Salary History On Resume Or Cover Letter

Disclosing Salary Requirements/History

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Disclosing Salary Requirements and Salary History

Many job postings ask you to include your salary history or your salary requirements when applying for the position. First of all, if the ad doesn't mention it, don't offer any salary information. If at all possible, you want the prospective employer to bring up the issue of compensation first.

Employers request salary information for various reasons. If your salary is too high, they can screen you out because they don't want to pay that much or because they think you won't be happy working for less money. If your current salary is lower than the company was planning to pay, they may offer you a lower salary.

Including Salary History

If you are asked to include your salary history with your resume, you could ignore the request, but, that means you could risk not getting an interview.

There is nothing employers like less than candidates who don't follow directions. An alternative would be to include a salary range on past jobs rather than a specific amount. If you do include your salary history, be honest. It's easy for potential employers to verify your salary with previous employers. Do this as an attachment to the resume. A salary history can be listed on a separate page and enclosed with your resume and cover letter. Click here to view a example of a salary history.


you can address them in your cover letter. Click here to view a cover letter that has the salary history listed. Employers request salary histories and/or requirements to help them determine if there is a fit monetarily.

If you're fairly certain that your salary history matches well with an organization's expectations and compensation structure, you can include this in your cover letter. If you are uncertain that your salary history or requirements are a close match, use language in your cover letter to the effect that, with regard to salary, you are sure the employer has a fair compensation program, and that your primary interest is in this company and opportunity.

Salary Requirements

When salary requirements are requested, you have a little more flexibility.

  • One option is to state that your salary requirements are negotiable based upon the position and the overall total compensation package, including benefits.
  • Another alternative is to include a range, based on the salary research you've done, i.e. my salary requirement is in the $30,000 - $40,000 range.

Either way, note that your salary requirements are flexible. That may help keep you in the running for the position and will give you some flexibility when negotiating compensation later on.

  • Salary requirements can be addressed in either the cover letter or on a separate attachment.

Salary requirements can be included in your cover letter with sentences such as "My salary requirement is negotiable based upon the job responsibilities and the total compensation package." or "My salary requirement is in the $25,000 - $35,000+ range."

*Do not include your salary history or salary requirements in your resume.

Stating a Salary Range

When stating a salary range, it's important to make make sure that the range is realistic. Do this by carefully researching what the position is worth. Use salary surveys to determine the average salary for the position you are interviewing for, or for a similar position if you can't find information on the exact job title you're looking for. When the position is in a different location, use salary calculators to factor in cost-of-living expenses and to estimate what you should be paid. There are a variety of salary surveys and cost of living calculators , including industry-specific and geographic resources, available online.

  • Additional salary information, click here.

Some job posts say "include salary history" or "state salary expectations" when you submit your resume and cover letter. Should you do it? Should you even mention the word "salary" in your cover letter?

There's no right or wrong answer to that question. Here are my thoughts on the subject. After reading this article, do what your gut tells you is right for your job search.

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Talking Salary in Your Cover Letter... or Maybe Not

Although some job posts ask for a resume and salary information, the two do not go together. Ideally, discussion about salary belongs in the interview, not on the resume. It is greatly to your advantage not to make a monetary request before an interview. Indicating salary requirements before the interview may increase your chances of being screened out and decrease your bargaining power during salary negotiations. This is also true if you respond to a salary request from an employer. You could guess too high and price yourself right out of the job, or guess too low and settle for less money than you deserve.

Take a Risk

You know what I would do if faced with the kind of demand for salary information mentioned above? I'd flat-out disregard the request. That's right, I'd take the risk that even though I didn't respond to the ad's requirement, I'd still get in the door for an interview. I say "risk" because there is a risk in not complying, since you could be disqualified for being "insubordinate." But there is also a risk if you do comply, since you could easily be screened out for asking for too much money. Either way you would not get the job, but maybe that means it wasn’t the right one for you. Of course, you need to decide which suits your style of risk-taking.

How to Handle a Salary Request in a Cover Letter

If you feel obligated to address salary history in order to fulfill the employer's initial application requirements, do so in your cover letter (not on your resume!). Speak in generalities, such as:

  • My salary in previous positions ranged from $X to more than $Y, accompanied by benefits.
  • My growth in earnings from $4.25 an hour as a grocery clerk back in 1986 to my current salary as a division manager is something I'm extremely proud of.
  • Since salary history is a confidential matter, please understand that I prefer to speak about it in person.
  • I would like to discuss my salary history during our interview.
  • My salary requirements are negotiable.

Here's a cover letter that side-steps the salary history question. Notice how the job seeker cleverly speaks of his salary history without revealing any figures.

Cover Letter Sample That Refers to Salary History

Know Your Salary Stuff

Talking directly about salary expectations in a letter is tricky. If you are pressed to name a salary, I suggest that you first find out what the position typically pays. (Learn about pay scales by checking with a career counselor, an employment agency, ads for similar job offers in the newspaper, and online resources.) Then mention your salary expectations in your cover letter using language that gives you room for negotiations, such as "I am looking for a position in the $X to $Y salary range."

Be a Savvy Negotiator

Salary negotiating is a skill in and of itself. Your cover letter and resume will get you the interview, your interview should get you to the bargaining table, and your negotiations should win you your desired compensation. For help tuning up your negotiating skills, refer to my book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Interview, and practice interviewing with a friend or counselor.
When the hammer-it-out salary negotiations start, remember this terrific bargaining technique called cherry picking: Present a number of items you want as part of the deal, knowing that you probably won't get everything on your wish list. The employer, feeling pretty smart about his bargaining skills, will likely pick a few "cherries" from your list and reject the rest. You both come out of the bargaining room smiling, feeling that a real compromise was made.

Here's a cover letter sample that deals with the salary expectation issue without spilling the beans about how much she hopes to make.

Cover Letter Sample That Refers to Salary Expectations

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