Salary Requirements Cover Letter

How To List Your Salary Requirements In A Cover Letter

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Some job advertisements ask you to include your salary requirements on your cover letter, and if they ask for this, it usually means you can’t avoid doing so.

Listing salary requirements is always tricky because it’s hard to “guess” what the employer will think about your preference.

Asking for too much can rule out your chances right away because you might appear unrealistic, but asking for too little can signal a red flag and tell the hiring manager you don’t value your skills and experience.

So the question is – what do you say in your cover letter?

My advice is to always include a range because you give yourself a little bit of breathing room. A range not only eliminates you from this potential scrutiny, but it could also tell the hiring manager you need a little more information before you give them a definite answer.

In other words, you leave yourself some option, and you also put yourself in a good position to negotiate. Chances are that full details of the job haven’t already been provided, so if you make it to the interview and hear more about the job’s requirements, you can then argue why you are qualified to receive the higher end of your salary range.

So how do you determine this range?

How To List Your Salary Requirements In A Cover Letter

Try to search for similar positions and what they offer in terms of salary. Look up job search websites and try to ballpark a range that most of the positions fit into, and then use this range when you’re writing your cover letter.

The range you include is entirely dependent on what you find, but I would probably suggest not making it any larger than $10,000 – it may be too general otherwise.

All in all, it’s always best to keep your options open.

Try this advice if an employer asks you to list salary requirements on your cover letter. Then come back here and let us know how it goes. Good luck!

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9 comments

  1. From my experience, this is largely a mute point. I say this because if you are applying to jobs online, you have less than a 1% chance of getting an offer…there are hundreds of applicants for every job, on average! The better way is to spend that energy developing your network and locating the 70-80% of jobs that are “hidden”…never posted or advertised! For those jobs the competition is less and you can have a more meaningful discussion about your worth and salary.

    • I’ve found that this method doesn’t work either. In my experience, I piss off the people I know who hire me because they set the bar incredibly high and then don’t give me directions, even when I ask, then complain that I’m not doing things the way they want them done, and fire me when they have barely given me a chance.

  2. Whatever you do in researching prevaling wages, make sure to consider locality. $45,000 in the midwest is livable for a single person; $45,000 in New York City is poverty level. Young graduates should also consider the amount of student loan debt they will be repaying. If every penney you earn goes to repay debt, what will you live on?

  3. Great advice thank you. I wish I had this information earlier. I applied for a job last night which required this information. I often ignore this part in my cover letters, just because I’m not quite sure if I will be shooting myself in the foot by stating my salary expectations! I have now learned to state this. I would differently try this!

  4. frank @ tempworkor

    Another good technique, along with stating a range, is to add something along the lines of “depending on the benefit package.” Most HR departments will be understanding of approaching salary from a “total compensation” standpoint rather than a single number.

  5. This is completely contradictory for what I’ve learned of doing by NOT disclosing true figures/ranges. What ever happened to writing something like, “Per you request, my salary requirements are negotiable based on industry norms and current local salary range surveys”?

    Or something like, “In terms of salary, if you feel I’m the right person for the job, and I think my credentials demonstrate that I am, I’m sure you’ll make me a fair offer based on industry norms and local salary range surveys”?

  6. A major aspect of stating a salary range is to be sure it has been researched. It is not your budget or even what you make now or in the past. As best you can, determine the range for the job you are applying. Salary.com, Payscale.com, BLS.gov, occupational societies, and recruiters will help in that research.

  7. One of the most difficult parts in writing cover letters is stating your salary requirements. You do not want to ask for too much or to undermine your skills. This article is right on the dot. Stating a range can give the impression that you are willing to negotiate without lowering your standards. Getting an option is a wise move. Thanks. Cheers!

  8. I always have a hard time deciding how to deal with salary requirements. Years ago, online job postings gave the salary, or at least the range for a position, but almost nobody shows this any more. So many companies low-ball salaries now and you wonder if they’re just trying to see if they can get anybody to bite.

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