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In this question about resumes, one hiring manager brought up that he/she wanted to see Salary Requirements. There was a brief discussion on whether this was important information or not.

Unfortunately, I worry that the range of salaries for software jobs is extremely high and that putting a number out first can put me in a weaker position.

Should I list salary expectations on my resume? What are the benefits or drawbacks of doing so?

(As for my personal context, I have a Ph.D degree but I am considering transitioning into industry, possibly into software development. Some people assume that a Ph.D command some ridiculously high price, but that could not be farther from the truth, so in this situation listing a salary range that is within lines of an entry-level position may help reorient the recruiter's expectations.)

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • @happybuddha This is great advice. – Irwin Jun 6 '13 at 22:21
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    I don't know why, but for some reason this question attracts very low quality answers. I've protected it so people can't answer unless they've earned at least 10 reputation on this site. People answering should address whether or not the Ph.D has an emphasis on the answer and address whether the wide range of salaries for software devs has an impact on whether or not to disclose figures. There's plenty of room on this question for folks to provide lots of value beyond just a simple one-line answer with little to no explanation. Let's stick to our goal of making the Internet a better place. :) – jmort253 Jun 8 '13 at 4:20
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    I've removed some answers that don't explain why or how. Please see the back it up rule for guidance before answering. Hope this helps! – jmort253 Jun 8 '13 at 4:29
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In a word - "No".

One way to look at this: In a sense, a resume is a sales brochure. The "customer" is the organization from which you seek employment. The "product" is you, or more precisely, your ability to do work the organization wants done. Putting a salary on your resume is similar to putting a price on a sales brochure. Usually only commodity products list prices on their sales brochures. Thus, unless you want potential employers to treat you like a commodity, it seems best to leave a desired salary off your resume.

My experience creating resumes for myself and occasionally helping friends and family now goes back over 30 years. I've heard and read countless pieces of advice about resumes. Never once do I remember hearing or reading anything that recommends putting salary information of any kind on your resume. What I do remember is frequent advice (including this Q&A site) that you avoid being the first to give a number in salary negotiations. If you give out a number on your resume, you have violated this "rule" and (most likely) set the maximum salary you will get from any organization who sees that resume; even if the organization had more money budgeted for the position, they have no need to offer more now that you have said what you would settle for.

If you find you are not getting interviews from your resume, you might consider an objective statement in your resume or mentioning in your cover letters the level of work you are seeking. For example, your resume might have "Objective: An entry level position in software development", or your cover letter might say something like "Now that I have completed my Ph.D., I seek an entry level position in the software development field." You might then go on to explain why your Ph.D. will help you (either through "transferable skills", or maybe by entering a domain related to your Ph.D., or both).

Note: Generally, I don't think objective statements on a resume are that useful, but this is a situation where I think one could prove beneficial.

  • Why the downvote? – GreenMatt Jun 8 '13 at 3:13
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It depends.

By and large, I agree with the accepted answer. For the most part, I'd default to "no". Particularly in the case where you are new to this particular market, and I'd be doubtful that you know exactly what range to quote. For example - yes you may be entry level, but the depth and experience of graduate studies mean that in some industries, you are above the general cut of "entry level" salaries. When you really don't know the value, and are testing the opportunities, state the expectation in a way that doesn't lock you down. Saying in your cover letter that you are changing industries, and thus interested in entry level positions gives you a way to set expectations without locking yourself down to a number.

I do get tired, however, of seeing "don't be the first to set an expectation" as the defacto advice to negotiation. Someone has to start. It's not just a blanket rule - we're not playing tic tac toe (where the person who starts has a distinct advantage, and there are no secrets - the next move is entirely discernable!). In a negotiation, the person with most power is the person with the most information, and the person most able to find creative ways to get what they want at the least cost to the other party.

The best time to quote numbers is to save yourself, and the other party, some time. That's the big thrust of the answer referenced in the question - that resumes and cover letters are terse, because time for review is tight, and managers appreciate any way of narrowing down the pile. That's absolutely true - so quote a pricetag when you want the pile to be narrowed down and you're willing to accept that you might not be part of it.

That sounds awful in a case where you're looking for every and any opportunity. But it isn't if you have a great job, and you're just looking for an even dreamier position. At that point, giving the minimum you'd ever consider saves you and the company time so you can continue with your realistic career options.

I don't think that's the case here.

  • I agree in that I prefer to be the one to set the expectations of my salary. But I do not feel that it belongs on a resume at all. The resume's job is to get you in front of the people making the decisions. Companies are often willing to go above their top end for top quality people but that is only going to happen after an interview. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 11 '13 at 14:17
  • In theory, I like the idea that a negotiation should be to find a mutually agreeable arrangement and it shouldn't matter who gives a salary number first. In practice, I've found that being the first to give a number does put you at a disadvantage. – GreenMatt Jun 14 '13 at 1:07
  • I'd love to see numbers. I've never worried about this - and I've gotten offers that were low and offers that were high. In the end, the advantage is turning down offers that didn't compensate me properly. – bethlakshmi Jun 14 '13 at 19:49
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No.

A lot of what you write in the CV is priming the reader. This is where you set predefined expectations of who you are. If they aren't mentioned, then the reader defines them based on their personal experience.

By setting a salary in the CV you risk the following.

  • Being dropped from first round interview as "too expensive".
  • Allowing the employer to drop their offer before you even get to the interview.

You also run the risk of crippling yourself with a salary which does not reflect the cost of living where the job is. For example the average SWE salary in Massachusetts is $104K while in Ohio it is $85K. (reference)

protected by jmort253 Jun 8 '13 at 4:11

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