when job candidates won’t share their salary expectations

A reader writes:

I have always asked job 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 had 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.  I had no clue what his expectations are and he refused 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 $30,000 more than what we want to offer. Had we discussed this early on, we all would have realized we’re not compatible and not wasted his or our time. Eeeeekkkk.

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

You can read my answer to this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and often updating/expanding my answers to them).

{ 139 comments… read them below }

  1. KT*

    This is why COMPANIES need to disclose the range they’re looking to offer. I think it’s so unfair that companies hold potential employees hostage with this info instead of being upfront of what they can pay.

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      Completely agree. Employers have BY FAR more information than candidates do — they have people who have the assigned task of finding out what market salaries are, and they know what their own damn budget is and what they can pay! So I think it’s on the employer to put out a number first, especially in early conversations with a candidate who’s changing careers and has even less information about what a reasonable salary is than someone who’s changing jobs within the same field.

      But they’ll never do it, at least not the short-sighted ones who are happy to lowball a candidate who names a number lower than the bottom of the range but wouldn’t dream of stretching the top end for a stellar candidate.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This. I hate head games. Although, I can see that OP meant no harm, I would have no way of knowing that as an applicant. I would walk away from that interview saying to myself, “Why is the pay range a State Secret?” There is also a game show feel to it-“If you guess the right price range you get to continue the interview but if you guess wrong you get to go home.”
          Just tell me what the range is… grr. If you really want to save huge amounts of time, put the range in your ad.

          1. JessaB*

            Especially since in some cases, naming a number first (or disclosing your current salary) gets you an offer that may be very lowball particularly if you’re female or a minority. That’s one of the reasons that women’s and minorities pay still have a huge gap. Once you get stuck at a lowball number somewhere, it snowballs as you go forward in your career and you’re stuck making less than some of your coworkers. There is zero reason, unless their pay plan is unequal or unfair that a company should be unwilling to give their numbers first. After all they know what the job is. They know specifically what they’re paying or have paid other people that have had it.

            I’ve never seen someone on AAM who has a story that went “They asked salary, I said 40k. They gave me 60k because that’s what they’d budgeted.” If the candidate lowballs, it’s a near certain lock (unless it’s union or public service or something where every job has a specific tier, and you’re in it no matter what,) that they’re going to get something really close to 40k.

      1. Ops Analyst*

        You raise a good point about career switchers. I just changed industries and when I interviewed for my job I totally lowballed myself. My company handled it with some pros and cons. Cons- they still didn’t give up what they were going to pay until they were making an offer and the offer was non-negotiable. Pros- they shockingly offered me $14K more than I asked for, so they didn’t lowball me even after I lowballed myself, plus I’ve since learned they are paying at the high end of the industry.

        So, in short… I don’t think companies are always lowballing candidates based on response. I’m more apt to believe that they ask because they want to get an idea, but if they are a good company they will pay what they planned to pay either way. I think its a bigger problem for your salary expectations to be too much rather than too little.

        1. Kyrielle*

          In general, I think you’re right, and that is my experience at $CurrentJob.

          But the man who hired me fresh out of college at $FirstRealJob absolutely lowballed me – he knew I was desperate in a desperate market. (To be semi-fair, when I proved myself very valuable and got 4s and 5s on a 5-scale review, and was being paid below the median for positions with my job duties and experience, let alone specialized product/industry knowledge that I had, he went to bat and got me a 35% raise. I am sure I will never see a raise that spectacular, percentage-wise or probably dollar-wise, again in my life, and I’m content because it is largely because *I’m already being paid reasonably in the first place*.)

          I absolutely watched him treat others the same, and I was at one point shocked to learn that two people who were basically doing the same job at the same level, quality of output, productivity, etc., differed in salary by something like 20%.

        2. AnotherHRPro*

          Yes. It is not in a companies best interest to under pay an employee they just spent a ton of time and money recruiting. They generally want to know your requirements to ensure that the candidate isn’t expecting significantly more than they are prepared to offer.

        3. SL #2*

          I was asked to disclose my salary history for my current job, which didn’t exist because I was a new grad then. I gave them the information and braced myself for an insultingly low offer, but to my surprise, they gave me a market-rate offer. It’s just a little sad that I think Current Job was commendable for not low-balling me right off the bat, because it was so ingrained in me to think that by handing over my lack of salary information, I was opening myself up to being taken advantage of.

        4. JessaB*

          True, even though I kind of said otherwise above. But how do you know? Walking in, if they don’t give numbers first, how do you know you’re not going to get wrecked. If you don’t want to end up the unlucky recipient of an offer 14k less than they thought they might have to pay, how do you pick the companies that’ll do that for you.

    2. MashaKasha*

      Last time I was actively interviewing, two-three years ago, I got that question in job interviews a few times. First of all, is it me or is it an insanely awkward question to ask/answer during a panel interview, when some of the people in the room might end up being your peers? Because I’ve had that happen.

      Anyway, I’ve always responded with “I’m pretty flexible; why don’t we see how much you have in mind and go from there?” which was always always met with a blank stare and more prodding to give them my numbers without disclosing their own. I was then in my “I want to work at a new, dynamic startup” phase and so probably priced myself out of a lot of jobs I’d interviewed for. Can’t say for sure, because none of them ever gave me their numbers! I think it should be a two-way street. And I also think that employers should name their range first. They actually used to, back in the say. Then sometime in the six years between me looking for job#4 and job #5, this very good tradition went out the window and no one will name their numbers anymore.

      1. Stranger than fiction*

        Agree and more companies need to name the range on the job postings. Let’s stop wasting everyone’s time. As far as your comment it’s changed, yes it totally has. My theory is when the economy tanked and companies found themselves needing to hire, they stopped naming a range and began the practice of finding the cheapest candidate, low balling became more prevalent, etc. not sure if that tide has begun to change because current job made me a very fair offer and nice had two very nice raises since. So yeah not all companies have poor practices but a lot do.

      1. alexcansmile*

        This this this! I’ve managed to self select myself out of a number of jobs because frankly, they can’t afford me. But some of this is guess work or based on what I can find on Glassdoor – which may or may not be accurate. I wish more employers would post a range. It would save us both a lot of time. Who wants to spend a ton of time applying and interviewing for a job that ultimately can’t meet their salary requirements?

        1. Kyrielle*

          If you search on LinkedIn, you can “narrow search” by salary range to see if it falls into anything you’re willing to accept. I used that to get a feel for the seniority of some unclear positions during a recent job search, too. Not foolproof, but at least helpful hint-wise.

