when a candidate won’t share salary expectations

A reader writes:

I have a question in regard to a piece of the recruiting process.

I have always asked candidates what their compensation requirements are, either before they come in to meet with me or after they have come in. Most candidates do not have any issues disclosing what they’re looking for, although some get a little uncomfortable.

Recently, I have a candidate who I spoke to over the phone, and I thought he was great. He came in to meet with us, and again, we thought he was great. I asked him to disclose his compensation requirements because we wanted to move forward with an offer and he didn’t want to disclose. Rather, he wanted us to come to him with an offer based on what title he fell under after meeting with him.

I’ve never had this happen and now here we are wanting to move forward, I have no clue what his expectations are and he refuses to budge on sharing. We discussed what we felt was reasonable and when I shared this with him, he came back saying he did a LOT of research and thinks he’s essentially worth $30k more than what we want to offer. Eeeeekkkk.

I’m curious, is it not normal for recruiters/hiring managers to be asking for this information off the bat? Am I missing something? I’ve always operated that way to make sure we’re all on the same page but this experience is making me feel otherwise.

I know compensation is a touchy subject for a lot of candidates, but it concerns me that he wasn’t straightforward with expectations from the get go. I’m not sure why, but I’m also comfortable sharing my compensation requirements with hiring managers when I’m interviewing — nothing to hide, in my opinion.

This is a situation where I wish I could say, “Had we discussed this early on, we all would have realized we’re not compatible” but I’ll bite my tongue. Just a disappointment because he likes us a lot but not sure if he likes us enough for $30k less. He said he’s willing to “entertain” a counter offer. I don’t know — I don’t like where this is going. What’s your opinion?

It’s absolutely reasonable to ask what kind of salary candidates are looking for, although you should also be willing to discuss what range you’re intending to pay (which it sounds like you are).

(Side note: I do think it’s ridiculous when employers insist on knowing a candidate’s salary history, but that’s not what you’re talking about here — you’re talking about what a candidate would like to get paid, which I agree is a reasonable topic for discussion, as long as there’s two-way disclosure.)

I suspect your candidate’s actions can be explained by this:  There is a lot of advice out there telling candidates to avoid naming a number first — because they might inadvertently lowball themselves. Plus, the employer generally has a range that they’re planning to place the salary within, so they might as well share what it is.  That’s reasonable advice — except that some people take it a step further and tell candidates to absolutely refuse to discuss money until they’ve been through your interview process and convinced you of their value. At that point, you’re apparently supposed to be so blown away by them that your original salary range will go out the window and you will write them a much larger check.

Unsurprisingly, this rarely works.

Not only do most employers insist on talking numbers on their own timetable, not the candidate’s, but candidates also often do themselves a disservice by this approach. If a candidate wants $X but won’t tell you that, and so you make an offer that’s $30,000 below $X, now you have a much bigger difference to bridge … and the chances of it happening are lower. Whereas if you knew ahead of time that the candidate wanted $X, you’d probably try to make your offer closer to that if at all possible (meaning the candidate has less negotiating to do to get to the salary he really wants) … and if it’s not possible, then you could say that early on and everyone would save some time.

Anyway, overall my principles are this: Salary history is no one’s business, but salary expectations should be discussed openly by both sides.

Your guy didn’t do that, so he shouldn’t be shocked that you’re so far apart. Now, that said, you would have saved yourself some time earlier on by saying, “We plan to pay $X – $Y. Is that in line with what you’re looking for?” … but you didn’t do that either, so you probably shouldn’t be shocked by the distance yourself. The lesson: Discuss salary earlier. Be willing to throw out numbers yourself. Be suspicious if you name a range and the candidate still won’t talk about his or her own range.

And when it comes time to negotiate, know what the work is worth, make an offer you’re comfortable with, don’t get pressured into paying more than the position is worth to you, and be willing to walk away if you can’t come to terms you’re both happy with.

{ 142 comments… read them below }

  1. KJ*

    In a related question, it’s a given that employers have a salary range in mind when looking to fill a positions, so why don’t more job advertisements include the expected starting salary range? It seems as though this would save everyone a whole lot of time dancing around these sorts of topics.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      People who won’t list salary ranges will tell you that it’s because everyone assumes they should be at the top of the range and then gets upset/disappointed when that’s not where their offer is. In other words, if you advertise that the job pays 50-65K, everyone thinks, “great, low to mid 60s, that’ll work for me.” And then if you offer them $52k because that’s where their experience puts them in your range, they’re disappointed and feel like they’re being undercut because, after all, they know you’re willing to pay up to $65k. A good employer will be able to explain how the scale works and why the person fits into it where they do, in a way that the candidate finds convincing (which is the tricky part), but not everyone is reasonable — an awful lot of people, knowing that you’d pay $65K for SOMEONE, think you should pay it to them, even though they would have be happy with $52K if they’d never heard about the $65K.

      The reverse of that is also true: If I list a range, then I risk losing the guy who won’t consider anything below $75k and who’s good enough that I’d gladly pay him $75k, even though I wouldn’t normally pay it to most candidates and thus don’t want to put it in the ad.

      So this is stuff isn’t entirely black and white.

      1. Anth*

        I get that, I guess, but I also know what I am worth at market value, what I am making right now. So if something was listed below my current compensation, I wouldnt bother applying to it. If it had a range similar to where I am, then I’d apply and see how I could negotiate up. If it were well above my current salary, I wouldnt automatically think I should be at the top of it.
        Am I too rational?

        1. Chani*

          How do you determine your market value? I have no idea how to do this. I’m about to go into raise negotiations and would like to know how this is determine. Btw I work at a university so the salary ranges are typically lower. Thanks!

        2. Natalie*

          You are right!!!
          The employer has a range that they’re planning to place the salary within, so they should share what it is.

      2. KJ*

        Thanks for your response. I can definitely see how what you describe might happen–especially if the job advertisement is vaguely worded such that it isn’t easy to discern what the minimum requirements are versus the “nice to haves.” I feel like when this is made clear somehow, reasonable candidates can discern for themselves where they might fall in a range.

      3. Natalie*

        I’m curious about your opinion on naming just the bottom of the . It seems to me that would address the issue of people who see the range and assume they should be at the top, and help people who would like to know if the job pays enough for them to live on.

          1. Long Time Admin*

            I think she’s saying “salary range starts at $50,000” (that is, if it’s the truth). Then people who are looking for positions that pay $100,000+ won’t waste everyone’s time, and it still leaves the employer free to offer more if they have a candidate they would be willing to pay more.

