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What is your salary expectation? What have you done to come to that conclusion, and is it a fair expectation based on your situation?

Salary expectation is something our candidates often ask us for advice on when they are preparing for an interview, as many wish to know how they should answer a salary-related question in an interview. Although there is no one size fits all answer, the question can be very simple to answer and is often personal, depending on your current situation. Salary expectation is also more than just a question to answer on an application form or in an interview; it is a fundamental element of your job search.

You will see four different categories listed below. Read the section most relevant to your situation for some insight into salary expectations. For tips regarding salary negotiation, check out our blog here.

Are you: Currently employed, looking for a promotion or a similar role that offers more money?

This situation is the most common for people looking for a new job, and the great news is, this is a relatively easy one to answer on the salary expectation scale. We can break this down into two different scenarios:
1. Scenario one: you want a promotion in title, responsibilities, and general progression
2. Scenario two: you want more money, and that is the primary motivation.

In scenario one, consider the situation you are currently in and the one you want to move to. Let’s say you now earn $50,000 but are craving growth and responsibility. The situation you want to move to offers more growth and potential for you (and ideally more money too). Would you move to this new situation if the salary was also $50,000? If the answer is no, you need to realize that money is a deciding factor for you and move onto scenario two below.

In scenario two, it’s all about the money, so look at what you currently earn and place your salary expectation for your next role at higher than the current salary. It is essential to do some market research here, though, and see if the expectations you have set match up with the typical standard salary for professionals in your niche, as you still need to be realistic.

  • Research roles similar to what you are looking for to see the offer’son offer as you don’t want to price yourself out of the market. You can do this by looking in the classifieds, on JobsCayman, or speaking with Nova’s recruiters.
  • Factor in bonuses and benefits that you ‘can’t live without’ but don’t factor them into your base salary expectation.

Are you: Currently employed and looking for a career change?

The main thing to focus on is the motivation behind the career change. Ever heard the phrase ‘short term loss for long term gain’? This category is all about that, and unless you are already at a junior level, it is unrealistic that a career change will offer the same salary level you are used to. Let’s look at it from an employer’s perspective to see why.

Employer X needs a marketing assistant and has a budget of $42,000. Jane is a legal secretary with six years’ experience who wants to branch into marketing after studying digital marketing in her spare time and is currently paid $60,000 and knows she is worth that salary based on her experience and work ethic. Jane is right; she is worth that salary, but sadly not to Employer X, who doesn’t require her legal expertise for this role and can find another candidate who has some on-the-job marketing experience and is within their budget.

In this category, it is vital to assess what is most important to you. Are you so eager to change career paths that you are willing to take a pay cut? Or are you reliant on the salary you are used to and, therefore, may have to think again about what career path you follow? In the latter, it may be worth considering what else you can do to prove your expertise in this new career path to make you worth the same salary as you are currently used to earning.

  • Research, research, research. Know the field you want to get into, understand the types of roles within it, and the salaries that come with those roles. Look at the requirements advertised for those roles and assess where you fall within that. Use that assessment to understand where you would fall in a salary range and start to craft a realistic salary expectation from this information. As always, feel free to speak to one of our team, and we would be happy to help you understand the typical salary range for roles here in Cayman that we recruit for.

Are you: A junior candidate or someone with little experience in the role you are applying for?

As someone more junior or entry-level, your main goal should be to obtain some experience to launch into your career. That said, money is important and helps us live our lives, so I’m not saying you should work for free, but instead suggesting that if you are right at the start of your career, you may want to look into internships, trainee roles, or work experience for a short time to help you reach your longer-term goals. These types of learning positions will help to get your foot in the door and gain the necessary expertise for a well-paying job in the near future (possibly even with the firm you take a learning role with).

  • You want the employer to see that securing the role, gaining experience, and proving yourself are at the top of your list.
  • There’s nothing wrong with stating you need X amount to survive, but if the role cannot offer what you want, then ask if there is a possibility of a salary review after three months should you accept a lower pay rate. This shows you know how much you can contribute and are not afraid to prove yourself through hard work, which is always something an employer is looking for in a top-quality candidate.

Are you: An experienced candidate who is not currently working?

Ah, this one is hard and will vary significantly from one situation to the next. You don’t want to feel that an employer can take advantage of the fact you aren’t currently working and give you a low-ball offer, so assessing your worth is an excellent exercise to do. You need to be mindful that if your last employment was long-standing, you might not get into a new company at the salary level you left the last one. You will also need to do some benchmarking to see where your previous salary, or the salary you are hoping for, falls within the salary range for that role.

  • Be as flexible as you can without letting an employer take advantage. Assess your situation and where your priorities lie. If the main focus is to get back into employment of any type, then maybe take what is available, but if your priority is to make sure the next move is a long-standing one, make sure it is something you will be happy with.

With everything mentioned above across all categories, I feel it is important to note that if a salary range is posted on a job advert and you wouldn’t accept a salary within that range, then you may want to reconsider if you wish to begin the recruitment process for that particular role at all. Companies may indeed have wiggle room outside of a stated salary range, but the reality is that if that range is advertised, that is often all they have the approval to execute for hire.

In most cases, salary alone won’t lead to being satisfied and fully engaged in a job, especially in the longer term. There are many other factors to consider, such as culture, team structure, working hours, work-life balance, etc. You need to weigh up which of these are non-negotiable for you and what areas you are willing to be more flexible on.

As mentioned before, if you are looking for a new position or are curious about opportunities and what the going market salary is for these roles, feel free to reach out to our team today at


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