Why Listing Your Salary Requirement is Scary AF and How to Tackle It

Among my latest adventures in adulting, I’ve been faced with the tedious task of job hunting. By job hunting, I mean applying for literally anywhere in the realm of my degree that will consider me because employers are busy searching for their summer interns and the job markets are soon to be flooded with recent college graduates. Another major hurdle I didn’t expect to face was the salary.

Gone are the days of minimum wage and hourly pay rates. Job applications now require written salary history (spoiler alert, I have none) and your minimum expected salary if you were the selected candidate for the position.

Putting a value on yourself is strange and terrifying

Put something too low and you’re setting yourself up for financial issues. Request something too high and they’ll laugh, then toss your application. I never held a ton of self-confidence, so the idea of physically writing down how valuable I think I am and how much I deserve has made me an anxious wreck through nearly every application.

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Try to know your worth

As difficult as it is to believe, you’re likely more qualified and skilled than you think. Leadership? Check. Communication? Check. But what about the skills you developed running a student org or built during your part-time job? I promise you that your experience is valuable and you have something unique you can bring to the table. The number you write down is likely not going to be the official amount offered, so let some of that stress go and channel your energy into a quality cover letter instead.

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Pay attention to the job posting

If you’re still hung up on what number to write down as your minimum salary requirement, look for the range offered in the job advertisement. If it requires a degree and you’re about to graduate, give your own range or a number on the lower end of the scale unless you already have professional experience in that field. If it requires an associate’s or high school degree but would serve as a great way to get your foot in the door for your dream job, request something on the higher end. If the job requires specific certifications or licenses that you have, definitely don’t be afraid to request a higher amount. Remember when you pulled an all-nighter studying for that class you absolutely hated, but needed, to complete your program because you knew it would pay off? Now is the time it pays off.

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Be ready to discuss it in person

If you think writing a number down is terrifying, be ready to potentially discuss salary in the interview. This is especially true if there are multiple interview rounds and you make it to the second or third one. Take a deep breath and be ready to sell yourself. You’re probably sitting in that conference room surrounded by interviewers for a reason- they think you should be there, too.

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Happy job hunting, collegiettes!