          1. Stranger than fiction*

            Even if they haven’t disclosed it in the posting? Just curious for next time I’m looking.

            1. Kyrielle*

              I don’t have a premium account so I can’t see the salary info, but if the employer has given it to LinkedIn (but it’s not in the text), filtering by salary can give it away. Whether all postings have to have that info, I do not know.

              1. Hrrecruiter*

                Sorry, but Linked In is just guessing at the salary range. I post jobs there often and they don’t ask employers to provide a salary range. When I go to view my postings, they are usually pretty far off on the salary range they classify it under.

      2. Ad Astra*

        Exactly. I know how much I need to live, and I can’t really afford to accept anything less than that. So really, my task is to find someone who thinks I’m worth at least that much. If an employer offers me something in the realm of a reasonable market salary but it’s not enough to pay my rent, this isn’t going to work out. Please, save us both some time and just give me a range. Even if it’s a pretty broad range. I might apply for a job listed at $35k-50k and accept far less than $50k, but I’m not going near anything listed at $30k.

    3. Brenda*

      Seriously. Plus, everywhere I’ve worked, especially in higher education but also in the private sector, had a salary range for each job and a system of moving up by points or by a percentage every year. Jobs have levels, companies have budgets – why don’t companies just say it? I won’t apply for a job that pays less than I’m looking for and waste their time.

      This is why I love higher education though, all the salary ranges are listed on the job ads and the their salary scales are often publicly available. It makes life so much easier. Even though I know I’ll never get a bonus and I can’t really negotiate my raises, I’d rather have that than the constant uncertainty about whether you’re being paid enough and when to ask for a raise that places that don’t operate this way have.

    4. Merry and Bright*

      Also, many of us have had it drummed into us not to even mention money until we get the You’re Hired message which is one reason I have felt wrong-footed when the tables are reversed like this.

      1. JM in England*


        In the past, whenever I’m asked to name my range, I reply with “That’s something I usually discuss only when I have an offer”……………

    5. evilintraining*

      Amen to that! If you put the range in your ad and it’s less than I’m looking for, I won’t waste your time or mine.

    6. Kelly O*

      We just had a great candidate for a position in our organization. Problem was, there was a substantial difference between her expected salary range and what the company planned to offer. No overlap whatsoever.

      While I get the whole idea of “not showing your hand” in some cases it makes sense to disclose at least a range. It would save the candidate the time off work spent preparing and interviewing, and save a prospective employer from getting their hopes up for someone they cannot afford.

      1. Pixel*

        Can I get a resounding “hell, yeah!”?
        I was approached by a prospective employer and her very first question in her very first e-mail was about salary expectations. It’s wonderful – as someone downthread said, it saves the hassle of interviewing (and ironing), it saves disappointment on both sides, and at least on the employees side, I know I will not get hired simply because I was the cheapest of the bunch. It sets the stage for actually talking about the job at the interview rather than both of you have “I wonder what they’re going to ask/offer” on the back of your mind.

      2. Chris*

        To me, the obvious solution is to just freaking disclose from the beginning, in the job posting if possible. If the company planned to offer a specific amount, SAY THAT. Then she wouldn’t even have applied. I know that companies prefer to get people emotionally invested, and then possibly draw in people who wouldn’t have initially applied, but then they need to accept that as a cost of doing business.

        Companies have budgets. You should at the very least offer a range in the initial listing. At that point, it’s the company wasting the applicant’s time, not the other way around

    7. Brandy*

      Worth noting is that when I’ve hired recently, I’ve had a HUGE range. The role typically runs $XX-$YY, but for a junior person worth investing in, I’d pay $XX- $15k; for a really senior person that can do more for me, I’d be able to and willing to stretch to $YY + 20k.

      Disclosing to a candidate along the way “Well, the range is $50-$100k depending on your skill set” is just silly, so it’s a careful dance between making sure everyone has similar expectations for value-for-talent. Ideally, I’d prescreen the resume and let HR know where I thought the person would fall, saying something like “[roles] in this company tend to be in the $75-90k range, depending on experience. We are looking to hire on the [higher/lower] end of that range for this role.”

      1. Susie*

        This sounds to me like this position should be hired for as two separate roles: a Junior version and a Senior version.

        That way you can narrow down the requirements at each end of the spectrum and also put a more accurate salary on the posting. Junior Teapot Maker duties would be the bare bones skill set with a $50-$75k range and Senior Teapot Maker would be the higher-level skill set with a $75-$100k range.

        Unless you really had no preference whether you got a completely green employee or a seasoned professional when you were hiring for the position?

  2. Clever Name*

    I agree that it seems weird that a candidate refused to answer a question when asked multiple times, but if the hiring manager really wanted to avoid wasting their own and other’s time, a salary range could have been posted in the listing in the first place.

    1. BRR*

      I can see why it reflects poorly in a way to keep refusing but I also kind of admire the candidate for standing up for other candidates on this principle.

      And as I posted below, the company can save many more people time by listing the salary. Instead of not interviewing one candidate, many candidates wouldn’t waste their time applying if they knew.

  3. BRR*

    While this topic as surfaced many times I’ll say it again, list your salary or at the very least the employer should give a number in the first interview.

    But preferably in the job posting because I really don’t want to take the time to apply and prepare for an interview if the salary is below what I would take.

    1. the gold digger*

      NO kidding! It takes an hour (at least) to write a cover letter and complete the (often ridiculous) online application system. A phone interview takes another hour. Then the in-person interview – half a day gone for that plus I have to iron.

      Please do not waste my time if I would be taking a pay cut.

    2. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I just decided not to apply for a job because they didn’t list a salary range! So frustrating.

      1. Jill of All Trades*

        Not to hijack the thread, but I just watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt this weekend and I now understand your user name – well chosen! You’ll get her secret one day.

      2. BRR*

        I’ve done that but sadly that’s not always an option. I applied to one and by the title thought the salary would be X but in the phone screen the person said it was 10k less. At least she told me but dear god X was on the low end of what it should have paid.

  4. Lanya (aka Camp Director Kim)*

    There is so much bad advice out there about negotiating a salary, I’m not surprised that the candidate wouldn’t disclose his salary. He probably read something that said you have to hold your cards to your chest until the very end.

    I started having much better results with negotiating salary after absorbing all of Alison’s great advice through this website. Her suggestions about stating a desired range rather than a particular number have really suited me well, especially in situations where the company is not forthcoming about their range.

