should we ask candidates their salary expectations ahead of interviews?

A reader writes:

I work in HR and am somewhat new to the field. Part of my job is managing recruitment. When I receive a promising resume, I will email the candidate to arrange a phone interview. In that first email, I ask, “What are your salary expectations?” If the person replies, “I am looking for salary between $X-Y” but I know the position pays lower than that, I will advise the applicant that their expectations are higher than what the position pays and ask if they are still interested in the phone interview. Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not.

I have read your column and it seems many job-hunters are uncomfortable with revealing their salary expectations so soon in the recruitment process. So what is the best, most professional way to ask a candidate’s salary expectations?

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

{ 275 comments… read them below }

  1. Important Moi*

    Respectfully, are you being honest with yourself in terms of how much your company is offering as a salary? The fair salary is what the market will bear not the lowest salary a company can get away with paying. Please don’t @ me I’m not trying to be rude just stating facts.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      Yes. If you’re nervous about telling a prospective employee the range early on, is it because experience has told you that most of the truly qualified folks don’t like the answer? If that’s the reason, you should probably reassess your compensation because it might be out of step with the market.

    2. Anonomoose*

      Also, please just put it in the advert. It acts as a helpful guide for employees, as it also indicates a rough level for the job, way better than your list of requirements will.

      (Also, I’m not alone in refusing to apply for jobs that don’t. No way I’m going through your application process to find out if the job is an upgrade)

      1. Nesprin*

        Yep- researcher at $40k is not equal to researcher at $140k, even though the descriptions of most researcher jobs are pretty similar, just with “at low/medium/high level of independence” hidden in somewhere.

        1. Anonomoose*

          My one is that, in programming jobs, they put every possible nice to have requirement down, and the salary helps as a nice gauge of if they actually need five years of experience in those five JavaScript frameworks..

      2. Ego Chamber*

        “please just put it in the advert.”

        Yes. The best, most professional way to ask a candidate’s salary expectations is to tell them what your company has budgeted for the role and then let them decide whether they want to apply for the job. A company presumably has a budget for salaries and it’s disingenuous to withhold that information when it’s based on more information than a single candidate could have access to (I know what my bills add up to and I have a rough idea of what companies in my industry pay but I don’t—and can’t—know what the “fair market rate” is because most companies don’t list it up front and I’m not about to apply for all the jobs just to find out).

        Think of it like this: If you go to the office supply store to buy a gross of pens for the supply closet, the office supply store puts a price on their products. They don’t ask “what are your expectations for the price of pens?” and then expect you to have done all the research to know what they think is a fair price to charge. That would be ridiculous.

        Companies that hide their salary range but expect candidates to give theirs are generally 1) a cesspool of wage disparity and should be avoided, 2) likely to tell you not to discuss wages with your coworkers and other illegal policies and should be avoided, 3) low-balling everyone and should be avoided, 4) pay everyone minimum wage or close to it and should be avoided. There’s no good reason to do this.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          5. If by some miracle they make you an offer you can accept, they’ll then claim you’re at the top end of the scale for your position and deny you raises for a hundred years. Even if they claimed at the time that there would be opportunities to progress.

    3. Emily S*

      Yeah, I winced a little at the end when LW got to the question. “I’ve learned many job hunters are uncomfortable with giving me this information. So what’s the best way to ask for it anyway?” So close to making the leap, yet so far. I was hoping the letter was going to ask for tips on how to interview without asking for the information now that he has realized it’s off-putting, but in the end he just wanted a set of magic words that would somehow allow him to continue the practice while removing the discomfort people have with it.

  2. Sleepytime Tea*

    I just applied for a job and that was exactly how this went. They said “the typical starting salary for this position is $X – $Y, what is your salary requirement?” I was able to say I needed $Z, and we mutually parted ways before any additional time was invested. I also liked that they said what was the typical *starting* salary, because when the whole salary band is mentioned you know that it’s highly unlikely that you’ll end up at the high end of that band as someone brand new to the organization, so it’s… not exactly false advertisement but it doesn’t really set you up with the most relevant information possible; if the salary band is a $20k range and they know that for someone new they will only offer in the bottom half of that range.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This is how my HR handles initial screens, too. If we’re not in someone’s ballpark, then it doesn’t make sense to waste everyone’s time with an interview. They’re pretty aggressive about keeping up with market, so I can only think of a time or two when we were totally out of synch with a candidate’s expectations, and one of those was an entry-level person who wanted nearly six figures for the job.

        1. Anon for salaries*

          Lots of software developers command above 6 figures for an entry-level job. Other STEM jobs too.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            Yes, the job/industry matters. I assume the rest of the anecdote that NotAnotherManager! left unsaid was “and we generally start at $45k” or similar.

