How to Avoid Pricing Yourself Out of a Job

During a job search, the question of salary expectations will eventually arise. For most interviewees, this is an uncomfortable conversation. Negotiating a competitive compensation can be tricky, and one obstacle interviewees face is setting their salary requirements higher than what the organization is willing to pay. In other words, pricing themselves out of the job.

Salary negotiation is one of the most important aspects to discuss with your executive recruiter. Below, we recommend a few tips for securing the competitive compensation package you have earned.


Come prepared to any salary conversation by researching extensively. Understand your market value and industry comps.

Fair warning: These are some of the more difficult numbers to verify. There are plenty of online resources, like the Department of Labor or Glassdoor, but variables exist in any situation that can devalue that data.

Equally important to knowing how much you can reasonably ask for is knowing when to walk away—the lowest salary you’ll take. There are a few things to consider:

  • Take a hard look at your budget by comparing your potential income with your expenditures. What do you need to survive? How much of a step back can you consider, if any?
  • Ask yourself: does the position’s growth potential outweigh a less-than-ideal salary? If so, it might be worth it to accept the less competitive package.
  • Take your time to weigh all of the variables—for example, do you have a family to support? In the end, how will this number impact your quality of life?

Even when armed with data, knowing your worth and your limits comes down to what you’re most comfortable with. Listen to your gut.


When you’ve finished the soul searching and research, you may still need help answering the question of your expected salary. Here are two ways to approach that conversation.

“This is what I currently make…”

If you give the interviewer an expected salary range, you could pigeonhole yourself. However, sharing your current compensation isn’t promising anything. Instead, it shows the interviewer what you’re used to making—and nothing more.

If the interviewer presses with more questions, you can say:

“I’m sure you’ll make me a fair and competitive offer.”

This approach puts the responsibility on the interviewer to come up with a package that makes sense for the job and your experience.

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