    1. NorCalHR*

      We rarely publish a range on a job posting – a company practice that is slowly changing but still in place. Our ads will generally say “Annual $ dependent on experience.” And we don’t require online applications to get a phone screen – email your resume with a cover (and a cover email is fine). However in the initial phone screen, I ask for an expected salary range and confirm at that time that the stated range is consistent with our salary practices. Not yet ideal, but getting closer!

    2. Bio-Pharma*

      For my current job, I stated a salary range, then was offered the low end of the range. Why didn’t I just state the average number or a higher range? I’ll never know if I could have gotten more… :(

  5. Could be anyone*

    This is an area that more transparency up front would be helpful. Daughter listed range (as requested) when she applied for a job. Company didn’t reject outright, they came back with lower number that she found acceptable and got an interview. She was second choice (the other candidate had more direct experience).

  6. Charityb*

    Sometimes employers don’t want to give a salary range because they think it will set up false expectations on the part of the candidate. For example, the top end of the range will be given to candidates with higher experience, education, credentials etc. and the bottom end will be given to candidates that are maybe missing some of the requirements or only meet the bare minimum for the role. Candidates often see a range like that (say, $40K – $60K) and conclude that they’ll probably get somewhere between $55K-$60K regardless of their actual qualifications.

    I don’t think this is a good reason for an employer to be cagey with how much they’re going to pay, but I can understand why they leave it off the ad. Of course, if they do decide to be evasive it’s a little hypocritical to complain when job candidates don’t want to risk being lowballed or risk pricing themselves out if they call out a number that’s higher than what the hiring manager imagines.

    1. fposte*

      As somebody on the hiring side, I say suck it up, buttercup to those skittish managers. Managing expectations is part of what you’re getting paid for. I think it’s a really craven way to justify an advantageous power asymmetry.

      1. neverjaunty*

        Exactly this. Especially since an inability or unwillingness to explain how that range is determined comes across very strongly as lying about the potential salary range. “Oh, of course we’d pay $60K to QUALIFIED candidates! I mean, if you had three Ph.D.s and fifty years of work experience we’d most definitely pay that much. Sadly, since you are not a magic unicorn, we can only offer $40K.”

        1. overeducated and underemployed*

          I think as long as you do offer within the range it doesn’t come off as dishonest, even if someone is disappointed. Making an offer below the bottom of the stated range is a bait and switch though.

          1. neverjaunty*

            Sure, but what I mean is that part of managing expectations is explaining what the range is and what qualifications are required. “We require a master’s degree for this position, but if you have a PhD that would qualify you for the top of the range,” that kind of thing. If it’s just a lot of handwaving about ‘qualified candidates’, then it suggest that ‘qualified’ means ‘something just above the level of people we want to hire, so we can justify never actually paying in that range’.

          2. Stranger than fiction*

            Yeah I’d never be so haughty about not getting the tippy top of the range, I’d think ok I’ve got some area to work on. But the very lowest when you know you’re very well qualified would be insulting.

      2. Adam*

        Thank you. Employers hold so much power in the process already it seems ridiculous to get a prospective employee to name a salary range when the position you’re filling’s range is set in stone 99% of the time. I know in some instances there can be some degree of flexibility in salary negotiations and ranges can change for the right candidate, but I really doubt that’s a majority situation. Employers know what they intend to pay. Being secretive about can be a waste of time for everybody involved.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yeah, but it’s easy enough to explain. I would never assume I’m going to start in the middle or at the higher end unless the lowest number is below what I’m already making. Then I would make a case for the middle/higher number based on my experience, etc.

      1. Charityb*

        That’s exactly right. There’s no excuse for being cagy and evasive especially when the power imbalance in the negotiation is on your side. There’s no practical way to completely elide all risk. It’s the same logic that leads companies to do completely irrational things because they have some arcane fear of frivolous lawsuits.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      If you have that kind of a range, you should be able to explain it. As a teacher, I had a range, too—A to F—and I had absolutely no problems explaining to students and parents why a particular student’s assignment fell in a certain part of that range and not another part.

    4. TJ*

      I agree–there’s a way to manage expectations when giving a salary range. In fact, federal job postings do this by stating what grades they could be hired in under and outlining the various duties and experiences expected for each grade.

    5. Chickaletta*

      So word it differently. “Salary for this position is $40K minimum” or something similar. That will give candidates a clue to what the pay range will be but since they don’t know the max they won’t jump right to it.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      So in your example, if the company knows that it is unlikely to pay 60k then why mention it? Why not set a range that is more likely to happen, such as 40-57K? or 40-55? On the off chance that you do find that superstar, go ahead and offer the 60k to that superstar.
      It’s human nature to reach for the top, so knowing this, why set the upper range sky high? People think companies mean what they say. In this case, it looks like a person could actually get offered 60k for the position. If that rarely happens, maybe it should not be advertised as such.

  7. LawBee*

    “I had no clue what his expectations are and he refused to budge on sharing.”

    And he could say the same, right? I generally think that it’s on the employer to disclose first, as they’re the ones making the ultimate pay decision for the position. No matter how great a candidate is, if the employer sees it as a $60k/year job, they’re not going to pay $100K. But the candidate who has done research and has a salary expectation of $100K may be willing to take less for a good position – but without disclosure of at least a range on both sides, situations like this are almost inevitable.

    While candidates absolutely have the power to reject job offers based on compensation, it feels kind of mean for the employer to not even give a potential range, especially if an offer was going to be made. It shouldn’t have gotten to this point by either side. Two parties negotiating in the dark, man.

    1. BRR*

      Just kind of going off of this I think candidates fit into the employer in terms of skills needed, fit, and salary. Having the op name their salary is like them creating the job.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Am chuckling. Right. And name the tasks/responsibility of the the job while you are at it.

  8. overeducated and underemployed*

    I hate this because I feel like when organizations insist that I say a number first, it means I have to give them the absolute lowest number I’d be willing to work as the bottom of my range for or risk pricing myself out, and then I have no chance at working for more than that, even if their range might have been higher. It takes away the candidate’s ability to negotiate.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      I work in fundraising, which may make a difference, but I would literally never think that. I’ve had them counter way lower, but it never made me look bad to ask for a higher number.

      1. overeducated and underemployed*

        Is this post-interview or in pre-interview HR screening though? It’s not even making it to the interview that worries me. If the difference is big enough and there is no room for negotiation it is best to not waste time (I withdrew two applications this summer for jobs that sounded great but just didn’t pay enough to cover my bills), but if what I actually want to make is just a little over their budget, I’d rather stay in the running and see if it’s worth it than have someone screen me out early.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          This IMO is another argument for employers disclosing in the ad. Then candidates can self-select without having to pin themselves to a low number.

