Top 4 Reasons Salary Expectations are Costing you the Job

Updated: May 29

Salary expectations eliminate applicants at all stages of the hiring process, from the resume or application submission to the final interview. Below are 4 ways in which salary expectations may be killing your chances at landing jobs and tips to combat them.

1. You asked for it


Asking for compensation during an initial interview should never happen. It should not be listed on your resume or cover letter unless explicitly requested. You should wait for the employer to bring up compensation when at all possible. If you ask for it too early in the interview process it leaves the impression that your focus is on the money rather than the job itself; you also change the dynamic of the interview in which the focus is on how you benefit from the job rather than how the company will benefit from you. When and if you must discuss salary have a clear tactic before going in.


Don’t be the first to bring up compensation at the interview.

If your primary objective is compensation instead of key motivators like the ability to succeed in your job, company culture, or growth opportunities then you demonstrate that job satisfaction is only as secure as finding out another company is paying more. Even in commission-based sales positions, you should use caution when bringing up compensation first. If an applicant comes across as money-hungry in the interview then that is how they will likely come across to potential clients and in the long run, it hurts a company’s reputation, culture, and future sales.


2. You asked for too much


If you are asking for too much you are either overqualified for the position or you have unrealistic expectations for the position. Either of these could be avoided by making sure you research your value and how much the position is worth. If you are grossly overqualified be prepared for a much lower offer than your worth. It is an unrealistic expectation to think you can negotiate your worth when the employer is budgeting for a less qualified candidate. Before you get to the point where your potential employer is discussing compensation, or if you must fill out an application with salary requirements, do your research first.

Know your personal value and the market rate. If you can’t find out an approximation of how much that company is paying for that position, look for similar positions in similar companies, factor in your location, experience, and achievements. Consult a personalized salary calculator like Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth or job title salary calculator like that of PayScale.


3. You asked for too little


Some people think that asking for less makes them more attractive candidates, but the opposite is true. Generally, employers assume you are not as qualified as candidates expecting more and because they have budgeted for a higher salary, they are looking for a higher caliber candidate. Your salary expectation is a value identifier. Asking for much less than your worth makes you appear under-qualified and brings doubt and suspicion to your qualifications. If you undervalue yourself, then you are devaluing your experience, education, and/or qualifications.

Asking for less may also mean that you’re overqualified and that you're seeking a quick temporary placement until a better offer presents itself. Employers want job-satisfied employees seeking longevity with the company. Overqualified candidates scare employers because they likely will only stay until a more appealing more befitting role comes along, or the employer fears the candidate may be bored and unchallenged by menial tasks beneath their current status. Therefore, unless you are intentionally attempting to cut back on responsibilities and title, in which case you need to also scale back some of the experience and qualifications you present, asking for much less than your worth is not an effective strategy to land a new job.


4. Poor negotiation skills


There are various schools of thought on how to best negotiate salary or negotiating in general. Should you be the first to say a number? Should you start with a range or an exact amount? Should you be firm or relaxed? Different tactics work for different people, but you must have a tactic before you start negotiating. If you are aware of powerful negotiation tactics but can’t see yourself practicing them, then they hold no value for you. Find the negotiation tactic that works best for your personality.

Regardless of what method of negotiation you use be confident, keep a positive tone, and know when to walk away. When you are succinct, and speak clearly, with your head high and your shoulders back (even if you’re on the phone) you exude confidence, thereby portraying someone who knows what they want and won’t settle. If during negotiations, your tone remains positive about the company, the position you seek, and the energy and skills you will bring to the job, you remind hiring managers why they offered you the position, thus further solidifying your appeal. On the other hand, you could lose your appeal if you allow yourself to become outwardly offended, defensive, or too combative. Lastly, if the negotiations aren’t reaching your minimum ask, or if you are offended, or you sense your counterpart is done or frustrated, then it’s time to thank them and graciously decline or ask for additional time to consider.


Taral Flippen is the CEO, Founder & Executive Advisor of Resume Consulting Firm, an online resume and career services company that specializes in premium resume writing and career coaching for mid-level and executive professionals.