How To Include Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter

A hiring manager and a candidate sitting at a desk and talking


Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter—To Include or Not To Include?

Few topics are as uncomfortable to discuss as money. You already know how annoyingly shy certain companies are when it comes to stating the salary they offer in a job posting.

Others—not shy at all. They may have the audacity to ask you to include your own salary requirements in a cover letter. 

Discussing these elements, especially in a document as important as a cover letter, requires nuance. This letter defines the first impression you make, and it has to be a good one. After all, that is your ticket to an interview

Composing a convincing, well-formatted cover letter that accurately presents your skills and professional strengths is challenging. Having to include salary requirements makes it downright intimidating. 

And if you are applying for an entry-level position or a role you have little or no experience in, this whole situation is… well, just a mess. 

So, how do you handle the money talk without getting eliminated immediately? 

When You Should Include Salary Expectations in a Cover Letter 

Two recruiters in an open-plan office looking at candidates on a laptop

Source: LinkedIn Sales Solutions

Only include salary expectations when the job ad says so. There are three things hiring managers are not big fans of:

  1. Candidates sending in generic cover letters
  2. People using job applications as a creative outlet
  3. Applicants not following instructions

Whatever the job ad requires, fulfill it. If it says a cover letter is necessary, send it. If it’s your salary history or salary expectation it demands, provide them. 

Companies ask this for a reason—it helps them screen out candidates they cannot (or will not) pay. If you don’t want to be cut because the company thinks they can’t afford you, you have to be careful with including salary requirements in a cover letter. 

You should be even more mindful about when to leave out this part entirely.

Not Including Salary Expectations in a Cover Letter

If the job ad doesn’t specifically state otherwise, don’t mention any salary requirements in your letter. When it comes to coins, it’s best to tread lightly. You don’t want one reckless statement to hurt the outcome of your job application.

Ask for too much—the company may disregard your application because your expectations are over their budget. If you ask for too little and they hire you, you’ll get less than you deserve. 

Assuming you don’t have to state your requirements, it would be best if the employer brought up this topic first. In general, salary topics are discussed once you get an offer. 

How To Include Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter

You don’t want to sell yourself too short or go way beyond the company’s budget. There are ways to carefully include salary requirements in a cover letter to accomplish this.

Provide a Salary Range in a Cover Letter

Instead of a specific amount, you could include a salary range. It is a diplomatic way to avoid being screened out for asking too much or being paid less because you asked for too little. This answer shows flexibility, too. 

Your salary range should be based on the national and state average. You should also check what average salaries for similar positions are if there is no concrete data for the role you are applying for.

Other factors to take into account are:

FactorWhat To Consider
EducationType of degree you have
Level of education required in the add
Skills and experienceYears of relevant experience
Non-work-related experience
Current earningsSalary requirements should typically be higher than what you are currently making.
Lower expectations are fine if:
You are really eager to get that job
There is room for advancement

Say That Your Salary Requirements Are Negotiable

You also have an option to say that your salary requirements are subject to negotiations. This is a pretty good answer because it shows you are flexible, and flexibility is crucial if you really want to get a job. The company could be offering other benefits in the compensation package, such as:

  • Paid time off
  • Retirement plan
  • Health plan
  • Bonuses

Stating that you’re flexible signals to the company that you take benefits into account as well.

Do Beat Around the Bush

A female hiring manager interviewing a candidate in an office

Source: Memento Media

If you can’t find reliable and up-to-date information about salary ranges for a specific position, you could try answering the salary question indirectly. A good option is to say that the compensation package is entirely up to the employer. Point out that your primary focus is on being able to do the job according to the company’s standards (if this is something that works for you, of course).

How To Include Salary History in a Cover Letter

Besides your salary preferences, the job ad may also require you to state your salary history in your cover letter. Here, too, you have an option to provide a salary range, but it would be best to follow the instructions. If the job ad asks for a specific dollar amount, not a range, then state the concrete number. 

Whatever you do, be honest. A lie has no legs—the truth is one phone call away. Any false information will kick you out of the job race instantly.

Where To Put Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter

All cover letters have the same elements:

Cover Letter PartWhat To Include
HeaderYour name
Cell phone number
Email address
Company name
Company address
GreetingDear Hiring Manager,
To Whom It May Concern,
Dear Marketing Director,
Dear Mr./Ms. Jackson,
Opening paragraphReasons for writing
A brief statement about why you are suitable for the role
Main paragraphsSkills
Closing paragraphAn expression of gratitude to the hiring manager for their time and consideration
A call to action expressing your desire to get called in for an interview
Best regards,
Kind regards,

Once you create a cover letter outline and include all the necessary parts, you may have difficulty determining where to put salary requirements in a cover letter. 

The best place for the money talk is towards the end of your letter. You can include it in the last paragraph or as one of the points in a bulleted list at the end of the cover letter. Keep it brief, too—one sentence is more than enough.

Find Suitable Job Openings Faster

Two female hiring managers having a meeting in an office

Source: Amy Hirschi

Writing a cover letter is not easy, but it’s even harder when you have to talk about money. You may decide to forgo the cover letter when applying for a job, but check out these numbers to see why you should never do that:

  1. Half of the employers prefer candidates who submit a cover letter
  2. 26% of recruiters base their hiring decisions on cover letters
  3. Only 2% of applicants receive an invitation to an interview

You really can’t afford not to send a cover letter and decrease your chances of being shortlisted for an interview. 

The trouble is, even when you compose a fantastic letter, you have to spend weeks looking for a suitable opening and applying to different positions before someone finally calls you in for a meeting. When you get to the interview stage, there is a good chance that you and the company won’t be the right fit. If that happens, you will have to start the whole search over and go through the same ordeal again. 

Or you can try Lensa—an AI platform that helps you find a job that perfectly matches your salary expectations, location preferences, and even personality. 

When you sign up for our app, you will get:

  • Access to job ads from numerous hiring platforms
  • Opportunity to learn more about your professional strengths by playing the Workstyle Game
  • Customized job recommendations
  • SMS and email notifications about job openings
  • Possibility to filter out remote positions
  • Option to choose jobs based on your personality and cultural background

How To Register With Lensa

To make your job hunt less complicated, visit our website and:

  1. Enter the job title and location
  2. Click on Search
  3. Enter your email address
  4. Click on Submit

Now you can start browsing job listings, play the Workstyle Game, or personalize your account by:

  • Adding your first and last name
  • Providing your phone number
  • Specifying the desired salary
  • Including your education level and previous experience
  • Uploading your resume

The more information you provide, the better job suggestions you will receive.

Featured image source: wocintechchat

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