How Do You Say Salary is Negotiable?

How Do You Say Salary is Negotiable?

Searching for a new job can be an exciting yet stressful time. You likely have a salary number or range in mind that you’re hoping to get from your next role. However, directly stating this number upfront in your job application or interview can backfire. Instead, you need to know how to tactfully convey that your salary expectations are negotiable.

This allows you to have an open discussion with the hiring manager about compensation for the role. It also prevents you from pricing yourself out or selling yourself short before the employer even makes an offer. Read on to learn tips for gracefully communicating a flexible salary requirement when job hunting.

Why You Should Avoid Listing a Salary Requirement

Why You Should Avoid Listing a Salary Requirement

Let’s first discuss why it’s strategic not to list a specific salary requirement in your job search. There are a few key reasons for this:

1. It Limits Negotiation Opportunities

If you state upfront that you expect a salary of $X, then the employer may simply offer you that exact amount, with no room for negotiation. However, if you communicate flexibility in your salary expectations, it opens up a conversation where you may be able to get a higher offer. This approach can empower you to navigate the compensation discussion more effectively and, when appropriate, ask for more money job offer.

2. It Could Disqualify You Prematurely

By naming a specific number, you risk pricing yourself out if it’s higher than the employer’s budget. On the other hand, a low figure could make you appear undervalued. Keeping the conversation open prevents you from being disqualified too soon.

3. The Employer May Have More Insight Into the Role’s Value

As a candidate, you likely don’t have full visibility into the responsibilities and importance of the role. The hiring manager is closer to understanding the position’s true market value. Leaving salary negotiations open allows them to make the first move.

4. The Employer May Already Have a Salary Range in Mind

Some companies have existing pay bands or standardized offers for certain roles. Throwing out a number may just lead to an inflexible back and forth. Instead, let the employer share their number first.

Now that we’ve covered the pitfalls of providing a specific salary requirement, let’s look at how you can diplomatically convey negotiability.

Strategies for Communicating Flexible Salary Expectations

Here are some effective approaches for indicating your salary is open to discussion without naming a hard figure:

1. Use a Salary Range Instead of a Number

Rather than saying you expect to make exactly $75,000, provide a range like $70,000-$80,000. This demonstrates flexibility while giving the employer parameters to work within. Just be sure your range aligns with typical compensation for the role in your location.

2. Say “My Salary Expectations Are Negotiable”

This direct but polite phrase clearly conveys that you are open to discussion on salary. It takes the pressure off both sides to put a number on the table right away. This works well on job applications that request a specific salary requirement.

3. Say “I’m Flexible on Salary Provided the Overall Opportunity is a Fit”

This response indicates that compensation is only one aspect of the role you are evaluating. It conveys that you are willing to negotiate salary if the job meets your larger career goals. It shifts focus to the quality of the opportunity versus just the dollar amount.

4. Ask “What is the Typical Salary Range for This Position?”

Flipping the question back on the employer is an easy way to defer naming a number. Most hiring managers will share a salary band. This also allows you to gauge if your expectations align with reality.

5. Say “I’d Like to Better Understand the Role Before Discussing Salary”

This polite response explains why you aren’t naming a salary requirement just yet. It shows that you want to ensure the role and your skills align before negotiating pay. It also prompts the employer to share more about the position’s responsibilities.

6. Note That You Are “Willing to Consider Competitive Offers”

While ambiguous, this demonstrates that you know your worth but expect pay that is fair for your skills and experience level. The term “competitive” also implies that you are comparing opportunities, not just accepting any offer.

Answering Direct Questions About Salary Expectations

Now let’s go over how to respond when directly asked your specific salary requirements by a recruiter, hiring manager or application form:

If Asked Your Salary Expectations in an Interview, Say:

“I’m targeting a competitive salary in line with the market value for this role and my qualifications. I’m more interested in discussing the overall opportunity before getting into salary details. What is the typical compensation range for this position?”

This highlights that salary is not your only consideration while politely deferring naming a dollar figure. Bringing up market rates and competitiveness positions you as valuable but not demanding.

