When you decide to search for a new job, one of the crucial factors that determine the overall job satisfaction is the salary range. The height of the salary can directly or indirectly influence your motivation and performance, and luckily, if you can’t find one in the area where you live, the remote job market offers a myriad of opportunities.

The online job market has seen incredible growth, and that’s not surprising, as you can easily expand your potential, learn new skills, and negotiate a higher salary.

In order to get to your dream job by applying online, first, you have to fill in a form. Application forms are the initial stage of ‘getting there’, so the first step is presenting yourself and your skills. It usually goes by answering questions and providing ‘proof’ that you are a good fit for the job.

But, sometimes questions may be tricky to answer. Let’s look at this one: “What is your desired salary?” Wow…. Now, that’s a challenge to answer.

You really want the job, but what if you answer the question ‘wrongly’?


This is an important question for the companies as they get immediate insight into who they are dealing with, the expectations of the future employees, and the possible expenses.

They may reject your application because they simply don’t have the money to pay you. You might be very skilled or over-qualified for that position and the budget they have would not be enough for you.

However, If you decide to go with a lower salary range than you think you deserve, and if they decide to call you for an interview, they will know what salary to offer which might be lower than what they intended to offer in the first place.

It means that you have to be careful with the answer. If you ask for too much, you may lose the opportunity for an interview, or, if you offer a low figure, you may lose the chance to get a better salary or even underestimate your well-deserved qualifications, skills, and competences.

Eventually, as CEO Fletcher Wimbush says:

“You should always put the salary you feel you are worthy of and what will allow you to maintain or incrementally improve your desired standard of living.”


First, you have to know what the job market for the position you are applying to is. If the job is in demand, you can ask for more.

But, if there are too many people with similar abilities and skills looking for a similar job, then there is no place for very high expectations if you have nothing better to offer than the common average.

Forbes career advisor Melissa Llarena says:

“Do your research to understand how in-demand your skills are and what the typical compensation package looks like”.

The reason you are applying for a new job should be your guiding principle. Are you aiming for a higher salary or you just want to change your workplace, let’s say because you don’t like your work environment anymore? In that case, asking the same salary as before would be the lowest you should consider.

No matter what the motive for changing your workplace is, or even if you’re starting your career from a scratch as an inexperienced novice, you really need to know where your place on the market is.

You want to know how much you are worth.

Make simple research online and see where you stand on the global job market. You can use some of these websites to estimate and see the salary averages: Salary, LinkedinSalary Payscale.

This, however, should not be your definition of who you are and limit yourself completely. If you are confident in your capabilities, then you can always push for more, by proving yourself worth the increase.

Sometimes, you need to accept less, to gain more in the long run, such as experience, hands-on learning by doing the job, and gaining new skills, particularly if you know that you’ll be learning from people who are well established.

So, we got to the notorious question of filling in the “desired salary” field on the job application, and how to possibly bypass it.


After you have researched the market and have considered your preferences and aims, it is time to go through some practical tips on how to really bypass the “desired salary” field on an online job application.

Leave “Desired Salary” Field Empty Or Use a Phrase 

When you are filling in a form and there is this ominous question lurking at you, try to avoid it and leave it empty. Just be careful! You may leave the impression you are not serious or not able to follow simple instructions in a form, to say the least!

Some of these electronic forms may require every field to be filled in, so you cannot simply skip the field. In case, you don’t want to or can’t leave it empty, you can use a phrase or an open-end answer like ‘negotiable’, ‘flexible’, or ‘to be discussed later’. 

If there is a possibility for a longer answer, where there are no character restrictions, you can say ‘I am open for discussion the moment I know what my responsibilities are”. 

Or if you think this sounds too harsh or demanding, you can say something like, “I can’t think of a specific sum now” or “I would like to focus on what I can do for the company now.

Provide A Numerical Interval Or a Range 

Each application form is different and you can not always answer the salary question with a phrase. Sometimes you have to put a number.

You can’t put just any random number, which is an equally tricky thing to do, as you might be tied up with that salary range for a long time before an increase is considered.

If you don’t know what numerical range to put in the field, you can use salary calculator sites like Calculator or Paylab to calculate the budget you need to pay your costs of living.

After you do the calculations and the research, break down the salary ranges in your field, the level of skills, and the cost of living. Become familiar with the salary-job relation and put a range of numbers that suits you the most.

If you are allowed to use a dash, you can put something like this $45,000-$55,000. You can put the highest salary as your lowest in the range.

For example, if you think that the salary offered on the job market is between $60,000-$70,000, then you should bravely offer e.g. $65,000-$75,000.

You can make the range even broader since you will be given an advantage of negotiation in later stages like in an interview. Instead of e.g. $65,000-$75,000 you can put $65,000-$85,000.

If you are not allowed to use even a dash, you can put the range into one single number. For example, you can put something like 115145. The employer may think you earned $115,145 in your former job, but in reality, it indicates something else. You actually want a range between $115,000-$145,000.

Use an Absurd Number 

One of the options is to use an absurd number. Entering an answer like this would give the employer a signal that you don’t want to answer the question, something like “let’s talk about this later”.

All these absurd numbers can range from $0 to $1,000,000. You can also put $1 or even $9,999.

Hopefully, the employer would immediately recognize your intention and understand that salaries are negotiable issues.

Unfortunately, they might think that you are trying to be smart or arrogant and that you don’t want to answer this important question. Make the needed research about the company and read some blogs before you decide to use this option.

But, another potential, automated risk might be lurking here. For example, if the company has a limited budget and the limit is put in the ‘desired salary’ field as the highest possible option, you may be automatically eliminated from the list if you enter an absurd number higher than the previously set limit.

