)he told me that the salary would be lower than here in Germany but considered high in Spain, without giving exact figures (of course). I already have an offer from another Spanish company where I worked before, but for practical reasons I'm considering not to go back there.

I'm not completely sure why they would ask this - my guess is as they are a small company and have only a few people working abroad, they might not really know themselves what they should pay me. I know that there's a ton of similar questions, but not with my situation (small company, applying for a foreign office) so maybe someone can help me figure out the smart play.

I'm planning to think of a figure based on the Spanish average and the other offer. After a quick look I think that the other offer might be underpaid, so I may say a number that is more "average".

Is it wise to say that my "offer" is based on those two things or is it better to just state my number without any explanation?

I already made peace with the lower salary in Spain, but still I want a "fair" salary and fear that with my answer I might a) undersell myself or b) put me in an uncomfortable position. E.g. if it's too high and they might decline or offer me something lower - in case I accept it nonetheless, they could see this as a kind of deception?

If it is relevant, I have less than one year of experience. Applying for a Software Engineer position.

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    There are a ton of questions related to this topic on Workplace SE. – AndreiROM Feb 9 '18 at 17:27
  • I know, although my situation is a bit special. I edited accordingly, maybe someone can help. – hunger Feb 9 '18 at 17:37
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    your question is not different, as you said you should ask a salary based on market values for your experience, city/country, field etc etc. – Homerothompson Feb 9 '18 at 18:02
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    Simply answer vaguely. Something like "Depending on benefits, city and so on I command around 60,000, am happy to discuss in more detail once we know more about the position" .. sort of thing. The key is to be vague. They only want a ballpark anyway. – Fattie Feb 10 '18 at 14:02

First of all, the communication on their part seems a bit odd. If they provide so little information, you are entitled to respond in the same way, providing as little information as you want. Off the bat, it doesn't sound too reassuring.

That said, there are a couple options, including:

    1. Respond with a figure that you feel is fair, i.e. on par with market and your skills/experience;
    1. Respond saying that you prefer to not provide an amount but will consider an offer that reflects market rates.

I see no point providing a range, since the only thing that matters in a range for them is the lower estimate. If you say "around $50,000" they can offer $40,000 and say it's "around" your amount.

If you choose approach #2 but they press you for a specific figure, you can either stand your ground and say that you prefer to work from an offer, or go ahead and give them a figure that represents your best guess. To this guess add a 10-20% premium, because you know they will negotiate it down so you can end up with what you actually want. Good luck!

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    Quite right. A good vague response is "Market rates are around 70,000 for the situation as I understand it so far..." I like the "market rates" wording. – Fattie Feb 10 '18 at 14:03
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    Thanks for your response. I did more or less what #2 suggests and finally got an interview invitation. Let's see how it turns out. – hunger Feb 13 '18 at 12:31
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    Update: I've been working in this company since June and am quite happy there. Thanks everyone. – hunger Feb 8 at 10:19
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    @hunger Great to hear it! I'd be interested to learn how the negotiation worked out, but only if you care to share ;) – A.S Feb 11 at 0:02
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    I answered vague like "I was told that the salary is a bit lower than in Germany but considered high in Spain. I expect a fair salary that you would pay any other person with similar experience." Then they invited me to the interview. The interview was very relaxed, the question came up again and I mentioned the other offer I had with the approximate salary they had offered me. I was told that their salary starts a bit higher. Interview went well, one week later I was called and they had raised my salary offer a bit more. They have a fixed salary scheme according to expertise and knowledge. – hunger Apr 6 at 12:10

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