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What Does "Salary Requirement" Mean?

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The expression "salary requirement" is most often used by an employer in soliciting applicants for a job opening. A request for salary requirements as part of the posting asks applicants to submit their desired salary should they get the job. Employers ask for this information for a variety of purposes.

Too High or Too Low

A basic purpose of asking applicants for salary requirements is to use the response as part of the initial screening process. Employers may weed out candidates whose salary requirements are too high for the company to pay, or too low, perhaps indicating a lack of experience or ability involving the position. Some employers are actually trying to discover the candidates that offer the best value for the money. Someone with basic qualifications requesting a low-end salary point may more likely get an interview.

Salary History

Employers may also ask for your salary history in lieu of, or in addition to, your salary requirement. A salary history is used to determine your progression throughout your career. Someone who has shown steady progression in income that coincides with promotions and job growth can more easily justify a higher salary requirement. Attempting to make a strong leap between your current salary and one that is much higher is a challenge.

Best Response

Responding to an employer's request for a salary requirement is not nearly as simple as it seems. In his Quintessential Careers article "Responding to Requests for Salary Requirements or Salary Histories: Strategies and Suggestions," Dr. Randall S. Hansen highlights several strategies, each of which has pros and cons. One is to simply provide a salary requirement and risk being weeded out. A popular approach is to give a salary range and hope it overlaps with the employer's. Explain your interest in the job and that you want fair compensation for the work, or that you are flexible to discuss salary. You could ask to postpone salary discussion for the interview. Finally, you can provide only your salary history, or ignore the salary request altogether. Again, each approach may help or hinder your interview potential, depending on the employer's perspective.

Additional Insights

Job coach Jodi Schneider agrees that the salary requirements request is a burden for the job applicant (see Reference section). She advises that you make it more of a discussion with the employer. Do some research to find out what other positions in similar companies pay. This helps you decide what you are willing to accept as pay for the work. Then, know how flexible you are. Talk with the manager and indicate your desire to grow from a previous position, and note your range based on the research. It helps to know what you are worth and what you are willing to accept going in. Hansen says your career path, industry, geographic location, demand for employees in your career and non-salary compensation all impact what you are worth to employers.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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