            1. Catherine*

              In my field it’s pretty common to see something like, “Salary and rank dependent on experience and qualifications; minimum salary of $______.” But mostly it is from employers who have highly regimented scales and who are conducting nationwide searches.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              It’s tricky, because I might be willing to pay $80k for the right person, but a lot of those people won’t apply if they just see “starts at $50K” because they assume they’d be wasting their time. And if I say something like “more flexibility for the right person,” then I get tons of people who expect that when they’re not qualified for it.

              I still believe in talking openly about salary, on both sides. But it’s not quite as simple as it can seem on the surface.

              1. Natalie*

                Hmm, I suppose that is just an issue of different levels. I am junior enough at this point that sometimes the minimum level of the range is actually below a livable amount (absent an income earning partner or second job), and it would be nice to know that ahead of time so I can save everyone time. I suspect there are not too many amazing people that can command higher salaries that would be interested in these positions anyway.

            3. Wilton Businessman*

              “Starts at $50K” means you will be starting me at $50K. If I’m making $80K I will laugh at that ad.

          2. Lauren*

            I have had 2 things happen to me, one quite often and one in which they lowballed me after I gave salary history.

            1) What about those pesky employers that claim 65 – 85k , then come back with 50k and say well we think you can grow to be in that range after a few years? My evil old boss pulled this alot. After 2 years experience, the average salary is 70k in Boston, but my old boss did this to so many people that they I don’t trust a salary range anymore. This defeats the purpose of a salary range the offer is always going to be at the bottom (based on some excuse) or worse lower with the lame excuse that “well in 5 years, you can make that…..”

            2) I also was told by one company that the salary range was 85 -90, but then when asked my salary history I apparently was only worth an offer of 62 based on the fact that thought I should be happy with any increase they offered from my current salary. I told the HR recruiter that I expected to be paid industry average for my experience level / years, and that since they were clearly trying to under cut me based on my salary history and that unless they were going back to the original salary there was nothing more to discuss. It kills me that I lowballed myself by giving salary history believing that well the range is 85-90 for the position. I will never give salary history again. I took a job for 65 instead that was 5x closer to home with less hours and more relaxed company atmosphere. I felt cheated, and told the HR guy that I had better offers with more money a whole lot closer to the 1.5 hour commute that their company would entail and there was no incentive to go there without being paid market value for my experience when some other guy can come in and never say salary history and be given the original range of 85 -90. lesson learned ; never tell salary history.

      4. GA*

        Scales never work for very reasons you cited AAM..as soon as i tell a scale of 20-30..other side knows we can get him on 20 and they will offer 17 so it can be negotiated to 20. Whenever i get a HR consultant /recruiter call i clearly ask them [ if my salary is 100 and i expect 140]…will the x company for this position be able to pay 160 [ without telling my package]…if i get the clue..yes [ it can be considered]..great..go for interview..else most of time they tell sorry they cannot offer beyond 120 0r 130. I then dont waste time on those interviews provided other factors r not attractive enough to compensate for renumeration.

        for those who can afford reply is –based on how well you perform in interview which again tells that 160 is not a stop for them and if i deserve 140 i will get it.

        1. Ry*

          Oh dear. Could you please put this sentiment into sentences, so your point is more intelligible?

        2. Rachel*

          If the figures you are using actually apply to you, honestly, it depresses me that you’re making $100k-$140k and I’m making $33k. I’m going to start communicating in exactly the same way, and maybe it will help to put me in a higher salary range at my next job.

        3. Mike C.*

          This isn’t true in the slightest. My company of over 150,000 puts jobs into scales based on title, level and location and everything works out just fine. Stop treating coworkers and potential coworkers like they are children.

  2. Julie*

    I’d just add that I often find it helpful, as a job seeker, if a salary range is listed in the ad or posting. That way, I can tell right away if my expectations are a good fit for the company or not. (A position whose salary range is $20-30k, for example, is probably looking for someone entry-level, while one whose range is $60-80k is looking for someone with much more experience than I’ve got.) It’s a way for candidates to self-select even before they send in their application.

    Yes, I realize that the hiring manager can come back and say, “But the candidate is going to ask for the very top of the range, or more than that!” And that’s possible. But that’s what negotiations are for.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      Let me give you another perspective. Lets say I post a job with the range of $80-90K which is what I fully expect to pay. Candidate is still working at another company and is a perfect candidate but needs $110K to get out. I can go to bat for the candidate or change the position description if I know he is available, but if he doesn’t apply because of the range then I lost him forever.

      I’m not going to post a range of $80-110 because there is no way I am offering an average candidate $110.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Exactly. It’s tricky stuff. Not impossible to navigate, but trickier than it often seems like it should be when you’re on the job seeker’s side.

      2. Student*

        There is a huge flaw with this logic. You are not limited to posting one job advertisement. It’s a false dichotomy.

        If you have a position where you are planning to offer $80K – $90K for an average candidate, then make a normal job post with that range. If you’re willing to offer up to, say, $100 K – $120K for someone who is exceptional, then make another job advertisement with that range and increase the requirements and wish list in the job posting accordingly. Only hire one person from both pools of applicants. Some applicants will apply for both, some will self-select for the more appropriate option. You’ll get a pool of $80K-$90K people and still have the potential to get that rare exceptional candidate worth $110K.

        You don’t have to hire one person per job posting. You can hire one person out of several job postings, or several people off one job posting, or no people from several job postings. Life is digital now – use the computers to your advantage!

          1. Student*

            Pfft. I see this all the time as I apply for jobs. It is obviously not two times the amount of work. You’re just disinclined to list salary ranges because it puts the employer at a disadvantage. That’s understandable, but let’s not pretend posting a job twice is difficult.

            Take job posting. Copy and paste. Edit the line that says “requires two years of experience” to say “requires 6 years of experience” or even occasionally “requires 10 years experience.” Maybe, if you feel especially ambitious, add a full sentence with an extra requirement or job duty. If you were so gracious as to list a salary range on the first job, you scale it up slightly for the second posting. Maybe throw “Senior” onto the front of the title.

            I’ve run across dozens of these. It’s obvious that they’re filling the same job, but trying to make it attractive to some of the more experienced people who may be interested but wary of entry-level salaries. It’s also obvious that the extra work that goes into using this technique is minimal – the second posting usually has the exact same typos, too.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Hmmm, I wouldn’t do this because you’ve now just given me two or three hiring processes to run instead of one. It’s not about the amount of work in placing the ad; it’s about the amount of work in screening and interviewing people. One hiring process on its own is a huge amount of work; this would double it.

