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How to Provide Salary Information in a Cover Letter

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Know how much you are worth and why you are worth that much. When applying for a new job it is important that you can specify a salary range you are willing to accept and that you can back up your demands. While disclosing your salary requirements or history in the cover letter is not ideal, some employers will ask that this information is included. In this case, be sure it is.

Salary Negotiation

While it may seem a wee bit uncomfortable at the time, it is worth the effort. Negotiating your salary can really pay off -- literally -- in the years to come. The best time to negotiate is after you get the job offer. Keep this in mind when addressing your salary requirements in your cover letter. You do not want to attempt negotiations in your letter before you know the employer even wants to hire you, and you do not want to limit the opportunity to negotiate by offering a low figure just to get your foot in the door.

Salary History

Employers may want to know your salary history. You can include in your cover letter that you currently earn $55,000, for example. But only mention this if you are sure your current salary is in the range you expect from the new employer. If a complete history is requested, prepare a separate document for this information. Using the same format as your resume, list your past jobs in reverse chronological order. Include your title, the name of the employer, the date and your salary information. You can list both your beginning and ending salary if you received a raise during your employment.

Desired Salary

If the employer asks for your desired salary, address it in your cover letter. Do some research before you write this part of your letter to find out just how you can expect the position to pay based on the current job market. Provide the employer with a salary range of what you believe the position is worth. You can write a statement such as, "My current salary requirement is $42,000 to $49,000." If you are not sure what the market rate is, opt for a wide salary range or mention that you would like a certain amount but are willing to negotiate.

Other Considerations

Rather than list an amount, you may want to opt for addressing the salary question with a line such as, "salary is negotiable." Keep in mind, the employer is most likely asking you about your salary history or requirements to give herself an edge. The salary information you provide tells the employer how much, and in some cases, how little they can get away with paying you. In some cases, if your past salary was much higher than this job pays, you might scare the employer away.


Sara Mahuron specializes in adult/higher education, parenting, budget travel and personal finance. She earned an M.S. in adult/organizational learning and leadership, as well as an Ed.S. in educational leadership, both from the University of Idaho. Mahuron also holds a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in international studies-business and economics.

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