Whether you're a fresh graduate, looking for your first job or an experienced professional, discussing your salary expectations can be tricky. You neither want to appear demanding nor accept something that is below your skills and qualifications. Fortunately, there are several ways to mention your salary expectations politely and professionally. In this article, we discuss how you can discuss your salary expectations in a CV, cover letter and interview with examples.
When to discuss your expected salary in a CV?
Candidates can mention their expected salary on their CV. Not being too specific with the numbers is often the safest option to follow here. You can mention a salary range that matches your qualifications and experience. You might also mention your previous salary as a reference point. Additionally, you can show your professionalism and flexibility by stating that you're open to discussing or negotiating compensation amounts.
Mentioning your expected salary on your CV allows you to include the other benefits that are essential to you, such as a pension plan and health insurance. You can improve clarity by distinguishing between your expected salary and other perks such as paid vacation, bonuses and health benefits. This is essential because if you mention these, your CV could get rejected if the company thinks that your demands are too high. It could give the employer the impression that your only focus is on monetary gain.
How to share your salary expectations on a cover letter
One way of making your salary expectations known to a company is through a cover letter. Here are some points to remember when writing about your salary expectations:
1. Include a salary range
Instead of mentioning a fixed amount, it's typically better to include a range as part of your salary expectations. Before you do so, you might look up the remuneration offered for the respective role in the associated industry. Corporate databases and online resources may help you quote an amount close to what you deserve and within the employer's budget or expectations. While companies would typically want to go for someone who quotes a lower range, remember to mention an amount that suits your experience.
2. Mention that the amount is negotiable
While writing about your salary expectation in the cover letter, let the employer know you are open to negotiations. Once they understand your willingness to negotiate based on their needs and budget, your chances of getting the job may improve. You can also quote a salary range or figure based on the responsibilities you may take up through that role along with the other potential benefits the organization provides.
Read more: How to Negotiate Your Salary During COVID-19
3. Be slightly indirect
At times, being indirect about your salary expectations is a good thing. This is especially valid if you can't readily find up-to-date and reliable information about what the company pays its employees for the role you're looking into. In your cover letter, you can also mention that the salary depends on the company's budget and that you hope to do the job as effectively as you can.
Being subtle when disclosing your salary expectations can be a good reflection of your professionalism. It's also important not to reference the salaries that other companies provide to their employees, especially if those companies are the competitors of the company you're interviewing for.
Read more: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your CV
How to determine your salary
Companies ask individuals to state their salary expectations for a variety of reasons. Not only do they want to know whether your expectation falls within their budget, but they also wish to see how you view your own qualifications and expertise. Here are few things to keep in mind when determining your salary expectation:
1. Explore the industry
Before you calculate your salary requirements, explore and research within your industry. Different industries have different roles and subcategories. Therefore, look up how much the relevant firms are currently paying someone with your skills and experience before arriving at a number that suits both you and the employer.
2. Consider the location
Where you live can play a significant role in determining your salary. Employers often look into the living costs of a given city and how much it would cost to commute to the office's location before deciding a candidate's salary. A city with a more luxurious lifestyle might pay more than a town where the living cost is less. Similarly, a job requiring your presence in the office might pay differently than a remote job.
3. Factor in your education and experience
Education plays a vital part in determining a candidate's salary range. Someone holding a doctorate, for instance, may get paid more than those with a bachelor's or master's degree depending on the industry. However, certain companies mention specific educational qualifications in the job description based on their budget. Knowing the company's educational requirements for employment may help you quote your salary range.
After your educational qualifications, factor in your professional experience. If you have considerable experience in your field, you can quote a higher amount than someone who's a fresh graduate or someone who hasn't worked for too long. For example, an entry-level job might pay differently than senior roles or managerial positions. Considering the value of your experience relative to other candidates for the same position may help you determine a reasonable salary quote.
4. Research the importance of your skills
You should also consider your skills before calculating the salary you deserve for a position. If you have high-demand skills or qualities, employers are more likely to pay you more. For example, if you have specialized trainings or know multiple relevant languages, these skills may make you a more valuable asset to a company. In certain industries, getting special licenses or certifications may also increase the value of your candidacy. In such situations, you can often negotiate for a higher salary.
Tips on handling salary discussions in an interview
Discussing your salary requirements in person differs from discussing it over digital correspondence. However, here are a few tips on tactics you can apply to handle this question with professionalism:
- Delay it as much as possible, and while doing so, discuss your previous professional experiences to prove to the employers that you are worthy of a substantial package.
- Turn the question around and ask them about the budget they have in mind for the position.
- Shift the recruiter's focus and stress how your aim is to contribute to the job.
- Quote a number that is in line with the market rate for the position you're interviewing for.
- Stay calm and speak confidently.
Example of mentioning salary expectations
Below is an example of how to include your salary expectations in a cover letter:
Dear Mr. Fuk,
I hope you're doing well. I came across the job opening for the Senior Features Writer position at Max Company and I am writing to express my interest. As a writer with over a decade of experience, I have found tremendous joy in creating feature-length stories that challenge me creatively. I'm optimistic that working for your company will enable me to grow personally and professionally while developing quality content for your firm.
During my time at Breaking Newspaper, I wrote and edited many feature-length stories for the news, entertainment and arts sections. Besides developing story ideas and writing gripping feature-length stories myself, I was also responsible for supervising the writing staff, wherein I helped train the new writers, guiding them as and when needed. I also collaborated with everyone in my department, which allowed me to grow my writing skills while taking on challenging topics and more significant responsibilities.
My last job at Lifestyle Magazine allowed me to explore new areas. I could write in-depth stories for the magazine's arts and culture section and the culinary section. Being a foodie, this was my chance to combine my passion with my work. During this time, I interviewed various celebrities from different fields and created feature-length stories about local artists. I also aided the marketing team during this period, which allowed me to sharpen my digital marketing skills. This helped in increasing our website views by 20% in just four months.
My previous professional experiences have taught me how to meet deadlines, improve my adaptability and communicate better with my coworkers. I am confident that my unique skills and qualifications will make me an ideal fit for your team at Max Company.
My salary expectations are between HK$20,000 to 30,000 per month. However, I'm open to negotiating my expectations after considering your budget. I look forward to hearing from you soon.