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Find Your Dream Job: Insider Tips for Finding Work, Advancing your Career, and Loving Your Job

Feb 15, 2017

Have you ever had a prospective employer ask about your desired salary? Or inquire about your salary history? Companies ask these questions to weed out applicants and (sometimes) get the upper-hand in pay negotiations.

This week’s guest, Jim Hopkinson, argues that your response to salary questions can be the difference in whether or not you get an offer and how much leverage you have in future pay discussions.

The employer does not necessarily hold all the cards when it comes to negotiating salaries. Jim recommends finding out all the facts about the job before you even start discussing salary. You may find there are job responsibilities which warrant a higher pay scale. And if you are the right fit for the job, you can enter the salary discussion knowing you have something of exceptional value to the company.

Here are Jim’s recommendations if you are required to enter your desired salary in an application:

  1. Respond with a phrase like “negotiable,” or, “To be discussed during interview.”
  2. Try adding a nonsense number like “$0” or “$1,000,000” to show you are purposely not answering the question.
  3. If the system doesn’t allow a nonsense number use a numerical range.

If you are unsure which salary range you fall into, Jim says there are five different ways to research how much you are worth:

  1. Go to salary sites. (,, etc.)
  2. Look at industry salary guides. (Robert Hath)
  3. Go to job sites and search your title.
  4. Internal networking with people you know.
  5. External networking with people you don’t know.

Pro Tip — Job seekers should be spending 4 out of 5 days at job fairs and other face-to-face networking events.

This Week's Guest: Jim Hopkinson

Through his Salary Tutor website, Jim Hopkinson teaches people how to negotiate their salaries, and get paid what they are worth. He’s the author of Salary Tutor: Learn The Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You, and the co-author of How To Quit Your Job - The Right Way: A 5-Step Plan To Ditching Your Day Job. His free introductory course, The Negotiation Mindset, is available on his website.

Resource of the Week

Ben’s resource this week is a blog post, How to Respond to Salary History Requests, from the U.S. News and World Report Careers Blog by Alison Green. He also shares a related news story from the New York Times entitled Illegal in Massachusetts: Asking Your Salary in a Job Interview.

Listener Question of the Week

Jenna, Ben, and Mac offer advice to Jeff Croxford, who asks: “What current platforms and skills would be transferrable to most IT careers?”

If you would like the team to answer a job-related question or if you’ve found a job resource you think everyone should know about email it to or call at 716-JOB-TALK. If we use your question on the air, you will receive either a copy of our new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere or a Mac’s List Coffee Mug, your choice.

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Opening and closing music for Find Your Dream Job provided by Freddy Trujillo,