What to put for desired salary on job applications. Best answers.


Are you filling in the application form and doubt how to answer the field with the desired salary? There is no sense to worry since there are multiple ways to achieve the goal set if you make the right decision. You will agree that salary is the first thing that makes people look for a job and work at all. Moreover, recruiters and potential employers make job-seekers fill this line because of several reasons, but the fact remains the following – your answer can take you to the next stage of the recruiting procedure or send your CV to the ‘Refused’ pile.

Look: this article will teach you how to avoid underselling yourself and answer the question about desired salary in such a way that it could present you from the best side.

What put for desired salary on online job applications

A person who wants to apply for a job should provide a resume to prove his or her value and suitability for the position. However, most of the resume templates have one field that is usually called ‘current’ or ‘desired’ salary. Some people may wonder what is special about it, but the truth remains the following – it can be a trap for a job-seeker who can prevent himself from a possibility to negotiate the future salary or get to the next stage of an interview. Though it seems that this field can be easily filled with one or two figures, in fact, it is important to know what to put for the desired salary on the application and possible consequences of your decision.

Some intentions of the potential employee can be misunderstood by the recruitment team and you may be excluded from the competition at an early stage. For example, you are confident that your knowledge and professionalism deserve you to earn more than this profession is paid for on average and you put a higher salary. A potential employer can treat this figure as a desire to boast or reason to refuse you since it is a little more than he or she was planning to pay for this job. As a result, this person does not get a real expert and you lose the possibility to get a position of your dream. It is only one of the reasons why you should think twice about what to put for expected salary when you fill out the fields in your resume template. However, there is good news for you since now you will learn several ways of how to fill this field correctly and achieve the goal set. There are several types of responses acceptable.

A short phrase

It is up to a job seeker to decide what template to choose for a resume, but it the one you have to fill offers you enough space to write a short phrase, it is better to select this variant. If you are not limited in the number of characters to use or this space is enough to insert a short phrase there, don’t be afraid to sound ambiguous and choose one of the following phrases:

  • ‘Negotiable’;
  • ‘Open for discussion’;
  • ‘To be discussed during the interview’;
  • ‘Entry level’ etc.

Such a response will not give a clear picture of your wishes and will leave space for negotiating the salary on further stages of the employment process. The choice of such a response cannot be considered the omission of the answer or its misrepresentation since all the statements provided are truthful. The only thing made by a job seeker is a desire to postpone the discussion of this question for later.

Any nonsense number

Though it is not the best solution for a resume or job application, it is possible to joke and write down a figure that makes no sense. You may ask nothing entering $0.00 or show your desire to become a millionaire. Naturally, a recruiter will get an idea that you do not wish to disclose the amount you want to be paid. However, this effort can be understood in two absolutely different ways. One person can consider it a higher level of intelligence, while the other can think that you are not a serious and confident person worth hiring. It goes without saying that experienced recruiters got used to such a way of expressing people’s absence of desire to provide accurate numbers and will pay more attention to other chapters of the resume to understand if they want to invite you to an interview.
Salary range
One more risk connected with this solution is the possibility that resumes of some companies can be checked by robots. The last ones have a maximum and minimum salary limit, so if your figure is higher or lower, be ready to get rejected.

Experts also advise job seekers to provide a kind of an explanation for the number written in any empty field. It should say that the number written does not reflect the current desire of salary you want to earn and you plan to discuss this question during the interview.

A numerical range

Many experts consider it a good decision to enter a salary range you are ready to work for. If some applications do not allow inputting characters and you want to be treated seriously, it is possible to write a minimum and maximum salary amount separated with a dash. Here you may wonder how large this range can be? In fact, when it comes to annual salary, the difference can be up to $10,000 – $15,000.

How to determine this range? It is natural that every company has a certain limit it is ready to pay to an employee. Some vacancy descriptions can already contain the initial salary amount for you to consider, so you can use it as a minimum or indicate a sum a bit lower to show your intention to work not only for money. The maximum amount is easy to calculate adding several thousand dollars. However, there are several things to pay attention to when you evaluate this range:

  • The minimum amount you indicate must be applicable personally for you since it will be strange if you refuse from the vacancy because of the low salary at the end;
  • It is advisable to find how much you are worth in the job market. You can compare offers of similar companies and check if you are experienced enough to meet the requirements listed. It will give you an idea about the average salary for a similar job and make it easier to come up with the range;
  • Too low amounts will speak about a person who undervalued himself and it may discourage a recruiter from hiring him.

For example, if you used to receive about $60,000 at your previous job and the average salary for such an employee is about $65,000, you may start from $62,000. However, if your potential employer has indicated the initial offer, it should constitute the minimum amount in your range.

