So! You asked, and I’m here to offer my thoughts.
Here’s the thing about salary requirements: Some people require more money than other people, and that’s why this is a common question that’s asked by employers. We all have different needs. Some people have massive amounts of student loans, or mortgages, or families they need to support, and because of that, they have a salary requirement that needs to be met so that they have enough money coming in from each paycheck to meet their financial obligations. At the very least, you’ll need to ask for the minimum amount of money that you need to pay your bills, but you’ll also want a little extra on top of that so you can actually save money for things you want. You know, like a vacation, because you’re going to burn out and hate the world if all you’re doing is working for the minimum amount of money to pay the bills.
I think young people have a difficult time with this question because they haven’t had a lot of experience in the job market yet, and often don’t have big financial obligations like a family to support, so they’ll often take what’s advertised, or offered. Obviously, you need to be realistic. You can’t apply for an administrative assistant position, and then ask for the CEO’s salary, no matter how much you think you’re worth. You have to look at your industry and the salary ranges for your position.
Remember when a reader wrote in to ask me how much she should be earning after she graduated from college? I mentioned a couple of websites in my answer to help her with her research.
Most of us start out with entry-level positions in our fields. You know what entry-level people get paid, and once you have some time under your belt, you’re no longer an entry-level person. So, if you have that time under your belt, you know that your salary requirement should be more than the entry-level salary. When I started working in the journalism and media industry, the entry-level positions were mostly $30,000 or less. I’ve been doing my thing for about a decade now, and if I were to go out and apply for a job today, I wouldn’t accept a $30,000 entry-level salary.
Once you have years of valuable experience and knowledge under your belt and become good and what you do, employers are willing to pay for that, and you can be in a position where you can state your salary requirements, and get it. If you are good at what you do, people will want to poach you to work for them, and when you are being poached, you are in a position to really ask for what you’re worth.