How to Include Salary Expectations in a Cover Letter (+ Examples)

Ronda Suder, Resume Writer

11 min read

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Creating the perfect cover letter is one of the most difficult challenges confronting job seekers. That challenge is particularly acute when you’re asked to include information like your anticipated salary requirements. Since you understand that the wrong salary request may reduce your chance of being interviewed, you may struggle to come up with the right number.

The good news is that there are options to help you include salary requirements in your cover letter in a way that won’t get your resume tossed to the side! In this post, we cover:

  • What is desired salary?

  • When to include desired salary requirements in a cover letter

  • How to respond to salary requirements in a cover letter

  • How to determine a desired salary to communicate with prospective employers

What is desired salary?

Desired salary is the salary you’d like to receive in exchange for the work you do for an employer. It’s common for prospective employers to ask you to provide your desired salary on employment applications, in your cover letter, and during job interviews. As such, considering your desired salary early on in the application process will better prepare you for when an employer asks you to provide such information. With that said, having an idea of your desired compensation doesn’t mean you share that information too early in the application process unless you’re asked for it, that is, and ready to do so. 

When to include desired salary requirements in a cover letter

The first thing to understand is that you don’t want to disclose your salary requirements (or compensation requirements) unless you must. The inclusion of that information can have negative consequences. For example, if your salary requirement is too high, the employer will dismiss your candidacy. On the other hand, if it is too low, you may receive a job offer for a salary that is far less than you deserve.

Still, you will need to include salary requirements in your cover letter if the employer or hiring manager requests it. When job descriptions include specific instructions to provide certain details, you need to follow those directions. Companies that demand desired salary requirements will typically reject your resume during the hiring process if you ignore that instruction. The question is, though, how do you word salary requirements in a cover letter?

How to respond to salary requirements in a cover letter

If you’re wondering what cover letter salary requirements to include, relax!

There are a number of ways you can handle this challenge. We also have some tips that can help you compose your response to that desired salary question. 

First, though, it’s important to recognize that you can find a whole host of ideas about this topic online. They include everything from helpful sample resumes with salary requirements to salary expectation email sample. We also include some useful examples in our helpful tips section.

Here are the most common tips for including your desired salary expectations in a cover letter:

1. Don’t be direct about your salary requirement, or delay your response 

We don’t recommend this approach, but it does sometimes prove successful: don’t directly answer the question if you’re not ready to answer it. Instead of including desired compensation information in your cover letter, try to downplay its importance.

For example:

“Salary is important, but it’s not the only factor I weigh in my job search efforts. If you conclude that I would be a good fit for the company, I would be more than eager to discuss my desired salary.”


“Salary is a consideration for me, though it’s not the only factor I consider. I would like to learn more about the position and its requirements, as well as the total compensation package, prior to providing my salary expectations.”

As you can see, these are both reasonable responses - but they don’t exactly follow directions. Still, if you’re unsure about the company’s salary policies, are afraid that your expectations might prevent you from getting the job, or you’re unclear of the job requirements and what you believe to be fair because you don’t have enough information, this can be a viable option.

2. Ask questions

This relates a bit to the item above in terms of delaying your response, though it is slightly different in terms of how to do it. You can sometimes stall having to provide salary expectations by asking questions or indicating that you have questions specific to how the organization values the position. Again, this doesn’t exactly follow directions, though it does allow you to find out if your desired salary fits within the budget or range of the position. 

It’s possible that the employer isn’t willing to provide this up front, though in many instances, they will, since it can save both you and the employer a lot of time if you know up front that your desired salary doesn’t fit within the range provided. 

A couple responses that align with this approach might be:

“I’m very interested in the position, though I still have some questions about it and am curious to know how your organization values this position. Can you please provide the salary range for it, so I can ensure that an interview is the best use of our time?”


“I don’t currently have a specific number in mind and would like to better understand how your organization views this position. Are you able to provide budget information for it?”

3. Offer a salary range rather than a hard number

You don’t always have to offer a firm figure for your desired salary. Instead, candidates can include a salary range that allows the employer or hiring manager some latitude with respect to any job and salary offer. For example: 

After reviewing the job posting’s listed responsibilities and considering the true value I can provide to the company, I would ask for an annual salary in the range of $35,000 to $60,000.”

Of course, if you respond with a range, the employer is probably going to try to hire you for the lower amount. Know what you’re worth, but also know what your “walk away” number, or minimum salary, is. 

4. Tell the employer that your desired salary is flexible

In many instances, you can minimize any misunderstandings by stressing that your desired salary is a flexible issue. You can list a number or range and qualify that salary requirements are negotiable. Alternatively, you can avoid hard numbers and simply say that your salary needs are open to negotiation to fit the company’s needs. It’s always a good idea to acknowledge that your flexibility is based on factors related to the position, non-salary compensation, and other benefits. For example:

“I’m seeking a salary range of $45,000 to $52,000. However, I am open to discussing this and can be flexible based on additional considerations, like benefits and non-salary compensation.”

Key Takeaway

When employers ask for your desired salary, use your cover letter to detail your expectations, and always be sure to note that your salary needs are open for negotiation.

How to determine your salary requirements

Now, it’s clear that you do, in some way, need to respond to a request for salary requirements. However, if the instructions are clear that an actual number is necessary, how do you decide what number or range to provide that you’ll feel good about? 

Below are a few considerations to help you determine what to put for your desired salary.