        2. Lily Rowan*

          In the application, I’ve been able to either ignore their request to give salary requirements, or put a big range that started at my bottom. But I haven’t really applied for a job “blind” in a long time.

    2. LBK*

      I’m not sure I agree with that – unless you are WILDLY off (like, you shoot for $80k and they say $30k) it’s rare that going too high will immediately end a negotation, and even then I think they’d at least wait for you to agree that you’re not going to be able to find a middle ground before pulling the offer. I’d estimate as long as you’re in a $5k range (maybe $10k once you hit six figures) it’s more likely they’ll come back with a counter if you’re too high.

  9. Kyrielle*

    It can also be rough as a candidate because you don’t know what salary you’d want until you have a fuller picture of the position, duties, and benefits – late in the process. As Alison suggests, “Between $X and $Y depending on the duties of the position and benefits” can work nicely. But not every candidate has heard that advice, and some may be wary of “locking themselves in” before they find out something that means they would be willing to take the job and do it…but only for more money…. (For example, extensive travel. Or frequent long hours.)

    1. NonPro Pro*

      Unless you are changing industries, you really should have a pretty good idea of what salary you’d want.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Depends on how good the ad was at showing what the position entailed, and how much of a reach it is for you, and what the work/life balance is like.

        A job that wanted 80% travel or 70-hour weeks, I would walk from, personally. I know other people who could fit that into their lives – but they would absolutely expect more money than for doing the same basic things with, say, 20% travel and/or 40-hour weeks. They might be able to live on either salary, but they wouldn’t consider it “worth” taking the job with the additional travel/hours for the salary that fit with the job with the lesser amount.

        And good benefits can save an employee thousands a year, depending on their family, health situation, etc. Bad benefits, therefore, call for a higher salary for many people, to offset that.

      2. T3k*

        Except if you’re applying to jobs in other states/cities. For instance, I came across jobs that were a pretty good range for my field/experience, but when I looked into the COL for that area, I realized it wasn’t enough for even basic things, unless you shared a 1 bedroom apartment with some 3 other people.

        1. AnonPi*

          Oh yeah, I had an interview for a job in a higher COL area (just west of Denver) a few years ago. Since I sort of knew the person and felt ok asking, the first phone interview I went ahead and brought up salary as a concern due to COL and the fact they were going from having an undergrad student in this role, to someone like me (2 degrees and 5+ yrs exp at the time, which is what they supposedly wanted). I was told it wouldn’t be a problem and they’d take it into account. Well I got the job offer and I’d have took a 6-8K paycut when adjusting for COL, not to mention moving expenses (I don’t fully trust COL calculators to be accurate, could have ended up as much as 10-12K cut). On top of the fact it was only for 2 years and I’d had to relocate and find a job again. He got mad when I declined, and in part of his tirade it was obvious he didn’t realize how much higher the COL for Colorado was than living in the south.

      3. Stranger than fiction*

        Some job titles vary greatly in scope and responsibilities from company to company and don’t always ha e differentiators in the title, or what might be called a Senior or a II at one place could be a non-senior or a I at another and so on an so forth. And while wer griping about not disclosing salaries some places are also weird about giving you that complete job description, probably because they want to pay you at the non senior level and then you get on the job and realize you’re working at the senior level.

    2. BRR*

      Or the employer is way off base. I just applied to something and named a min of X in the ats). At the end of the phone screen I said after learning more Y was more appropriate for the responsibilities (as I had been interviewing for two other positions that were identical). They responded X was the top of their range. As to whether I prices myself too low or they pay low we’ll never know but I was shocked.

    1. Artemesia*

      This. A business ought to know what they plan to pay for a position. They need to make that range available. I hired many people for a role where we required a rare combination of experience and education and were not willing to pay what it was really worth; we didn’t publicize that in the ad, but when I talked with people we were interested in I shared the range and the likelihood of getting the top or getting above that so that they could withdraw if it was out of their minimal requirements. I could usually get the top of the range or even a few thousand more for strong candidates, but I could not go above that.

      A candidate should not be stuck with a lower than necessary salary because they can’t play the guessing game well. There is no excuse to treat people this way when it would be so easy to give a range and qualify it with the factors that make up positioning in the range.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Decades ago, I applied at a place. The lady asked me what I wanted. Feeling stuck, I said $7.50 per hour. Her jaw hit the desk. She said, “I wish I had your balls. [I instantly knew this convo was OVER.] I can’t offer you that. But, I will tell you something, you ARE going to get that pay. You WILL find it.”

        I had read advice that said hold out for what you want. As I walked out of that interview, JOBLESS, I really thought the advice failed. About 5 months later I was working for slightly more than that. Emotionally, it was like living on the end of a yoyo string. I never guessed well, at all. I think what happened to me was sheer luck. I had no idea how other people managed.

  10. F.*

    I have only advertised and interviewed candidates for hourly positions (administrative & construction inspectors), so I can only speak to my experience in a small (<50 employees) company. When I put the salary range in the ad, it was largely ignored. For example, I advertised an Administrative Assistant position at $13-15/hour and received resumes from candidates wanting anywhere from $17/hour to $70,000/year! I do not advertise our inspector positions with a range because of the wide variety of education, certifications and experience that we encounter. Everyone always wants the top of the range and very few are qualified for it.

    When I select a resume to pursue further, I send an application that requests their Salary Requirement. This weeds out the people who have no realistic idea of the going rate for the type of position. If they do not provide a range or says "negotiable", I do not contact them for an interview. I do not want to waste my time or the candidate's. I have had people come back and demand an interview anyway, despite being told that their salary requirement was more than double the starting wage for the position. No, your "requirement" is just that, a requirement. I do not want to hire someone at what we can pay if they are going to quit as soon as something better paying comes along. If they feel they are worth a great deal more than we can offer, then they need to find someone who can afford to pay their required rate.

    Some might complain that this process isn't "fair". In hiring, although both parties have power, the balance falls to the employer because there are multiple candidates for each opening. It is simple supply and demand.

    1. neverjaunty*

      It’s not a matter of it being “fair”; it’s a matter of your losing out on qualified candidates who aren’t interested in playing guessing games about the potential salary. Yes, you’ll get a lot of resumes from people who didn’t read carefully or are a bad fit; that will happen no matter what you put in the ad, on everything ranging from years of experience to base qualifications.

      In a way, you are avoiding wasting the candidates’ time, because you are signaling to them that you are an employer willing to withhold information because 1) you don’t trust them and 2) you want to be sure you hold all the power. That is useful information for candidates with other options. Unfortunately, those are probably the candidates you’d otherwise want.