            Back in high school when I worked food service, we’d get applications back where people put that they wanted $20/hr to start. That’s not a totally bonkers rate for a lot of jobs but food service in my town all paid minimum wage. The context is important. :)

            1. NotAnotherManager!*

              Yep! Entry-level, junior paralegal position, starting ranging from $45-55K, depending on any relevant experience and/or higher-level education. Lots of well-qualified applicants, no scarcity for most of these positions.

              So, double-ish the salary was a no-go.

    2. Snow globe*

      Knowing the salary band is helpful, even if you know you’ll be starting at the low end, because it gives you an idea of the potential for future salary increases. A narrowband means you may need to get promoted before you can earn more money.

      1. Ego Chamber*

        I’m okay with that if someone in the company is actually at the top of the band. I’ve seen a lot of job ads that list ridiculous bands of something like $40-90k and I am v skeptical that the high end isn’t just aspirational.

    3. The New Wanderer*

      This is just about ideal as an approach. The OP states that they *know* what the job typically pays, why make the candidate guess? State the “typical starting salary range” and don’t give the whole range if the upper values only apply to rare unicorns, highly experienced people, or only achievable after years of serving in the role.

  3. Well Then*

    Thank you, Alison, for continually pointing out this terrible practice! The employer has a range, so why not share it? I’ve yet to hear a valid defense for putting the candidate on the spot and insisting they throw out a number first, with very limited information about the job.

    Also, I would point out to the LW that the candidate doesn’t know what HR’s response to their salary requirements will be. Some companies will rescind the interview offer if the number is too high, which puts pressure on candidates to lowball themselves. (And as Alison noted, this just leads to dissatisfied employees who feel they’re being underpaid.) Take the unnecessary mystery out of it and disclose the range up front, then let the candidate decide how they want to proceed.

    1. Viette*

      Yeah. The “reason” for this always seems to be couched as, “well, the company doesn’t want the candidate to know the salary range because then if the candidate doesn’t get offered the highest end of the salary range they’ll be really angry/not take the offer/[other unclear consequence here]”.

      Maybe that does happen sometimes, but it seems pretty obvious it’s a bunch of transparent excuses for the company not wanting to miss out on their chance to lowball the heck out of a candidate who doesn’t know better, and therefore hire someone good at way, way less than they’re worth. But that’s not like buying a necklace for way less than it’s worth! That’s a recipe for unfairness, sustained inequality, and employee dissatisfaction at best.

      1. That'll Happen*

        What I’ve seen a lot of universities do is provide the pay grade/band with the salaries at 25%, midpoint, and 75% of the range. They also usually point out that new hires typically start somewhere from the bottom to middle of the grade. There are, of course, still going to be people who think they should be hired at the very top, but employers who provide the information can know that they have been as transparent as possible. I’m looking but I’m not desperate for a new job so I’m focusing my applications on employers with posted salaries, or employers that will give me that information in the phone screen.

        1. Lauren*

          But if I’ve got the 15 years of experience you say you want, then pay me the higher end which is market rate for that experience. Universities only giving out low end because they are new to the org aren’t doing anyone favors. Market rate is for that experience. I’m not starting over like a new grad in compensation because higher education hasn’t caught up to reality yet. You start at the low end, you only get someone with the low end of experience. High end salary bans are not just for those that lasted 35 years at the university, its what the job is paid for in the market – e.g. market rate.

          1. Ego Chamber*

            You seem to be reading a lot into this comment that wasn’t said. Market rate is determined by whatever metrics increase the value of the work an employee is able to do for the company. I’ve never worked anywhere where relevant experience wasn’t part of that consideration (except food service/call centers/retail/that sort of thing—but everyone is basically paid the same at all those places, so).

            1. Dr Wizard, PhD*

              Lauren is unfortunately right. A lot of university positions list the salary range and then state that all new hires will start at the bottom point of it, without exception.

      2. Alice*

        If the company can’t communicate the reasons why the offer is in a certain part of the range, the problem is not the potential employee.

  4. Former call centre worker*

    I will never understand why you wouldn’t just put the salary range in the job advert.

    1. Valprehension*

      THIS! If you won’t tell me what it pays, how do I know if it’s worth my while to apply? Why wait until you’re looking to set up the interview to do this filtering? You could have saved yourself the time of reading the resume of someone who won’t take the job anyway.

      1. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        Their thinking is usually like this –

        1) get the candidate to love the prospective job
        2) offer him/her the position. Usually – the company has a set number in mind. I know at one place it was the 33rd percentile of the range, but if you refuse the first offer
        a) argue how wonderful this place is to work
        b) argue how “we’re the cat’s ass”, etc. prestige
        c) use the stock line “get in the door and work your way up”
        d) then if all else fails, up the ante but do not approach the candidate’s salary expectation.

