Though most of our communication is rather informal these days, a professional cover letter still goes a long way.
A recent analysis of job application forms found that 48% of tech giants, 55% of mid-market companies, and 65% of fast-growing startups still have a “cover letter” field in their job application form.
Even if the cover letter is marked as “optional”, it’s still a good idea to include one. Why? Because it’s another communication channel you can use to your advantage to highlight your interest in the role, knowledge of the company, and even address your salary expectations.
In this post, we provide a weighted take on whether including salary requirements in a cover letter is the right thing to do — and show how to best bring up the money matters.
Should You Mention Salary Requirements in the Body of Your Cover Letter?
You should include salary requirements in your cover letter only if the job ad asks you to do so. If it doesn’t, you should keep that figure in mind for the upcoming interview. The reason we advise against including salary requirements in the cover letter is simple: it hinders subsequent salary negotiations.
Your number may be lower than the employer’s budget for the role, meaning you’d undercut yourself. Some might be also confused about whether your number accounts for benefits and other compensation schemes (vested stocks, bonuses, etc) — and reject your application on those grounds. Finally, it’s always easier to negotiate a salary during the interview when you’ve already shown your real worth.
Still, if the job post asks for a salary range, you should follow the instructions and name your number.
Here’s How to Include Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter
- Research the average compensation for similar roles. Try to find salary data from the company on Glassdoor. Alternatively, look for salary entries in your industry.
- Decide on your base range and benefits. Put down a range instead of a fixed figure as “salary expectations”. Separately add if you also expect extra compensation.
- Mention that you are open to negotiations — leave yourself some wiggle room for in-person negotiations.
Read more about what to put for salary requirements in a job application form or cover letter.
Where to Put Salary Requirements in a Cover Letter?
Include your salary requirements in the body of your cover letter — preferably in the second paragraph or the final paragraph. Don’t open your cover letter with the money talks. Instead, use the first paragraphs to introduce yourself, address your most relevant skills, and explain what value you can bring to the employer.
By talking about your strengths and accomplishments first, you are progressively persuading the reader of your worth. That’s the simplest trick in copywriting books!
As Robert Cialdini wrote in his book “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade”:
“The best persuaders become the best through pre-suasion — the process of arranging for recipients to be receptive to a message before they encounter it. To persuade optimally, then, it’s necessary to pre-suade optimally. But how? In part, the answer involves an essential but poorly appreciated tenet of all communication: what we present first changes the way people experience what we present to them next.”
To reiterate on the above — you need to first provide the reader with a reason to trust that you are worth the “asking price”.
Salary Requirement in Cover Letter Examples
To help you get down to writing your cover letter, here are three quick examples of how you can bring up salary requirements in three different ways.
Connect the Number to Your Accomplishments
Quantify your salary range by showing the concrete results of your work. Doing so saves the reader from doing mental justifications themselves.
Cover letter with salary requirements example:
“During the last quarterly review, the marketing team I led managed to increase website traffic by 25% — to 45K monthly visitors. A good part of this bump came from the content marketing strategy I have implemented. Specifically, our website started ranking for 150+ relevant search terms, and the average product page conversion rate improved to 4%.
My goal is to achieve similar results as a new Digital Marketing Manager at Acme Corps. My salary range for this role is $65-$75K annually.”
Show Your Flexibility
As we mentioned earlier, you are not obliged to give a firm number. Instead, you can indicate your willingness to negotiate, if other perks are available. In this case, frame your salary requirement the following way:
“I know that a Cool Startup prioritizes employee wellbeing. In the job ad, you’ve mentioned excellent healthcare insurance, sports stipends, and free on-sight sports facilities — which are all excellent perks. I’d love to learn more about the extra benefits you provide before indicating my preferred salary. But to give you a heads-up, I’m looking at $45K+ per year.”
Bring Up Your Salary Requirements Last
Finally, you can always include your salary range in the last paragraph along with a call-to-action for doing further in-person discussion.
Sample salary requirement in the last paragraph of the cover letter:
“As per your request, I’m adding my desired salary range — $55,000-$65,000 annually. I’d be happy to further discuss the compensation structure your company offers during an in-person interview.”
Money talks are best to be led in person. Yet, if the employer presses you to provide a number, do give them a range closer to the end of your cover letter, but not before you properly communicate why you are such a valuable asset!