      1. TJ*

        I love the way you framed that, jaunty, because that’s totally how I view it: ” it’s a matter of your losing out on qualified candidates who aren’t interested in playing guessing games about the potential salary.” I’m curious what benefits the employer feels they have in proceeding this way

        1. College Career Counselor*

          This is just my opinion, but I wonder if on some level, the employer benefits by cutting down on the total number of applications received (in the case of those who don’t apply because they don’t like going in blind), and by cutting down on the number of applications/resumes that need to be reviewed by weeding out those that don’t put a range or say “negotiable.”

          Now, one can argue that this means that qualified people aren’t applying/getting their applications reviewed, but if the hiring manager (or HR screener) feels there are “sufficient” qualified applications coming in, this is hardly viewed as a negative factor and may in fact be viewed favorably because why create extra work if you don’t have to?

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. And I add, that companies ALWAYS have more power than applicants. The scales are always tipped in favor of the companies, because companies hold the purse strings. In almost any relationship, the one who holds the purse strings also holds the power. Matter of fact some of the best financial advice I have ever heard is “Be careful who you accept money from, it always comes with strings attached.” So this is almost an universal thing, the one holding the purse, calls the shots.

    2. Mike C.*

      Then you post the range with a explanation as to what sorts of education/experience merits higher and lower wages, it’s really not that difficult.

      And throwing out any application that says “negotiable”? How do you expect a candidate to determine what a fair salary is when they have no idea about your workplace expectations, special demands or benefits package? As for the rest, who cares? Just throw out the applications rather than playing games with the candidates are a good fit for your needs.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m sorry, but I don’t see how your new method is any less work for you than your old method.

      Old method: list salary range, throw out a bunch of applications listing salary requirements way outside the scope of the range.

      New method: ask candidate’s to list salary requirement, throw out a bunch of applications that don’t list one or say “negotiable.”

      Either way, you’re throwing out applications. The only difference is the first method throws out applications that wouldn’t have been viable candidates anyway, and the second method throws out a lot of potentially amazing candidates, who could be a good fit.

      1. Goliath Gary Willikers*

        Excellent point. I’d also add that young people new to the job market still get a lot of advice to put their salary requirements down as “negotiable.” And they are likely the same group who’d be thrilled to be making $13-$15.

    4. LawBee*

      What’s wrong with “negotiable”? Sounds to me like you’re unnecessarily weeding out candidates based on a word that you may define differently.

  11. Merry and Bright*

    A few times when I’ve applied for a job the employer has phoned me simply to ask what my “salary expectation” is. I have given a number and sometimes qualified it with “depending on the duties” etc. Then never heard another word. So I wonder if I have priced myself out and they just want to interview the lowest bidders.

    1. overeducated and underemployed*

      On the other hand, I had an email contact like that recently, responded that it was negotiable depending on benefits and duties, and asked if they had a range they could share with me. Never heard back. So it can backfire if you don’t share, too.

  12. Brett*

    By law, I have to inform my employer every time I apply to another job.

    Because of this, I am not even going to bother with an employer that cannot share their salary range up front before I apply.

    1. Mike C.*

      What sort of job has this requirement, and what country are you working in, if you don’t mind me asking?

    2. Technical Editor*

      Whoa! Do you work in government? I hope there is some law protecting you against retaliation.

    3. LBK*

      I’m curious if this is the result of a non-compete agreement, because that doesn’t sound enforceable.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If I’m remembering correctly, Brett works in a highly regulated government agency that has lots of restrictions that sound bizarre to people outside his agency but that he thinks (I think?) are justified by the type of work they do … but it’s very much its own thing.

    5. Brett*

      Unites States, local government. Many of the weird restrictions we have were piled on during the recession when people were afraid to quit, while others have been on the books and largely ignored a while but started being actively enforced during the recession and recovery.

      It makes sense for the type of agency I am in, but no sense for people like me who are not doing the primary role of my agency.
      Normally people in the agency’s main line of work would work 30+ years for the same employer. But my specific role is a professional science role where job changes happen routinely and these sort of restrictions are onerous.
      The real concern is people moonlighting in a way that is disreputable to the agency; but there is also a risk that someone will leave the agency for another company in a way that is unethical or disreputable. As a simple example, if an employee was working on the side in the adult entertainment industry or left here to go to the adult entertainment industry, it would make the papers in a very bad way. So, employees are required to get permission when applying elsewhere, or quit first.
      As an extreme example, we had an employee who moonlighted with a liquor chain, another position that would have normally been denied permission to apply so he never requested permission. They ended up hitting him with felony charges because of the moonlighting aspect of it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Wait, whoa. Felony charges? Please say he was bootlegging and not that he was just working a cash register at a liquor store.

        1. Brett*

          Security consultant, but since it was while he was an exempt employee, this elevated it to theft of public funds at a felony level.

  13. Applesauced*

    I’m dealing with this now… I had a good first interview – but salary didn’t come up until I was on the way out and asked the HR person, “So, I can email you with any hiring or salary questions?” and she said “We don’t usually discuss salary until the offer.”
    So now I’m stuck – I’m tempted to ask for a salary range if I get invited for a second interview, but all my friends say to wait and not mention it until they do. UGH!

    1. neverjaunty*

      That’s a red flag. I mean, not even that they don’t tell you the salary until there’s an offer, but you asked about “hiring or salary questions” generally, and she shut you down by telling you they won’t?

    2. T*

      I also like to know the salary early but if you were already told they like to wait, there’s not much to think about. You already sort of dipped your toe in the water and were clearly told to wait.

    3. Chriama*

      Have you met the hiring manager yet or was this interview just with HR? If it’s just with HR, I can see them not wanting to make any promises (or say anything that might be interpreted as a promise) without getting the hiring manager’s input. If you’ve met the HM then it’s fine to say something like “before we invest any more time in each other, can you let me know your approximate salary range for this position so we can be sure we’re on the same page?”. If you haven’t met the HM then wait until you do.

  14. nonprofitNY*

    What about when they request that you include your salary requirement in the cover letter, you do so, they take you through a whole interview process, and then offer way lower because they never bothered reading that far down in the cover letter? That happened to me & it was a great indication I didn’t want to work for them–definitely the most awkward offer phone call ever! I was genuinely on the fence about them as I could see some advantages to working there, so I kept going with their process even though I also had some doubts about their organization, but this conversation sealed it for me. The HR woman acted like she was doing me an enormous favor offering $7,000 less than I asked for and was shocked when I said um, no, that won’t work for me. She said wait, was there a number you were looking for? Um yeah, the number I put in the letter! Ultimately they said they’d give me that amount, but there were too many other red flags at this point and it turned out it wasn’t a great time to leave my employer anyway.

