What to Put for Desired Salary on a Job Application

By Jacqueline DeMarco · March 29, 2023 · 8 minute read

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What to Put for Desired Salary on a Job Application

Salary will always be an important factor in any career decision, whether you’re looking for a new job or choosing which offer to accept. And yet, few questions in the job application process are more uncomfortable than the basic What is your desired salary?

Not sure what to put for a desired salary on a job application? Keep reading for both helpful insights and templated responses.

Key Points

•   Determining a desired salary for a job application requires thorough research into the role, industry, and location.

•   Applicants should consider their education, experience, and special skills when setting a salary expectation.

•   It’s common to state if the salary is negotiable on online applications, often through a checkbox or in a notes section.

•   During interviews, candidates should be prepared to discuss and justify their salary expectations.

•   Email communication about salary can include stating a specific range or a minimum salary, with an openness to negotiation highlighted.

How to Answer Desired Salary on an Online Application

If you’re not sure what to put for desired salary on an application, you likely need to do some research and then think carefully about your answer. It’s true that listing too high a salary can immediately eliminate a candidate if the company can not afford to pay that much. But it’s equally true that lowballing can impact a candidate financially for years.

When deciding what to put for desired salary on a job application, it’s important that candidates don’t simply list the number they want to earn. A salary number should be based heavily on research. Spend time looking into the cost of living in the area, as well as what typical salaries look like for the role, seniority level, and industry you’re applying for. Education level, years of work experience, and special skills should also be taken into account.

When completing an online job application, it’s common to be asked if the salary listed is negotiable. This is usually done in a checkbox format, but if someone is open to negotiation and doesn’t see an option to highlight that fact, there is usually a notes section where flexibility can be mentioned.

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How to Answer the Desired Salary Question in Interviews

Salary requirements can come up at any stage of the application process, including during the interview. To avoid feeling put on the spot, it’s smart to have an answer ready to go beforehand. As nerve-racking as interviews can be, they’re a great time to discuss salary with a potential employer to make sure both parties are on the same page.

Again, a salary number should be backed by careful consideration and research. Be ready to share an argument for why you chose that number. If the applicant is flexible on salary, that can also be expressed here. Many candidates factor benefits, title, signing bonus, growth potential, and other elements into their decision to accept a job.

If a candidate is pitching a number higher than the employer’s budget, but they’re willing to accept a lower salary if they can work from home three days a week, then they should share that during the job interview.

How to Answer the Desired Salary Question in Emails

Some employers may not ask about a candidate’s salary requirements until after an interview or two, and then do so over email. When it comes to figuring out what to put for the minimum salary desired, many candidates list their current salary or a number slightly higher than that to increase their disposable income.

Some employers may ask for a range. Here, it’s important for candidates to choose a minimum salary they feel is worthwhile enough for them to continue the application process.

Candidates may include a note in the email about salary being negotiable if that is true. But if there really is a minimum the candidate needs to see to consider the job offer, they should make that clear in writing. We all have different expenses and budgets that impact how much we need to make. A spending app can help candidates determine what salary they need to pay all their bills.

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Declaring a Salary by Email: Templates

If you’re feeling uncomfortable about salary negotiations and you’re not sure what to put for the minimum salary desired, it can help to practice writing it out. You can use these email templates as a script for in-person or phone conversations, depending on how either party brings up salary.

•   Template 1: Salary Range. “Based on market research and cost of living in our area, I’m looking for a new role that will pay in the $80,000 to $90,000 range. I am flexible and am open to negotiation, but can only make a move for a salary in that range.”

•   Template 2: Minimum Salary. “The average salary for my role in the greater Los Angeles area is $65,000. I am currently looking for roles that can accommodate a salary of $65,000 or more.”

•   Template 3: Flexibility. “With ten years of industry experience and a recently earned MBA, I am looking to make a move to a more senior position. Compensation is important to me and I would like to make between $100,000 and $135,000. However, I am also looking for a role that provides schedule flexibility and would be willing to discuss a lower salary in exchange for a minimum of three remote work days a week.”

These templates give candidates an idea of how to get started. But it’s important to customize and flesh them out based on your own research.

When to Discuss Salary

Once you decide how much to quote for your minimum desired salary, you also need to be prepared to discuss it. There is really no wrong time to discuss salary during the job application process. While many candidates wait for the employer to bring it up, it is possible for the candidate to jumpstart the conversation. Some employers will wait until they make an offer to even mention salary.

While it’s generally not advisable to try to negotiate a salary before receiving a job offer, it is perfectly acceptable to ask what salary range they have in mind for the role.

If a candidate has concerns that the company’s budget is not in line with the salary the candidate is aiming for, inquiring early on about the salary range can help them avoid committing to multiple rounds of interviews for a role that isn’t the right fit.

What to Put for Desired Salary: Examples

At some point during a job search, a candidate will encounter a request to share their salary requirements. Once you feel confident you know what to put for a desired salary, you can turn to one of these examples for how to format your request.

•   I need to make a minimum of $XX in order to consider making a move from my current role/company.

•   I am looking for a new role that pays in the $XX to $XX range.

•   I am hoping to make $XX in my next role, but am open to negotiation for the right role.

It’s totally fine to keep salary requirements simple and straightforward to help eliminate any miscommunication.

The Takeaway

To recap, when you’re not sure what to put down for a desired salary, you’ll need to conduct market research into standard ranges for that role, industry, and experience level. You may also want to take local cost of living into account. Once you feel confident you know what to put for your desired salary on a job application, you simply need to communicate that amount clearly and concisely.

If you’re looking to make the most of your current or future salary, you can turn to SoFi for help. With SoFi’s money tracker app, users can monitor all of their money in one place. It’s easy to keep an eye on multiple account balances, set goals, review spending by category, and check on their credit score.

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What should I put for desired salary per hour?

When deciding what to put for your desired salary for an internship, part-time job, or other hourly role, you’ll need to research what the going rate is in your area. You also need to know what number works for your budget.

What to put for desired salary for part-time job?

Not sure what to put for a desired salary for a part-time job? Do some digging online to see what other roles in the same industry and local area pay to get an idea of a fair number to ask for.

Is desired salary hourly or yearly?

Whether or not someone’s desired salary is hourly or annual typically depends on the type of role they’re applying for or the company’s preference. It can be helpful to have a number in mind for both.

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