Your resume is a powerful tool when you’re job-seeking. This one or two-page document tells your career story and – so long as you get it right – sells your qualifications to a potential employer. However, there can be confusion about what belongs on a resume.
This document needs to include your professional summary, work experience, education, and skills. That much is obvious. But is there something missing here? The question that springs to mind is: Should you include salary requirements on resumes?
You might think that including salary requirements on resumes is a smart move. It lets employers know what your expectations are and can help you rule out jobs that are not a good fit. However, there’s a downside to this approach. In the following guide, we will take a look at why you should think long and hard about whether to include these details.
What are salary requirements?
Before we take a deeper look at salary requirements on resumes, let’s investigate what they are. Put simply, this is the amount of money – i.e., the annual salary – you require to take the job at hand. It does not have to be the same amount that you are currently being paid. Instead, it outlines the amount that you are looking for in future job roles.
How to determine your salary requirements
It’s not simply about picking a number out of the air and demanding it from employers. When you’re trying to decide what your salary requirements are, there are many factors that you need to consider. You don’t want to pick an outlandish salary that puts potential employers off. Instead, you should take a measured approach here. Let’s take a look at some of the core factors you need to consider when outlining your salary requirements:
Average salaries. How much do other professionals in your field of work get paid? You can find out by looking at job adverts for your role or similar positions. You need to make sure that your salary requirements are in line with each of them.
Your education and skills. How much value do you add to the business? What education level and skills do you have? When asking for a specific salary, you need to think about how much you have invested in your own training for the job.
Cost of living. Where you live in the world can influence your salary requirements. You should consider what the average cost of living is in your town or city. This information may play a role in what salary you can expect in your area.
Experience. How much experience do you have, and what are you bringing to the table? In theory, the longer you have been in a sector, the more you can expect to make each year. Think about this when defining your salary requirements.
Reasons to avoid putting salary requirements on resumes
Now that you know how to determine your salary requirements, let’s deal with the main question. Should you really include salary requirements on resumes? Most of the time, the answer is a simple “no.” While you might think that this information will help employers understand your expectations, it could work against you. Here’s what you need to know.
It could send out the wrong message
One reason for not listing salary requirements on your resume is that it could give the employer the wrong idea about your priorities. You don’t want to suggest that you have concrete salary demands since that may cause your application to get rejected.
Instead, keep your resume focused on your strengths and achievements. Emphasize the value that you can bring to the firm rather than the money that you expect to receive for your efforts. Chances are, you can discuss your salary expectations during an interview.
It may distract from your qualifications
Your main goal with a resume is to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job. You need to do that by documenting your experience and skill set. Concentrate on providing real examples of how those skills and talents benefited your previous employers.
This approach means that you can establish yourself as someone who can contribute to any company from day one. Remember, your resume is about showcasing what you can bring to the company, not what the company can offer you in terms of cash.
You don’t want to put salary requirements on your resume since that draws attention to financial concerns. The only monetary issue that you want the employer to be thinking about is the additional money that you can help them make if they hire you.
Your requirements may not align with their needs
There’s another concern that you should keep in mind: the employer’s goals. By listing your salary expectations on resumes, you could bring your fitness for the job into question.
For example, should you go lower than the employer expects, you might seem unqualified. On the other hand, a higher-than-expected salary requirement might make you seem too expensive to hire. While you could get lucky and somehow list a desired salary that is exactly what the employer wants to spend, it’s not worth the risk.
What if the employer requires your salary requirements on your resume?
Of course, there may be times when employers make it clear that they’ll reject resumes that don’t include salary information. You need to know how to deal with those scenarios so that you can hopefully avoid the potential pitfalls we have outlined above.
If you need to include salary requirements on resumes, do so with finesse. The key is to avoid being too specific while still providing enough detail to prevent your resume from being dismissed outright. There are several ways to accomplish that goal:
List a salary range. Instead of listing a set figure, describe a salary range. If you’re asked to list previous salary information, don’t be specific. Write something like, “In my former jobs, I earned between $50,000 and $65,000.” You can do the same when asked to list a desired salary.
Focus solely on the salary. Leave out any benefits that you might have received as part of a previous salary package. Just focus on providing a salary range for actual monies received.
State that you are “flexible.” You can also try to avoid the topic altogether and simply note that your salary requirements are flexible. Let the employer know that you will be happy to discuss salary options during an interview.
Value over money
Your resume should focus on the value you bring to a position. Any discussion of salary demands or required benefits naturally turns that focus to your needs rather than the employer’s. Make sure that your narrative always pinpoints how you can support business requirements. When you do that, you will find that there’s no need to list your salary on a resume. Your experience, skills, and achievements will speak for themselves.
Looking for a new job and, perhaps, a higher salary? The first step is making sure that your applications hit the mark. Check out our free resume review tool now. We will give you the pointers that you may have missed to ensure that you wow recruiters. If you want to speed up your job search, don’t miss this simple step.
Charlotte Grainger, Editor & Content Writer, Charlotte Grainger, Editor & Content Writer
Charlotte Grainger is a freelance writer living and working in Sheffield, UK. She has a passion for career development and loves sharing tips and advice. Follow her on Twitter