  15. NonPro Pro*

    As someone who is mid-career and not necessarily looking for a new job but wouldn’t mind a change, I almost relish the opportunity to tell potential employers my desired salary, because:

    1) Ultimately, no interview is a “waste,” because I almost always learn useful things about my industry
    2) It is the best possible way to road-test my asking price, alleviating the power dynamic that many commenters here have brought up
    3) My experience in my industry is that their knowing my desired salary range isn’t going to change the salary range offered for the position*.

    *The reason for this is that while it’s in the employer’s interests to pay you as little as they can get away with, it’s not in their interest to pay you drastically below market rate, because once you figure it out you’re probably not going to be too happy and will undoubtedly start your search again.

  16. FelineFine*

    I work in a union environment. Salary bands are posted in every job posting. I’ve learned to conduct telephone pre-screens because so many candidates tell me that they feel that they should get paid more than what the range allows for. They figured it would be “negotiable”. Actually, it’s only negotiable when it’s within the range.

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      I do this too (also union). I include the sentence: “We anticipate hiring at the low end of the range.” We may occasionally start a candidate with exceptional directly relevant experience at Step 2 or 3, but that’s rare. We do get negotiators, but this seems to cut down on that quite a bit.

  17. Jeff-Professional Little Teapot*

    First time posting.

    This sounds like something that happened to me down to the amount they were off by. I’d looked at relocating back to my long time home city after a few years away. I’d filled out what I was making before the move knowing the cost of living differences between the two places would mean I wouldn’t make exactly what I was making before. There had been some discussion of salaries but I told them I was flexible due to the cost of living differences.

    The interviews went well. When the offer came in, it was about $30,000 less than what I was making at my current position, but also about $15,000 less than what I was making before my move. I declined. They countered a couple days later with $20K more but I was soured by the lowballing.

    If they’d come in at the new salary the first time, I would’ve probably taken it.

  18. Workfromhome*

    I wonder how the hiring manager/OP phrased the question:

    I have seen many times that the question is not “What are your expectations but ..what do you make now?” To me (and I’m more of a passive candidate being already employed) that’s a red flag and I simply wouldn’t answer. What I make is none of your business any more than I would ask a hiring manager “So what do you make a year? or ask a recruiter “So what will your commission be on this position if I get hired.

    It has a lot to do with the power dynamic and what the OP is trying to accomplish. If the goal is to hire the best person for the job within the range allocated then post the range in the ad or reveal it to the candidate saying “this job pays between x and y is this a conversation we should continue.

    If the goal is to fill the position as cheaply as possible then by all means force the candidates who are desperate for work to low ball themselves so you can appear to be a hero saving the company some money. You will likely end up getting exactly what you deserve the cheapest most desperate candidates. The best people are likely already employed, know what they are worth and don’t need to play this game.

    I went though this with an interview. Had a great interview and conversation. seemed to be mutual interest on both parties. But then as I was getting ready to schedule the next step and leave they finally brought up salary. They did mention a range that was about 20% less than what I currently made. Their response was “oh we just hired someone at that salary last month we couldn’t possibly bring someone in at 20% more…but maybe we would consider you for a higher position in the future”. I was not pleased. Why did you waste my time by not letting me know you were not in the ball park to start. Why do I care what you pay someone else? Do they have the same qualifications and experience I have (they certainly didn’t) .

    Just share your range and do a little bit of work to support your eventual offer (hey the range is 50-70 but we are offering you 55 because you do not have an XYZ certification)

    The whole what is your expectation..not telling you..so what is the salary range you offer…not telling you is just a silly pissing contest no one really wins.

    1. the gold digger*

      You will likely end up getting exactly what you deserve the cheapest most desperate candidates. The best people are likely already employed

      Not necessarily. You might get someone who’s not very good or you might get someone really good really cheap who will leave as soon as possible for someone who hires only people who currently have jobs.

  19. TJ*

    I wonder if he was a recent graduate? I just finished grad school and landed several interviews in new job markets and had no idea what the going rate was. Glassdoor and Indeed were only a little insightful, so I was afraid to say a number I was just making up. What I appreciated the most, however, was being given an honest salary range in the first phone screening. I had one company interview me three times, and when I finally asked what salary range they had in mind, they acted offended that I’d even be curious. I’m curious why salary is treated like such a secret–it’s the most important part of the job for both sides.

    1. Long Sigh*

      It’s a mind fuk TJ.
      Companies do salary surveys and know exactly what the local market rate is.

  20. Mel in HR*

    This is exactly why before I even start asking questions in the phone screen, I describe the company, then the position, then the pay range/general benefits for that position. My very first question is basically “Are you still interested?”. Now if I tell you a range and you say that’s fine/great/something positive, you better mean it. Every once in awhile someone will get all the way to the offer stage and then counter with something absurdly above our range and I want to laugh at them and yell at the same time. Don’t waste each other’s time!

  21. Anonymous Educator*

    Alison’s advice is spot-on:

    It doesn’t sound like you shared the expected salary range with him until you were ready to make an offer — and so it’s hard to blame him for refusing to do something you hadn’t done yourself. Why not just share the range with him earlier?

    The only employer who should be asking “What’s your salary expectation?” without disclosing her organization’s salary range is an employer who has a virtually unlimited budget. If you know you can pay pretty much anything the candidate can ask for, go ahead and ask without volunteering your budget.

    In all likelihood, you have a budget. If your range is $35,000-$50,000, just say that in your ad (or the phone screen interview), and you can weed out people looking for $60,000 or $80,000. If someone with zero experience wants $50,000, you should be able to have that conversation about why she’s more on the $35,000 range.

  22. Cucumberzucchini*

    When I’m hiring I always list a range. It’s not hard to explain it’s a guideline and that only uniquely qualified , perfect fit candidates would warrant the upper range.

    I don’t like to throw out a salary range before learning more about the position specifics that are uncovered in an interview. If the culture is work round the clock, no work life balance with shit benefits I’m going to need a much higher salary than a leave on the dot everyday, low stress position.

