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Online Applications: How to Answer the “Desired Salary” Question

November 23rd, 2012

Online applications have a few standard features that seem to carry across from one industry and position to the next. One of the trickiest of these universal questions has to do with salary. When employers ask you to enter your desired salary, or a salary range, into an online application box, how should you respond? Here are a few of your most likely options, along with the pros and cons of each one.

1. Enter the lowest salary you’d ever accept.

This will please your employers if they register the number as “affordable.” But they won’t be impressed if they read your number as “desperate”. Shoppers on a shoestring buy the cheapest item in the store, but those can afford to do so tend to move upscale. Be careful not to undersell your hard-earned skills or compromise your self-respect.

2. Enter the highest reasonable salary you can possibly expect.

This shows that you’re confident in your marketability and proud of your skills and experience. But if you’re bluffing, remember that your employers are more experienced poker players than you are, and they know a weak hand when they see one. Before you ask for too much, gain a sense of how your resume and accomplishments stack up when measured against those of your peers.

3. Enter the salary of your last job.

This is an easy solution with minimal risk and minimal reward. It may keep you out of trouble, but it won’t help you stand out.

4. Conduct some careful research and enter a number just above or just below the exact average for this job in your geographic area.

This is probably the wisest and most practical option. It shows that you know the value of the position and that you’ve taken that number and carefully factored in one of your two most appealing features: either your affordability or your general excellence.

5. Enter a range between the option 1 (the lowest you’ll accept) and option 2 (the highest you can possibly expect.)

If the application will allow you to enter a range, this is probably your best and most open-ended response to the question. But be aware that your employers probably won’t offer a cent more than they need to for the health of the business, which means their attention will fall to the lower end of the scale.
For more compensation request and salary negotiation tips, reach out to the Connecticut staffing and job search experts at Merritt Staffing.


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