How Do I Answer a Question About My Salary Expectations?

Dear Work Coach,

Well…I’m back and hope that you don’t mind me bothering you with a second question. A company in New York asked me to apply for an Associate Director position in their international program. When I sent in my application, they asked me (within 15 minutes or so) what my salary expectations were.

While I’m excited because I assume that means that they’re really interested in me, I’ve never worked for this type of company, and I’m totally unsure about what to ask for – especially when you consider the city switch and the economy.

If you include the raise I expect to receive in July here in my current job, an accurate adjusted salary would be somewhere between $62 and $65k; and a payscale search certifies that $63k is average for someone with my credentials at that position in NY. But it sounds rather high to me.

Do you have any advice on how to handle this? Does asking for $65,000 sound ridiculous to you having come from that background?

Thank you so much for any help you can give me!



Hello TEB!

Nice to hear from you again. And I’m so glad something came up so soon that seems right up your non-profit alley. 😉

First let me say that I hate when companies do that, since you have no idea if you are swinging wildly or not. I like to at least give people a general range, rather than making them come up with a figure they worry might be too high or low. But whether I hate it or not, a lot of places do it to see if you are at least in their ball park.

Not knowing the exact position and their internal pay structure or your exact credentials, I can at least tell you $65K sounds like a reasonable amount to ask for a position like that in New York City. (This is a really expensive city to live in.) I would think that you’re in a decent enough range ($55-75k maybe) that they can come back to you w/o thinking you’re way off. You can always phrase it “I was hoping for at least $65,000 but would like to know what you’re thinking.” This gives you and them some room to talk.

I happen to know this organization and it’s a great one. Plus you’d get to work in NYC where you and your heart want to be.

Good luck! Let us know what happens. Please.

Ronnie Ann

Note: If you want to check your own salary against others in your area, go to


About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.

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