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Old 01-30-2005, 03:40 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 173
How do I write a salary expectation?

I'm thinking about applying for a job, and in the position description it asks "resumes with a cover letter including salary expectations." I've done a salary history before, but I'm pretty sure this is something different. What exactly are they looking for in a salary expectation? Should I actually give them a range of salary I'd like, or just say that I expect to be paid market rate for my profession?

And where do I put this salary expectation? In the coverletter, or on a separate sheet of paper.
Old 01-30-2005, 05:47 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Megalopolis
Posts: 4,810
I just did one of these recently. I included it at the end of my cover letter.

"I would be looking for a salary in the $xxK range."

They got back to me for an interview, so I guess I did good.

Good luck.
Old 01-30-2005, 07:49 PM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: formerly Galt, CA
Posts: 1,115
This is pretty much a nitpick, but since you were asking about wording, writing classes I've taken have led me to think "I am looking" sounds better than "I would be looking", what with the former expressing positive action and the latter being conditional on something.

And beyond that, I might say "seeking" instead of "looking for."

I am seeking a salary in the $3-4 million range.

And stuff.
Old 01-30-2005, 07:58 PM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Sector R
Posts: 3,891
Probably best to avoid phrases like "a boatload of cash," or "enough to choke a horse." Stating your salary expectations as being "beyond the dreams of avarice," or describing your desire to earn enough to be "rich as Croesus," might not be the most productive approach, either.
Old 01-30-2005, 08:38 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Indianapolis, Indiana
Posts: 6,606
I've always done a dodge. "Salary expectations would depend on the responsibilities and duties entailed by the position." Etc.
Old 01-30-2005, 09:00 PM
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Sector R
Posts: 3,891
Originally Posted by Aeschines
I've always done a dodge. "Salary expectations would depend on the responsibilities and duties entailed by the position." Etc.
This implies that you don't know what the responsibilities and duties of the position are, not an impression I'd want to convey.
Old 01-30-2005, 10:59 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 27,039
I always write "negotiable" and leave it at that. It has worked for all of my six jobs. I have no way of knowing if I lost interviews because of that. That is the advice I read in numerous resume and job interviewing books however and even from headhunters. Sometimes, I was asked by a recruiter to clarify in person and I gave the 50th and 75th percentile as my high and low from data I gathered from being in the industry and from
Old 01-30-2005, 11:45 PM
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Location: Oakville, Canada
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Originally Posted by Early Out
Probably best to avoid phrases like "a boatload of cash," or "enough to choke a horse." Stating your salary expectations as being "beyond the dreams of avarice," or describing your desire to earn enough to be "rich as Croesus," might not be the most productive approach, either.
In addition to avoiding such optimistic claims, I've also discovered that it's good not to ask for your salary in cash, "all fifties, unmarked, and nonconsecutive serial numbers, in a duffel bag in the bus shelter on the corner of Strachan and King." Or was that my last kidnapping deal? Either way.

Another good one to avoid is to balance cash pay against benefits with such comments as "I am seeking $X, depending on how much office supplies I can steal" or "I am seeking $Y, plus bling bling and some fine ho's."
Old 01-31-2005, 12:21 AM
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Gumi, S. Korea
Posts: 9,130
They may also ask for your salary history. You don't have to give it to them. In fact, I would strongly recommend you not do so unless it's a Fortune 500.
Old 01-31-2005, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Texas
Posts: 6,392
I got an email from a prospective employer last week which says "Attached is the job description for the position. If you are interested in the position, please forward your resume and salary requirements." I thought this is a nice way to do it, because if they can't meet the pay that I need, I'd rather not waste their time or mine with the interview process.
Old 01-31-2005, 11:09 AM
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Location: Southeast Michigan, USA
Posts: 10,338
Don't forget that salary requirements aren't all black and white. How much does the company match on 401(k)'s? Is the insurance an HMO, major medical (ha!) or something with a 20% co-pay and $5000 deductible? What are the continuing education benedits? Company gym? Comp. time available in lieu of overtime? Vacations roll over, pay cash, or use-it-or-lose-it? Will they force you to pay union dues against your will?

It's good to waffle, or express that direct compensation is dependant upon the whole, grand scheme of things.
Old 01-31-2005, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: San Antonio
Posts: 35
A Salary History is just that a history. The requirements/expectations are something different. The Salary history is usually a separate document where as the requirements/expectations should be included with the cover letter and should be are typically in the final paragraph stating something like this. "Although negotiable for an interesting position, my minimum salary requirements are in the $00,000 area."

Remember, as with all negotiations to shoot high so you can come down. Take into your factoring your current base plus 401K matching, stock options, medical/dental/vision, etc. So as an example, your current salary is $40,000. Add all the other benefits and your salary expectations might be in the neighborhood of $52,000 or so. Your expectations would then be in the area of $56,000 or so.

Good Luck!
Old 01-31-2005, 02:23 PM
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 173
Thanks, everyone, this is very helpful. One other thing: should I put a number down for my salary expectation, or a range? And if a range is better, how wide should it be? I was thinking a range of $10,000 to 15,000 range, is that too wide a range?
Old 01-31-2005, 02:56 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Chicago
Posts: 2,268
A general guideline on resume/cover letters comes from how they are used. I have done hiring for several positions, and in general once the prospective pool of candidates is assembled details in the resume and cover letter are used strictly to weed the pool down to a manageable number for interviews; in short they are looking for reasons not to interview you.

Given that, I would agree with earlier posters who said such questions should be dodged in the initial phase with a euphemism like "negotiable" or "commensurate with responsibilities". Salary guidelines are used only to disqualify candidates an employer might see as too expensive; furthermore anybody who "underbids" salary is met with suspicion, and may therefore also be discarded.

Unless you absolutely will not consider a position below $X, and are pretty sure that $X is a typical salary level for the position you're applying for, don't include it. Putting an upper limit is self-defeating; after a fantastic interview the prospective employer may be impressed enough to stretch his budget. That's when the salary discussion should take place, when you're sure the employer/buyer wants you.
Old 01-31-2005, 03:43 PM
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Grits Country
Posts: 3,842
I would include something to the effect that salary is part of the total compensation package - i.e., you aren't necessarily focused ONLY on salary.

If you make $50K now and have to pay for 50% of your health insurance (no dental) and there's no match on the 401K and life/disability is 100% contributory and there's only 2 weeks' vacation; and the prospective job only pays $44,000 per year but they pay 100% of medical, dental, life, and disability, and put 10% of pay into a profit-sharing retirement plan and start at 3 weeks vacation, you are much better off at the $44K job. You wouldn't want to tell them that you "expect" not to take a pay cut and therefore they won't even consider you because they cannot (for whatever reason) pay a salary of more than $44K.

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