Including Salary Requirement In Cover Letter

When and How to Disclose Your Salary Requirements

Some job postings ask you to include your salary requirements, or even your salary history, when applying for the position. Companies request salary information for various reasons. If your salary requirement (or salary history) is too high, employers can screen you out because they don't want to pay that much, or because they think you won't be happy working for less money.

On the other hand, if your salary requirement (or your salary history) is lower than the company is willing to pay, they may offer you a lower salary.

To avoid being screened out, and to avoid being offered a low salary, you need to be careful how you describe your salary information.

Read below for tips on how to provide this information without hurting your chances of getting a job, while still receiving a fair salary.

What Are Salary Requirements?

A salary requirement is the amount of compensation a person needs to accept a position. Some employers ask job candidates to give a salary requirement when they apply for a job.

Salary requirements are based on several factors such as:

  • The industry

  • Prior salary history

  • Previous work experience

  • Cost of living

Occasionally, an employer might ask you to include your salary history instead of (or along with) your salary requirements. A salary history is a document that lists your past earnings. The document typically includes the name of each company you worked for, your job title, salary, and benefits package.

Is it Legal for an Employer to Ask for Your Salary Requirements?

Employers can legally ask you to state your salary requirements. However, some states and cities restrict employers from requesting information about your past salary. Check with the state department of labor in your jurisdiction for the latest information on this issue, and the laws that apply in your city and state.

Salary Requirements: Include or Leave Out?

If the job listing doesn't mention it, don't offer any salary information at all. Ideally, you want the prospective employer to bring up the topic of compensation first.

If you are asked to include salary requirements with your application, you could ignore the request, but that means you risk not getting an interview. There is nothing employers like less than when candidates do not follow directions.

It is best to follow instructions. However, there are a few ways you can provide the required information while limiting your risk of being screened out or offered a low salary.

Tips for Including Salary Requirements

When asked to include salary requirements, you can include a salary range rather than a specific amount. This range should be based on the salary research you've done. For example, you can state in your cover letter, “My salary requirement is in the $35,000 - $45,000 range.” This kind of answer gives you some flexibility, and prevents you from locking yourself into a low salary (or being screened out for having too high of a salary).

When stating a salary range, make sure that the range is realistic. Do this by carefully researching what the position is worth:

  • Use salary surveys to determine the average salary for the position you are interviewing for, or for a similar position if you can't find information on the exact job title.

  • Use salary calculators to factor in cost-of-living expenses and to estimate what you should be paid in a particular location. There are a variety of salary surveys and calculators, including industry-specific and geographic resources, available online.

Another option is to state that your salary requirements are negotiable based on the position and the overall compensation package, including benefits.

Either way, note that your salary requirements are flexible. That may help keep you in the running for the position and will give you some flexibility when negotiating compensation later on if you get a job offer.

Tips for Including Salary History

If you are asked to include your salary history, you can also list your previous salaries as ranges rather than specific amounts.

But again, always follow any specific instructions about how to include salary history.

If the employer gives specific instructions on how to include salary requirements, follow those rules. For example, if he or she says to give a specific dollar amount (rather than a range), do so.

Again, you want to follow all directions on the job listing. No matter how you include your salary history, always be honest. It's easy for potential employers to check your salary with previous employers. Any false information will get you screened out of the application process.

Where and How to Include Salary Information

Salary requirements can be included in your cover letter with sentences such as "My salary requirement is negotiable based upon the job responsibilities and the total compensation package," or "My salary requirement is in the $25,000 - $35,000+ range."

Keep your reference to salary requirements brief, so the employer can focus on the rest of your cover letter.

If the employer asks you to include your salary requirement in a different way (for example, in your resume), be sure to do so.

There are a few ways you can include your salary history. First, you can include the history in your cover letter, briefly stating what you earn now. For example, you might say, “I currently earn in the mid-forties.” You can also include an itemized list of your previous salaries (or salary ranges), either in your resume or on a separate salary history page that you enclose with your resume and cover letter.

More About Salary: Salary Negotiation Strategies | How to Answer Interview Questions About Your Salary Expectations | Providing Salary History

Job advertisements sometimes ask you to specify salary requirements when submitting your cover letter. If a job posting requires you to address salary requirements in cover letter or resume form, not all is lost.

Related: 7 Examples Of Fresh New Ways To Start Your Cover Letter

But, many job seekers feel uncomfortable revealing their desired salary before they’ve even scheduled an interview. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry—there are some ways to comply with the employer’s request while avoiding having to immediately provide a specific answer.

One technique for addressing this topic in a cover letter is to list a range of salaries you’ve earned throughout your career. For those who have been in the workforce for a while, it is common for this range to be fairly wide. So you could say, “ I’ve earned between $50,000-$75,000 in previous positions, and I would be happy to discuss salary after an interview.”

Another way to address the issue is to offer a ballpark figure. For instance, you could say, “My current salary is in the low six figures.” Or, “My current compensation, including bonuses, is in the $80s.” Remember to factor in bonuses, 401(k) matching, mileage reimbursement, and other additional forms of compensation when providing them with a number.

Sometimes employers will specifically ask you what you earn in your current position. Non-employee workers (subcontractors) can easily avoid this question by stating, “As a contractor, my compensation varies from month to month.”

If you suspect a position for which you’re applying pays less than you currently earn, you can say, “My current salary is $65,000, but I am willing to negotiate if that is out of the hiring range for this position.”

When asked about salary, the most important thing is to not sell yourself short. Unless the number you stipulate is significantly above what an employer is willing to pay, it shouldn’t prevent you from getting an interview.

In addition, providing a somewhat general answer about salary requirements can aid you in appearing flexible and willing to negotiate.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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About the author

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter. Want to work with the best resume writer? If you would like us to personally work on your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile—and dramatically improve their response rates—then check out our professional and executive resume writing services at GreatResumesFast.com or contact us for more information if you have any questions.


Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.

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Jessica Holbrook HernandezJessica Holbrook Hernandez, CEO of Great Resumes Fast is an expert resume writer, career and personal branding strategist, author, and presenter. Want to work with the best resume writer? If you would like us to personally work on your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile—and dramatically improve their response rates—then check out our professional and executive resume writing services at GreatResumesFast.com or contact us for more information if you have any questions.

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