Salary requirements in a cover letter

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A question I get asked from time to time is if someone should list their salary requirements on their cover letter or other job tools like resumes and online applications. This article will explain why you, in most cases, you should never list salary requirements on your cover letter or other job tools like resumes and online applications. 

Why you should never list your salary on your cover letter

In my 20+ years In HR and coaching executives, I can tell that you should never list your salary requirements on a cover letter or any other job tools like resumes and online applications. This is the case because once you list a number, you are tied to that number for good or bad. In the hiring manager and HR’s eyes, what you list is what they expect you to accept in terms of salary. You may want to change this, but it will be too late. Below I will go over in different scenarios what will happen if you list your salary. 

If you list a low salary requirement 

If you list a low salary requirement on your cover letter, you will be leaving dollars on the table. For example, you say you want a 150K salary, but the job is to pay 200K you could be leaving 50K on the table. 

If you list too high of a salary requirement

If you list a salary that is too high on your cover letter, many potential employers will bypass your application, thinking you are too expensive for their role. 

But some experts recommend that I should list my Salary requirements in a cover letter?

It does not matter that some experts recommend listing Salary requirements in a cover letter and other job tools like resumes and online applications. This is not a recommended practice as you lose future negotiating power and could price yourself out of contention for a role. Therefore do not follow the practice of listing your salary requirements on your cover letter. 

Listing salary on cover letters is not an excepted practice 

Universally with only a small exception, listing salary on cover letters is not an excepted practice. It is not something that HR or hiring managers expect to see, so you have no reason to list your salary. If anything, you might even stand out negatively as you are doing something that HR or hiring managers will not expect from a job candidate. 

When should I list my Salary requirements in a cover letter?

The only time you should ever list salary requirements in a cover letter or any other job tool like a resume or online applications if it a requirement to apply for a role. Basically, unless asked, you should never list your salary requirements. 

What Salary requirements should I list on my cover letter? 

If listing a salary requirement on a cover letter or other job tools like a resume or online application is a requirement of applying for a job, you will need to list your salary. In this case, I would recommend doing your research to figure out what your value is and what that kind of company is willing to pay. 

You might look at Glassdoor, which has useful resources for job seekers on salary levels for many roles in many companies. 

Steven Mosytn
Steven Mosytn

Steven Mostyn has built a global reputation as the world-leading expert in job hunting strategies. Steven is the CEO of Alpha IT Recruitment and Career Boost Group

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