Know what you want, need or expect in terms of pay from your next job?
We’re going to dig deep into how you can include your salary requirements in a cover letter in a professional way without going too high or low, and without sounding pushy!
You may be asking yourself why companies sometimes ask applicants to include their salary expectations in a cover letter. Basically, it’s a first step in narrowing down the applicant field.
Employers can make sure they don’t waste time reaching out to candidates whose expectations don't fit with the salary range they have set for the position.
Sometimes, though, it can feel a little awkward or intimidating to throw a number out to a prospective employer.
But it’s actually really easy to include a strong salary expectation that will make you seem knowledgeable, confident, and will get you what you deserve, as one extra part of writing a great cover letter.
In this article, we’ll go over:
- Whether you even should include salary requirements in a cover letter
- How to calculate your salary requirements
- And of course, how to include your salary requirements in a cover letter when you need to
We’ve also included examples of how you can include your salary requirement in your cover letter, and we have 500+ great cover letter examples and templates you can use to write a cover letter that will land you that job.
Should you Include Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter
First off, if a job application doesn’t ask you to include salary information, then don’t. It could undermine your application.
For example, if you request too high a salary, the employer may immediately set your application aside. On the flip side, if you ask for too low a salary, you may lose out on earnings they would have otherwise paid you.
Salary discussions often come up in interviews anyhow, so if they don’t ask in advance, wait for that. Of course, that means you should still be prepared to answer the question, and any other common tricky ones that come up.
But, if the job posting or application specifies that they want you to include a salary requirement, be sure that you do (unless you live somewhere where questions like that are prohibited).
How to Calculate Your Salary Requirements
In the case, you’re in a position that you are expected to include a salary requirement. You’ll want to do some research on the industry and take an honest look at your skills and experience to come up with a fair and reasonable number that will work for both parties.
A good first step is to check the average salaries for your industry. There are a few good websites that can help you with this.
Salary.com is maybe the most popular salary-specific job site. It lists every position in a field with free salary info, and they include cost-of-living calculators, comparison tools, lists of benefits, and even negotiation tips.
Glassdoor gives users the opportunity to read company reviews based on employee feedback. This tool is great because instead of general industry info, you can do a salary search for a specific company and position - giving you a real insider edge.
Indeed is a really popular job posting aggregator that also has a salary search tool. Here you can use keywords in your search, on top of job titles.
Some other options that include salary info, cost of living calculators, and/or other help in finding out what salary to expect are SalaryList, Salary Expert , and for Americans, the Bureau of Labor Statistics can help.
Remember, no matter how specific or general the website you’re looking at is, what you’re getting from them is info based on other workers. So, you should also consider specific things about yourself that could influence your salary, like:
Your education is an important determinant of pay. An applicant with a bachelor’s degree should expect a lower starting salary compared to someone with a master’s or a doctorate. The more relevant education you have, the higher you can expect to fall in the salary range for a job.
Do consider the relevance of your education - a degree in Sports Medicine doesn’t have much impact in an accounting firm, but a Forensic Accounting degree, or an MBA in Accounting obviously do! You’d likely see a higher starting wage with the latter two as a result.
Location and cost of living
Different places have different costs of living - we know rents in Manhattan are going to be higher than in Boise, Idaho for a comparable apartment! But the costs of transportation, food, entertainment, and everything else varies from one city to another.
Because of that, employers know and compensate people differently depending on where they’re expected to work. So take into account where the job is located when you’re considering the salary.
Look at your work history. If you have a lot of experience in the company’s industry and operations, you can usually expect higher compensation than someone with little or no experience.
Look back on your work and experience history though, and you may be able to find great transferable skills, or performance results that apply to the new job.
Having specific professional certifications and licenses means you can ask for higher salaries, in the same way that education affects your value as an employee. Since you’ve put time into your professional development, an employer would be interested in offering you a greater salary for the value you bring and add to their team.
If you’re a candidate with an in-demand skill, you can consider asking for a higher salary. For example, if you’re applying for a UX design job in Germany, and you speak English and German (and/or other languages in the region) you’d have applicable skills and can ask to be compensated accordingly.
When it comes down to it, you also have to think about what you need or would accept for a job, too. No matter what the average is, consider your personal expenses and expectations.
If you need a certain amount to live and for your savings target, you may need to ask for that amount, because it’s not going to be a good fit long-term if you can’t pay your bills! Likewise, if it’s a dream job, and you don’t have other financial commitments, you may decide to strategically undercut the expected rate to get your foot in the door.
- Consider that to move to another company, you’d expect a pay rise.
- Switching jobs can be inherently risky, and it’s not unusual for a candidate to ask for a pay raise when switching from one company to another doing the same job. Asking for more helps mitigate the risk.
