Career Development

Q&A: What Does Desired Compensation Mean?

February 22, 2021

Employers solicit candidates for information on desired compensation to see if it's within their company's budget to hire you. The way you present your response on desired compensation can determine if an employer wants to move forward in the hiring process. Knowing the details of the desired compensation could earn you a strong compensation package for the next role you work in.

In this article, we discuss the frequently asked questions related to the desired compensation.

Read more: What to Put For Your Desired Salary: Tips and Examples

What does desired compensation mean?

Desired compensation is the salary and benefits you ask for from an employer. An employer may refer to salary or benefits separately as compensation during the hiring process. Desired salary could be hourly or salaried depending on the type of position a company is hiring for. A company can offer a variety of benefits to convince applicants to apply and work for their company.

Some examples of benefits include:

  • Paid time off (vacation time, sick days and holidays)
  • Health, dental and vision insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Short and long-term disability
  • Health care spending or reimbursement accounts
  • 401(k)
  • Pension
  • Retirement plans
  • Tuition reimbursement
  • Telecommuting
  • Discounts on gym memberships
  • Assistance with relocation

Read more: Base Salary and Your Benefits Package

What factors can impact desired compensation?

Many factors can influence what compensation you need or prefer, including:

  • Years of work experience
  • The industry you work in
  • Location
  • Relevant skills
  • Certifications or memberships with professional associations
  • Economic conditions

You can use these factors to explain why you're the most qualified candidate for a position and why your desired compensation matches the qualifications for the positions you're vying for. Additionally, these factors may change due to the changing demands for skills and experience required for the position. Consider applying for multiple positions if you're looking to change your career path to account for unforeseen changes in your job search.

Read more: How to Negotiate Salary (With Tips and Examples)

When might you be asked about desired compensation?

An employer may ask you about desired compensation on a job description, job application or during a job interview.

Employers usually specify that they want to know your desired salary. Employers ask you about desired compensation during an interview so they can get a feel if your answer aligns with their expectations for the position. Consider the salary and benefits on your job application as an added incentive to work at the company. You only receive compensation from your employer if you sign an offer letter.

Study the company, its industry and average salaries for the position you're looking to fill. Acquiring more knowledge on your desired compensation can help you prepare to list it on a job application or answer a question during an interview.

What should you put for desired compensation on a job application?

Only put desired compensation on a job application if the employer asks for it. You may leave it blank if the employer does not require you to fill that space. If the employer requires you to add it to your job application, enter a range to show that you're willing to negotiate on the compensation they're willing to offer you. Consider listing the national average salary for your answer if you think the responsibilities and the requirements match with it.

How should you answer the question in an interview?

If an employer asks you about desired compensation during an interview, you can give a variety of answers. Your answer depends on what you're looking for from the employer. Tailor your answer in a way that influences them to increase the compensation they offer or reserve the discussion for when you get an offer.

Here are example answers to give to employers regardless of your situation:

  • "I am earning $42,000 per year in my current role. However, I am willing to be flexible on compensation for this position based on my interest in this role."

  • "Right now, I am looking for a position that suits my skills and experience in addition to it aligning with my career path. After I've found that, I can accept an offer that I believe is fair and reasonable."

  • "I think $45,000 to $50,000 per year with benefits is commensurate with my skills and experience. I am willing to negotiate if I am offered the position."

  • "I am more comfortable talking about compensation if I receive an offer for the position. Can we discuss the role in-depth to find out it's the right fit first? I'd love to talk about compensation further once we know this is the right fit for all sides."

  • "I'd rather talk about compensation if you offer me the position. Is that the process here?'

  • I want to learn more about the open role, job responsibilities and the company's culture before having an extensive discussion on compensation."

  • "Can I ask what the salary range is for this role?"

  • "For me, $75,000 to $80,000 and benefits is a fair range. My ability to hit sales targets consistently underscores that I am well-suited for this position. I understand the amount of work it takes to perform in this role, and I am ready to accept another role similar to this one."

  • Given the amount of responsibility I'd take on in a vice president position, I think around $120,000 to $125,000 is within my range for compensation. My previous experience in marketing makes me a well-matched candidate, and I'm confident that I'll succeed with this organization."

Tips for discussing desired compensation

To increase your chances of getting more compensation, make preparations so you can get the right amount after you get an offer letter: A few tips you can adhere to include:

Be honest

Being honest allows you to properly represent your experience and ask for compensation that reflects the progress you made throughout your career. Tie in your responses back to the duties and responsibilities of the positions to exhibit your interest in the position. Practice your answers to questions about your experience to find out how you can incorporate your experience into questions you didn't prepare for.

Stay updated with trends

Read wage information from government sources and job boards to understand how much a company may compensate you. You can allude to this research to reinforce the compensation you believe links to the role you're interviewing for.

Speak with professional contacts

Speak with your professional network to get advice on negotiating for better compensation. Their advice can lead to you making a more accurate estimate of compensation and where you can negotiate to increase it. Contact them before you receive an offer because they might provide valuable interviewing advice as well.


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