Should I Include Salary Requirements on My Cover Letter, Resume, or Application When Asked?

Published: Sep 20, 2012

Should I Include Salary Requirements on My Cover Letter, Resume, or Application When Asked? By Jessica Holbrook Hernandez, Expert Resume Writer

I recently found myself baffled.

Yes, baffled.

I placed an ad with a prominent, industry-related newsletter seeking a few new, talented, certified resume writers to add to our team. One of the requirements of the application submission included submitting a few samples of previous work the writers had completed—and also a request that they submit their fee requirements. Of all the submissions we received, only one candidate included fee requirements in the cover letter. Shocking, considering this was directly addressed in the ad.

Now, I’m not sure why most of the candidates neglected to include this information; perhaps it was because they simply didn’t pay attention to the specifics in the ad—or maybe they were in such a hurry to apply, they merely forgot to include it—or what’s more, they may have been hesitant to include the information because they thought it might exclude them from consideration for the position.

Whatever the case may be, neglecting to include information specifically requested in a job ad is a surefire way to find yourself in the NO pile. I’m not trying to be harsh or exclusive; so let me explain the reasoning … from the point of view of a hiring manager …

First, most employers know from the start exactly what their salary range is for a particular position—and they know the maximum they can afford to pay someone to fill that position. It wouldn’t make sense to waste their time (or yours) interviewing for a position that pays $20,000 less than you would be willing to accept. Conversely, you could be investing your time interviewing for positions that are within your salary range instead of ones that are below it.

In my line of work, there is a massive disparity between the fees writers will accept. Some writers want hundreds of dollars per project—but some ask for significantly less. If someone requests more money than what we charge our clients per project, then obviously, this isn’t a good fit for either of us.

Secondly, forgetting to include this information shows a lack of attention to detail—or a failure to follow specific instructions. Neither bodes well as a strength for a potential new employee, and easily moves that person to the “not a perfect match” stack.

So here is my suggestion: be honest about what you want. You know what you can and cannot accept, and what salary you can and cannot live with. Don’t give an exact number; provide the prospective employer with a range. For example, say high 30s, low 40s. You don’t have to say $38,000 firm. And a range works well if you’re concerned about being removed from consideration for a position because of salary.

And for goodness sake, pay attention to the application requirements; and always provide information or answers to anything—and everything—they’re requesting. It shows that you can follow directions, pay attention to detail, and provide what they need.

It’s important to remember to brand your resume before applying to each new position for more information on branding check out my recent article 5 Key Areas to Target When Branding Your Resume. You can also get additional job search and career related advice by checking out our blog or following us on Twitter @GreatResume.

Read more biotech career tips. Find more biotech and pharma jobs by visiting the career center.

About the Author

Jessica Hernandez, is a resume authority for the Job Talk America radio program and multi-published expert author for resume, career, and job search publications. She boasts more than ten years in human resources management and hiring for Fortune 500 companies and utilizes her extensive experience to support job seekers in their quest to move onward and upward in their careers. Find out more at Great Resumes Fast.

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