              It also doesn’t quite get at what I was describing about not wanting to miss the awesome candidate who I’d pay more for. I don’t mean that I want to conduct a full-scale search for that person; I mean that if that person happened to fall in my lap and be interested in the position, I don’t want to not see her because the ad listed a salary range that made her turn away.

            2. Wilton Businessman*

              I’m not talking about creating the ad, I’m talking about managing the interview process. Now I’ve got to sort out the guy that thinks he belongs in the “6 year” camp but is also applying in the “3 year” because he just needs a job. I’ve also got to try and evaluate each candidate for each range and see if I could fit them in somewhere.

              Just because the technology *enables* you send out multiple copies of the same thing, doesn’t mean you *should*.

              1. Anonymous*

                Oh waaaah!

                Do you want to hire the best canididates? Or do you just want to skate into next week?

              2. Wilton Businessman*

                I want to focus my energy on candidates that are a good match for the position I am trying to fill. I don’t want to entertain everybody that remotely has any experience in my field or sift through 8,000 resumes to sort out duplicates.

        1. TMM*

          yeah, well it costs money to put another job posting and frankly I doubt it’s really worth the extra time and money.

      3. Anonymous*

        As someone out in the job market right now, that line of thinking drives me crazy. The ratio of qualified candidates to jobs is ridiculously in favor of the hiring manager, and the odds that you’ll find a candidate who’s not only worth $20K more than anyone else you are trying to hire, but is also worth putting in the time and energy to try woo-ing away from their other job is far lower than the odds that you’ll instead be wading through 8000 resumes from people who are completely under or overqualified for the position you are hiring for. As an applicant, I am not going to spend the hour it takes navigating your web portal if I already get a sense that the position isn’t at the level I’m trying to go after. Yeah, once in a while I’ve tossed my hat in anyway for a higher level job, just to see what happens, but I’d much rather focus my energies on the jobs I’m best-suited for and most likely to get. But with the vague way a lot of jobs are listed these days, I can never figure out if they are looking for someone entry level, someone mid career, or someone who’s highly experienced. The listing says “minimum 1-2 years experience in Chocolate Teapot operations” and then add “Extensive experience with Teapot TPS reports” and “Advanced Black Belt Teapot certifications preferred” it’s hard to figure out who should apply. Do you want the person who’s been around for 2-3 years and has a bit of experience that you’d pay $45K, the person who has 5-10 years experience sorta running things that you’d pay $65K, or that fabulous $110K person who knows how to whip your Chocolate Teapot division into shape?

        My suggestion is to give a range that covers the low end of your scale, and you’ll still have room to negotiate upwards for those occasional winners. I guarantee you there’ll still be some candidates who are going to look at your printed range as a starting point anyway, so you’re still likely to get those $110K candidates who want to see if they can push any further than that. And if you truly want the $110K level candidates rather than the $80-90K candidates, then advertise at that range, and don’t waste the time of the $60-80K candidates who realize they aren’t quite at the $110

          1. Sandrine*

            Yes, this a million times.

            They’re guilty of this in France too, and I’m pretty sure I’ve missed out on opportunities just because the job posting wasn’t clear enough. Now to be honest I’m making around 19K USD per year at the moment, and it’s more than enough for me… but I sure as heck would love to use my skills in other capacities and the job postings don’t help :P .

  3. Anonymous*

    This is the “reader” thank you for answering my question!

    I left out a piece of when I asked they said the range and I told them the cap of what we were looking at. They responded by saying, they’re sure we could work it out but still not wanting to disclose. I just assumed we WOULD work it out based on the fact they knew the high end of what we were looking at.

    I agree, salary history should be confidential but what’s the harm in just being upfront about what you’re expecting to be paid?

    Based on your answer – there isn’t any harm in being upfront about your expectations.

    Thank you – glad I found your site!

    1. Karthik*

      The harm is when the company was willing to pay a lot more than what the candidate offered. This is especially true for entry level employees. An engineer coming out of school can expect to get an offer in the range of $60-$80k. But if she says she wants $65k and the company had budgeted $80k, she’s screwed out of a significant amount of money.

      The company is playing it the other way. They are hoping that the person lowballs and the company can save money (why offer $80 when the person will work for $65?).

      Ultimately it’s the company with the money, so they set the scale. They should be the ones saying “here’s the range” and leaving the exact amount to negotiation.

      1. AD*

        Ah, but the candidate can also give a range. So she could say 65K to 75K, as long as she qualifies it with something like “depending on the total benefits package”, so that the company can’t immediately jump on the lowest number she mentioned.

        1. Ann*

          Yes, this is what I always do. I give a range, where the low end of my range is the minimum I’d consider working for, and the high end is just above what I’d consider a really great salary (but still reasonable for the description). Then I throw in a qualifier about total compensation package, and figure if they really can’t afford or don’t want to pay anything more than my minimum, maybe I can negotiate with them to give me flextime, telecommuting, transportation benefit, vacation time, or some other perk that won’t be as directly expensive for them but will sweeten the pot for me. Or maybe they’ll give me the standard benefits every employee gets, and make an offer somewhere in the middle of my given range, comfortably above what I considered my bare minimum. Either way, I’d feel satisfied enough with the outcome to seriously consider accepting.

          1. AD*

            Vacation is sometimes flexible. At my old company, you started with two weeks, option to “buy” a third, for 2% of your salary (which virtually everyone did). If you instead negotiated three weeks, that was like a 2% increase in salary.

            There’s also an aspect of this around how budgets are decided in a company. Common scenario in a big company: a manager has a range in mind of 50-60K, and her boss has signed off on that range for the position. You say you will work for 45K. You know what happens if she gives you 45K instead of 50K? Nothing. It doesn’t benefit her in any way. The extra 5K goes back into some larger pool, never to be seen again. What’s worse, maybe she needs to hire again for a similar position, and has signaled to her boss that she doesn’t *really* need the 50-60K she claimed.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      OP: Thanks for the additional info! Yeah, if you told him your range and he didn’t flag for you that he was pretty far outside that, he really handled this wrong. I would not negotiate with someone who was willing to waste my time like that, hoping that I’d come around once he’d wowed me.

