How To Answer “What Are Your Salary Requirements?”

By Maddie Lloyd - Sep. 28, 2017

“So, what are your salary requirements?”

When you’re looking for jobs, at some point you’ll probably be asked to give an employer your salary requirements or salary history.

It’s important to be careful with how you describe this information — you don’t want to be screened out or offered a low salary.

You might not know how to answer this question, and that’s okay!

Just try to avoid requesting 100 billion dollars — unless, like Dr. Evil, you’re actually qualified to make that much money. Otherwise, you might not even be considered for the position.

What are Salary Requirements?

A salary requirement is the amount of money a person needs to be paid in order to accept a job offer. Some companies ask for people to include their salary requirements either with the application or in the cover letter. Some interviewers may ask you in person, it’s best not to let them catch you off guard — if you’re reading this article, you probably won’t be.

Doesn’t it feel great to be prepared?

Prepare for what are your salary requirements?

Salary requirements depend on a few different factors, like the industry, the benefits package, your prior salary history and work experience, and the cost of living in a specific area.

Sometimes employers ask for your salary history instead of your salary requirements, and sometimes they ask for both. A salary history lists your past earnings and usually includes the companies you’ve worked for, your job titles, your salary, and your benefits package.

Why do They Need to Know Your Expected Salary?

Employers ask for your salary information for a few reasons. If your salary requirements are too high, they may no longer consider you for the job because they don’t want to pay that much or they think you won’t like working for less money.

On the other hand, if you give a salary requirement that’s lower than what the company is willing to pay you, they might offer you a lower salary than you deserve.

The key to answering this question is all about finding a good middle ground. You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you don’t want to make less than you deserve or get screened out of the hiring process.

Here are some tips on how to figure out and describe your salary requirements:

Tips for Including Salary Requirements

1. Do your Research. Learn as much as you can about the position and compare salaries with other companies and similar job titles.

Look for salary information on the company’s website, or use job sites like Indeed or Glassdoor for your research, and use online salary calculators to factor in your cost of living.

2. Give a Range. After researching reasonable salaries, consider giving a range rather than a specific number.

For example, you could say”

Example Answer 1 To The Salary Question

“My salary requirement is in the $35,000 – $40,000 range.”

Giving a range as your answer gives you some flexibility, while also keeping you from being offered too low of a salary or being kicked out of the hiring process for expecting too much.

3. Aim High.In your range, you should include as high of a salary as you can justify based on your education, experience, and skills.

But let them know that your salary requirements are flexible — this will help keep you in the running for the job and will help when negotiating if you end up getting a job offer.

Remember that there are several things that go into compensation, like benefits and opportunities for growth.

Stating that your salary requirements are flexible will give more room for negotiation later on if you end up getting the job.

Tips for including Salary History

If you’re asked to include your salary history, you could also list your previous salaries as ranges instead of giving a specific amount.

However, if the employer gives specific instructions on how to include salary information, you should follow the rules.

Always be honest.

If you lie about your salary history, your potential employer could easily check in with your previous employers. Lying is a good way to get screened out of the hiring process. Lying isn’t a desirable trait in the workplace — that is, unless you work in politics, then you can lie all you want!

Where and How to Include Salary Information

Employers will often tell you where to mention them — they’re usually included in your cover letter or in the application. If the employer asks for your salary requirements in a different way, remember to follow their directions.

You can give your salary requirement in your cover letter by stating something along the lines of:

Example Answer 2 To The Salary Question

“My salary requirement is flexible based on the compensation package and is in the $25,000 – $30,000 range.”

Try to keep your salary requirements brief, so that the employer can spend more time focusing on your cover letter and your application.

You want them to see why you’re a good fit for the job and deserve the salary requirements you give them, not that you’re a money hungry psycho.

Should I Even Tell Them?

If the job listing or application doesn’t mention salary requirements, you don’t have to include any salary information at all.

If you are asked to give your salary requirements, you could ignore them, but then you might not even get the job. No one likes people who don’t follow directions.

Unless you’re being hired by a group of anarchists, in that case it might be better to ignore their instructions.

How to Negotiate A Higher Salary

1. Start with a High Number. Determine the highest reasonable salary you can justify and focus on that. As long as you state that your salary requirements are flexible and you can defend your request, there’s no risk to aiming high, and you’ll also show that you see yourself as a valuable employee. Giving a higher number gives you more room to negotiate if you get the job and you’re more likely to get what you want.

2. Don’t Sell Yourself Short. If you give a salary requirement that’s lower than what a prospective employer is willing to pay you, you could cheat yourself out of more money and come off as unprepared.

Giving too low of a salary requirement could make a potential employers see your flaws instead of your strengths.

3. Be Aggressive. Don’t be afraid to give a number that you think you deserve.

People who make more aggressive offers for the highest number in their range are more likely to get what they want than people who focus on the minimum amount they’re willing to take.

4. Be Flexible. Take a lesson from your friendly neighborhood yogi and remember to be flexible.

You might have to concede your first offer, but you’ll probably still get a good deal and your potential employer will be happy with the results.

There’s little risk if you give them the highest number you can defend, but there’s a lot to lose if you’re too afraid to aim high.

Things to Consider

Remember that even though compensation is important, this is not the most important part of your application or your interview. You want the employer to be able to spend a lot of time reading or hearing about your strengths and qualifications.

Don’t sell yourself short and let your employer know why you deserve to be paid the salary you require. Be willing to negotiate and justify your salary requirements.

Now that you know what to do — get out there and request a reasonable salary!

Maddie Lloyd


Maddie Lloyd

Maddie Lloyd was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog focused on researching tips for interview, resume, and cover letter preparation. She's currently a graduate student at North Carolina State University's department of English concentrating in Film and Media Studies.

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