How To Include Salary Requirements In A Cover Letter (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Dec. 8, 2020

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When you apply for a job, you may be asked about your salary requirements. Answering this question correctly is crucial. If you ask for an amount that is too high, you may be priced out of an interview or job offer. If you ask for an amount that is too low, you will find yourself boxed into a less than preferable salary.

What Are Salary Requirements?

A salary requirement is an amount you determine you would like to be paid. As an applicant, it also reveals to your employer important information about you. When you make a salary requirement, you should base it on your prior salary, skills/experience, and the cost of living in the area you will work.

The salary requirement can be listed as a specific amount or as a range. This depends on what your employer specifies in their inquiry. They may also ask for a salary history, which would be listing your past salaries and benefits from previous employers. It is essential to note the distinction between a salary requirement, which is something you are asking for, and a salary history, which is something you have received.

You should know that some states limit what companies can inquire about your salary history. Look up what your state’s laws are before you provide a salary history.

Why Do Employers Ask for Salary Requirements?

There are many reasons why an employer may ask for a salary requirement. Generally, the employer has a budgeted amount they can offer. If your salary requirement is too high, they will likely hesitate to give you an offer unless you are an exceptional candidate.

A salary requirement reveals a lot about you. The employer will see how you value yourself. This will let them know if you are aware of how your skills and experience match up to the position. With this in mind, the employer can then go ahead and filter out candidates who seem outside their price range or show an inability to understand their professional value.

When to Include Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter

An employer may ask you to provide a salary requirement in your cover letter. Only include salary requirements if the application requires one. There is no reason to offer it unsolicited, as it could either remove you from consideration or else commit you to a salary you later might regret.

Do not ignore the request to provide a salary requirement. Always follow directions during an application. If you do not, then the employer may worry about your ability to follow directions in the future and reject your application.

Note if the employer asks for a specific salary amount. If you have the option, it is better to provide a range of desired salaries. This helps increase your chances that your salary requirement will be within an amount agreeable to the employer.

How to Provide Your Salary Requirements

Once you have determined your salary requirements, you should place them in your cover letter’s final paragraph. Keep this section short. You do not want it to distract from your cover letter’s overall message, which should highlight why you are a great fit for the position.

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It is imperative to mention that you are flexible, and your requirements are negotiable. You want to show that you are open to compromise. If you keep your options open, then the employer will see you can work towards a mutual goal. Negotiability also helps if your salary range falls outside the employer’s budgeted offer.

When and How to Mention Compensation in a Cover Letter

Compensation needs, like salary requirements, may be asked on your application. Your employer will ask what non-monetary expectations you have for the position. This includes benefits such as healthcare, vacation time/paid time off, retirement plans such as a 401k, childcare, maternity leave, employee recreational activities, tuition reimbursement, and travel assistance.

Like salary requirements, you should only mention your compensation needs if you are asked. In your cover letter, prioritize your compensation and list as few as possible. Again, you do not want to box yourself in during the application process. Pick benefits that are immediately important to you, such as healthcare, and leave the rest for the interview.

Options for Including Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter

There are three options you can take when including a salary requirement in your cover letter:

  1. Provide a specific amount. If the application asks for a specific salary amount, then you should comply and provide one. Failing to do so may be interpreted as an inability or unwillingness to follow directions, which should be avoided.

    When you pick a specific amount, you need to balance the highest amount for you with what you think is a fair amount to ask for. Research the position and industry standards and balance with your own needs. As always, show a willingness to be flexible.

  2. Provide a range. If the application asks for a salary requirement but does not specify the amount, this is your best option. It allows for the greatest flexibility in negotiations and provides you with the best chance of landing your desired amount.

    Like a specific amount, base your salary range off of the industry norms and your skill set, along with your needs and cost of living expenses.

  3. Avoid providing an amount. This is the last resort option if you are either uncomfortable or unwilling to discuss salary requirements. In such an instance, you should still show that you are willing to be flexible. Keep it short and honest.

    For example, you can say something along the lines of, “I do not wish to discuss my salary requirements at this time. However, I would be willing and flexible to discuss it at a further date.”

How to Calculate a Fair Salary Range

There are several factors to consider when you calculate your salary requirements. If you decide to provide a range, make sure it is fair. This means it is something you and your potential employer can agree on. Make it an amount you would be happy to receive and one that would not remove you from consideration.

  1. Research the industry standard for the position. Go online and look up the average salary for the type of job you are applying to. Resources like Payscale, Salary.com, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics are excellent for determining your professional worth. You may find a range or only a single amount. If you do find a single amount, consider that your midpoint for your range.

  2. Know your experience and skill set. If you have a lot of experience or a high level of demand for your skills, you need to base your salary range on the higher end of the industry standard. Conversely, if you are new to a position, you must approach your requirement from the lower end.

    Remember, you may be judged for how you pick your range. If you ask for a higher than average amount with relatively low experience, you may not be considered for the position.

  3. Consider your education and training. If you come from a higher education background or carry relevant certifications, you can make your requirements higher than the average range.

  4. Consider the cost of living. Your salary requirements should, in part, be based on the geographic location of where you work. If a city, such as New York, has a higher cost of living than, say, Omaha, then you again will want to ask for a higher than average salary to meet your basic needs.

  5. Make your range reasonable. It does not do you any good to ask for a salary in such a large range that the information is relevant. For example, you would say your requirements are between $40,000 and $100,000 even if the average salary is $70,000. Try to make your range within 20 to 30 percent of the midrange.

Cover Letter Example With Salary Requirements

To the Hiring Representative,

I am applying for the project manager position at United Group. I have several years of project management experience, and I think it would be a great fit at United Group.

In my past experience with Divided Inc., I effectively led teams that constructed user interfaces for our company’s web and mobile apps. My responsibilities included investigating software issues and developing new infrastructure based on pioneering tech trends.

A lot of this work involved independent project management as well as collaboration with other team members. During my time as a project manager at Divided, Inc., I was able to develop my communication skills and specialize in task management using video conferencing software. This became particularly useful as we began work remotely as an organization.

During this time, I also liaised with research institutions and became familiar with prototype development. Due to my knowledge, I have been asked to train other team members and have been entrusted to lead lectures for several other partner organizations.

With my experience, I will be a great project manager who combines empathy with results. My salary requirement is in the $90,000 to $100,000 range. I can be flexible and am willing to negotiate this requirement.

Please consider my application. I would love the opportunity to further discuss my skills and career goals.

Thank you,

Alex Smith

Final Thoughts

To sum up, remember these key points when writing a cover letter with salary requirements.

  1. Salary requirements help an employer budget for a new hire.

  2. A salary requirement reveals to an employer how you value yourself.

  3. If your salary requirement is too high, you may appear overqualified for the position or else outside the company’s budget.

  4. If your salary requirement is too low, you may appear too inexperienced or else force yourself to take a salary less than you could have received.

  5. Salary requirements should appear at the end of the cover letter, but only when asked.

  6. Provide a range when possible and a specific amount only when necessary.

  7. Base your salary requirement on online research that includes industry standards, cost of living, and your educational/professional experience.

Remember, your salary requirement is part of the more extensive dialogue you may have with a potential employer. Do not be afraid to stand up for your needs but also be reasonable in your expectations. By following these tips, you should be able to do just that.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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