When I recruited, I never asked people, “What are your salary requirements?” in an initial conversation. It seemed tacky to me. Still, many recruiters do, so this post offers an example of how to respond to prospective employers when they ask the salary requirements question.
Know Your Minimum Salary Requirements for Each Job
First, when you apply for a job, establish your minimum salary requirements with yourself. They might vary depending on:
- How exciting the situation is.
- Your commute.
- The opportunity to get the specific experience you need to achieve your long-term goals.
- Educational opportunities that support your long-term goals.
You can’t negotiate effectively without thinking about the job before you start.
When an Online Application Asks for Salary Requirements
Take a minute to consider that perhaps you shouldn’t apply for that job. Do you want to work for an unreasonable negotiator? The abuse will continue.
If you decide to continue, instead of applying online, use this personal approach to make contact with the prospective employer. It lets you avoid answering compensation questions until you’re interviewing.
Finally, if you do apply online, share a salary requirement that won’t eliminate you from consideration (your number can be too high or too low). You can negotiate later — when you have better information.
Also, if you apply online, respond to the “salary history” question by providing your current base salary. If your compensation is low for your market, add your last/highest bonus.
You can also gross your number up for benefits. That’s a bit cheesy, but so is their question.
Calibrating your disclosures to the company’s likely hiring range matters because most employers pay good performers what it takes to keep them. Thus, if your salary looks too low, you look unqualified.
How to Answer Salary Requirements Questions in Online Applications
Many forms simply want a number. Use the information above and your judgment to decide on an amount.
However, if you get to write any narrative, use this salary requirements example:
“I have shared the compensation information you have requested. Please note that salary, employee benefits, and other forms of compensation matter to me.
However, I plan to consider many factors in deciding whether or not to accept job offers.
My current base salary is $120,000 and my bonus runs up to 30%. My employer also provides additional compensation and benefits.”
As you can see, if they haven’t answered, “What does salary requirements mean?” in their request, you have latitude when answering.
Salary History Requests
Also be aware that, slowly but surely, jurisdictions are making it illegal to ask people about their salary histories.
Before you share salary information, check HRDive’s list of states and cities that have outlawed the question. You might not have to answer it.
However, if it’s against the law where you live and they’ve asked the question anyway, ask yourself again if you want to work for an unreasonable negotiator.
Image: Fotolia/Tom Wang
Updated July 2019
© 2010 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by 100+ business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse.
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