How to Write Salary Requirements: What To Know

Back to blog
Posted by: David Garcia December 21, 2021

Applying for a new job can be stressful. Not only do you need to make sure your resume and cover letter stick out from other applicants, but you also need to ensure you secure a good salary if you’re hired.

Whether you’re unsure about how much your skills are worth or you’re trying not to sell yourself short, writing salary requirements can be daunting.

Luckily, there are a few ways you can eliminate the awkwardness and obtain a desirable salary. Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about salary requirements and how to write them.

What Are Salary Requirements?

In short, a salary requirement is the amount of money you need to provide your services. While some companies may showcase the salary range in the job application, many may ask about your salary expectations.

It’s crucial to know how to write your salary requirements to help you earn more money from your new role. Companies or recruiters will typically ask you to write your desired salary on the job application or cover letter. You may even get asked in your interview, which can be a little awkward and challenging to answer.

Compensation can vary based on a few factors, such as your experience, previous salary, cost of living in your area, and overall benefits provided by the company.

Is It Legal for an Employer to Ask for Salary Requirements?

If you aren’t aware already, there are a lot of legalities that go into the hiring process. Those laws and regulations entail what companies can and can’t ask during interviews or applications. For example, companies aren’t allowed to ask if you’re married, divorced, or what religion you practice.

However, things can get confusing when asking about the desired salary or previous compensation. Most states have banned companies from asking about salary history.

There are a few exceptions if companies in certain states only have a certain number of employees. If they discover the information somehow, they cannot set the salary offer based on that number.

That said, employers are allowed to ask you about your expected salary when applying for a role. That’s why it’s vital to know how to answer that question when it arises (and it usually will).

How To Write Salary Requirements: A Quick Guide

Now that you fully understand your requirements, how do you write yours? Remember, the goal is to get paid a desirable amount based on the work required. If you’re a recruiter, these tips can also help you negotiate better salaries for your clients.

With that in mind, here’s how to write a stellar salary requirement:

Answering Desired Salary on Job Applications

It’s not uncommon for companies to ask about your expected compensation on the job application. That question is especially prevalent if you’re working as a freelancer or contractor, but it can also happen if you apply for a full-time role. Some might request that you include it in your cover letter.

For online applications, it’s tricky to skip this question as it’s typically programmed to require an answer. The best thing you can do is try to be vague. Don’t give a specific figure, but instead write “market rate,” “negotiable,” or “open for discussion.”

Try setting a range if you can’t write in words and must enter a number. This range will at least give you some wiggle room when you discuss it in person. If setting a range isn’t possible, do some research and put in a reasonable dollar amount.

Remember that bots often review applications before a human even looks at them. Therefore, make sure you put in a reasonable figure and not something unusual.

Do Your Homework

If you’re applying for a similar role at a new company, you may already know what range to expect. However, you may not have a clue what the job you’re applying for actually pays. In that case, it wouldn’t hurt to do a bit of research on the role and the average salary in your state.

Once you have a rough estimate, you can sharpen your figure based on your experience, education, or unique skills.

For example, let’s say you’re applying to be a sales and marketing manager. The average salary for this role in the United States is around $75,000. However, let’s say you have an extra 1-2 years of education specific to your position. In that case, you could demand a 10% increase to the national average.

Doing your homework will make you feel more confident when answering your desired compensation.

Ask More About the Role

If the employer asks you for a figure, don’t be afraid to ask for more details before you answer. You can ask them what other benefits are included as an employee other than your salary or how much paid leave you will receive per year. These factors can impact what kind of salary you should expect.

You may not get the exact compensation you hoped for, but you could have a more balanced work and personal life. That could be more valuable than an extra $5,000 a year in some cases.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to think about your long-term employment goals. Do you plan on staying with this company for many years? Perhaps the starting salary isn’t what you wanted, but many growth opportunities could exist.

It pays to know the difference between a marathon and a sprint.

Always Give a Range if Possible

Try to avoid giving an exact figure whenever possible. Offering a range is better because it lets the employer know that you’re willing to negotiate, which is a trait they often value. That said, you must know how to give a salary range, so you still end up with a comfortable rate.

For starters, the lowest amount should still be a salary you’re comfortable getting. It’s more than likely the employer will offer you something near the bottom unless you can somehow sell yourself big.

Moreover, try to go into it with an open mind. Maybe a company can’t afford your highest rate, but they are willing to give you equity or stock options in exchange. They might also offer you larger commissions or bonuses if they can’t meet your desired salary.

What Not To Do When Asked About Desired Salary

Here are a few mistakes to avoid when asked about your expected compensation:

  • Don’t Wait to Negotiate: When a company asks for your desired salary, you don’t need to hone your negotiation tactics. You give your desired rate, and the company will provide you with an offer when they’re ready.
  • Try Not to Discuss Previous Salary: Although it’s illegal to ask about previous compensation in most states, you may somehow feel obligated to mention your salary history. Try not to bring it up as it could complicate things.
  • Don’t Mention Salary Too Early: If the employer hasn’t asked about your expected compensation, there’s no need to say it right away. It’s better to wait until you’ve gotten an offer to discuss your desired salary. If they need to know before giving you a job offer, they will ask when the time is right.


Job hunting can be taxing. You need to put in a lot of work to make sure you secure a promising, sustainable career that helps you build a better future. Knowing how to handle salary requirements effectively will work as a stepping stone to getting you the job you deserve.

It’s also a valuable skill for recruiters looking to get their clients the best job opportunities possible.

For more tools and resources for recruiters, contact ScoutLogic today.

Latest blog posts
September 07, 2023
Should You Screen Job Candidates' Social Media?
There are few topics in the hiring world quite as contentious right now as whether or not companies should be screening the social media of job candidates. Some see it as a...
September 05, 2023
What Is a Diploma Mill?
Education is the latest sector of the economy to fall prey to widespread scams. Schemes, scams, and cynical manipulation have infiltrated education in a big way in the form of diploma...
September 03, 2023
How To Deal With Difficult Employees
At ScoutLogic, we understand that there can be difficult employees in any organization or business. Even more, the fallout from a difficult employee can have a hugely disproportionate...
September 01, 2023
What Is an SSN Trace?
Employers are faced with making sound hiring decisions, but with hundreds of applicants, picking the right one isn't so easy.  With a potential job offer on the line,...
August 12, 2023
What Is a Stay Interview?
You've heard of an exit interview, you've probably either given or conducted one. But have you heard of a stay interview?  Stay interviews are conversations conducted with...
Looking for a better background check company? Start by preparing with this free guide.

Download this free guide to go into the searching process prepared. This guide includes actionable steps to:

  • Gather your requirements
  • Determine vendors
  • Check references
  • Determine success metrics
get a free e-book

Get a free e-book