What To Put for Salary Requirements

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Posted by: David Garcia February 19, 2024

Salary is the most important – and often most intimidating – part of any job search. Many job listings advertise a salary range, which helps applicants know what to expect and filter out positions that don’t meet their individual salary needs. However, some applications ask you to provide your salary goal before you even enter negotiations. This can be a stressful question to answer. On the one hand, if you provide too low a range, you’re selling yourself short and potentially missing out on a lot of money. On the other hand, people often fear that asking for too much money may cost them a job. 

What is the Importance of Discussing Your Salary Requirements?

While it may seem awkward and intimidating, salary discussions are one of the most important parts of the interview process. It can be easy to walk into these negotiations thinking that the company is out to lowball you – and sometimes, this is an unfortunate reality. But in many situations, discussing a salary range stands to benefit both parties. 

For the candidate, this is an excellent opportunity to highlight their qualifications and experience. On the employer’s side, a candidate-provided salary range helps them gauge whether the candidate aligns with the budget and is of the desired experience level. 

Tips for Including Salary Requirements in Online Applications or Cover Letters

Some job postings or online applications may ask or even require you to provide an expected pay range. This isn’t as straightforward as it may seem; there are a few tips and tricks you should keep in mind to get the best possible results. 

Keep it Vague

While a salary range is helpful to both parties in the interview process, giving a range before you understand all of the responsibilities and benefits of the position can put you at a disadvantage. Some application forms require you to input a number or number range to progress through the rest of the application, but others may allow you to leave the space blank or input letters. In these cases, it can be helpful to simply write “open to negation” so you don’t over or undersell yourself. 

Research the Market and Salary Trends

Your time and experience are valuable, but what do you do when a company asks you to assign it a dollar value? The best approach is to research the salary of job positions similar to the one you’re applying for. Try to find several examples. This will give you an idea of what other companies are willing to pay for your position and what other people with your background and experience are willing to accept. 

Provide a Salary Range

If you have to provide a salary amount, it’s best to give a range instead of a single number. For example, if your target pay is $55,000, say you’re open to offers between $53,000 and $60,000. If you just give a single number, you cut your negotiating power and eliminate the possibility of being offered something higher than your target. 

Create your range based on your market research, and remember to keep it reasonable – a $30,000 to $70,000 range is too wide. It’s also important to make sure you’re comfortable with the lower end of the range. Don’t offer a minimum of $20,000 when you’re aiming to make $65,000. On the other hand, be sure to set the upper end higher than your goal, so you have some room to negotiate. 

Be Ready to Negotiate 

In America, negotiation is the expectation. This can be frustrating for a lot of people, but a straightforward approach won’t serve you well here. Come into the application and interview process ready to negotiate. The best approach is to start a reasonable amount above the amount you want and negotiate down. Make sure you fully understand the job requirements and responsibilities before you give your expected range, and remember that benefits like extra PTO may also be up for negotiation.

How to Negotiate Salary Requirements in Interviews 

You should walk into interviews expecting to negotiate, so make sure you walk in well-prepared! Here are some best practices you can use beforehand to make sure you’re ready to go. 

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice beforehand. Find a trusted friend, family member, or even practice with yourself in the mirror. Go through your supporting arguments, and practice keeping your cool and making counteroffers. Remember that salary isn’t the only measure of value in an employment package – benefits may also be negotiable. 

Explain Your Reasoning

A good negotiation should be more of a discussion than throwing numbers back and forth. Back up your counter offers with reasons and data you found during your market research, such as your skill set, experience, education, and the local cost of living. Sometimes, having competing offers from other applications can also be an effective bargaining chip. 

Try Not To Mention Your Previous Salary

While it’s legal for an interviewer to ask you about your salary expectations, many states have restrictions around asking about your current or former salaries – for your own benefit. For example, imagine you are being underpaid at your current position – maybe it’s the reason you’re looking for a new job – and your interviewer requires you to provide your current salary. This may seem invasive and even embarrassing and shouldn’t have any bearing on your future salary – that should be based on your qualifications and market value. 

Be Confident 

Interviewing and salary negotiations can be nerve-racking, no matter how much experience you have. Try your best to speak confidently. Remember, you’re trying to make a good impression and convince them to meet your salary requirements. A little bit of confidence can go a long way.

Example Answers for Salary Requirement Questions

  • My salary requirement is between $50,000 and $60,000. However, I am willing to consider benefits and the overall compensation package during negotiation. 
  • Based on my experience in this field, my salary range is $70,000 to $85,000, depending on the specific responsibilities of this position and the benefits package. 
  • I am looking for a salary between $100,000 and $110,000. This is in line with the average rate in this city for a person with my experience and education.

Frequently Asked Questions

What To Answer for Salary Requirements?

Provide a range and your reasoning – and remember to account for the rest of the benefits package. That can look something like: “My salary expectations are between $45,000 and $57,000, depending on the overall benefits package and the scope and responsibilities of the position.”

How Do You Write Salary Requirements?

The best way to write a salary requirement is to base it on the pay range of similar positions in your area. Be sure to account for things like cost of living, travel expectations, your education and experience level, special skills, and any relevant certifications you may have.

What Is the Best Answer for Desired Salary?

A good answer will give your salary expectations as a number range instead of a single sum – for example, if your goal is to make $65,000, provide a range between $60,000 and $70,000. Back it up with reasoning, like citing your experience or the local cost of living.

Final Thoughts

Salary negotiations can be intimidating but are arguably one of the most important parts of the interview process. The best way to prepare is to research the average salary for similar positions and provide the interviewer with a range that contains the target wage. Interviewers should also verify qualifications prior to negotiations, and ScoutLogic can help. Our Employment Verification service verifies past employment history, accomplishments, and skills so both parties can make the most out of their negotiations.

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