Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on Thursday, June 5, 2014
This is a tricky question, and I’d say the rules governing this text box will best determine what to input.
If the box allows you unlimited letters and numbers, I would enter something like “40k base plus commissions/bonus; 100k total” (just an example).
Even if this seems lengthy, the recruiter will greatly appreciate knowing how much of your income was salary, and how much was variable compensation. Particularly if your base was low, and you earned the majority of your income via strong performance, it may highlight that you are a driven and highly effective sales expert.
If the box allows unlimited numbers, you could list “$40,000 – 100,000” to show the range from base to overall-income, generated annually.
If the box only allows you to list a single numeric quantity, you may want to enter “$100,000” or whatever is the average expected amount that you earn per year. This helps the recruiter understand where you need to be financially, and where you expect to remain. If this amount swings radically from year to year, adjust the number downwards accordingly.
Post-application, and upon speaking to the recruiter 1:1, I would mention any ability to allow for flexibility in projected Year-1 income (this is understandable for any quota/metrics-driven role in a new company). Naturally, you may not earn the same dollar-volume of commissions/bonus the first year, while you ramp up in your new role. It will also depend greatly on how their variable compensation is structured and paid out.
It’s vital that the recruiter understands what you need, in terms of total compensation, as soon as possible. In other words, although you could have a base of 40k (the example), she or he must recognize that you are actually looking for roles that can hit “xyz” amount. It’s crucial that this fact is not misunderstood by the potential employer during the selection process, so you aren’t eventually issued an offer that doesn’t hit your target numbers, via salary plus the variables.