Current salary

Each of us knows the proverb: “Honesty is the best policy.” There are people who do not want to rack their brains answering the question ‘what should I put for desired salary?’ and are ready to give a straightforward response indicating their previous salary or one they wish to get. Sometimes it can be good for a person, but there are situations when such a truthful response can lead to some negative consequences.

If a person is satisfied with his salary and just wants to change the company, there is nothing bad in this decision. He will not be over or underpaid leaving some space for negotiating the salary if a company is interested in him.

However, if you write down the amount but do want to get more in reality, it is not the best solution. There is hardly any recruiter to pay you much more than you need. Of course, you can negotiate an increase by 5-10% at the interview, but it is a maximum in this case. At the same time, to get a real increase in your earnings, follow these simple tips:

  • If you can enter the range, do that;
  • Avoid lying mentioning your previous income;
  • Try some leeway with words chosen (you may include different compensations and benefits in this amount using the words ‘total package’);
  • Too high number will scare off the potential employer;
  • Know your worth and avoid being undervalued;
  • Explore the Average market salary for the position and do not move too far from it.

Salary according to networking

Sometimes it possible to avoid filling all those applications or writing resumes. However, it is possible only if you have completed a great amount of work for that. There are people who are intended to work in a certain company and have done great research being aware of almost everything about it. Moreover, they have done the most important thing – got acquainted with the recruiter or employees of the HR department. As soon as you learn about a vacant job position in the company, you can stand out among all other competitors and turn directly to the person who has a final say. If you are approved as a candidate for an interview, you will get a perfect opportunity to discuss your future salary.

It is not a secret that only 20% of all jobs are received due to a standard procedure when a person sends a resume and is then invited to an interview. All the rest of the jobs, and the best ones, in particular, are found through networking. Therefore, if you have a goal to be employed in the exact company, it is necessary to undertake certain actions and build a basement in advance.

As you can see, there is no the only right answer to the question ‘what should I put for desired compensation?’ in the job application form. Every person can choose the variant suitable personally for him. The only conclusion to be made sounds as follows: never lie or provide too high amounts, otherwise, your dreams will be ruined at the stage of resume analysis yet.

It goes without saying that filling the field for the desired salary is only a preliminary stage since the final decision as for the candidate is always made after the interview.

Best answers about desired salary on interview

An interview can be your lucky ticket for getting a position you want, but that will happen only if you convince a recruiter that you are worth it. In fact, there are many questions asked during the interview and one of them is about salary undoubtedly. Asking this question it is possible to understand how intelligent a person is, if he can easily turn the situation to his benefit, and whether he undervalues or vice versa is the high opinion of himself.

You should remember that responses will differ depending on the question asked and the amount you have provided thinking of what to put for the desired salary. In any case, it is important to be confident and sound persuasive. Now let’s consider how to convince a recruiter that you hunt not only for money but also interested in work finding the right words to different questions.

Providing truthful data about your earnings at the current job

If you decided to mention your real salary in the field or was taken by surprise when a recruiter asks you to agree with this offer, it is very important to think carefully about what to say. Even if you earned enough but understand that the initial offer of the company is $5,000 higher, there are words to get this increase. Try to convey the following viewpoint:

“You are absolutely right about my earnings at the previous job and it can be clearly perceived from the application. But since the time when I sent it, I have researched carefully what responsibilities and roles are required by this position and you will agree that they are quite challenging. Given that I have analyzed accurate salary estimates in this industry and found out that they are higher and was underpaid at my previous position, therefore I would like to discuss a range between $65,000 – $75,000. I believe that I am a suitable candidate for this position and will put much effort to increase the productivity and success of this company thanks to the experience I have in this field.”

It is important to remember that your range must start with the number that is a little higher than a salary offered by the company to be able to make a set backward if your suggestion is disapproved. This answer should be also accompanied with salary estimates you have found, so do not doubt to handle them to a recruiter. Also, you should focus on the benefits you will bring to the company to convince the HR representative. However, if you see that the tension is growing and the company does not agree on this range, you can proceed with the following statements:

  • “If you have any doubts regarding my professionalism, I would agree to start working with the salary offered by the company. I hope that after 6-8 months of my achievements at work, we will return to this point and negotiate the potential promotion.”

One more way to earn a bit more than you used to is to let the recruiter decide that speaking in a polite and professional manner like that:

“You might have seen that my current salary is $50,000. Since I have no specific figure in my mind but do wish to get this position, I am open to considering the offer you believe is fair in this situation.”

You can also show that you were undervalued at your previous job and suggest the following answer:

“At the moment, I am searching for a position that will fit my skills and experience the best. This vacancy is the one I have been looking for so I will accept the offer you feel to be fair.”

