Ask Vicki: Should I mention my minimum salary requirements in my cover letter or in a job interview?
In this answer on Quora, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi explains how to play your salary cards close to your chest until the time is right.
Each week, Monster’s career expert Vicki Salemi—a former recruiter who utilizes 15-plus years of experience in recruiting and human resources to empower job seekers—answers user questions on Quora. We’ll be republishing the answers here. If you have a question for Vicki, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Should I mention my minimum salary requirements in my cover letter? What about at the beginning of a job interview?
A. It’s not a good idea to mention your minimum acceptable salary in your cover letter. (Only mention it if the job description requires it.)
Most of the time, you can have the salary conversation with the employer when you speak with them. If they express interest in your candidacy, ask about the salary range so you don’t waste their time (as well as yours). Have them offer a number first—instead of you offering a number first—because you run the risk of showing your hand, so to speak.
For instance, if you say, “The minimum I can consider is in the $50k to $55k range,” but (unbeknownst to you) they had $60k in mind as their minimum, they’re going to know they can get you for less. So keep that lowest number in your head, since it can work against you. Gather whatever information you can about their salary for the position, as well as other perks and benefits: the number of paid personal days/time off, employee out-of-pocket health costs, and more.
If the salary is below your minimum and it’s clear the company doesn’t have any flexibility to offer you more, then you can move on knowing you got all the facts to make an informed decision.
In the past, salary was hush-hush until the very end of the hiring process—candidates were focused on getting the employer to fall head over heels for them so they could leverage negotiating power at the end. While the head over heels part is still true, it’s totally fine to see if you’re both on the same page in the beginning of the interview. The last thing you want to do is use three personal days, meet 10 people on their team, get incredibly excited, only to get a job offer and realize it’s below your acceptable salary.
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