Show Me The Money!!! Salary Expectations & You

Picture this. You’re at a job interview. You’re charming everyone with professional poise and company knowledge. Everything is going according to plan. Even that nasty, no eye contact person has cracked what could be defined as a smile! The session is going extremely well until the employer asks that one loaded question:

“What are your salary expectations?”

If unprepared, those 5 words can kill any chances of a job offer.

What’s in a wage?

It’s always an awkward thing, having to put a price on you, face to face. Its funny how many people have no qualms about advertising how poorly paid they are, but when asked what that number may be, they clam right up!

How does one find out their worth?  That really depends on two factors; what you can afford to be making plus what kind of previous experience you have.

The following website will provide you with national wages by occupation:

This site might be a good starting point to see what the average wage of someone in your field would be.

In terms of indicating what your salary expectations are, I would always opt for a salary range i.e. “35 000 – 40 000 per year” or rate “15-20 dollars per hour.” Always consider your level of experience with what you need to survive, but also something that will allow you to exist comfortably.

So, how should your expectations read on a cover letter? Show that you’ve given this question some thought; “With thoughtful consideration regarding the position requirements in relation to my current knowledge, transferable skills and relevant competences in this role, I would aspire toward a salary range between ___ and ____.”

Of course, you could also mention how this range could also be negotiated upon receiving a job offer.

If you go the range route, you’re leaving room for flexibility. Say if you were content to make 19$ an hour and the employer was willing to give you 21$ per hour, then a rate range between $19-23 per hour would be successful.

Give your salary expectation serious consideration. You want to get the job, but not have to get a second one to survive.Image

Lidia Siino is the Program Manager for the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. For more program information, please contact

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