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How to handle salary requests on online application forms

salary negotiating, negotiating salary, online salary request, how to handle online salary requests,
Negotiating salary pays off!
Many potential employers will ask you to include your salary requirement when you apply for an open position. In fact, some online job sites insist that you put an exact number in a box. (I hate that!)

Complicating the situation is the effect the recession has had on salaries, which in some fields, has lowered pay by as much as 40 percent.  

So how should you handle the salary requirement question?

The good news is that you have options. The bad news is each option has risks. Here are the options, the risks for each scenario and the solution to get around every sticky online salary request situation.

If the job posting includes a required numeric salary box, you really have only two options:

1) Enter the lowest possible salary you are willing to take.

2) Enter the salary you really want (based, of course, upon your salary history, the position requirements and what the going rate likely is due to the bad economy). Sites like Salary.com can help you determine salary ranges for your area (Note: Such sites may quote salaries that are too high for your city, so use them for guidance not as the final word).

Risk: You may price yourself too high or too low for the position.

Solution: Seek to reach and impress the company’s decision makers through additional means, such as by asking an influential person to vouch for you, contacting them through LinkedIn, sending a letter or email, or calling them. I explain how to take such steps in this article.

If the salary request does not mandate that you fill out a numeric salary box, you can:

1. Ignore the request.

Risk: You may not get an interview because you didn’t follow directions.

Solution: Instead of ignoring the question, write, "I’d really like to arrange an interview with you to learn more about the job and to discuss the salary range. I think you will find that my salary requirements are quite negotiable dependent upon the job duties and benefits.”

2. Include your salary history rather than your salary requirement.

Risk: If your former salary was higher than the company wishes to pay, you can be rejected before you ever get an interview.

Solution: Include your salary history followed by, “Please note that I do not require making the same salary that I did before and am, in fact, far more interested in working very hard in a satisfying job experience.”

3. State that your salary requirement is negotiable.

Risk: An employer may pass you by because you are being evasive.

Solution: Expand upon your "I'm negotiable" statement by saying, ”My salary requirement is negotiable. I am so eager to become part of XYZ Company, that I am sure we can work out a range that will be mutually agreeable.”

4. State a range, rather than an exact figure, to leave the door open for negotiation. Consider a statement such as, “My salary requirement is in the $60,000 - $70,000 range.”

Risk: Employers may opt to pay you at the bottom of your range rather than at the top.

Solution: Add a qualifying statement like the following, so you can negotiate higher later. (My personal favorite is "d" since it makes it seem like the range you state is the going rate not your salary expectation and it leaves room for better pay and perks):

a. “In response to your request, my salary requirement is in the mid-to-high $60K range depending on the job requirements and benefits your company offers.”

b. “My salary requirement is negotiable, based upon the job responsibilities and your total compensation package.”

c. “Based upon the salary research I've done, my salary requirement is in the $35,000 - $45,000 range.”

d. “An acceptable salary range for this position, based upon the description and my research, is around $70,000 to $75,000, not including benefits. My requirement is flexible and negotiable within this range, depending on factors such as additional benefits and increased advancement opportunities.”

Be ready to respond to online salary requirement requests! It definitely could help you ... Get a Job!

Another article I wrote can help you negotiate a fair salary after working at a low paying job. Thanks for reading and please connect with me on LinkedIn and check out my Services page to see how I can be of help to you. -- Kathy

What comments or questions do you have about negotiating a salary? Share your thoughts via the Contact Us tab or on the LinkedIn discussion board that may have brought you to this blog. -- Kathy


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  1. My choice would be A. It shows research and thought, yet hedges bets until the benefits question is discussed.
    Re: D. Is it really necessary to STATE that salary, etc., is "negotiable"? Isn't everything, to some degree, negotiable? By stating that up front, to me it weakens the candidate's position by "caving" slightly when it's not necessary. Anyone agree?

  2. 1. Ignore the request.

    That sounds like a terrible idea.


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