Ask Jack: Salary Requirements, Faking It, and Job of the Week

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Last week we had a question about when to ask about payment during job interviews. This week, AOL Jobs reader "Sal Arium" says...

I have the reverse question: When a job application asks you to enter your required salary, is it appropriate to point out to them that that's a really crappy thing to do to a prospective employee? Or would it be better to just enter, "Well, how much have you got?"

I agree that it is an unfair thing to ask; payment should be on the employer's side of the equation. (I also don't think employees should have to fill out their own performance appraisals, but that's another question for another installment of Ask Jack.) Still, I don't think I'd point it out. There's a one percent chance that the individual reading the application will think, "I admire this person's moxie! This is a top candidate!" but a 99 percent chance that they'll think, "Next."

So what to write down for salary requirement? You don't want to lowball yourself, but you also don't want to price yourself out of the job. This is where a little research can come in very handy. What is the average pay in your field, in your part of the country? (The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a good place to start looking.) You can also just write down your most recent salary -- or even better, your last two salaries, if it shows that your earnings have been increasing. And throw in the word "flexible." In fact, you won't go too wrong by only writing "flexible." It's an all-purpose non-answer that knocks the ball back into the employer's court, where it belongs.

Another reader asks:

I'm being promoted to a job i don't think I'm qualified for. Should I take it?

You specifically? I would say absolutely not. But for most people, I think accepting the promotion is definitely worth the risk. When you buy a house, they recommend getting one that costs a little more than you can afford. The assumption is that you'll start earning more -- and maybe that's incentive to work harder. In life, we often feel "in over our heads" whenever trying something new, but before you know it, you're in the groove. The ideal job has room for learning and improvement; otherwise, you'd be bored before you start. And your boss saw something in you, maybe a quality you're not even aware of. So, as the saying goes, "Fake it till you make it."

Click here for last week's questions

Do you have a work-related question for Jack? Write it in the comments below (better answers to this week's questions are also welcome!) or tweet it @AOLJobs with the hashtag #AskJack.

Jack's Job of the Week

And speaking of getting promoted: In my Job of the Week -- an entry-level sales or marketing position in Knoxville, Tennessee -- I feel like we're going to get promoted and we didn't even apply yet! Oh yeah, we're on the Management Fast Track, baby! OK, OK, if you want to go the old-fashioned route (find a job that you're interested in, work really hard, don't move to Knoxville, yadda yadda), then do a search right now on AOL Jobs. Great jobs are waiting for you!
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