Refer to what you’re currently making

In very rare instances are people looking for positions where they’d make less than they’re currently making. Some exceptions to this might be if you’re changing careers, looking for a lower-level position, or relocating to a market where there’s a lower cost of living. 

Otherwise, most employers appreciate that you’d like to make what you’re currently making or more to change positions and work for their organization. Regardless, you need to get clear as to whether you’re willing to take an offer that falls below your current salary range, and if not, what minimum salary is acceptable to you for the position you’re applying to. 

Do market research 

You don’t want to just pull numbers out of a hat to offer up to an employer. Do an online search to determine what the average salary range is for the position you’re applying to based on education, experience, location, and job duties. Having data also allows you to back your numbers when you share your desired compensation with the prospective employer. 

Use real data from sites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale, or to discover salary norms around the country. You can also find up-to-date guides for industry-specific sites, such as RigJobs. Those and other sites can provide some indication of the position’s current value in the marketplace. 

Bear in mind that these are generally loose estimates, and you want to consider the other tips in this section before solidifying a range to provide to employers. 

Determine your worth based on experience, education, and training

Experience, education, and training are key factors in determining salary potential. Suppose you currently receive high marks with a salary that falls in the higher part of a range for your current organization. In that case, you’re in a good position to request a high salary level for your next position. 

In other words, if you offer above-average work, you can request an above-average salary. Bear in mind that when you ask for a higher salary, you need to be able to clarify the value you bring to the organization and back up your request with data and proof of the value you add. 

Consider cost of living metrics

Cost of living is an important factor when considering your salary. If you’re relocating to a new location, take a look at the cost of living for that location compared to your current location. In some instances, the cost of living, or COL, might be notably higher, in which case, you’d likely request a higher salary than what you’re currently making. On the other hand, if the cost of living is notably lower, a lower salary than what you’re currently making might be suitable for you. 

Take into account the total compensation and benefits package

Base salary is indeed an important consideration when considering a new position, though there are several other factors many consider. In addition to the desired salary, items like healthcare benefits, time off, flexible schedules, and bonuses play a role in whether someone accepts or declines a job offer. In fact, it’s not uncommon for employees to accept lower pay for a new position if the benefits are better with the new employer. 

When considering your desired compensation, consider what additional items are essential to you, and prioritize them. Then, compare your list to what the prospective employer offers. From there, adjust your desired salary accordingly.  

Sample cover letter with salary requirements

Dear [List full name of recruiter or hiring authority and their title here],

Please consider my enclosed resume and credentials as my application for the [Title of Position Here] position at [Company Name Here]. A review of my qualifications will showcase years of demonstrated work experience providing exceptional office support and ensuring projects are completed on time and with extreme confidentiality. 

These experiences have enabled me to perform scheduling, reception, meeting planning, accounting, data entry and document preparation, while creating a warm, welcoming environment for clients. I am certain that my motivation, academic experience, bilingualism/multilingualism, administrative expertise and professional demeanor will make me an excellent addition to your team as your [Title of Position Here]. 

Other highlights of my career that succeed expectations of [Company Name Here] would be:

  • Exceptional academic qualifications, including a [Full Degree name from School].

  • Remarkable ability to retain a large variety of information and interpret it for various publics.

  • Fluently utilized various computer software programs to expedite work processes, including Microsoft Office: Access, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

  • Exercised strong communication and interpersonal skills to formulate good working relationships with all co-workers, vendors, clients and the public.

  • Provided the highest level of customer service while greeting visitors, communicating with them via telephone and promptly assisting with their needs.

  • Experienced leading employees, striving to elevate individuals to their greatest potential.

My desired salary for the position is based on the posted job description, my research, and prior salary history. Given the position’s nature and my skills and potential value for the company, I would ask for a salary in the $60,000 to $70,000 range. Of course, the actual salary is open for negotiation, depending on other relevant factors including potential bonus opportunities, career advancement opportunities, or additional benefits. 

My resume will provide additional details concerning my accomplishments. I welcome the opportunity for an interview to discuss the performance you can expect from me.


[Your name]

[Your contact information]

Desired salary: the bottom line

The bottom line is simple: don’t ignore requests from employers for desired salary information. Instead, use your cover letter to convey that information, and try to do it in a way that won’t leave your resume out in the cold. Demonstrate your flexibility and openness to negotiation, even when you’ve listed a clear salary expectation. 

That’s the best way to ensure that your stated salary needs don’t prevent you from getting the interview you deserve.

Does your resume clearly represent the value you add to an organization and the salary you’re worth? Why not submit it for a free resume review and find out?

This article was originally written by Leo Bastone and has been updated by Ronda Suder.

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Written by

Ronda Suder, Professional Writer

With a drive to foster safety and expand possibilities through writing, performing, and working with others, Ronda brings 25 years of combined experience in HR, recruiting, career advice, communications, mental and behavioral health, and storytelling to her work. She’s a certified career coach and holds a Master’s in Human Resources, a Master’s in Film and Media Production, and a Master’s in Counseling and Development. As a writer, she’s covered topics ranging from finance and rock mining to leadership and internet technology, with a passion for career advice and mental-health-related topics. When she’s not at her computer, Ronda enjoys connecting with others, personal growth and development, spending time with her beloved pooch, and entertainment through movies, television, acting, and other artistic endeavors. You can connect with Ronda on LinkedIn and through her website.

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