        In the latter years of my career, I was often approached — and they would ask “what’s your current salary” – and when I told them, often it was “oh dear, we can’t afford you….” and we departed friends. That’s the way to handle it, neither side gets a bad taste in their mouth – AND – if you know a similar candidate who might be in a position to accept that salary, everyone wins.

          1. Allison*

            I do too, but now I’m curious, does being the cat’s ass mean being really “in your face,” industry-wise?

              1. Anonomoose*

                And, like, that’s better than having no job, but you still wish it wasn’t just… know

        1. 1234*

          But “having a wonderful place to work” that doesn’t pay the bills doesn’t really work for most people… =\

          1. FormerFirstTimer*

            Exactly, I’ve turned down offers and second interviews simply because the pay wasn’t right. You could offer me my dream job, but if I’m not going to be making at least .50 more than I am (or was) making, or it doesn’t have any benefits, I can’t take the job.

        2. Ego Chamber*

          A company that says they’re the cat’s ass instead of being transparent about salary will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Got it.

        3. Mina, the Company Prom Queen*

          If a company is so prestigious, why can’t they afford to pay their employees well?

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      1000% agree. We always include a salary number in job ads/postings. Anything else is just an invitation to waste someone’s time.

    3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      I’m just throwing out a guess, but knowing that the job comes with a nice big salary will sometimes inspire more unqualified people to apply (I know some will anyway). For example, if someone sees a job advert for “Llama wrangler” without much other information, people who know nothing about llama wrangling, what a llama wrangler makes, and/or thinks llamas are stinky and grumpy, will likely skip over the posting. But if the job posting says, Llama Wrangler $100,000 annual salary, a whole lot of people are going to apply because they think that for $100,000, well, they’ll just BS their way in because they think they’re that good, learn how to wrangle llamas, and get over the whole spitting thing. It’s sort of like when the lottery is at it’s highest, more people play, even people who wouldn’t normally play.

      1. De Minimis*

        From what I’ve seen during the time I worked with recruiting and posting job ads, this happens with every job posting, regardless of the salary.

        I believe they do it to try to lowball as much as they can.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        If we’re talking about high end salary ranges, that would make sense. However most of these jobs are run of the mill kind of positions that aren’t that fantastic in salary in the first place.

        But believe me, you get the same unqualified spam when you list something barely above minimum wage.

        They do it so that they have more power in the situation. So that someone who throws out their “high” number of say 50k because they’ve been working at 24k for so long and dream of that 50k number…when the fair market rate is actually 85k and they are snapped up with greedy eyed monsters in the background. [Yes, this has happened to people I know and I’m still like “You’re making what? Wait, what? No they’re underpaying the hell out of you…” “But it’s so much more than before…” “That’s not how that works…that’s not how any of that works!”]

      3. Claire*

        For me, it’s actually the opposite! I recently saw a job advert that looked like something I’d be interested in, but then I noticed that the salary range started at triple what I currently make, so I reread the description very carefully and noticed a (fairly poorly worded) requirement that meant I was in no way qualified for the position. It just seems like including a salary range gives an impression of what level the job will be at and allows people to make an honest assessment of whether or not they’re at that level–of course, some unqualified people will apply anyway, but that’s going to be the case no matter what.

      4. Glitsy Gus*

        Maybe, but it seems that NOT putting the range will end up having a lot of folks that are not interested in taking a job at the lower range you are offering applying and then having everyone’s time wasted when it turns out, after at least one round of interviews there is no way the person would take the job. I would think it would be easier to weed through the overambitious resumes than it would be to review a resume, go through all the rigamarole of scheduling, spending the time interviewing for several potential folks, only to have multiple desirable people decline because the pay is too low.

      5. Brett*

        My experience from government, where we phone screen virtually everyone who applied, it was the lower end salaries that had this experience.
        The higher end salaries (and job requirements) seemed to scare off most people. But the positions advertised in the $32k/year or less range would get hundreds of applicants, sometimes thousands. (More so as the government agency started moving towards a $15/hr minimum wage, which mean that a sub $30k job had a good chance of jumping to $35k+/year with overtime once the agency minimum wage bumped up.)

    4. CatCat*

      I won’t even consider jobs that don’t post the salary range in their advertisement. Not even worth my time to apply without that info.

      1. Everdene*

        Same. Luckily I’m in a sector that sees this as good practice.

        Unfortunately my partner works in a sector that is more evasive about salaries and last year withdrew from two excellent sounding opportunities at the interview stage because once they gave a salary range it was immediately clear the roles were aimed at someone more junior. Lots of time (and airfare!) would have been saved if the job descriptions/ads were more specific and a salary range was given earlier.

