How Much Do You Want To Get Paid?

Hand and money staircase isolated on white

From the mailbag:

Hi Andrew,

I wanted to get your feedback about a potential employer who had asked me “how much I want to get paid” after my interview.

First, I am not sure what I am worth. I have had 3 years of public accounting experience with ~2 years of internship of public and private accounting experience. I don’t really know how to approach this since I was never asked in the past. I have also pass the CPA exam.

The potential firm doesn’t give a raise or a bonus since I already passed the CPA exam. I live in Dallas, TX and I currently make at $47k/year at a public accounting firm.

Any feedback on how to answer this would be a tremendous help!

– Rich

Well Rich, that’s a doosie.

To tell the truth….. or not tell the truth?

I always try to go truth.

In this case you are paid a little lower than I would expect with three years of experience.

When you make a career jump, I tell people to try an look for at least a 10% pay increase.

Maybe more.

But you have to weigh that against how unhappy you are with your current job?

Can you stay at your current job longer? Look for a 10-30% raise.

Do you have to leave or you are going to freak out? You could take a 5-15% raise if you are dying.

As a general rule:

If you are comfortable with your pay and don’t feel you have been underpaid, disclose how much you make.

I might send an email like:

In my current position I make $47k. In making the jump to another firm I would really like to get over $55k. To be honest, compensation is not the most important thing to me when looking for a new job. Culture, fit, future opportunity are far more important.

I was thrilled when I was accepted for the interview with your firm and when I left your offices after meeting you (add other people you met with), my desire to work for your company skyrocketed. When you talked about (insert interesting conversation point) I was so excited at the idea of joining your team.

While I do have my pay preference as noted above, I would love to further discuss this opportunity with you over the phone and your thoughts on compensation.

When are you available to talk?

Best Regards,



If you have been grossly underpaid for some reason, you can just leave out how much you make.

The trick is to get them to need you.

If they feel like they are hiring YOU not just another person on the payroll, a few thousand here or there won’t matter.