How To Include Salary Expectations in a Cover Letter (With Example)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When applying for jobs, it can be helpful to ensure your salary expectations align with what a potential employer plans to offer. While salary negotiations often take place during the interview stage of the hiring process, there are some instances when it may be appropriate to discuss your expectations sooner. If you're in the process of applying for jobs, then you might be wondering whether to include your salary expectations in your cover letter.

In this article, we explain how to include salary expectations in a cover letter, provide tips to help you calculate your salary expectations and provide an example of a cover letter to help you craft your own.

Related: How To Negotiate Your Salary (Steps and Tips)

How to include salary expectations in a cover letter

If an employer asks you to share your salary expectations in your cover letter, there are several ways you can do so to ensure you're fairly compensated while staying within the company's budget. Here are some steps you can take to list your salary expectations in your cover letter in a way that sounds polite and professional:

1. Use a salary range

When you list your salary requirements, consider writing a sentence that states your preferred salary range instead of an absolute figure. This gives both you and the employer some flexibility when it comes to your salary. If you provide them with a range, make sure it's realistic and based on your experience, the position, your industry and your previous salaries.

For example, you can write something like, My salary requirement is in the $20,000 to $25,000 range per month. While this doesn't give your employer an exact figure, it gives them a good idea of what you hope to earn.

Related: How To Discuss Your Salary Expectations (With Example)

2. Say that you're flexible

Whether you provide a salary range or include a definite figure, you can state that your salary requirements are flexible. If you list a salary, that's out of their range, saying you're flexible ensures they don't pass on your application altogether. It also gives you the opportunity to discuss your salary with them at a later date.

For example, you could write, While my salary range is flexible, I am looking for a position that pays between $25,000 and $30,000 per month based on my previous experience.

3. Say that your salary requirements are negotiable

You can also state that your salary requirements are negotiable based on other factors, such as the overall compensation package. This gives both you and your employer some flexibility and can give you the opportunity to negotiate a salary that you can both agree on.

For example, you could write, Based on my professional achievements, industry experience and qualifications, I am hoping to earn between $35,000 and $40,000 per month. Please note that I am open to negotiating my salary as I learn more about the specific job duties associated with this role and the complete compensation package your company is offering. I am also interested in learning more about career advancement opportunities.

Related: Seven Steps To Respond to a Counter Offer Effectively

Tips to help you calculate your salary expectations

It's important to make sure your salary expectations are reasonable based on your industry, the job you're applying for and the cost of living in your area. Taking the time to develop an accurate salary expectation can show hiring managers you're thoughtful and well-prepared. Here are some tips to help you calculate a realistic salary expectation:

Conduct salary research

Proper research can give you an accurate idea of what salary is appropriate to list on your cover letter. You can use Indeed Salaries to determine the average salary for someone in your desired position and geographic area. If you can't find a salary for your exact position, look for a similar position to determine a realistic salary.

Related: A Complete Guide To Understanding Salary Benchmarking

Consider other factors that may influence your salary

When it comes to salary requirements, there are a variety of important factors to consider. Here are specific areas you may want to think about to help you determine what an appropriate salary is for your desired job role:

  • Education: If you apply for a job that requires an advanced degree, such as a master's degree or a doctorate degree, you may expect to earn more than a job in the same field that requires a lesser degree, such as an undergraduate degree. Look for job opportunities that match your education level to maximise your earning potential.

  • Experience: Determine how many years of relevant industry experience you have by reviewing your previous job roles, volunteer positions and internships. Typically, the more experience you have, the higher the salary you can earn.

  • Skills: Read the job description carefully to assess whether you meet the skills requirements. If you have the majority of the skills, the employer is looking for, you might be able to earn a better salary, especially if the skills are highly desirable, such as the ability to speak multiple languages or technical knowledge of an advanced computer program.

  • Licenses and certificates: If you've earned relevant licenses or certificates to hone your skills and advance in your career, you may be eligible for additional compensation. Consider how your advanced capabilities may benefit the company and how much you've paid to invest in your professional development over the years.

  • Location: Different cities often have different costs of living associated with them and metropolitan areas may offer higher wages compared to rural areas. If you plan to move or you're willing to relocate for a job, consider the common salaries for the position in the specific area you're moving to so you can ensure you receive fair compensation.

  • Current earnings: To determine your salary requirements for your next job, consider your current earnings. This can help you leverage your current salary to improve your chances of earning more in your future role.

  • Cost-of-living expenses: Understanding your monthly expenses can give you an idea of how much you need to earn to pay for your basic needs, support your lifestyle and live comfortably. Rather than focusing on one sole month, look at your monthly expenses for the past three months to give you a better idea of how much you spend on average every month.

  • Career level: Consider the seniority of the role you're applying for before you write your cover letter. For example, if you're applying for a role in upper management, you may expect to receive a higher salary than an entry-level employee who works for the same company.

Use a salary calculator

Consider using an online salary calculator to help you factor in your cost-of-living expenses when determining a realistic salary for your position. You can also find industry-specific calculators and ones that calculate a reasonable salary based on your geographical location. Use a search engine to find several online salary calculators and compare their results to provide you with an accurate salary range.

Related: How To Provide Your Expected Salary (With Tips and Examples)

Should you write a cover letter with salary expectations?

Typically, candidates only write a cover letter with salary requirements if the job posting asks for it. If the employer doesn't ask for your salary expectations in your cover letter, wait until you're further in the interview process to negotiate with them. This can help you ensure you have the best possible chance of being asked to interview for the position.

It can also help you maximise your potential to earn a higher salary. If you wait for the employer to share their estimated budget with you first in an offer letter, you can prepare a more successful counter offer.

Related: How To Structure a Cover Letter (With Example)

Example of a cover letter with salary expectations

Here's an example of a professional cover letter that includes salary expectations:

Melissa Lai
6435 2258

September 29, 2021

Dear Hiring Manager,

I am writing to apply for the senior civil engineer position at Ace Engineering, which I saw listed on the Indeed Hong Kong website. With a bachelor's degree in civil engineering technology and over 16 years of experience managing building installations, maintenance and upgrades, I am confident that I have the skills and expertise to excel in this role.

Throughout my career, I've held several management positions that have involved hiring and training new employees, performing maintenance checks and overseeing job sites from start to finish. I have built long-lasting relationships with several contractors and vendors in the area, which helps me ensure I have the resources and talent I need to complete each project on time.

Based on my qualifications, experience and industry connections, my desired salary is $40,000 to $45,000 per month, but I am open to negotiate based on your budget and your complete compensation package. I hope we can discuss this position and the projects Ace Engineering has coming up soon. Thank you for taking the time to review my application and I look forward to hearing from you.

Melissa Lai

Explore more articles