When answering desired salary or expected salary questions on an application, the best approach is to write in “negotiable” or keep the field blank. If a numerical response is required, enter “000” and in a notes section, mention that salary is negotiable based on further understanding of the position.
When applying for jobs, you may notice that many job applications ask for your desired salary or expected salary for the position. This question refers to the amount that you would like to be compensated for a particular job. Companies ask for salary requirements to help screen potential job candidates in both the application and interview process, but your answer may constrain your earning potential or even cost you the job. Learn how to navigate this application and interview question so that you have the best chance of landing the position and the salary you deserve.
How To Answer Desired Salary on an Online Application
Many job applications ask for your desired salary, but it’s not necessarily in your best interest to answer the question. The most strategic approach is to delay the salary discussion. Depending on the specific requirements of the application, your options for avoiding it may vary. Familiarize yourself with these three answer options so that you’re ready to tackle this question in your next job application.
Option 1: Leave It Blank
Your first option for delaying the salary discussion is to leave it blank. The reasoning for this is because any number you choose to specify could limit your salary options or eliminate you from the running in case your answer was out of budget. Check out how both scenarios could play out below.
If your specified salary is too high…
The hiring team may decide not to pursue your application. You’ll have more leverage to negotiate a higher salary after discussing the value you can bring to the team with your skills and experience in an interview. So don’t hinder your chances of getting an interview by listing a salary that may be out of the company’s budget.
If your specified salary is too low…
It may be harder for you to negotiate your compensation package later in the hiring process. For example, if you originally specified $50,000 in your application but learned through market research during the interview process that $60,000 is a fair salary for the position, it would be difficult to justify a counter offer. The hiring team may state that based on your application, they were prepared to meet your salary expectations and can’t accommodate anything more.
Option 2: Write in “Negotiable”
Another option for avoiding the salary discussion early on in the hiring process is to let them know that you’d like to negotiate the salary based on a full understanding of the position. In an application, you can communicate this by simply writing “negotiable” into the field designated for desired salary.
Not every application will allow a nonnumerical answer for this question. If that is the case and you can’t submit “negotiable” as your answer, try writing in a number as a placeholder like “000” or “999.” This should satisfy the number requirement without limiting your salary later. When using a numeric placeholder, it’s wise to also specify somewhere in the application under a comments or notes section that salary is negotiable and can be discussed at a later time.
Option 3: Identify a Suitable Range
Some applications may require an answer in the form of a range or they may not accept “000” or “999.” If this is the case, your last option is to identify a desired range. It’s important to do some research about salaries for your position and location and to list a range based on the current market value. Start by looking up the median salary for the position and don’t forget to compare it against competitive salaries in your area to determine a reasonable range.
How To Answer the Desired Salary Question in Interviews
Remember that you have the best chance of successfully negotiating your salary if you wait until after you’ve shown your value and you’ve been offered the job. Use these tips for delaying the discussion during interviews so that you can secure a salary that matches your worth.
Option 1: Postpone the Conversation
When it comes to the dreaded salary question during an interview, the best strategy is to postpone the conversation, preferably until after you have a job offer. In theory this seems easy, but the pressure of a job interview can make it hard to think on your feet. Prepare a few lines to respond with so that you can adeptly navigate away from this discussion during an interview. Try out one of the examples below:
- “I’m currently focused on finding a position that is the best fit for me and my career goals. I’m more than happy to discuss salary at a later time if this is a good fit for both of us.”
- “I don’t have a number in mind at this time, but I’d love to keep discussing the role so that we both have a better understanding of what would be fair compensation based on my skills and experience.”
Option 2: Ask Questions
Another way to stall the salary discussion is by asking questions. This option may take some more preparation, but it’s an effective strategy nonetheless. Feel free to divert the question by asking about the budget for the role. You can also inquire about particular job responsibilities that will inform how you determine your desired salary. Some examples of what to ask are listed below:
- “I still have some questions about the role that I’d love to discuss before salary. After that, I’m willing to consider an offer you think is fair.” [follow up with specific questions]
- “I don’t currently have a specific number in mind, but I’m interested in hearing about how your company values the role. Are you able to discuss the budget for the position?”
When To Discuss Salary
As mentioned previously, the best time to enter into a salary discussion is after you’ve received a job offer. Attempting to negotiate before then will leave you at a disadvantage, especially if other candidates are still involved. If you haven’t been formally offered the position, but think you’re close, ask to confirm where you are in the hiring process with this line:
- “I prefer to discuss salary only when I’ve been offered a job. Is this the case?”
Once you have a confirmed offer, feel free to negotiate a salary that matches your skills and experience level. Before entering into these discussions, brush up on some negotiation tactics and tips to help you be more persuasive and get the salary you want.
When it comes to navigating the hiring process, set yourself up for career and financial success by wisely answering the desired salary question on applications and in interviews. Choosing to leave the application field blank, write in “negotiable,” or use a numeric placeholder will help you postpone the conversation and give you the best chance of getting the job. Additionally, delaying salary discussions in an interview should help you successfully negotiate a better salary once you get an offer.
With a salary worthy of your skills and experience, you’ll have more income to save, spend, and grow. Don’t forget to adjust your budget in the Mint app, so that you can stay in control of your finances and keep on reaching your financial goals.