How To Answer Questions About Salary Expectation The Right Way

Written by Faizan Patankar

I was speaking to a friend who was looking to move jobs. And we were on the topic of salary expectation. She was happy to move jobs for a salary  similar or 5% more than current. Whilst I suggested she should ask for 30% more at every job move.

And the accusations that I am a materialistic b***ard followed.

It was hilarious to be honest. But we did thrash out our logic and I still believe job seekers, especially those in the age range of 25-32 aren’t pricing themselves right. This isn’t only her problem, I see so many roles with inflated titles and poor salaries.

Millennials  are victims of deflating their own salary

Post-2008, unemployment was high. In some countries unemployment rates are still frustratingly high. Greece and South Africa have an unemployment rate of over 25%.

That’s a headline figure. That’s terrible.

However, let’s come back closer to home. In the UK unemployment is hovering around 5%. Which is below the average European Union unemployment rate of 10.2%.

With 5% of unemployment rate, why do millennials have low salary expectation?

It doesn’t make business sense. Neither is it economical for the employed or the state (as it loses out on higher taxes). Not that I am a fan of taxes. 

OK, let’s for a moment forget the statistics and get back to English language.

Salary expectation Is not dependant on your current salary

When thinking about salary expectation, you inadvertently think about your current salary and equate your new salary. This will always be roughly 5-10% more than current.

Let me tell you, nobody knows your current salary apart from your manager and you. And secondly your future salary is not a function of your current salary.

Your salary expectation should take into account:

  • What skills will you bring to the role?

Are you applying to Marketing Officer and have advanced Photoshop skills. Photoshop is a skill that people hire contractors for. Now if you as a Marketing Officer can bring that to the table, you are potentially saving the company money in the future.  

  • Your previous experience

There is a difference between salary expectation for someone becoming a manager for the first time. Compared to someone who is in second or third gig as a manager. However, think about your experience. If you deserve to become a manager, it’s because you have the right skills and you should be paid accordingly. Don’t be satisfied with a title.

  • Titles don’t pay your bills and you are not 4 years old

Stop being a title hoarder. Don’t give into the temptation of reduced salary expectation only because you will get a fancy title. I am surprised to see so call “Marketing Executives” working for £22,000. 


You really aren’t an “executive” at £22,000. You much rather be called the Marketing Lad but earn the right salary. 

To summarise, the answer to “What is your salary expectation?” isn’t based on your current salary. But by quantifying:

  • The skills you bring to the role
  • Your previous experience
  • Stop getting star-struck with title

Is there a generic salary expectation number?

salary expectation by Faizan Patankar

Generally when moving jobs (between companies), conservatively you should expect a 15-20% pay rise. That should be your salary expectation.

Personally, I suggest people ask for 30% increase when moving jobs to a different company.

So, If you currently earn $50,000. State your salary expectation as $65,000 (+30% over current salary).

And when negotiating, keep your reserve price as atleast 15-20% more than current salary. So, be ready to accept $60,000 to seal the deal.

And if you think, asking for 30% more is crazy, you need to read the theory about “Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less” on Forbes, by Cameron Keng.

That’s all from me on this topic. However, do remember not to undersell yourself. If you have the right skills, ask the right price for them.

Oh and if you want to negotiate your salary, you could look into this “Fearless Salary Negotiation” book by Josh Doody. I had subscribed to his email newsletters and they were pretty cool.

About the author

Faizan Patankar

I started Career Geek Blog in 2011 to share my experience in job-hunting. I now focus on careers industry and blogging is just a tool to share that info. Love hacking careers. During the day I focus on my hobby - Engineering.