    3. Nev*

      By the info you disclosed I have a strong feeling that your candidate is willing to negotiate, but he got it all wrong – he thought your high number is actually in the low to mid range of your willingness to pay as it’s the most common strategy. That’s why he said you could make it work (presuming that you would raise the number by $10-15,000 and he would relent on the rest). If he is really a good candidate and you want him, I would suggest the following:
      – say that though you value his experience and qualifications very highly, your initial offer is all your organization is capable of paying him at the moment, so you could not ‘entertain’ him with a higher counter offer. If you could support your number with any industry standards or any other objective data, that would be great.
      – ask him how he came to his number – where he got the data from and what his assumptions are. This will help you gauge if he is bluffing, or he is mislead by his sources, or your rate is really below industry’s average. If your number is in fact industry average, but he believes he is good enough to get $30,000 on top of that, ask him how he plans to save/bring more value to your organization that would more than compensate for the substantial raise.
      This conversation doesn’t mean that you plan to improve your offer. It would just rationalize the payment terms and would give him an opportunity to surrender graciously, if he realizes that you won’t improve the offer, and he has no better alternatives. Plus you could learn a lot from the situation.

      1. Interviewer*

        This is a great answer, Nev! It gives the recruiter all kinds of good language to make it easy for the candidate to either turn around and educate the company on the realities of market salaries for that role, or to realize that he is well & truly matched in negotiating skills, and that figure he may have pulled out of nowhere has to be justified. It also tells the candidate that you are open to further discussion, as long as both parties can back up assertions with real data. If you operate this way in the hiring process, maybe the company operates this way all the time. All good things for a candidate to see.

        Both parties digging in their heels and refusing to budge an inch will get you both nowhere.

        A note of caution: He’s already wasted a lot of the company’s time by being uncommunicative, and now surprises you with this kind of salary requirement. I’m concerned that he would continue to behave this way in the position.

        Good luck.

        1. Nev*

          Thank you. Yep, the candidate is alienating the company by his behavior, that’s why I wasn’t sure if the OP would even be willing to consider my advise at this point.

          If you don’t have a proper conversation, the salary talk is actually game theory based. Either one of the parties loses (overshooting, undervaluing), or both lose (by not hiring the person and having wasted their time). The only win-win scenario is possible if the interviewer and the interviewee exchange their salary ranges in a face-to-face interview, as both parties write their numbers independently.

          In my own experience, I always go for the straightforward talk. Being open and honest (and also well prepared) is a powerful strategy even if accounting for the risk of undervalue/overvalue yourself. And it guarantees you don’t burn bridges.

  4. Anonymous*

    I’m extemely skeptical that a candidate would be offered more than what the cadidate said was required. Answering that question puts the advantage in the negotiation with the employer. If the employer wants the candidate, they should offer what they are willing to pay. The candidate can choose to accept it or not.

      1. Steve G*

        My first job at this company had a $10K salary range and I put myself in the middle, but was paid the max anyway.

    1. Anonymous*

      It happened to me, as an engineer fresh out of school. I had no idea what I should ask for & I didn’t want to ask for too much, so I went too low. My salary wound up being double what I asked for, but right in line for a engineer with an advanced degree.

      1. Anonymous*

        These are aberrations…most companies are looking for a bargain! The KRA for HR is low cost to company per hire isnt it???

    2. AD*

      I think the candidate can use “depending on total benefits” the same way that the company can use “depending on experience”.

  5. Aaron*

    Did the candidate share details on his research, and why he thinks he deserves his number? If so, do they make sense? Asking because it sounds like this guy could just be following some bad advice about negotiating and is actually willing to take your current offer.

    Or not. Logically, I do think it makes more sense for an employer to disclose the range for the position first, because they should have this figured out in advance.

    But this can offend a candidate if you then tell them they fall at the low end of your range, so I understand employers’ reticence. An employee who absolutely refuses to name a numer, then says he will “entertain” a counteroffer, sets off some alarms for me.

  6. Wilton Businessman*

    I generally don’t care how much you make now, except in the case where you’re leaving because of money.

    There is nothing lost on either side exposing what the candidates expectations are. If the person is just out of your range, then both sides can part and nobody has wasted their time going down that road. I want to know the numbers are going to match up before I invest the time in interviewing them. I’m not playing games with you, I expect the same.

    1. Mike C.*

      Yes, but how does a candidate know that they’re dealing with someone like you and not someone who’s just trying to string them along for an eventual low ball offer?

      This sort of approach makes sense when talking to a larger company, but for a smaller shop all sorts of basics go out the window.

        1. Josh S*

          Hmmmm…makes me want to do a journal search for “Information Asymmetry and Salary Negotiations”. Someone MUST HAVE done research on this, because it is so relevant in microecon terms.

          Thanks, you may have just distracted me for half a day…

            1. Josh S*

              I got busy and never got around to it. It has made my list of back-burner projects though, so I’ll have to share it if I ever get around to it. (That list is Looooooong, though, so no promises.)

  7. Sarah*

    I have to say that I can totally see the candidate’s logic–like Alison said, he’s just following the most basic negotiation advice: never be the first to name a number and always assume an employer is offering you less than they are willing to pay you. He’s expecting you to negotiate with him, but it sounds like you weren’t expecting to do this sort of back and forth. I really doubt the candidate actually expects to get 30K more than you offered–he’s expecting you to meet him somewhere in the middle. If you can’t do that/don’t think he’s worth it, he might still take the job at the salary level you offered, but I imagine that he’ll probably feel a little disrespected that you didn’t negotiate with him (not that he’s completely in the right here!!).

  8. moe*

    “[I]t concerns me that he wasn’t straightforward with expectations from the get go.”

    Unless I missed part of the story here, the candidate shared his requirements before you shared what you were willing to offer. I don’t understand, in this context, how that’s being any less straightforward than you as the potential employer are being?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      She says in her comment above that she told him their cap, and he said he was sure they could work it out, but still didn’t share his own range.

      1. shawn*

        This should have probably been more thoroughly discussed in the beginning. I know candidates, for a variety of reasons, are generally apprehensive about talking money. I do my best to make them comfortable with that part of the conversation and explain why we are having it (to avoid us being far apart at the end). If a candidate tells me “I’m sure we can work it out” after I tell them our range I would definitely dig deeper before being certain the candidate is a fit. With that sort of response I’m not surprised this sort of thing happened.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes. With that sort of response, ideally the employer would say, “Is that a range that would work for you?” and if the person is still evasive, I’d say, “We shouldn’t go any further if it’s not, because we really don’t have flexibility with it.”

          1. Lisa M*

            When I’m hiring, I always ask for salary expectations as part of the initial package (i.e., cover letter, resume, salary). If I don’t get it, I don’t usually even review the other materials.

