The Cover Letter-- What MUST Be Said!

Eric Frankel

We are all resistant to progress. So here is a prophecy that is so logical, yet so many in-transition business professionals think the concept is counter-productive, crazy, and 100% "off the wall": You must communicate your specific salary requirements in the face of the cover letter when soliciting a prospective employer.

The Cover Letter should be a concise "pitch" (2-3 paragraphs max) of the job seeker’s skills relevant to the opportunity he or she is seeking. No argument here. Whether responding to a job post, a company website, networking referral or blind solicitation (all are worthy, but that is for another article), you must communicate your specific salary requirements in the face of the cover letter. Here’s why:

1.) There is Intense Pressure on Compensation… Downward— Every organization is looking to cut expenses. One of the largest and most variable items on every P&L is compensation. With the exception of top echelon talent (comprising the top 10-20%), average compensation in every facet of our business community—both in the public and private sector— will be coming down in the next 10 years.

2.) Pricing is Crucial to the Talent Acquisition/Buying Decision— A resume without a price attached is less likely to be evaluated, unless it’s an ideal fit with the job specs. At the grocery store or gas station, if no price is displayed, wouldn’t you be more likely to walk away without a second thought? This is not so different for a recruiter reviewing a mass of resumes.

3.) Differentiation from "The Competition" Differentiation is a foremost concept in job search, marketing and selling. Make that extra phone call, be persistent (but always professional), perfect your pitch and responses to various questions. Most job-seekers (i.e. "the competition") are not forward thinking enough to promote compensation on their cover letter.

4.) Promote Upside Potential Companies seek mid and high-potentials to accelerate their organizational dynamics. Internal development programs and savvy hiring and talent acquisition practices seek to increase the quantity, impact and collaborations amongst this elite group. Job seekers who express the confidence and candor to communicate compensation expectations up front and their capability of delivering a strong value proposition often equate to potential.

So what about job seekers whose compensation is above "market value" and unlikely to garner comparable dollars in their next job? This concept is called "reality." While not easy to grasp, the individual who recognizes their past compensation was due to being in the right place at the right time, and remains open-minded to a downward adjustment will land their next job quicker by being candid and upfront in the face of their cover letter. And ideally, they will prove their value sooner rather than later for their next employer as a top echelon employee with upside potential and/or an important internal tactician and/or manager.

Okay—I’m so glad this important concept is out of my head and now onto the pages of HRIQ. What does the HRIQ community believe, thinking of your colleagues/friends in transition or your talent acquisition responsibilities? Drum roll, please…Your feedback is welcome in the comments section below!

One final note: my compensation requirements are $20 million annually, but I am flexible for the right opportunity. Wait… forget that—I only dreamed last night that my name was LeBron James.