    Not too long ago I applied for a position where they required me to disclose my salary history. Which I did. My most recent salary was almost double what that position paid. Which I understood going in and had prepared a comprehensive answer for the situation. I went through two rounds of interviews but ultimately they decided I was overqualified. Honestly I would have been fine with the salary that job paid because it was completely different in stress-level and responsibility level than the job I had left. I think the only reason I got the interview at first was the hiring manager skipped the salary range. He didn’t bring it up until he had glanced over the application print out I had been told by HR to bring with me. So companies can do themselves a disservice by asking for previous salaries. My previous salary had zero bearings on what I was open to taking for a different position.

  23. Sparty07*

    Salary expectations can change based on benefits. If company A is offering 100,000 and matches 100% of 401K contributions up to 6%, has healthcare costs of $3,000 a year and a bonus of 10% that is certain, it could be the equivalent of a company that offers $110,000 with no 401k matching and no healthcare premiums (with equivalent health care) and a 5% bonus. Without understanding the entire benefits package it can be hard to truly understand what the salary you’re being offered will be.

    What if you throw out a salary figure of $50,000 and then find out your healthcare is only a high deductible plan with a $5,000 deductible. Would you have asked for more knowing you may be responsible for additional healthcare costs?

    1. blackcat*

      You know, this is something I liked about my former employer–they gave out this sheet every year that described “total compensation.” They had good benefits, so as a fresh out of college person, benefits were >1/3 of the compensation package (think salary 40k, total compensation 65k). When I go on the job market after grad school (where I currently am), I intend to use the “total compensation” number as a negotiating point (offering them the old employer’s sheet). I had fancy health insurance, employer retirement match, etc. As someone with a couple of chronic conditions, if you offer me high deductible health insurance, I’m going to ask for more $$ to cover that deductible.

      But yeah, post grad school, I’ll be saying something like “I’m looking for something between X and X+20k, depending on benefits and duties.” I don’t know what X will be, though!

  24. ConstructionSafety*

    I had an internal recruiter call me last week. Commercial company so I knew they weren’t going to come close to what I’m at now, but the projects were much nearer my house. She outlined the two projects they were staffing but said she didn’t have any salary info. I said OK, but here’s where I’m at now: salary, per diem, vehicle & phone allowance, health insurance & 401(k) match, etc.


    S’OK we didn’t really waste each other’s time.

  25. einahpets*

    This is an interesting question in the context of the Equal Pay bill signed this week in California. I have never understood why employers are cagey about salary ranges for positions.

    As other commenters have said, if the interviewing company’s goal is truly to not waste anyone’s time, and they are confident they are offering a fair / equitable wage for the position (and for their current employees), they should post the salary range.

  26. msbadbar*

    The only thing I liked about the interview process for my government job was that the salary (and ceiling) were listed on the job posting.

  27. Parfait*

    So say you make X currently, are relatively happy, and you decide to yourself you would need X+20K to be enticed to move away. When they ask you for a range, should you give X+20K as the bottom of your range? Or should it be X+25K so they can feel good about lowballing you, but still end up where you wanted anyway?

    The top end of the range is weird to me too. Does anyone ever say, “They offered me above the top of my stated range, that won’t work for me?” I get why the employer would have an upper boundary. Would it not make sense to say your range is for example “$75K and up?”

    1. Polka dot bird*

      I think because you want to include a higher “anchor point” I.e. if you just say “75k and up” they might say “okay, 78k sound good?”, but if you say ” 75-86k” they might split the different and give you 80k.

  28. JGray*

    Where I live salaries are hard because employers like to lowball salaries and people take them. In my experience, having lots of experience in a field (like admin or graphic design) doesn’t help you. Employers in my area will offer a very low wage (think $11/hour) but then require that you have 5+ years experience. I have also noticed that in the area where I live not all jobs called the same thing are created equal so its really hard to do any research to figure out what a fair wage should be. I should be making several dollars more an hour based on what I am actually doing but when compared to other jobs with my job title I am making more than most of those jobs. I think that salary discussions are two way streets and should start with the employer listing salary on the job ad.

  29. Ad Astra*

    My first two jobs out of college, when making an offer, phrased it as “The job pays $X.” The first time, I didn’t mind because it was about what I was expecting and I wasn’t in a position to be picky. The second time, the ATS had *required* me to list a desired salary (not a range) when I initially applied for the job — which was in a market with a totally different COL and not a lot of data about similar positions to do good research.

    Eventually I realized the desired salary I’d entered, which was $5,500 more than I was making at my current job, wasn’t enough to get by in that market. The hiring manager was shocked that I tried to negotiate because they had offered me $500 more than my asking salary. I was able to negotiate an paltry $500 more a year and twice the relocation assistance, which was an immediate need.

    After a year or so in that job, I realized the hiring manager had lived in that town so long that she really had no idea that her employees were grossly underpaid, even in a competitive, low-paying industry. I think we lost about 10 people out of 30 to a nearby competitor in the year and a half I was there.

    Employers: Give a damn range, ok?

  30. VX34*

    On principle, I really dislike job postings that only go “DOQ” or “DOE”. Every job applicant, everywhere, all the time, even fresh applicants to the working world, should understand that their starting earnings with an organization will depend on their qualifications/experience. If an organization is unwilling (or unable) to talk about what that is up front, it can set the wrong tone, immediately. I do understand why they do it, though, because some organizations may be interested in seeing how many people will lowball / be desperate for work will apply for a job. I definitely think that the employer should be up front with, at a bare minimum, the hiring range for a position, in every job ad. Give candidates the chance to self-select out or in based on their own situation.

    That said, that a candidate would refuse to give their salary expectations strikes me as strange. If you’re reluctant to share your salary expectation as a candidate, I think you have to ask yourself why. Are you not sure you’re worth it? Are you not sure they’ll pay it? I mean. I know that may sound a slight bit hackneyed, but if you aren’t willing to own up to / defend what you believe you’re worth as an employee, examination should be undertaken.

    I had a recent experience where I applied to Company, and heard back and was asked about my salary expectations due to the response they’d received. I replied with the range I wanted, which included the real number I wanted, and the low end of what I felt I could have lived with, but was still reasonable. When I had my initial phone screen, I was told the range, and it was at the top of my range and slightly beyond. I was offered at the number I wanted. I understand that not every company in every industry, but if I had refused to share my number, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am now.

    So, again. I think the onus should mostly be on the employers. But the candidates/employees should not completely abdicate their ability to be their own advocate too.

    1. VX34*

      Whoops, I meant “I understand that not every company, and not every industry, will respond this way…”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      But if the employer takes the onus (as it should), the candidate is far less likely to be reluctant to name a range of her own, because she already knows roughly what the employer has budgeted.

