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How Do I Talk About Salary?

By Dan Gomez-Palacio
Director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center
Published Summer 2015, Affinity magazine

One of the trickiest part of the job search is trying to determine what the right salary is for your skill set, education and experience. It can be particularly difficult when an employer asks candidates their salary expectations in an application interview. It’s a question many feel is a trap. Offer too much, and you might be priced out of the position. Offer too little and you may have cost yourself a fair wage. With this in mind, I’d like to take a moment and give you the tools to prepare for this question.

So where can you get a starting point to determine a reasonable salary expectation for a job? While there are a number of sites out there, there are three free resources that Career Services recommends to understand your fair market value and jumpstart a negotiation process:

Payscale is an extensive site that offers detailed salary information for individuals. By completing a detailed “salary profile,” the site will give you salary information about your current position, a job offer or a job that isn’t your own. 

Glassdoor is a job search engine that provides local and national opportunity listings and employer reviews. Additionally, they have an easy-to-use salary tool. If you type in a job title and a geographic location, it will show you what salaries specific companies are offering for similar occupations. 

Occupation Outlook Handbook (OOH)
The OOH is organized by the Bureau of Labor and collects aggregate data on median pay in a wide variety of careers. The data is primarily national averages, but can give the job seeker an excellent starting point and knowledge about anticipated earnings in a career.

Dan Gomez-Palacio is the director of the Grossnickle Career Services Center. Career counseling, networking and resumé assistance are available free of charge to all students and alumni. To get started, contact Career Services at (800) 231-2391 ext. 7425 or visit