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 desired salary information in your cover letter in a way that won’t get your resume tossed to the side!
When to Include Desired Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter
The first thing to understand is that you don’t want to list desired salary 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 some desired salary information if the employer 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 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 to put for your salary requirements, 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 desired salary
We don’t recommend this approach, but it is does sometimes prove successful: don’t directly answer the question. Instead of including desired salary information in your cover letter, try to downplay its importance.
“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.”
As you can see, it’s a reasonable response–but it doesn’t exactly follow directions. Still, if you’re unsure about the company’s salary policies or are afraid that your expectations might prevent you from getting the job, then this can be a viable option.
2. Offer a salary range rather than a hard number
You don’t always have to offer a firm figure for your desired salary. Instead, you can include a salary range that allows the employer 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.”
Don’t just pull numbers out of a hat either. Use real data from sites like the Bureau of Labor Statistics or PayScale 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.
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 is.
3. 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 expectation by noting that salary is 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.
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 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 relationship 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, company advancement, 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.
The bottom line is simple: don’t ignore requests 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.