This may never get you to the next round of the job process, i.e, having an interview. But if you find a field with an option to put a text and explain your answer to the previous question, you can offer something like this:

“Regarding the ‘desired salary’ field, I can discuss it furthermore during an interview after I am familiarized with the offered position better”.

Provide an Exact Figure, If You Dare…

Some of us don’t want to leave the ‘desired salary’ field empty, especially when you know what your worth is.

Some people know how much they are worth and don’t want to sell themselves lower than what they deserve.

Let’s say you were paid $50,000 in your previous job. Now, you opt for $55,000, you write that and you get it. You are happy until you start working when you realize you could have gotten more. No one is that generous to give you $60,000 if you didn’t ask for it.

Of course, everyone wants to earn more money, but giving an exact number puts you in a risk of not getting what you deserve even if you had the chance.

Let me give you a few tips:

  • if you have to give a number, give a range,
  • if possible, give them a phrase, You want to point out that you need to discuss other issues before you talk about the salary, and
  • if you put an exact number, the negotiation ends with the job application. You actually didn’t even give yourself a chance to speak about it.

Don’t Link Your Previous Payment To The “Desired Salary”

The “desired salary” question is a game that both the employer and job seeker are playing. The employer usually asks this because they want to offer as low as they can, and the applicant strives to achieve as high as one can get. But it can also be a trick question, to see who they are dealing with.

Sometimes, the “ desired salary” field is in close relationship with the “previous payment” question. The job application might have a field like, “What was your previous wage?

This is a kind of indirect question of the “desired salary” question. If they know how much you were paid, they would have the approximate salary rage to offer.

Not giving them details about your previous payment, makes things more complicated for them. Meaning, you can get a higher initial offer based on your skills and qualifications and not on your previous salary.

No matter what your expectations for future payments are and whether you can skip the field on the job application, never state your previous salary. Actually, there are many laws that don’t allow employers to ask for this information.

If you really have to answer this question and can’t leave it empty, the first and most important thing is not to lie. You might be tempted to report a bigger salary than the one you had in order to give yourself a raise, but don’t do it.

Sometimes, companies dare to check the information you give on the job application and they might find out you lied, so you might never get a chance for an interview. This might happen even after some period of time and lose your job. This would be such a waste of time after months or years investing in the company.

Again, you can put a range or a phrase in the “previous payment” field if allowed. For example, a range of $40,000-$50,000 would mean you are not comfortable talking about your previous payment.

A phrase like “I would like to focus on what my skills and experience can bring to your company now rather than my past salary” would be a perfect answer.

There is another issue that has to be taken into consideration. A lot of people sign an employment contract with a confidentiality clause so they mustn’t disclose this information. In that case, a short answer should be written in the field: “nondisclosure previous agreement”.

Negotiate about “Desired Salary” If Given The Chance

Whatever you write on the job application, the aim is to get closer to the interview and negotiate. When you negotiate and discuss, you have a greater chance to get the job.

In order to do get to the negotiation phase, you have to be sure you filled in the form appropriately.

Make sure that the previous given “negotiable” answer in the “desired salary” field is really like that. Get ready to negotiate.

On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that now when you got to the interview round you should just directly say the desired number.

This is the time when the game starts, and you should be ready to play it like a real professional. Here are some tips:

1. Give them a range, noting that you have done your homework, researched the market, and estimated your value. 

“I can’t think of a specific number at the moment. But having done accurate research on the market and knowing what my experience and skillset can bring to your company I would like to talk within the range of $70,000 and $80,000”. 

2. Tell them you can discuss the salary after you know you will be offered the job.

“I would like to discuss the salary after I know what responsibilities it brings. I want to know what the job entails. Does it mean I am offered the job?”

3. Ask them the same question.

“I can’t talk about specific numbers since I am focused on the value I can give to this company. I would really like to know what is your budget and what you think is appropriate for this position”. 

4. 0Work on your bigger picture and think about your financial needs: your mortgage, living expenses, future plans, and of course your benefits.

“I want to make a significant contribution to this company and take over all the responsibilities that go with it. I am not sure I can refer to a specific number at the moment. I would rather talk about a package deal that brings financial security to me, including benefits”. 

All of this means that you are ready to negotiate and the hiring process doesn’t solely depend on you. It is very important to know what their budget is and negotiate accordingly.


There are many options that can be used to bypass the “desired salary” field. We have mentioned most of them.

Probably the most important thing to bear in mind is to believe in yourself. Whatever you write, if you show a lack of self-confidence in the interview phase, everything has been a waste of time.

That means you have to be sure what you have written in the job application so that you can be sure what you are aiming at. Make the plan in advance and think about the answers before you choose the option.

You have to know why and what you wrote in the field of the “desired salary”. You can make everything more convincing if you don’t lie and if you practice. Practice makes perfect, and that applies in job applications as well.

The most important thing is to bypass the “desired salary” question by not answering it or simply by giving a short phrase.

If you can’t skip the field or it is text inappropriate then put either a nonsense number or a reasonable range.

Remember, the range should not be a random choice of numbers. It should be based on previous research on the job market and the skills you own.

You can also add an exact number, but be ready to be offered just a little bit more than the number you wrote.

If there is a question about your previous payment, try to avoid it too. It is just another way of asking the same “desired salary” question. If you can’t skip that one too, try to give an answer that will clearly show them you can discuss it later when interviewed.

Don’t forget that everything you wrote in the job application can be a subject of discussion later. You have to be clear what you wrote in order to be clear what to discuss later.

The goal of the answers given in the job application is to bring you to the second round where you can negotiate your “desired salary”.

How to Bypass the “Desired Salary” Field on Online Job Application

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