            I do, however, give them credit if they at least address it (as in: “I prefer to meet with you to learn more about the job before . . . .”)

            Then, if they get to the interview stage, I make sure to bring it up to get a straight answer. I always address it directly (“I know the advice is to never be the first to mention a number, but I don’t play games and I need to knwo if you’re in the same range as what we are willing to pay someone of your experience for this position.”)

            I rarely go higher than my initial offer.

            Apparently, I’m a bit of an oddity in that I am so direct.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Lisa, why are you doing it in such a one-sided way, insisting that the candidate give you a number, rather than also disclosing your own expectations of what you intend to pay during this conversation? I agree that you need to know that you’re in the same range, but why is the burden only on the candidate to disclose?

              1. Lisa M*

                I disclose when we get to the interview process. (Sorry if I was unclear about that.) I just need to know if a candidate is in my range — I’ve had people apply for a (basic) admin asst. position who expected $100k — before I start phone interviews. It might help to know that when I post for a position I seem to get 100s of resumes.

            2. Charles*

              “I prefer to meet with you to learn more about the job before . . “

              Thank you; it is good to know this.

              I often state something along these lines when they ask for salary expectations up front. I so often want to scream – How the heck can I know without knowing more about the job!!!

              So, it is good to know that not everyone dismisses me for not answering something I honestly cannot answer without knowing all the information.

              With contract work which is simply a flat rate *I* usually state (before they do) what I expect as there is no compensation except the money. Then, it is you’re not paying X dollars; then don’t waste my time.

            3. Eva*

              “I know the advice is to never be the first to mention a number, but I don’t play games…”

              If you insist on the candidate being first to mention a number, then you’re playing the very same game AND being disingenuous by claiming you’re not. If you were interviewing me, I’d resent that.

              1. Lisa M*

                Hmm. I (of course) wasn’t seeing it like that. But then, that is a conversation I have face to face and (usually) I already have asked what their expectations are in the phone interview. And told them that they are, or are not, in line with our range (and told them the range).

  9. Anonymous*

    I applied for a position last year that I really wanted, but during the initial phone interview, the hiring manager let me know what the cap for the position was. It was much lower than my current salary & I couldn’t justify taking such a paycut (would have been half my salary). I appreciated that they were upfront with me about the salary expectations instead of taking me through the entire interview process & then finding out that there was no way for me to be able to accept the position given the salary constraints.

  10. Obvious*

    I recently saw an entry-level position with 0-1 year experience $35-45K, so I called my agent and asked why wasn’t I considered for this – he told me the company had received so many applications they upped the ante to make it senior level position with minimum 5 years experience for the same salary. My heart dropped!

        1. Eva*

          I thought recruiters were paid by companies to find them employees, not paid by employees to find them jobs.

  11. Anonymous*

    “it concerns me that he wasn’t straightforward”-OP

    The feeling is probably mutual. If I had done research and believed the combination of title, job description, industry and my experience was worth $30k more than was being offered then I would probably say, “It concerns me that they hope I’m dumb enough to take that offer.”

    It concerns me the OP took the time to write the story and failed to mention a very vital piece of information. No, I don’t think the OP forgot.

      1. Steve G*

        I’m reading it that the person legitimately is not worth the money they finally requested.

    1. OP*

      You’re probably right – the feeling was probably mutual in that it wasn’t going to work but not that I hoped or thought the candidate was dumb enough to take that offer. I can honestly say, I’ve never put together an offer for anybody and thought to myself, “I’m getting a BARGAIN for THIS person!” I genuinely want people to be happy and excited when they’re starting a new position – not feel like they were lowballed.

      I think in the end both the candidate and I failed each other. I should have really pressed after I gave the cap on the salary and made sure they were comfortable with that number and pressed further for them to at least give a ballpark of what they would be willing to accept so I could make sure they would be happy.
      I gave them a cap and they came back $30k higher – had I known that from the beginning, I think we probably both would have agreed we shouldn’t continue the process because we couldn’t match that big of a gap.

      We both could be off – maybe I need to do further market research – or maybe the candidate was off….either way, lesson learned.

      1. Student*

        I think the guy gave you all the signs that he was playing “the salary game” very hard, and you didn’t pick up on it.

        If I were you, instead of giving a hard cap, I’d have given the range I expect to pay for the position, with room to go above if the candidate is exceptional. I’d expect the candidate to ask for the high end, or just above it, and then I’d counter with something lower with an expectation that you’d meet somewhere in the middle.

        Your approach is perfectly reasonable, and it’s probably a relief for job candidates who would really rather not play “the salary game” like me. However, a candidate who is clearly all geared up to play games is going to assume you will play games with him, despite any protests to the contrary. Either you conclude that he’s a bad fit for your culture and don’t hire him over that, or you step up and play the game once it’s obvious that is the expectation.

      2. Lauren*

        I think you are assuming that everyone works for a company with a proper HR dept. In reality, the thought “I’m getting a BARGAIN for THIS person!” is fairly common among small business owners trying to keep costs as low as possible regardless of how important the position may be to the owner’s business. The owner knows what he / she can afford, and there is no negotiating past that amount set usually. I have worked for small business owners that give a salary to get more candidates knowing that they will never go above the low point, and if the candidate gives a lower range than what he / she was thinking – they do have the “I’m getting a BARGAIN for THIS person!” moment.

        small business owner always trying to save money vs companies with a real HR person that doesnt think like that.

  12. Sam Foster*

    How about if employers just post the salary with the job posting, it’d save everybody a lot of time, no?

  13. AB*

    I HATE this topic (but love a discussion about it)! As a job seeker, I have had more than one interview end awkwardly with that last second question about salary requirement. I have switched back and forth between a couple different industries (and nothing remotely specialized like engineering…more marketing/admin/education, so there are millions of us searching for jobs) so I am not expecting much higher than entry level salary in the current market, but I definitely don’t want to be the first to say a number. I always indicate that I am willing to be negotiable for the right opportunity and I believe that a great employer is going to have a fair range to offer…but in neither of those cases were the employers/interviewers willing to say any number themselves. Needless to say, I got the standard rejection letter from one and heard absolutely nothing from the other. I absolutely agree that the employers have the complete upper hand here. There are quite a few of us that are willing to compromise our own original salary requirement (kept in our minds) just to get the opportunity to get a job we know we will enjoy and excel at…and eventually prove our financial worth.

