Salary Requirements in Cover Letters
June 22, 2005 7:21 AM   Subscribe

Sending in a resume today and they are asking for salary requirements. How do I word salary requirements in the cover letter? Is there any standard language used or convention to follow?
posted by ao4047 to Work & Money (17 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Toward the end of the cover letter (second-to-last paragraph, before thanking them for their time & selling myself again), I've written something along the lines of:

"The listing for this position requested salary requirements. I am hoping to make no less than $X, however I would feel more comfortable negotiating this figure following an interview and further discussion."
posted by croutonsupafreak at 7:29 AM on June 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

that sounds fine to me. or you could say what you currently earn. in chile, at least, it's common for this to be on the cv "salary requirement: $2.000.000" or whatever, with no extra explanation ($ means pesos, and that's a very good monthly wage).

also, in my experience, asking moderately high values doesn't seem to hurt. we select people for the job based on their skills. salary requirements don't come into it, really, until we want to employ you. so aiming low doesn't help you get to negotiating the price. but that may be atypical for various reasons.
posted by andrew cooke at 7:39 AM on June 22, 2005

I would simply write "I am open to negotiation with regard to salary."

My experience has been different from andrew cooke's in that naming a figure that is significantly higher or lower than the range the employer has in mind will both work against you. Better to do that after they've already decided they want to hire you.
posted by bac at 7:55 AM on June 22, 2005

i'm curious - does anyone exclude people if they avoid giving a figure? i can see the advantage of getting the employer to name a figure first.
posted by andrew cooke at 8:03 AM on June 22, 2005

Or say "I expect a salary of around ... commensurate with my experience".
posted by webmeta at 8:05 AM on June 22, 2005

Aim high, but don't aim higher than you're worth. Salary will be taken into account when judging whether you're a good fit for the position, and also when comparing you to other candidates. Basically, people will expect you to want a bump up (esp. if you're increasing responsibility) but also keep in mind that any significant bump would happen in your first salary review, not at hiring. That's my two cents!

I would say "My current compensation is $XX,XXX (specify any bonus structure or options). Based on your requirements, I would expect a negotiation on compensation to begin with a target salary of $XX,XXX." Remember, don't price yourself out of a job just because you want to "aim high".
posted by bobot at 8:19 AM on June 22, 2005

Personally I refuse to put that kind of thing in initial contact writing and simply ignore salary history requests - I think it's counterproductive, inappropriate and I'm not willing to have my current earnings on record in the files of every company I apply for a job at.

That said, I have also never taken a job somewhere that was really strident about it. I can't say how much of that is because they were bothered by my refusal (well, more accurately, ignoring) of the request in initial contact and how much was because those kinds of places suck.
posted by phearlez at 8:26 AM on June 22, 2005

I wouldn't put your current salary unless they ask for salary history. And, are they asking for the salary requirements IN the cover letter? Because if not, it's often worth it to attach it as an additional document. Here's how I worded mine (stolen off the net and modified.)

Per your request, I have calculated my salary requirements for the position of ______. Based on my research for regional salary standards for this position, as well as my work experience and education, I have determined that my salary requirement is between the annual range of $xx and $xx This figure is negotiable based on the requirements of the job and the benefits offered by your company.
posted by Happydaz at 8:30 AM on June 22, 2005 [4 favorites]

+1 phearlez. I always specify a salary range or a set salary in my job ads.
posted by SpecialK at 8:30 AM on June 22, 2005

+1 Happydaz.

If they specificially ask, you should provide it. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your application rejected (or at the very least held up) for not being complete.
posted by desuetude at 8:57 AM on June 22, 2005

If you have any leverage at all, don't specify a salary requirement. You're starting a negotiation. Let them go first.
posted by Nelson at 8:59 AM on June 22, 2005

What Nelson said.

Say your salary requirements are negotiable and if at all possible, defer giving any hard numbers until they do.
posted by ThePants at 9:14 AM on June 22, 2005

I think a lot depends on your field. I'm in a field where it's really hard to get a job, and hiring folks are looking for any reason to trim their people from their list of top 50 qualified applicants, so I would never dream of excluding requested information if I were looking for work.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:31 AM on June 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

The other thing to remember, as in any negotiation, is not to get caught up in "winning" the negotiation. Before you even start negotiations, pick the salary you want. If you get the job at that number, you have won. Period. Don't drive yourself crazy trying to "win" more money. If they don't offer you that number, walk away.
posted by bobot at 10:34 AM on June 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

Last time I was asked for a salary requirement, I took what I was making at my previous job and added 40%. Much to my shock, they accepted it without further negotiation, which tells me I should have asked for even more. If this happens to you, remember it and use it as leverage for your first raise, or for your next job.
posted by kindall at 10:57 AM on June 22, 2005

I've always avoided suggesting a salary. When pressed I've always said that "I'll leave it up to you to decide what I'm worth to your company. I'll weigh it against the cost of living in the area and the job description."

So far this has always worked really well for me. Most companies have pay bands imposed by the evil HR drones in the first place and even if they don't the manager has justified his requirements against a budget.
posted by substrate at 3:19 PM on June 22, 2005

I've taken to asking this question in pre-interview questionairres I send to job candidates and am pleasantly surprised when folks answer, because I know straight away if we can afford the candidate or not. Of course, they've also told me what salary they're willing to accept, which gives us more leverage when conducting the negotiation, should we choose to go ahead with that candidate.

Salary range is one of a number of factors I consider when screening candidates. If I received a response that said something along the lines of "I'm negotiable" I wouldn't necessarily screen the candidate out because I didn't get a specific answer. Other factors--namely how good the person's skills and abilities are for the position matter more than that response to me. Remember, open positions cost firms real money, and the right person is going to make a contribution that exceeds their salary.

A potential problem with postponing the salary conversation might be that you get too far in the process with someone and then you find out the salary is X, and it's not a match. I've been there, and it's a bummer for the candidate and the company.

For candidates, I think it's also fair to ask "what's the range you have budgeted for this position?"

Good luck.
posted by teddyb109 at 2:29 AM on June 23, 2005

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