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What are Salary Requirements?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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If you’ve ever applied for a job, you’ve likely been asked to state your salary requirements. This is essentially the amount of money at which you will work at a given job. Most experts would suggest that you certainly don’t list the lowest amount, since this is the rate you’ll likely get hired at. Instead, it is far better to let a company open up salary negotiations with you after you are hired. When salary requirements are asked for, the standard answer should be “negotiable,” rather than a specific number.

If you absolutely must state salary requirements, you should almost always recommend an amount higher than you’d reasonably be willing to work for. The end process of being hired should include a discussion of salary. Check industry rates for your field and level of experience, and list salary requirements at the high end, when absolutely necessary. Naturally, if you’re desperate for work you may be willing to take a lower salary to obtain a job, but you should start by asking high, and then agreeing to take less. On the other hand, don’t state unreasonably high salary requirements, since a company may dismiss you as being too expensive.

Many people don’t realize that salary requirements are all about negotiation, in many cases. When you’re offered a job, unless the job has already stated your pay, let the employer start by offering a salary. If it is less than you like, express that in a kind and non-defensive manner. A statement like, “I’m disappointed, and I really think X amount is a more appropriate rate for my experience and skills,” is a way of beginning salary negotiation.

Employers may count on your desperation when attempting to hire you, but you may not be desperate for a job. When you discuss salary, you don’t want to convey desperation, but instead hearty thanks for a job offer. Then, having been “unofficially hired” start asking for a rate of pay above what you want, and if it is reasonable, expect employers to meet you about halfway. It can help to know if there is a salary cap for your job, since this might aid your decision in whether a job is worth taking.

Getting hired should always be the first objective, with salary requirements discussed as the last step. Once a company says, “We want you,” you’ve been given a bargaining tool. What remains to be discussed is how much a company is willing to pay to get you. Further, if you’re not desperate, you can remind yourself it can take a day or two to finalize salary. The person who conveys that you’ve been hired may not be authorized to increase salary amounts. It’s okay to wait, when it’s possible, to have your suggestion of a higher salary discussed with the people who make decisions about salaries. In most cases, companies will issue a counter-offer, after you state your inability to take a job at the rate the company first suggests.

There are some circumstances where a company will only offer a non-negotiable salary. In these cases, you might want to ask how soon it would be before you’d be considered for a raise, and what the company’s standards are on giving raises. If you do really need a job immediately, it may be better to take the offered salary rather than to hold out for more, since it is likely you won’t be offered more.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon35502 — On Jul 05, 2009

Wouldn't that be nice?? Something my company would never think about doing!!!

By mhaynes — On Apr 18, 2008

When you are salaried you are being paid to do a job, no matter how many hours you put in doing it. The company requires you to work X number of hours per week and you don't receive extra compensation for putting in extra time to benefit the company. When you have a day that inclement weather prevents you from going to the office, should you receive less pay for that week? even if you have put in extra hours the weeks before w/o compensation?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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