Formulating salary expectations correctly in job applications

Formulating salary expectations correctly in job applications

Formulating salary expectations correctly in job applications

Perhaps you have already asked yourself whether you should state your salary requirement directly in your application. It is not uncommon for the job advertisement to contain sentences such as “Please apply and state your desired salary” or the applicant portal generally asks you to state your desired salary. This causes many applicants headaches.

Challenge: Salary expectations

It is often difficult, especially for career starters, to formulate a concrete salary requirement. I was no different when I submitted my own application to TÜV Rheinland three years ago!
From an applicant’s point of view, it is difficult to assess what salaries a company pays. Various comparison portals provide orientation, even if this information is not always reliable. University professors often talk about starting salaries after graduation and give their students recommendations.


Gehaltsvorstellung in der Bewerbung


Why does the employer want to know my salary expectations at all?

As a recruiter at TÜV Rheinland, I sift through lots of applications every day. Although we do not ask our applicants in our job advertisements to express a salary wish, this information is extremely useful for us recruiters. After all, we make the pre-selection and use certain criteria to decide which candidates we will forward to the relevant managers. The salary requirement also plays an important role in the pre-selection.
As a rule, companies have a certain budget available to fill a vacancy. Collective wage agreements or internal company agreements are in force that regulate compensation. With us it is no different. There is usually a fixed salary range for each position. As the word range implies, we naturally have some leeway – depending on the qualifications and experience of the applicant.

Salary requirement – a knockout criterion?

During the pre-selection process, we can assess, among other things, whether the applicant(s) should be forwarded to the department based on the salary requirement. If the desired salary is within the range available to us or just slightly higher, the candidates are shortlisted. However, if the desired salary is significantly higher than our capabilities, we are unfortunately unable to consider it in the further selection process. Of course, we recruiters consider this sensitive topic with a sense of proportion and, if in doubt, we will gladly pick up the phone again to speak to the candidates personally.
In any case, specifying the salary requirement makes our recruiter’s everyday life easier. I often ask applicants for this information by telephone or in writing. Usually, I receive positive feedback, because a personal interview would simply not have made sense if there was too much of a difference between salary expectations and our salary range. This way, both applicant and all persons involved at TÜV Rheinland save the time for a personal meeting, which would not be useful in this case.

I do not give a statement of salary – how does this affect the recruiter?

If the potential employer explicitly asks you to state your salary expectations in your application, you should do so. Otherwise the impression could arise that the person has not read the job advertisement carefully or wants to avoid this information. Of course, the question about the desired salary is not nice, but at the very latest when it comes to the personal interview, applicants have to think about it anyway.
Statements such as “My desired salary is within the usual range for the industry” or “I would be happy to explain my salary expectations to you in a personal meeting” leave a lot of room for interpretation and are not what is expected at this point. I therefore recommend that you think about your own market value in advance and state this in your application.

How do I formulate my salary expectations correctly?

If I enter this question in a search engine, I get countless blog posts and articles, all of which have similar content. In my opinion, there is no right or wrong here. It is certainly best to formulate the salary request as concretely as possible. In doing so, you should make sure that you neither sell yourself short of value nor exaggerate completely. Alternatively, you can also specify a salary range. By the way, when we talk about the desired salary, we usually mean the gross annual salary. If you know the general conditions of the potential employer, such as the payment of holiday or Christmas bonuses or the weekly working hours, you should include these factors in your salary expectation.

You can find even more tips for your application here, from cover letters to CVs and attachments.


Christin Weiß

Author: Christin Weiß

Christin Weiß is recruiting personnel officer in Nuremberg. She specializes in occupational health and safety – the personnel expert recruits doctors, occupational safety specialists, occupational medical assistants, and business talents. Living in Ansbach, she follows the call of the mountains at weekends and on vacation – whether on hut-to-hut hikes in summer or ski tours in winter.

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