  14. Rachel B*

    I’d be a little wary of this candidate, too. A maximum salary was discussed in the interview process. That’s what’s been budgeted, approved, etc. If I felt I deserved more than the maximum, I would try to negotiate, but for a low percentage or additional benefits, like a different title.

    If a company’s maximum is way out of line with what I’m expecting, that’s a red flag. Either I’m not really understanding the job description, and think the role is more senior than it is, or the company is not competitive with the current market.

  15. Catbertismy hero*

    After a lot of discussion, we decided a few years ago to always include a salary range for a position, generally with a $5,000 spread for lower level positions, $8-10,000 on upper level positions. We also ask candidates if they are comfortable with the range during the first interview.

    We have exceeded the range to get the right candidate at times, but only when that candidate clearly exceeded the competition.

  16. Yuu*

    I haven’t had many different positions, but I’ve read on boards that generally most offers will be on the lower range, and you should always counter offer during salary negotiation. (This was actually on a board about the salary gaps between men and women, and one poster in HR commented that in his organization, generally men seemed to counter offer and women didn’t – which explained why the men in his organization generally seemed to be better compensated.)
    As a woman this freaked me out a bit!
    The commenter on that board stated you should always ask for more, as the company will never come back with, “No thank you,” but rather with either a counter offer or with the original offer and explain that is the best they can do for a candidate of such experience. A 30k gap is large, but my guess is he is simply trying to start out with the best he can do.

    Is this advice out of line? What do you think is appropriate?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, in general you should always negotiate because you can usually get more and if you can’t, it won’t hurt to ask. But asking for a huge amount more, especially when the employer already told you the range earlier in the process, is silly.

    2. Wilton Businessman*

      If we’re arguing over less than five grand I’ll probably give it to you if it’s going to make you take it. I can short the flexible part of your other comp or strong arm the head-hunter to make up the difference.

      However, I had one candidate that asked for 5K more which I gave to him right away and then he countered back wanting another 2K. I just told him “Sorry, not interested any more” at which point I pulled the offer all together. In the back of my mind I had reservations that it was going to be a bad fit, this just confirmed it.

      1. Liz T*

        Wow! Definitely not someone you want to work with. Gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

  17. Anonymous*

    Hi AAM–you have a typo in this sentence: “If a candidate wants $X but won’t tell you that, _and you so you_ make an offer…”

    Pointing out typos to you is like telling a good manager that you’re resigning with plenty of notice. Because both have a history of receiving it well, people are willing to do it :)

  18. Ellie H.*

    I can’t say anything helpful on this topic but that it’s so interesting to me because it’s so foreign. I make $19 an hour which is a fortune to me, I can’t believe I can make my entire rent in one week. I worked in a bookstore for seven years before this making $9 an hour. I find that incredibly fulfilling, though, so it’s worth it. It’s sort of interesting to contemplate on a philosophical level – I’m assuming that the principle is that companies that pay a “real” salary make a lot of money, and that these employees are worth real salaries because they make the company a lot of money. The bookstore makes virtually no money so consequently I make the bookstore virtually no money. It’s kind of weird to think about.

  19. Corey Feldman*

    Totally agree, I don’t care about salary history. Why should I take on some other companies possible salary inequities. Be open about your range and expect candidates to be open about their range.

  20. Jill*

    I hate to give my salary figure first because, right now I work in government and the pay & benefits scales for government entities can be WAY different than those for similar jobs in the private sector. I hate the idea of a private sector employer thinking that they can’t afford me because of my government sector level of pay. (I fully expect to take a pay cut to go to the private sector).

    Other govt. employees I know have the opposite problem where, in their field, they could may a lot MORE going to the private sector, but they have no idea how much more and don’t want to lowball themselves. Maybe that’s this appliant’s situation?

  21. KayDay*

    Personally, I really think that the perspective employer should give a salary range first, at least in the case of junior to mid-level positions. In these situations, almost all the negotiating power is usually with the employer, and to a large extent, the candidate is a price taker.

    Also, in the non-profit world (where I work), salaries can vary considerably depending on a lot of factors, from the size of the organization to the way the position is funded; and position titles are not very standardized. Because of this, it can be really hard to determine market rate, particular at the mid-level (entry-level tends to be more consistent).

    That said, my actual salary negotiations have usually begun with me stating a range and the employer coming back with an actual number. I think the OP’s candidate is either being hard to work with because (a) he is actually very stubborn and has unrealistic expectations or (b) he’s a terrible negotiator and thinks this is how to negotiate.

    1. Natalie*

      With junior positions in particular, your much more likely to be talking about an amount of money that is difficult or impossible to live on. In my experience, it’s extremely frustrating to find a great sounding job, apply, interview, and then find out that the highest possible salary is $20K gross with minimal benefits. Since I plain can’t live on that, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

      1. Laura L*

        I agree with this! For entry level jobs, in particular, I think it’s important to list a salary range or, at least, a minimum. The same applies for jobs that tend to be lower paying in general.

  22. Joey*

    One other real important piece that’s frequently missed (and it is here) is total compensation. Salary is only one piece of that. If you’re an employer you should also be showing what the value is of your benefits like insurance contributions, retirement contributions, and all other benefits. And if you’re a candidate you should definitely be factoring those things in as part of your compensation negotiations. While yes what you get on your paycheck is really important you can’t disregard the benefits that are nearly as good and sometimes better than cash.

  23. Amina*

    I gave up on this. I am a government employee and my salary is available on the web when I give my grade.

    So, when asked what I wanted, I added a little over 15% to my current salary (made it nice round number), saying, *ideally* I’d like this, but would be happy with whatever’s fair in their band.

    Let’s see.

    1. OP*

      Government is hard – a close friend of mine is trying to move out of government and they never know what to put when it comes to salary expectations because they feel so underpaid now. I could be wrong but I just told them to put what they expect/want. Not every industry is the same.

      1. Laura L*

        I don’t think salary expectations should be based on what you’ve earned in the past. They should be based on your experience, skills, and the going rate for those types of jobs in year area.

        If they ask for salary history, that’s different.

  24. Anonymous*

    The career center at my university recommends a book on salary negotiation that follows this exact strategy. Basically, the longer you can put off salary negotiations, the more you can convince your potential employer how amazing you are, and the more they will want you (and be willing to throw extra money at you) when the time comes to make you an offer. Sounds great on paper, but I never used it while interviewing. For me, it came across as too stubborn.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think we can establish a new rule of thumb: If any job searching advice sounds intuitively wrong to you or makes you really uncomfortable, be very skeptical of it.