Some job descriptions do not mention the salary or provide only the initial number of the range. Therefore, you can respond to the questions about the desired compensation like this:

“Now I am focused on finding a job position to fit my career the best and I have not come up with the specific figure yet. What is your company range for this position?”.

Getting the answer to the question, you can agree or disagree with it and mention the potential promotion in you are worth that.

Sometimes, questions about the salary are asked at the very beginning of the interview or job seekers may feel that there are some doubts about offering him this job. If his intention to get this position is serious, it would be reasonable to omit or postpone the discussion of salary for later.

“I believe that discussions of salary are acceptable when you have been already offered a job. Will you agree to return to this point after you conclude if I am a good potential fit for this position? If both sides agree that I am a good match, I would love to discuss the amount of compensation.”

Explaining not writing the desired amount

If you have put a random number in the field of salary and an interviewer asks you about that, it is also possible to bypass the discussion of salary telling something of that kind:

“Well, it is absolutely clear that the salary amount mentioned in the applicant has nothing in common with the position offered. But I want to explain why there is no specific number there.
My goal is to find a perfect job where I will be a good fit for a company and will work in a friendly and supportive team. I hope to work on the projects I am passionate about and it is impossible to understand that without going through all the stages of the interviewing process. However, if I get the idea that it is possible and the company is interested in my candidature, we can discuss the details of the salary amount planned for this position.”

Job applicants wishing to get a part-time job can also redirect the question about the salary to the recruiters:
“I am thankful that you raised the question about a salary. I was not 100% sure about the salary paid at part-time jobs so avoided writing any figures. I hope to hear your offer first if that is applicable and then proceed with negotiating any details.”

Negotiating the salary if you mentioned a range

It has been already mentioned that a range indicated in the salary field should not be random and is usually made on the basis of market research. If you have provided such a range, do not forget to take several examples of similar vacancies to confirm your words. If you set a minimum range on the basis of your current salary, you may say the following:

“Having researched the responsibilities of employees on similar positions, I have come to the conclusion that I used to have completed a much bigger volume of work and it did not reflect on my salary, unfortunately. Therefore, I am looking for a position where my skills and talent will be estimated at the same level as similarly situated employees and my salary will be close to the average number of this range.”

If a number offered by the employer is below the range you have provided, you may use the following phrase instead: “Is that number flexible at all?” and continue with the following phrase: “I would be more comfortable if my base salary is of $60,000.”

Sometimes it is possible to get not only the desired salary from the range (e.g. you ask $65,000 – $70,000) but also some other benefits finding the right words:

“I understand that you are not allowed to come up with a bigger number in the range. It would be great if you agree on $67,000 and add an additional vacation week. If you do that, I an on board.”

Responding to the statement of too high expectations about the salary

Some HR specialists may reproach candidates about mentioning too high salary expectations. However, if you realize that this sum is acceptable, it would be reasonable to explain that:

“I am grateful to you that you have picked up this question. It was not easy for me to come up with this figure. But extensive research I have carried out helped me to understand the current situation in the job market and come up with the following figure on the basis of several estimates. I am confident that I am a perfect match for this position and my contributions will reflect on the company’s success. Consequently, I believe that my salary expectations are up to par with my future contributions to the company’s development.”

Raising the salary if you have been offered a job at the interview

If you are a lucky guy who has been offered a position in the company during an interview and was not asked ‘what do you put for desired salary?’, you have chances to get more than an initial offer of the company. How to do that? First of all, do not hurry to accept the offer directly at the interview. It would be better if you have time to think about it saying this phrase: “Do you mind if I take a couple of days to consider your offer?”

Even if this job exceeds your expectations, you should stay cool. There are always chances to increase the offer by sending an email letter. However, this counteroffer should be accompanied by a clear explanation of why you are worth it. Only by doing so, you can not only get a dream job but also increase your scalar there.

You should also remember that whether you managed to negotiate your salary or it turned out to be impossible, every interview discussion should be completed with one simple word ‘thank you’. Who knows what is waiting for you in the future, but a good impression is a very important characteristic for successful employment.


Salary is a very important aspect when you look for a job, but it often happens that no seekers cannot get the income they want. One of the reasons for that is an inability to fill in the salary field in the job application correctly. Though it may seem that this information is less important than your skills, experience, and characteristics, many recruiters look through these numbers the first. Some of the figures turn out to be so high that such resumes are sent to the ‘refused’ pile even without being scanned. Therefore, it is necessary to treat filling this small field with great responsibility and prefer a small phrase or a numerical range rather than a specific figure. Moreover, it is important to be able to justify what you have put there during the interview, let alone make efforts to increase the amount offered. For this purpose, job seekers should prepare for an interview and have a number of responses that will improve the impression about them and sound convincing enough to approve the request for a salary increase.