How To Address Salary Requirements In A Cover Letter
How should you address the issue of salary requirements when you’re submitting a cover letter to a potential employer? In general, the best rule of thumb is … don’t. You actually want to put off this part of the conversation with a potential employer as long as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes employers don’t give you a choice. Some job advertisements ask you straight up to mention your salary requirements directly on your cover letter.
It’s usually best to leave the specifics of that discussion for later on, though; it’s not in your interests to send a potential employer running for the hills without hearing what you have to say first. After speaking with you, he or she may be more willing to consider your real salary requirements. If you haven’t had a chance to meet directly with the hiring manager and make a stellar impression, the employer is likely to just call in all the reasonable-looking candidates who have the lowest salary requirements.
So what should you do? Look for ways around the problem, where you provide an answer to the question without actually saying anything at all. Look up the salary range which is common for the position to start with. You can find this information online; check with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Also look up variations by geographic area so you can figure out what is typical in the area you are in. Once you have that as a guideline, you can state a salary range on your cover letter instead of an actual number.
You might for example say, “In previous positions, I earned between $40,000-$60,000. I would be glad to discuss salary during the interview.” If you are asked to provide a specific figure, for example your current salary, you could also try something like, “I earn $74,000 a year at my current position, but I am happy to negotiate if this salary falls outside of the range you are asking for the position.”
When discussing salary with an employer, you are always walking a narrow line. On one hand, you don’t want to sell yourself short and give the employer a cause to pay you less than you deserve if he or she would be willing to pay you more. On the other hand, you don’t want to find yourself out of the running for a position because you named a figure that was too high—even though you would be willing to accept less.
You should take some time to think about your salary requirements before you write a cover letter or go in for an interview too. In this economy it is tempting to take whatever you can get, but remember you do need a living wage, and a lot of positions don’t really offer that. Consider the cost of commuting, benefits packages, and other items which can adjust your “real” salary. Even if you are willing to settle for less than you want, don’t settle for less than you need.