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Salary History And Salary Requirements
By Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com

How to handle: Ads requiring Salary History  /  Ads requiring Salary Requirements

Until you interview for a position, chances are you'll have only a limited understanding of the details and responsibilities of the position being targeted. So how can you address fair compensation when you don't have all the information?

Equally, the interviewer needs an opportunity to learn what you bring to the table (what you have to offer - the potential values and benefits of hiring you), or he or she can't effectively address appropriate compensation with you. Instead, he or she can only address what has been budgeted for the position. (For a primer on salary negotiation, or to determine your current market worth, see article on Salary Negotiation.)

This lack of information on both sides makes salary negotiation ineffective and premature, prior to the interview stage.

While it's tempting for some candidates to include a salary range or expectation ("It will save me from interviewing for jobs for which I’m overqualified"), doing so can severely limit your opportunities. If you provide a salary range that’s too high or too low, prior to an interview, you reduce your negotiation power and possibly remove the opportunity of being offered the position altogether. The bottom line is this: if it’s not asked, don’t volunteer.

Most companies will have an established salary budget for any available position, but these budgets can be flexible, depending on a particular candidate’s unique skill set and offering. For example, a candidate who brings unique skills to the table, skills that can be utilized and will benefit the company (outside the duties already established for the position), may see the budget range broadened to include these skills and their potential benefits.Contact Sue Campbell for all your writing needs. 15 years experience as a professional resume writer and career strategist.

Yet, some ads will require that you provide “salary history” or “salary requirements” with your resume submission. This indicates that the salary budget may be more fixed, and that salary requirements may be a major factor in the mind of the hiring manager. This doesn’t mean the budget isn’t flexible, just that it may be less so – initially. What to do when a job ad requires that you provide this information?

“Salary History,” and “Salary Requirements” are two very different things, and need to be handled in different ways:

Salary History

For companies that require salary history for consideration of a position, create a separate document that matches the layout and format of your cover letter and resume, or CV, using the same letterhead, font, format, and stationery. Following the reverse chronological layout of your resume or CV as your guide, present your entries as such, beginning with your most recent position:

Your TitleSue Campbell has over 15 years experience helping clients achieve their career, business and marketing goals.
Company Name
Dates of Service
Annual Salary:
Beginning Salary:
Ending Salary:
(to show growth)

So that it would look something like this:

{Your contact information on letterhead that matches your resume and cover letter}


Director of Sales & Marketing
ABC Corporation, Cleveland, OH
June 2010 - January 2012
Annual Salary: $78,000


Director of Sales & Marketing
ABC Corporation, Cleveland, OH
June 2010 - January 2023
Beginning Salary:
  $75K, plus insurance, 401(k) and travel expenses
Ending Salary:       $78K, plus insurance, 401(k) and travel expenses

You can (and should) include other compensation information, such as insurance benefits, 401(k), bonus packages, and commissions - either as individual items or as an added financial figure in your total salary amount.

Why do potential employers want to know previous salary history? Unfortunately, this information is used in two ways:

  1. To weed out individuals who appear to be over or under qualified (whether this is actually true, or not).

  2. To gain an advantage at the negotiation table.

For a position that has been budgeted in the $45K to $50K range, the candidate above will appear to be "overqualified," and will probably be less interested in pursuing the position. If the candidate has shown a previous salary history well below the budgeted range, the hiring manager may assume that the candidate will present a great opportunity for salary negotiation, and the hiring manager may actually be able to come in under budget.

Obviously, disclosure of salary history is to the hiring manager's advantage.

Do you have to provide salary history? Only if an ad states: "only submissions providing salary history will be considered," or other wording to this affect, and only then if it is a job you truly want to pursue. 

Without this strict wording, you can make your resume recipient aware that the information is available, and recognize the request, without actually disclosing the information at this disadvantage point, by indicating: "Full salary history will be made available once mutual interest is established," or "Full salary history will be provided at interview."

Remember: only mention salary history if it is a stated requirement of the ad. Never disclose this information openly without it first being requested.

For more information on salary negotiation, see Salary Negotiation Skills. This article will also give you good resources for researching pay scales within different positions and at different locations. (Back to top)

Salary Requirements

Unless an ad states that "only submissions including salary requirements will be considered," your best option is to address the question without actually answering it, by using a statement such as: “Salary is fully negotiable,” or “Salary is negotiable, dependent upon the responsibilities of the position.” If your skills and background are an obvious fit for the position being targeted, this will probably be sufficient. It also shows your reader that you did recognize the question and didn't simply ignore the answer. You'll place this statement toward the end of your cover letter.

In situations where an ad states “only submissions including salary requirements will be considered," respond to this request in your cover letter, not the resume. Provide a salary range rather than a single set figure. This will maintain room for negotiation during the interview and salary negotiation phases.

The lowest salary range should be the minimum you would be willing to accept in this position, as you understand its responsibilities to date (limited knowledge) - to the highest compensation you could expect to be paid in this position, within the industry and location (different locations provide different salary ranges). For more information on salary negotiation, see Salary Negotiation Skills - For Navigating The Tough Terrain. This article will also give you good resources for researching pay scales within different positions and at different locations.

If you don’t know what the location averages are for individuals in your position, it’s time to do some research. Talk to local recruiters or other hiring managers from companies in the industry. Research local statistics in your library. Utilize salary calculators online - I have a list of great ones on my Career Resources page. Join a professional association or organization and do some networking (a good idea anyway). Or check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook to get the statistics you need on the targeted position, including educational requirements, national salary levels, working environment, and more. Just keep in mind that national salary levels may not accurately reflect local salary levels or what the current business market can bear.

Again, you'll provide this information toward the end of your cover letter, right before you thank your reader for his or her time and consideration. (Back to top)

Should I Hire a Professional Resume Writer?  /  1st-Writer.com Services

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Good luck in your job search! Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com - over 15 years experience helping clients achieve their career and business goals. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have. I'll be glad to help!

1st-Writer.com P.O. Box 1128, Keystone Heights, FL 32656-1128 (904) 248-2493   E-mail Sue Campbell

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This page last updated: 04/23/2012