Should You Put Your Salary on a Resume?

Looking for work can be a complicated process, but putting together a strong resume gives potential candidates the best chance of success. The information you include on your resume is a potential employer’s first impression of you and is often the deciding factor when it comes to deciding whether or not to offer you an interview.

When you’re navigating the job market, it’s normal to wonder whether or not you should put your salary on your resume. While it may seem like a good idea to include salary information in order to make your expectations clear, the truth is that you may be hurting your prospects by bringing it up this early in the game.

Here are two reasons why it’s wise not to put salary on a resume and to let the conversation about compensation wait until later in the process.

Your Expectations May Be Too High

In the job market, you are always your biggest advocate. With every article you read about how to write a resume or how to get a call back from an interview, it can be easy to buy into the hype and convince yourself that your skills in more demand than they truly are. While it’s important to ask for what you’re worth, it’s also important to set realistic expectations about salary figures.

Including salary on a resume that is too high for your job title and geographic location increases the chance that prospective employers will pass you over. Even asking for a competitive wage could get you dropped to the bottom of the pile if the company has a smaller budget.

If you are a new graduate or live in a competitive area, putting salary on a resume could mean missing out on an opportunity that pays slightly less than you were hoping to earn but that gets your foot in the door.

Sometimes taking a little less pay can land you a solid opportunity that makes up for the lower salary with great benefits, solid job security, and a fantastic work environment.

When weighing an opportunity, you need to consider more than just the salary. Perks like commuter benefits, gym reimbursements, and catered lunches and be just as valuable as a higher salary. You don’t want to knock yourself out of the running by insisting on too high of a salary before you’ve even had an interview, another reason not to put salary on a resume.

Including salary on a resume that is too high for your job title and geographic location increases the chance that prospective employers will pass you over.

You May Be Selling Yourself Short

While you don’t want to ask for too much money, throwing out a lowball offer can also cost you. Most recruiters and hiring managers have a salary range in mind when they begin reviewing candidates. If you ask for a salary on your resume that is on the low end of that range, you miss out on the opportunity to negotiate for more money once you are hired. It’s unlikely that a prospective employer will pay you more once you’ve set a lower figure in their minds.

Also, if you put a salary on your resume that is too far below the average for your field, hiring managers may interpret that as a sign that you lack the knowledge, education, or confidence to earn more in your position. Any one of those assumptions could cost you an interview opportunity and land your resume in the recycling bin.

Salary negotiations usually happen later in the hiring process when the company has made the decision to hire and is invested in making you a part of their staff. An interview is a much better opportunity to showcase your value, so it makes sense to wait until an offer has been made to discuss salary.

how to mention salary on a resume

What If the Company Requests Salary Information?

If a company requests that you include information about salary on a resume or cover letter, there are a few things to keep in mind. If you keep these tips in mind, you should be able to include your salary history or expectations without damaging your negotiating power.

  • Keep your figures flexible. To prevent the issues outlined above, include a salary range rather than a hard number. At the top of the range, put the amount you’d like to earn; at the bottom, put the lowest amount you’d feel comfortable accepting.
  • Do your research. To be sure the range you include is reasonable compared to the industry standard in your area at your experience level, consult a salary calculator. These tools will have you input information, such as the job title, your highest level of education, and your zip code and will show you the median salary for the job you are seeking in your area. If you’re planning to ask for a higher salary, be sure it makes sense based on your education and credentials.
  • Keep it short. Don’t put too much emphasis on money. Keep it simple and to the point to avoid giving the impression that you’re only motivated by finances. Employers want to see your passion for the position.

Including salary on a resume is a personal choice but should generally be avoided, unless specifically requested by a potential employer. Throwing out a number early on, whether it is what you made at your last job or your current expectations, can damage your ability to negotiate or even put you out of the running for the first interview. Following the above rules gives you the best opportunity to have a more productive salary discussion once you receive your employment offer.

About the Author

LiveCareer Staff Writer

At LiveCareer, we live and breathe the belief that we can help people transform their work lives, and so do our contributors. Our experts come from a variety of backgrounds but have one thing in common: they are authorities on the job market. From journalists with years of experience covering workforce topics, to academics who study the theory behind employment and staffing, to certified resume writers whose expertise in the creation of application documents offers our readers insights into how to best wow recruiters and hiring managers, LiveCareer’s stable of expert writers are among the best in the business. Whether you are new to the workforce, are a seasoned professional, or somewhere in between, LiveCareer’s contributors will help you move the needle on your career and get the job you want faster than you think.


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