Job advertisements sometimes ask you to specify salary requirements when submitting your cover letter.
But, many job seekers feel uncomfortable revealing their desired salary before they’ve even scheduled an interview. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry—there are some ways to comply with the employer’s request while avoiding having to immediately provide a specific answer.
One technique for addressing this topic in a cover letter is to list a range of salaries you’ve earned throughout your career. For those who have been in the workforce for a while, it is common for this range to be fairly wide. So you could say, “I’ve earned between $50,000-$75,000 in previous positions, and I would be happy to discuss salary after an interview.”
Another way to address the issue is to offer a ballpark figure. For instance, you could say, “My current salary is in the low six figures.” Or, “My current compensation, including bonuses, is in the $80s.” Remember to factor in bonuses, 401(k) matching, mileage reimbursement, and other additional forms of compensation when providing them with a number.
Sometimes employers will specifically ask you what you earn in your current position. Non-employee workers (subcontractors) can easily avoid this question by stating, “As a contractor, my compensation varies from month to month.”
If you suspect a position for which you’re applying pays less than you currently earn, you can say, “My current salary is $65,000, but I am willing to negotiate if that is out of the hiring range for this position.”
When asked about salary, the most important thing is to not sell yourself short. Unless the number you stipulate is significantly above what an employer is willing to pay, it shouldn’t prevent you from getting an interview.
In addition, providing a somewhat general answer about salary requirements can aid you in appearing flexible and willing to negotiate.