As recruiters, we often get this reply to the question about salary when asking “what salary are you looking for?”

“Well, what is the position paying?”

Should your pay be based on what the company is willing to pay or what you were previously earning?


If you were previously making $60,000, is a $20,000 raise justified, just because that is what the company is willing to pay?

My argument: your pay should be based on what you were previously earning.  I do believe that of course to make a move to a new position, candidates should get a fair raise.  That being said, just because a company has budget for a significant increase, the candidate should not always get the top end “just because”. 

I don’t think if someone is changing positions or companies, that a raise of more than $10,000 should apply.

Why?  Although I.T. hiring is still very competitive, we are not in the wild west,  .com days of the late 90’s.  There should be a justifiable career and salary progression.  This is the recipe for a happy employer and ultimately employee where realistic expectations will be met.  You also want to give yourself the best chance to land the job, while still getting a fair raise.

Candidates who are legitimately under paid or over paid will have to come up with a good answer to this in the interview process.  Be prepared and do not request a salary that is way above what you were earning.

Candidates, how do you handle the “salary” question?  I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below.