      1. Wilton Businessman*

        Or the axiom: Any canned advice that you get from a “career center” should be run by a person that is in the real world.

        1. shawn*

          I think avoiding the salary discussion, as a candidate, by not bringing it up is a fine strategy. However, once the company brings it up you need to address it head on. Getting a job is all about positioning yourself as the best fitting candidate. Part of fit is whether the company and candidate can find a way to agree on salary. If you dance around the salary discussion or are noncommittal the company can’t be convinced you are a fit regarding salary. As an employer I want to move forward with candidates I think I can hire, not those I’m not sure about.

    2. Lauren*

      My old boss actually rescinded an offer extended to a new grad due to the kid trying to negotiate. This kid thought he could negotiate a livable wage past 35 k in Boston with my boss. When the kid tried to discuss how the salary wouldn’t pay his rent, my boss said “you know nothing, it will take 2 – 3 years for you to become valuable enough for me to pay what you are asking”. The kid ended up working for a client making 55k as entry level.

      Another girl tried to get 40 k, and my boss pulled the same thing on her (she accepted at 35k, cause she believed his BS) but gave 42k to a diff new grad (male – of course) but only because he came through a recruiter and they insisted on a liveable wage.

      AAM – yes I know, ass

      1. Natalie*

        Wow. I have actually never heard of a prospective employer pulling an offer simply because the candidate countered. That is f-ed.

  25. Joey*

    You know I read somewhere that he who throws out the first number has the advantage because all negotiations start from that point. I’m thinking there’s some truth ( at least for me) to that as long as you start on the high end ( but not too high). Ive always found myself working off of the first number given out.

    On another note I just don’t get when candidates throw out a range. Like I need to be between 50-60k. Obviously most employers will be working off of the lower number.

    1. Lauren*

      This is assuming that you are negotiating with a real HR dept versus a small business owner that only hears the lower number not the full range.

    2. Anonymous*

      I look at it this way:

      Say the employer has a budget of $40k – $50k, but demands to know your number first. You say, I’ll take it for $35k. Your new boss says, “I’ll sweeten the pot and give you $37k!”

      You walk away thinking you’re the king of the world while your new boss is thinking to himself, “I just saved $3000; I’m going to Hawaii.”

      Yeah, you threw out the first number, and that was the start of negotiations, but you left a bunch of money on the table. How is that an advantage?

      1. Joey*

        Sure they should pay you what the job is worth to them, but you can’t totally blame the company for giving you what you asked for. Some of that blame should be on you for negotiating poorly.

        And as I said earlier it only works if you throw out a number on the high end. And most employers won’t withdraw an offer just because you asked for a salary on the high end, as long as its in the same ballpark.

      2. OP*

        the whole thing sucks.
        one of my jobs I was so underpaid – I had no real clue what to ask for when I found a new job so I asked for about $5k more – from the beginning.
        They gave me an offer for $8k more vs. $5k more.
        Then I started working there and knew how the pay bands were and realized, I was again – being underpaid.
        Salary negotiations/compensation discussions – they’re hard and can get uncomfortable, whether you’re underpaid and want to make more money OR if you’re overpaid and willing to take a cut to get a job that makes you happier. It’s hard to convince employers either way – pay me more! Or….trust me, I like the job you’re presenting to me more – I’ll take a cut for happiness…I swear!

        I do love hearing all the different opinions on this topic – definitely informative.

        1. Joey*

          Take it as a hard lesson learned. If you haven’t done your homework you’ll most likely get screwed salary wise. It’s sort of like buying a car and blindly hoping the salesperson will give you a fair price. Same with companies- they’re in the business to make money so if they can get away with paying you less most of the time they will.

  26. Kelly O*

    I’d just add that I hate the whole salary history issue. Recruiters take the red pen, go down your resume, and write salary history on it… and I’m thinking “y’all seriously I have taken such a cut and am just not willing to stay here; it’s part of why I am looking.”

    Now, I realize I am not talking about high level work here, but if you “only” have an Associates and experience, it’s like you can’t make people understand you are not stupid and that you know how to research market value, and you also understand what a reasonable livable wage is.

    (And I am well-aware of how dependent I am upon my husband’s job. If I had to live on what I just make, I don’t know how it would happen.)

  27. Anonymous*

    I had a phone screen once where the HR person told me straight up that the salary was $X. I asked if there was a range or flexibility – nope, the salary was just $X. It was a bit low, but not crazy low and there were some other positive things about the position, so we scheduled an interview for a few days later.

    In the meantime, I researched the company, talked to a colleague who was currently working there and came to the conclusion that $X was just too low if there was no room for negotiation. I called HR and said that I thought it over and decided that the salary was too low for me. The HR person seemed understanding and cancelled my interview.

    I spoke with my colleague some time later. It turned out that the hiring manager was livid that HR was telling candidates that the salary had no flexibility. Apparently the position had a range that was well within what I was looking for!

  28. Lee Zaruba*

    The follow-up discussion to this particular topic exemplifies why I check this site regularly. Thanks.

    By the way. In general? I think AAM has it right in the original post as regards most audiences and contexts. Hiring managers should post a loose range with some weasel-wording. Then once through the process, a hiree should provide a target or narrow target range and key benefits.

  29. Anonymous*

    I wish I could have read that post before my interview (and subsequent job offer!). I was well prepared in all fields but this; I was taken aback when they asked me for a salary expectation and didn’t even think of asking them for a range. Retrospectively, I understood my mistake – but took the offer after considering my other options and the current market, although after some research I realized that the salary is only average for the position. Your post only reinforces what I felt I understood after this experience. Next time I’ll be more prepared for salary discussion.

    To be honest, one thing I was afraid of is coming as too confident and expecting too much. I’m about to graduate and the end of the interview consisted of a couple of technical questions where I felt I didn’t do too well, so when the salary question came right after I felt a bit distressed and was afraid to disclose my actual expectation (which was a bit higher than the actual offer). Again, retrospectively, I think this was the only time offered to me to discuss the salary and I didn’t take that opportunity, so too bad for me.

    It might be due to my lack of confidence as a soon-to-be new grad. Reading everywhere that the job market is awful and that graduates cannot negotiate, I might have abandoned the whole idea of having any salary expectation during my job search process…

    I guess a candidate has nothing to lose by disclosing a salary expectation, even if it’s a bit high in the interviewer’s opinion, and even if it’s entry level? Although as I can see in the comments, some employers don’t hesitate to pull back an offer based on this issue (which is what I was afraid of).

    1. Catherine*

      If what you’re making is average, I don’t think you did badly–especially if you’re having trouble justifying why you would be above average.