- Consider additional benefits a company would offer/provide.
- Not every company has the same benefits, and some benefits packages outweigh lower wages. Consider health plans, pension/savings plans, cost of living increases, annual technology or professional development grants, or any other non-salary additional benefit a company provides as part of the total package.
- Consider mentioning your range
- Given all the variables we’ve just covered, it can sometimes be hard to come up with just the right amount. In this case, it’s a good idea to consider mentioning a salary range, instead of one firm number.
How to Include Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter
Has the employer asked for you to use a specific format? If so, follow their instructions.
If they haven’t specified that they want your salary requirement in a specific format, then you have a few options open to you.
Use a salary range
When you include your salary requirements in a cover letter, consider phrasing it as a salary range instead of an absolute number. You can say something like, “My salary requirement is in the $50,000-60,000 range.”
While this doesn't give the employer an exact figure, it gives them an idea of what you hope to earn. That way, you and the employer have some flexibility to move forward with, and you can avoid being dismissed for asking for too much or too little.
When using a range, still make sure the high and low figures are realistic based on your experience, the position, your industry and the other considerations we talked about.
Tell the employer your salary requirements are negotiable
Another good idea is to tell the employer you’re willing to negotiate your salary based on their budget, the specific requirements of the job, and other compensation considerations like benefits. This is vague, so it may not satisfy their question entirely, but it addresses it, and opens the door to move forward.
Say that you're flexible
This is something you should always do. Whether you provide a salary range or include a definite figure, you should include a sentence letting the employer know that your salary requirements are flexible.
This way, if your ask is out of their range, they may still bring you in for an interview instead of casting your application aside. Saying this also means you can talk about the salary more once you have a better idea of the company and their expectations from the interview process.
Example Sentences of Including Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter
Including a salary requirement adds another complication that you might struggle with. The examples below should give you an idea of how you might tackle it in your specific case.
Example 1 - Firm Number
Based on my qualifications, professional results, certifications, and the range of duties and responsibilities of the role, my salary requirement is $75,000 per year. Please note that I am, however, flexible and willing to negotiate based on your budget, requirements, and the complete compensation package being offered. I would be happy to further discuss my salary requirements once I have a better picture of the offer, your position, as well as the potential for career advancement.
Example 2 - Salary Range
As per your request, I would like to suggest a salary in the range of $75,000 to $90,000. My requested salary is based on my previous salary history, the posted job description, my direct and related experience, and my research on the typical compensation for this role in the industry. As you’ll see in my resume, I have put many years into my education and regularly take classes and certifications to continue my professional development, and I feel I would add great value to your team. Please bear in mind that the actual salary we might agree on is also negotiable based on other relevant factors such as professional development opportunities, employee benefits, and career advancement.
Example 3 - Salary Range
With regard to your request for a desired salary, and based on the listed job duties and responsibilities, I would like to suggest compensation in the $40,000-$50,000 range. I base this on having researched the salaries for comparable roles in the industry, considering my academic qualifications living, and bearing in mind the cost of living in Portland. I would be happy to further discuss this, and would be willing to negotiate this salary based on any further information you can provide about the role and compensation.
Example 4 - Firm Number Briefly
My salary requirement is $85,000, which is comparable with the average compensation for a professional with my level of experience in the local market. My salary expectation is flexible, depending on other benefits you can provide such as career advancement, bonuses, and your overall compensation package.
Example 5 - Salary Range Briefly
Per your request, based on the posted job description, my credentials, and industry research, an acceptable salary range for this role is $75,000-$80,000. My salary requirements are negotiable, depending on the opportunities to earn bonuses, career advancement, and professional development.
Where to Add a Paragraph Like This
If you’re asked, including your salary requirement is just one of several things you should be sure to include in your cover letter. The general structure we recommend doesn’t typically include this item.
So where should you add the salary requirement?
Our recommendation is that your cover letter include an introduction, and two body paragraphs explaining why you’re the perfect candidate for the job and why you are a good fit for the company.
We’d say you should include the salary requirement at this point - either as short a standalone paragraph, or as part of your closing call to action paragraph. Take a look at our cover letter examples and templates if you want to get a better idea of exactly what this structure looks like and where to add the salary expectation.
You can also use our cover letter builder to be sure you’re putting together the best possible cover letter to land your next job.
Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter - Takeaways
- If they don’t ask, then you shouldn’t ask!
- Thoroughly research your desired rate of pay.
- Use sentences such as "My salary expectation is flexible depending upon the overall compensation package and additional benefits such as opportunities for advancement.," or "Per your request, given my qualifications and achievements, my salary requirement is $X0,000(-$X0,000).
- Always state your compensation requirements are flexible or negotiable.
- Include your salary requirement just before or as part of your closing call to action paragraph.