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How to handle salary requests on online job applications

You CAN learn to negotiate
salary effectively!
Many potential employers will ask you to include your salary requirement when you apply for an open position. In fact, some online job sites require that you put a numeric amount in a required box.  (I hate that!)

So how do you handle the dreaded salary box on online job application sites? You have several options, most of which have risks. 

Here is my advice:

If the job posting includes a required numeric salary requirement box:

1) Research salary sites to learn salary ranges. Sites to try: 
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Monster.com Salary Wizard 

Important: If you are seeking a job in a different city, check the cost of living for that area before quoting your salary range. CNN Money provides a handy cost-of-living calculator to determine your going rate in your target city.

2) Determine where your salary expectation would fall in the salary range. If you have less than 3 years of experience, you'd typically fall in the 25th percentile of the range. If you have between 3-5 years of experience, you'd typically fall in the 50th percentile of the range. And if you have 5-7 years of experience or more, you'd likely fall in the 75th percentile range. If you are highly sought after in your field/industry, you may be able to negotiate for more. 

Other options, particularly if you can't find the salary:

1) Enter the lowest salary that 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).

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

Solution: Seek to reach and impress the company’s decision makers or recruiters through other means, such as through networking or by contacting them through LinkedIn, by sending a letter or email, or by calling them.

If the 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! 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 qualifying statements like these so you can negotiate up when you've been offered the position):
a. “In response to your request, my salary requirement is in the mid-to-high $60K range depending on the job requirements and benefits XYZ 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 salary requirement requests. Doing so could help you get a job or land a better one!

What questions do you have about salary requirements? Ask questions via the Contact tab. If I can be of help, let me know. -- Kathy


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