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Expected Salary: How To Determine What You Are Worth

Know how to determine your expected salary Hi BrighterMonday, I have been called to several interviews and the question of how much I expect in terms of salary always comes up. The problem is, it is hard to get industry data with regard to market rates and I honestly do not know how to determine […]

Know how to determine your expected salary

Hi BrighterMonday,

I have been called to several interviews and the question of how much I expect in terms of salary always comes up. The problem is, it is hard to get industry data with regard to market rates and I honestly do not know how to determine my worth. How can I go about determining my net worth when quoting my expected salary?



Hi Agnes,

Congratulations on your interviews. The question about salaries always comes up as employers want to determine whether they can afford your services or not. In some cases, employers will actually ask you to quote how much you expect in terms of salary, as you are applying for the job. Bear in mind that companies usually have a budget for advertised positions and when the interviewer asks about your expected salary, they simply want to know whether your expectations fit within the budget.

Salary negotiation can be scary because you do not want to undervalue yourself and get a raw deal or overvalue yourself and get disqualified. The most important thing is to know your worth and this can be simplified by following these guidelines.

Your experience


It goes without saying that the more experience you have, the more your skills you possess and the more value you bring on board. As such, you should consider your professional experience when quoting your expected salary.

As a basic requirement, employers will usually specify the number of years of experience in the qualifications part of a job advertisement. As stated earlier, once a position is available, a budget is determined. The years of experience are part of the consideration when determining the budget to be set aside for a particular position. This then means that you should quantify this when determining your net worth.

Check average salaries for different experience levels with this tool. 

Your skills


When applying for a job, carefully look at the skills required and how many you have and more importantly, your skill level. The more skills you have, the higher your value and the more the higher your remuneration aspirations. It gets even better if you have put these skills to good use for a long period of time, which then means that you have a lot of experience and highly polished skills.

Another consideration is the availability of your skills on the market. The higher the supply, the less the value and the higher the demand, the more the value. As a way of cushioning yourself against this, you can ensure that you have an array of skills which props up your value as it means that you can comfortably handle a couple of duties.

The position

Most entry level positions attract low salaries and this includes those jobs that require up to 2 years of experience. The rationale is that you have not gained enough experience and skills and this means that the employer will have to invest in you by way of training.

However, mid-level to top-level management positions attract comparatively high salaries as you are deemed to have lots of experience and a lot of skills to bring on board. In most instances, you will have done something recognisable which pushes your value up and employers are willing to pay for the value you bring on board.

Therefore, if you are applying for any position that demands for many years of experience, you have the leeway to put a high price on your skills. If you are applying for a low-level position, you should not put a premium on your skills as this will mean that you might need to be trained on the job.

The industry you want to get into

Different industries have different pay ranges. There are those industries that pay a premium for similar skills in other fields and those that pay low salaries for similar jobs. This is determined by market forces and those industries with high growth rates will often want to bring the best talent on board and pay a premium to keep this talent as it will drive the business forward.

On the other hand, if an industry has slow growth and is facing lots of competition from emerging technology, it will be hard to negotiate for a high salary.

The market rates for the position

market rates

Different positions attract different salaries based on prevailing market and economic conditions. These are not fixed figures, but a range based on other factors such as experience and skills.

If you are not sure about your worth, you can weigh your skills against market rates. This is information you can gather from your networks and it allows you to be able to value yourself against what the market offers.

Ensure that you can gather as much information as possible on market rates so that you can negotiate for an appropriate amount. You can start by doing a quick survey of what your company currently pays for the same skills.

Find out what competitors pay

Every company in every sector has a competitor. It is imperative to try and find out what the competitor pays as a fair wage for the same position. Most companies in the same sector will often pay around the same amount for similar positions.

For example, if you are applying for a customer service agent position in a telecommunications company, you can find out what the competitor pays and ask for an amount within the same range.

Consider other perks that come with the job

When negotiating for a salary, it is also advisable to look at the whole remuneration package. These are other perks that come with the job such as training, insurance cover or even company resources such as cars.

When you are negotiating for a salary, you can ask the interviewer what other perks come with the job so that you can gauge what salary range would be ideal. If there are many perks with the job, it is highly likely that the company would not be willing to add more zeros to your pay cheque.

The job description

Every advertised job has a list of likely duties and responsibilities. Although the list is not usually exhaustive, it highlights your main duties and responsibilities, which enables you to gauge what kind of duties you will be involved in.

This list is often directly related to how much the employer is willing to pay for your skills. It also matches the skills section of the advertisement and it can be a great way of gauging just how much you can earn.

If you are to do more duties than you are doing currently, that is your cue to raise your value. The point is your main duties and responsibilities are meant to ensure that you get a fair wage for your work.

Your location also matters


If you are going to work in an urban setting like Nairobi, you might need to ask for a slightly high salary because the cost of living in an urban setting is usually higher than that of rural areas. Most employers will also provide for such allowances as housing and transport allowances for those working in urban areas or very remote areas.

When trying to figure out how much salary would be appropriate, consider where you will be stationed as you also need to live a comfortable life that will be free of stressors so that you can be fully committed to your job.

Level of education

Some positions are heavily reliant on one’s level of education. For example, if you are applying for the position of a graduate trainee, then it goes without saying that you must at least possess a degree.

Most jobs will often state what level of education is ideal. This is directly proportional to the amount of money allocated to the position.

Positions which require high educational qualifications will often attract high salaries. This also means that if you have pursued professional courses that are relevant to the job, you are more likely to be paid more for your skills. The rationale is that you will bring these skills on board, to the advantage of the company.

Look at your accomplishments so far

The reason why someone is willing to hire you is because they believe that you have something to bring on board. For example, if you are applying for the position of a social media manager and you have so far gained thousands of followers on various social media platforms and you are a force to reckon with, it shows that you can be able to get many followers for a brand. As such, you have a proven track record, which you can bring on board, to the advantage of the company.

Your accomplishments are like specifications for a product. When making a sales pitch (salary negotiation) make sure you demonstrate why your specifications are valuable and hence, justify the amount you would like to be paid.

What soft skills do you have?

Soft skills are those skills that you develop over time and which set you apart from the rest. For example, you may be a great team leader, or you have good communication skills, or you are able to rally people behind a cause. Whatever it is, you can demonstrate that the skill you possess is relevant and of value to the company.

For example, if you are a fresh graduate and you managed to be a successful leader of a certain club in school, you can use this to show that you have leadership skills and thus, you set yourself apart from the rest. You bring something on board and that extra experience that you have puts a high price tag on your skill set.

Your current salary

When determining your expected salary, it is good to take into account your current salary. The fact that you are skilled enough means that you deserve a higher pay and that is one of the major reasons why people change jobs. As such, make sure you add a reasonable amount to your current pay when you are negotiating for a salary at a new job.

In conclusion, do not fret when you are asked about your expected salary. You must ensure that you ask for an amount that suits your skills and experience and one that the employer is willing to part with. The most important thing is to ensure that you can demonstrate the value you will bring on board, to justify the amount you are asking for.

Now that you have known how to determine your net worth, learn how to negotiate effectively for your salary here and the average salary you should be asking for in your next interview or review here.

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