How should you respond when an employer asks you to provide your salary history when you apply for a job? Occasionally, an employer will ask you to include a salary history in your cover letter. A salary history (which is different from a salary requirement) includes information on what you have earned in past jobs.
Generally, do not share your salary history in a cover letter unless it's requested, with exceptions based on location. In most cases, if an employer asks for this information, you should follow the employer’s directions and provide it if you are in a location where it is legal for a company to ask. However, some cities and states prohibit employers from asking. In that case, you don't need to list it.
There are ways to share your salary history without having to be too specific about what you're currently earning.
Read below for advice on how to share your salary history with an employer. Also see below for a sample cover letter with a salary history included.
Are Questions About Salary Legal?
Keep in mind that, in some locations, it is illegal for employers to ask you anything related to your salary. Therefore, check out your state or city laws before responding.
How to Share Your Salary History
Again, don’t mention your salary history unless asked to. In your cover letter, you want to focus on why you are a good fit for the job, rather than talking about salary. You also don’t want to put yourself in a corner, salary-wise. If you say your current salary, it might be harder to negotiate for better compensation later on.
However, if an employer asks you to include a salary history, there are several options for providing information. You could ignore the request, but employers want job candidates to follow directions. Not answering could lose you a job interview.
Include a Description of Your Salary or a Range
There are a few ways to include this information in your cover letter. One way is to include a sentence that states either a broad description of your salary (for example, “I currently earn in the mid-sixties.”) or a range (for example, “My current salary range is between $40,000 - $50,000”).
You might also add that you are flexible in terms of salary.
List Your Salary History
A more detailed salary history might list your previous two or three jobs, and include the company, job title, and benefits package for each.
Include a Salary History Page
You could also include a separate salary history page along with your cover letter. On the salary history page, you could include the past one, two, or three jobs you have held. List the jobs in reverse chronological order (with the most recent job at the top). For each job, list the company, job title, and salary (before taxes). You can list the salary as a range or a broad amount. Include any bonuses or additional compensation as well.
Sample Cover Letter With Salary History Listed
This is an example of a cover letter with salary history. Download the cover letter template (compatible with Google Docs and Word Online).
Sample Cover Letter With Salary History Listed (Text Version)
123 Main Street
Anytown, CA 12345
December 15, 2021
Director, Human Resources
123 Business Rd.
Business City, NY 54321
Dear Ms. Lee,
I'm writing to express my interest in the Web Content Manager position listed on CareerBuilder.com. I have experience building large, consumer-focused, health-based content sites. While much of my experience has been in the business world, I understand the social value of the non-profit sector and my business experience will be an asset to your organization.
My responsibilities at my current job have included the development and management of the site’s editorial voice and style, the editorial calendar, and the daily content programming and production of the website. In my current and past positions, I have worked closely with health care professionals and medical editors to help them provide the best possible information to a consumer audience of patients. In addition, I have helped physicians learn to utilize their medical content to write user-friendly, readily comprehensible text.
Experience has taught me how to build strong relationships with all departments at an organization. I have the ability to work within a team as well as across teams. I work with web engineers to resolve technical issues and implement technical enhancements, work with the development department to implement design and functional enhancements, and monitor site statistics and conduct search engine optimization. I know my work experience would make me an ideal Web Content Manager at your company.
I am currently earning in the mid-sixties.
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Signature (hard copy letter)