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How do you know if you're asking for too much pay?

I'm about to graduate soon and am looking for full time offers. During interviews I've been asked is X amount of pay ok for you? So far I've said yes because I just wanted to get experience no matter the pay. Now that I have 1-2 things for experience on my resume I want to ask for more. I've been doing my research for the medium pay for the positions I'd like but how do you know if you're asking too much? Theres that saying that you know how much you're worth but I'm only starting out. How do you negotiate/know if you're getting paid less/asking for too much? college job finance money

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Amy’s Answer

You've been doing the right things. When they ask you is X amount Ok, I would respond by saying something along the lines of this paraphrased response: "I've done my research for average salaries at this company / at competitors / in this industry, and for this type of role the median or mean salary was Y. I'm looking for a salary at that level, which i believe is warranted due to my experience in {example, example, example} and strong fit for this role. Would a salary of Y be in line with something the company could offer? " From here, the interviewer will respond with their thoughts. If they say that's definitely too high for them, you can reiterate your interest in the job as it sounds like you dont want to price yourself out of the opportunity. It's also good to ask what is the typical track for this role in career development and promotion ie perhaps you could be promoted and receive a pay increase in a short time, that would obviously make it more attractive to you to accept this salary amount now given the opportunity for quick growth.

I agree with Amy's answer completely; I believe it is all about conducting due diligence and being informed/ educated on the salary range of the given position. is a great resource where you can research the current salary of thousands of positions to develop a benchmark. Based on this industry benchmark, you can/ should formulate what is an acceptable range of compensation for you to accept the position. Personally, during the interview stage I would tend to focus on the job scope and how it align with your skills and growth objectives, and save the salary negotiations towards the end/ offer stage. Frank Panico

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Todd’s Answer

I always try and avoid specific salary discussions during interviews. I instead say that I look at the entire compensation package including benefits as well as the opportunities for learning and career development at the company.

I agree with Todd. Days off per year, health benefits, and other benefits need to be fully understood as part of your total compensation. There may also be signing bonuses that can be negotiated to get you to the desired salary level. Definitely not something to discuss during the interviews. Catherine Payne

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Nicole’s Answer

Similar to what others have said. Find a reputable source such as HBR and once you are asked say that a recent article came out that said so and so was the range and given your background and experience you feel that has set an absolutely minimum of something (which is your targeted amount). Its important to recognize your own worth but also be able to back it up with data. Hiring individuals will respect that. It is important to always shoot higher, but keep an eye on what the article says is the maximum. Additionally, you can always negotiate once you have an offer.
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Mohd’s Answer

Doing research on the position you are looking for is the most important step as others have stated. You can also ask the firm the salary range for the role and that will give you a better sense on the upper and lower band. You can then make a determination what you would like to be paid based on your experience and the pay range. If the position requires 5 years experience and you have 6 then you can ask for the topline number. If its lower then decide accordingly.
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neil’s Answer

Great question...and always a sensitive area of conversation at initial meetings.
You've had some great advice above...always be prepared to answer questions such as that & do your research. If you re ok with the pay terms that a potential employer discusses then as you are accepting let them know you've done your research...'based on what ive researched that seems in line...' etc and have a similar response if you dont agree..'based on research i was hoping for something in this range xxxx'. Always be ready to detail your research if asked...similar positions, industry averages etc...potential employers will be impressed by your thoroughness.
If an employer quotes you a starting salary that you feel i lower than you wanted ask them about pay ranges for that position, say something along the lines of "i was really hoping for $$XX , but im still very interested in the position....could i eventually get to such a salary & what would it take on my part.."...again i think employers would be impressed..
I hope this helps & good luck to you
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Rahul’s Answer

Hi Sam,

It looks like you're already doing some of this, but there are a few things you can try here to get a feel for where you stand:
- Ask recruiters - this is their bread and butter and they should be able to give you a good indication
- Google around to see what websites are telling you. Good places to start are Glassdoor, and PayScale
- Ask your fellow students, friends or family for their thoughts and experiences

In the interview, try to get a sense of how much they want you. That can help you figure out how much you should ask for. If you have valuable skills in a more niche role then I would suggest shooting for 20-25% more than what you think is the average rate. For a more commoditized role you may have less wiggle room, but no harm in asking.... ambition is a good quality that employers are looking for.

Last but certainly not least, be confident and assertive when asking for your price. That can a very long way in convincing an employer that you are the real deal and it is worth them paying you more.

Good luck,


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Andrew’s Answer

Researching comparable positions is the right approach as you've been doing; ideally firsthand references from people you know also provides a more concrete baseline (versus anything you'd be able to read online) but obviously salary can be a sensitive topic and examples may be more limited there. Within finance specifically negotiation room will likely be more limited though given pay structures tend to be more consistent across firms; typically your most significant pay increases will happen when moving firms or after your first 2 years or so. All that being said, finding an internal mentor or having a manager you can have candid conversations with will provide the clearest guidance upon starting so I wouldn't stress too much about maximizing your initial salary right out of graduation just yet and would just focus on getting a lay of the land throughout your first years
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Katherine’s Answer

Do your research. Do you know anyone else from your school that has gone into the same industry recently, that would be willing to share ranges with you? If there are other students living in the same city working in similar industries, that can help frame the compensation range. If you are asked what your expectations are, you can shoot for 20% above the average/median amount. Be sure to incorporate your relevant experience in the discussion.
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Michael’s Answer

There have been lots of great comments here so I will look to echo my favourites.
I think the biggest item to consider are the secondary benefits a company might be offering. Some things you'd want to know more about are:
* 401k match (and vesting period) are
* health benefit cost
* any specific transit savings or rebates etc

Also think about implicit cost (savings) like, is this opportunity close to home? What would you be saving TIME wise getting there and back.
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David’s Answer

Do your research and determine what the average pay is for your desired position (this will typically be a range). If you believe you should be earning the upper end of this salary range be prepared to give an explanation as to how giving you that upper end of the salary range will also be of benefit to the employer. I would also avoid speaking about previous salaries during this negotiation period.