Friday, November 13, 2020

How to answer salary expectations

 It seems to me that the best and most honest way is to be completely open about it. A lot of people can't handle this, but I believe in complete honesty and full disclosure.


It's not possible to please everybody all the time, so you may have someone who thinks your salary is too low or inappropriate for their position. It's hard when they say "you're underpaid" because what do you even say? "Well actually my boss thinks I'm paid just right?" Or if somebody didn't want to pay more than minimum wage, how would you respond? How much are you worth per hour as a person? Do you know how many hours of work have gone into building up your skillset over your lifetime until now? If your skills decrease over time due financial limits imposed by others on your income potential then isn't there something wrong with that system? The whole job market could use an overhaul; nobody should feel like they're indebted or obligated for life based on past decisions made at 18 during college and internships.


First, I should note that humans tend to be very poor at determining how much they are worth. This is a problem associated with the human paradigm of thinking about money and one's self-worth as being inextricably linked. When you ask someone 'What do you think your salary should be?' the most common response will not be something like "I don't know" or "That depends on what the position requires." It will instead often be an amount that has no relation to reality, but is based entirely on their perception of themselves and their skillset. For instance, if someone thinks they are great at grammar then they might say $100k per year (twice what most people make). If someone else thinks their typing speed makes them valuable then maybe they'll say $60k per year (which would get laughed out of any interview). Another example would be a person who thinks he/she knows everything about trees so claims whatever it takes for tree surgeon (no matter how unrealistic).

This is a problem because it's going to cause them to reject otherwise perfectly good job offers. However, the solution isn't as simple as just telling someone how much they should be making (which for most people would be negative). If you tell someone "you're worth $50k per year" then this makes the human feel uncomfortable and like they are being judged or evaluated. Instead, I think that if you ask someone 'what do you want out of this?' then the person will say something more realistic about what he/she wants from a career path (e.g., money, feeling fulfilled by work, etc.).

In general, I think the best way to determine a fair salary for someone is to look at their position and compare it with other similar positions. For example, if the person's work requires them to write code then you should look at how much coders typically are paid in that region of North America (or whatever). Then you can take into account any experience differences between your candidate and those others.

The next question is how much should you pay someone for their experience? This can be difficult to determine. One way would be to look at the person's past salaries and then extrapolate based on their current level of skill (e.g., if they made $40k last year with only 2 years of experience, but now have 5 years of experience, perhaps they should make $50k).

Another thing to consider is that not all experience is equal. Being a good programmer or being able to type well are skills that you can teach yourself, but there are other things like emotional intelligence and the ability to manage people that cannot be taught in such an easy way. For instance, I could take someone who has no management experience at all, give them a few months of training on how to manage people and by then they would have the equivalent of 10-15 years of experience in managing others.

The next question is how to determine the value of someone's work. I think there are two ways: 1) you can hire an outside firm to do a job evaluation on your candidate based on his/her past experience; 2) you could try and come up with some number yourself using your own best guess.


The true answer to this question is unknowable. However, it might be useful to consider what the best way to live one's life is:

That is, to live the life that will maximize one's happiness. The best way to do this might involve maximizing self-respect:

In order to maximize self-respect, it is necessary to be honest with oneself about the world in which one lives. One can then act with good intentions and seek out opportunities for happiness:

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