If Asked Your Current or Past Salary, Consider Saying:

“My salary history is not the best indicator of my value in this new role. Based on the position’s responsibilities and my relevant experience, I am targeting a competitive salary within the market and industry range for this type of opportunity. I look forward to learning more about the total compensation package.”

This covers why your current pay is not relevant without disclosing the figure. It reiterates your interest in understanding the role and market value versus just naming a number.

If a Job Application Requires Your Salary Expectations, Try:

“My target salary expectation is negotiable depending on the specifics of the role and total compensation package. I am eager to discuss salary once we have had a chance to talk further about the position’s responsibilities and my qualifications.”

This satisfies the application requirement but conveys flexibility. It also shifts the focus to the quality of the opportunity versus only the compensation.

Following Up After Interviews to Discuss Salary

Following Up After Interviews to Discuss Salary

Once you have interviewed and shown your fit for the role, you can bring up salary expectations more directly. Here are some tips:

  • Wait for the employer to make the first move on offering a number but be ready to respond.
  • Have a salary range in mind based on market research of what the role should pay.
  • Clarify the total compensation beyond base salary, including benefits, bonuses and equity.
  • Share your enthusiasm for the opportunity but highlight why you deserve a salary at the top of the range.
  • Be prepared with data on your value add in terms of experience, achievements, skills, education and impact.
  • If the initial offer is lower than expected, politely note the discrepancy with market rates and your qualifications.
  • Counter with a reasonable increase rather than demanding your maximum desired salary all at once.
  • Remain positive and reiterate your interest in finding mutual agreement. You can even suggest a probationary period or future performance review to reassess compensation.

With the right preparation and tact, you can land the salary you deserve and still make a great impression throughout the negotiation process. The key is knowing when to avoid naming a number versus when to assert your value.

5 Key Takeaways for Communicating a Flexible Salary Requirement:

  1. Listing a specific salary requirement can limit your negotiating power or lead to premature rejection.
  2. Using a range or vague phrases conveys negotiability without naming a hard number.
  3. Redirect questions about salary expectations back to the employer when possible.
  4. Focus discussions on your qualifications and interest in the role rather than salary alone.
  5. Negotiate firmly but positively once an offer is made based on market data and your proven worth.


Should I ever name a specific salary requirement upfront?

In most cases, it is strategic not to. But if a job ad does list a salary range, it is fine to indicate if you are willing to accept the bottom of the range. This shows alignment on what is already on the table.

Is it ok to say my salary expectation is “non-negotiable”?

No, stating an inflexible number will appear rigid. Employers want to see willingness to discuss compensation in a reasonable manner. Plus, an ultimatum could backfire and cause a rescinded job offer.

What if the employer only wants to know my current or past salaries?

Politely challenge this request by saying your value is based on the relevant market rate data versus your specific pay history. If pressed, give a broad range instead of an exact figure.

Should I provide my salary history after receiving a job offer?

Once an offer is made, most employers will require your salary history to complete payroll paperwork. At this stage it is reasonable to provide your exact compensation details.

What if the employer’s range is lower than my expectations?

If the employer’s range is below your expectations, avoid rejecting it outright. Instead, focus the discussion on how you can add value that may merit pay above their range. Provide supporting data to make a case for a higher salary.

Key Takeaways 

  • Avoid listing a specific salary requirement on applications or in interviews when possible. Using a range or vague language preserves negotiating room.
  • Redirect direct questions about salary expectations. Shift focus to your qualifications and interest in the role over compensation alone.
  • Once an offer is made, negotiate firmly but positively based on market rate data and your proven skills and achievements.
  • Throughout the process, convey flexibility paired with confidence in your worth. Collaborate to find an offer fair for both sides.

    Exploring what’s the average salary for intern? Empowers you with valuable insights; armed with preparation and positivity, you can gain skills to confidently negotiate fair compensation now and in the future. Research market rates, know your must-haves, use your leverage, and keep the vibe friendly to ensure a successful negotiation process.”

George Bowman

George Bowman: An education enthusiast on a mission to ignite curiosity and empower learners through innovative teaching methods and personalized experiences.

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