    3. Amy UK*

      Candidates are reluctant to name a price not because they’re scared of shooting too high, but of low-balling themselves. It’s not that they’re thinking, “Ooh, I want to ask for $50k but I don’t know if I’m worth it”, it’s “I want to ask for $50k, but maybe the position would happily pay $70k”.

      Sure, you can argue that if you’re asking for $50k and get it then you should be content, but who wouldn’t be kicking themselves if they found out they lowballed themselves?

  31. Eric*

    The OP is the type of HR person i hate as a job seeker. They clearly have a range they want to pay for the position. Then they get upset that the candidate refuses to say what they want. The first time he said no to the question she should have come back with this is our range. The only reason she is refusing to disclose the range is hopes that the candidate says lower than what they were hoping to pay. She says her time was wasted, I an sure the candidate feels the same way. I think all companies should just put the range in the job posting or at the very least at the start of the process.

    My most recent job interview went great and salary was never even mentioned until there was an offer in my email. Had I know it would be so low (and the benefits so limited) I would not have even applied.

  32. Recruit-O-Rama*

    I have been a Recruiter for many years. I have worked as an internal Recruiter and as an external Recruiter and the process is slightly different for those two very different roles. However, this example sounds like an internal recruiter or HR or maybe HM type of situation. Currently I work as a corporate recruiter in a pretty specialized industry. This is how this conversation goes typically for me.

    Me: Where are you hoping to be in terms of salary in your next position?

    The candidate goes one of two ways:

    1. Candidate: It depends on the position, duties, benefits, etc..

    Me: I understand; our range is between $X and $X- are we in the same ball park?


    2. Candidate: My range is $x to $x

    Me: Ok, thank you, our range is $x-$x, so it looks like we’re on the same page


    2. Candidate: My range is $x to $x

    ME: ok, our range is $x-$x so it doesn’t look like we’re a good fit. I wish you the best of luck in your job search and I will keep you resume in my database for “X type of candidates” in case something else comes up. Would you be willing to relocate if there is something in your area of expertise in your range at another one of our locations?”

    End of story, it’s not hard, no one needs to be cagey. Not meeting on salary expectations is so common and both sides just need to view it more objectively. If our range is lower than your expectations, it doesn’t mean we don’t value you or are insulting you, it means WE are not a good fit for each other on THIS position. I don’t begrudge someone the right to set their own expectations and salary ranges, but they should offer us the same courtesy. We have salary grades and budgets that are based on market data and other variables and RARELY are we able to negotiate outside of that range.

    I have gone back and forth on posting salary ranges in job descriptions and I have experimented with it over the years. My experience is that people either A. ignore it or B. think they deserve the top of the range no matter what so I just leave it off. I do not discard applications that leave the salary field blank and the salary discussion outlined above happens in the first few minutes of the first phone screen.

    Lastly, the most important part, I don’t put in on the posting because I don’t want you to self select out. I have new positions open every single day and just because you don’t fit this particular position doesn’t mean that I am not saving very well qualified candidates to build our talent pipeline.

    MANY of my calls start with “A few months ago you applied for X, which we have already filled, but something else just came up and I think you might be interested. I am going to send you the link to the posting, please let me know if this is something you would like to discuss further once you have had a chance to review”

    1. Mollyg*

      This response highlights why people don’t like throwing out numbers. You just said you would automatically reject someone who is higher then your range without asking if the lower range is ok. Many applicants do not know benefit packages or cost of living and may put out a number that is too high and would be willing to come down.

      1. Recruit-O-Rama*

        I think you are looking at my response from only your point of view. I think if you read it carefully, you will note that I give the company range regardless of whether they tell me their range first. I have conversations with candidates every single day and at some point in every single “life of a candidate” I need to determine if they are a good fit for the position we have open at the range we have budgeted. If the candidate hears our range and decides that they could fall into that range depending on other factors, I am certainly open to listening to that. I think the candidate, not me, is the best person to determine whether our range will work for them and their budget, but I can only take them at their word.

        Unless they are such a spectacular candidate that I simply cannot let them go under any circumstances, I am not going to spend time trying to talk them into our range. They are free to ask for a benefits summary if they want, but I am not going to go through a lengthy interview process with a candidate who already told me the range they are looking for is higher than what we are paying. I am not keeping my numbers a secret.

        I don’t think there is anything “automatic” about the response I gave or about my process in general when it comes to discussing salary at the beginning of the screening process.

        There has to be some give and take in the hiring process, nothing is perfect and you can never make every single person happy. I am making a good faith effort, I start on the assumption that my candidates are as well.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          I think if you read it carefully, you will note that I give the company range regardless of whether they tell me their range first.

          But this is a crucial way, then, that you differ from the OP. Basically, it sounds as if the OP was very insistent the candidate disclose a range before revealing one herself.

          1. Recruit-O-Rama*

            Yes, that’s a weird “thing” some companies do, and I don’t get the point. It’s not classified information.

  33. Senior System Administrator*

    Every hiring manager and the recruiters receiving the task to hire a candidate for a role has the obligation of knowing their budget for the position and how much they can stretch.
    It’s really a shame that the candidate have to say how much are actually making in their current jobs, this is personal and irrelevant for the hiring, and people not always want to change jobs for money.
    How much do you want to get pay in our company? what about 1 million per minute is that OK?
    Every position offered out there needs to have a salary or salary range already so people interested in the job will apply, why companies need to hide their salary expectations for the role? the company is the only one with knowledge of their budgets for recruiting not the candidates,
    these companies are guilty when high qualified people apply to job where at the end of the process they offer you an offensive salary wasting your time and also if the candidates want to much money for role and the company cannot afford such salary.
    Be a smart company, publish as much information about the role responsibilities and a salary or salary range for the job. people will know what you are requiring about the candidates applying and also you are making they know how much you can pay for, so people that agreed with the salary will send their resumes, it’s just that easy.

  34. Tom*

    I have never once divulged my salary expectation. I always state that I am flexible. If the hiring manager pushes me, I also politely refuse. The only reason the system as it stands is able to continue these unfair games (don’t call us, we’ll call you; be prompt in replying to our emails and phone calls, but if we’re not interested, we won’t get back to you regardless what we’ve told you; tell us everything about your personal and professional life, but even the point of this position–compensation in exchange for labor–we’re not prepared to disclose…) is the paucity of positions relative to the ever-mushrooming pool of qualified candidates. Supply and demand. That said, I refuse to share information an employer won’t reciprocate, and if I see a job offer I’m excited about that won’t list either the company’s name (yet they want your private info via CV) or the salary range for the position, I just move on.

    Companies get away with these puerile games because WE allow them to.

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