        1. Anonymous*

          Well it’s difficult to say – I could justify a slightly higher salary expectation due to having multiple relevant academic degrees (not always meaningful in terms of salary for a new grad, I know), and, I believe, a couple more years of work experience than the “average” grad to be hired in the field. But it feels like a lot of quibbling over only a couple of K$, so I sucked it up.

          Overall, I’m a tiny bit disappointed by the way I handled it (feeling embarrassed and all) but OK with the result.

          By the way, thanks for the reply! And AAM, thanks for your insight and advice, I’m avidly reading your archives now :-)

  30. Anonymous*

    I have what I think is an interesting twist on this problem. I was making a quite good salary before I was laid off 1.5 years ago. I was making a big city salary while working at a satellite office in a rural area. I want to stay in my small town where there are fewer jobs and salaries are lower so I expect to make less. I would love to make the same salary or more, but that’s unlikely. I would be content with making 20% less than my former salary. Frankly, I live below my means and could accept a salary that’s 40% less if the work seems like it would be fulfilling and it might lead to something more lucrative in the future. Currently have no income. I can survive for another few months before using my savings to pay for basic living expenses becomes painful. How do I answer the question of my salary needs?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If at all possible, talk in terms of what you’re looking for, not what your salary history is. If someone insists on salary history, explain that you were in an unusual situation because you were making a big-city salary while working in a rural area, and you don’t expect that to continue.

  31. ChristineH*

    I know this post is from over a week ago, but as a job seeker, I dread the salary question.

    The discussion in this post, and other articles I’ve read, talk about annual salary. Alison, would you say the ideas discussed here can also apply to hourly pay? I run into this with temporary employment. I was always taught to indicate that I’m open, but at one temp agency I’d registered with, the woman insisted I name a figure.

    I’m running to this once again…I’m registering with my university’s temp division, and the recruiter wants me to indicate my expectation of hourly pay. I looked on the state government’s website, but it wasn’t really in-depth. I don’t want to disqualify myself by giving a number that’s too high or too low.

      1. ChristineH*

        Thanks. Just found your “burning salary questions” piece from November to hopefully get some ideas. Just not sure if I should go by what I earned at my last permanent job (the one in my field), or the one temp job I had two years ago, which was a few dollars per hour lower than what I made at the perm job.

  32. iceyone*

    Employers – don’t be surprised if this happens more often – especially with candidates who are in high demand.

    If someone asks me to name a range I always say “depending on the position description and how my skills/experience fit into your organisation. Let’s make sure I am a good fit first and then talk about salary!”

    Yes it’s annoying, however in my experience, if I say a range the employer will always come in just under it – some employers will negotiate, however some won’t.

    In my experience, this is a red flag – if an employer focuses on salary then more than likely they won’t offer you what you want!

  33. lulebore*

    I must say I really respect and like this guy for standing his ground and not sharing his salary with you. It shows to me that he is not scared of possibly being denied a position where the employer (you) are only looking at the bottom line ($$$) without truly considering this person as an individual/employee and what he can do for your company. Moreover, he probably has enough self-worth and is in a position, professionally, to value his skills and knowledge more than giving in to your request to disclose his salary.

  34. older*

    I support those defending they person refusing to disclose his salary range. Now that I’m back in the labor market I dread/hate that question, especially since it is nearly always one way communication. It is, for the applicant, a no win situation. Either I’m disqualified because my standards are higher than you expect or I low ball myself. In the current labor market I, reluctantly, give the information. In a more balanced labor market or if I were still in a position I would not unless the employer provided more information.

    Note: hiring managers need to remember this — you are not trusted. You may be nice people, may be highly ethical people but the behavior of employers over the years means you are not trusted.

  35. Rachel*

    This article is ostensibly about a candidate not being willing to disclose their salary *expectations*. But I’d be willing to bet pounds for pennies that what was actually asked for (and was rightly refused by the candidate) was the candidate’s salary *history*.

    It’s amazing how many HR jockeys get those two things mixed up. Candidates will always be willing to tell you how much they’re *seeking*. The savvy ones just aren’t stupid enough to supply you with a figure they found acceptable several years before, for doing a different job, so that you can try and lowball them.

    I’ve had the experience of an HR person asking me for my salary history, and me telling them that the amount I was paid for doing a different job for someone else is none of their business. They came back with “well I can’t process your application unless I know how much you’re seeking”. Their response told me I’d made exactly the right decision in not entertaining their wilful blindness / duplicitousness. I explained the difference between past salary and future expectations, and told them I was withdrawing my application as I don’t work with people that can’t understand the difference between the two.

    Companies that let HR do their recruiting regularly end up with less than stellar employees, partly because of the wilful blindness and inherent dishonesty on the employer’s part that exchanges like the one above reveal, and partly because a hefty number of people working in HR are genuinely too stupid to know the different between what someone has earned in the past and what they are willing to sell their skills and experience for now.

  36. HRobert*

    In my opinion, a recruiter shouldn’t be surprised if a candidate becomes hesitant about being open as to their salary history, especially if its the initial form of approach taken by the recruiter. The fact of the matter is, recruiters use this as a screening process, and of course to their advantage; it’s a known fact. I say a more appropriate approach to a potential candidate is: ‘What is your desired salary?’ and not, ‘ Please provide me with a salary history’. But then again you have your desperate candidate who will divulge that information immediately, and end up with a salary lower than what they’re valued for.Is this the type of candidates you’re looking for? Ones who have no values? As a candidate, it’s important to realize a couple of things: your value, and what the most current job market is. So its only reasonable to say, for the same reason that a recruiter would not want to advertise a “range” in salary (i.e, $50k-$65k), a good candidate would not want to disclose their salary history. As a business man, if I am able to hire great talent, and pay less, then I’ve just conducted what I call “smart business”. Having said that, a great recruiter (this relates to Ask a Managers comment) knowing their budget allows for $65K for a particular position, would never place all their cards on the table. In other words, if you chose to advertise the range, than you would know that you should allow for some room to negotiate with that one candidate. If my budget is $65, then I would list it as $50-$55K, allowing for some room to negotiate. If I have a candidate that’s willing to accept $55K, great, if not, I have $10K to work with.And again, this is all based on experience, whereas someone at an entry level, I may make an exception and give them $52K, which works like a charm and I just managed to maintain the salary at $13K below the budget. Overall, recruiters should play fair, otherwise you will lose great candidates.

    ” If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur”. Red Adair

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