    5. CupcakeCounter*

      For real!
      When I first started my job search I would only apply for jobs that listed the salary range. I ended up in a job that didn’t list it but gave me exactly what I asked for (required as part of the online application portal) without any negotiation. All of the market research indicated that what I asked for was fair but there immediate agreement combined with some other information I received later is making me wonder if I left money on the table.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I converted from temp to permanent at my current job. They initially offered to keep paying my temp rate. I, knowing how much temp agencies actually bill, asked for WAY more than that. They went away and came back with an offer letter of what I asked for plus 5%.

        I don’t know if I accidentally lowballed the heck out of myself or if my wonderful and brilliant manager just REALLY went to bat for me. I hope it’s the latter.

        1. Ego Chamber*

          I don’t know how this not knowing leading to job dissatisfaction can possibly shake out in the company’s favor. Even if you get someone to low-ball themselves by a third of the projected salary, it’s probably going to cost more than the savings to train someone else when they figure it out. It’s such a short-term gain.

    6. Not Australian*

      This always used to be the case; it acted as the first filter, keeping out people who wouldn’t be interested in doing the job at the intended rate of pay. I don;t understand why it changed.

    7. EngineerMom*

      Because if you have an under-paid employee, you don’t want them finding out via job advert.

      I’ve seen this happen (in very dysfunctional workplaces), where someone who has been there for a couple of years and has had good reviews finds out they’re getting paid less than the salary description for a similar or even identical position.

      I’m not saying this is good practice at all, but I could see a company making the argument “we can’t let them know what we’re paying new employees, or everyone will want a raise”.

      1. Stormy Weather*

        That seems to be more and more common unfortunately. If you want a serious bump in pay, you usually need a new job.

        1. Brownie*

          Ten years ago in the Pacific Northwest tech culture it was the norm for anyone below senior position levels to switch companies every 3 years because so many places wouldn’t offer cost of living increases that were appropriate to the area. It was all about how little companies could get away with paying existing employees and the only way to get a raise/CoL/promotion was to change companies and negotiate better pay at that time. Now I see that all over the place, it’s not confined to the tech sector anymore.

          1. Wendy Darling*

            My company ostensibly does annual raises, but my “raise” last year was 2%. I was like, oh goodie you kept up with inflation, kinda. I’m glad they’re giving us cost of living adjustments but kind of cranky that they claim it’s a raise. All they’re doing is making it so our salary isn’t functionally going DOWN every year.

    8. kittymommy*

      This one of the good things about government work. Every job has a classification along with applicable salary ranges. As long as the job is in that classification you can’t go higher and you can’t go lower.

  5. ArtK*

    I absolutely agree with Alison that the employer should just be open about the range as early as possible. Playing the “how much do you want” game just wastes both the candidate and employer’s time and effort. I should also like to point out that there is a trend for states to pass laws banning that kind of question. Why not get ahead of the game and do it voluntarily before some legislator makes you?

    1. Well Then*

      Some states are banning salary *history* questions (ie, what have you been paid over the past five years?), to promote pay equity, but as far as I understand it, nothing prevents employers from asking for salary *requirements* (ie, what do you expect to be paid at this job?).

      1. many bells down*

        Washington’s done that and I’m so freaking glad. What I got paid 10 years ago as an afterschool program teacher in a different state should have no @#$%ing bearing on the salary for an admin position today.

      2. ArtK*

        Good point. I got the two situations mixed up. Part of my point stands, though, in that there’s a trend to take the burden off of the candidate and put more on the employer.

        1. redwinemom*

          As ‘Well Then’ and ‘many bells down’ commented about different states banning questions regarding salary – (according to New York is one of the most recent states to ban employers from asking job applicants or employees for their salary history. … It applies to current and former employees as well as job applicants and affects both public and private employers. This law went into effect on Jan. 6, 2020.

      3. irene adler*

        Right. AND, in California, employers are not obligated to reveal salary for the job position until after at least the first interview. AND, phone screen does not count as an interview.

        So these days, I’m asked right up front, “what is your salary expectation?” before I’ve had any chance to gain an understanding of the position particulars. If I counter with an inquiry into their hiring salary range, I get, “we prefer not to reveal those ranges at this stage of the hiring process.”

        So, still shafted.

        1. Adric*

          I’ve always thought that just as a general rule of politeness, whoever brings up salary first should give a number first. If you think it’s important enough to get out in the open, you should be the one to actually put a number out there, not make the other person guess “What number am I thinking of?”

          1. That'll Happen*

            In a perfect world, sure. But employers should have an idea of what the salary range is for a position before posting an ad. Employers have wayyyyyyy more power in this situation, and asking prospective employees to name a number is just putting them at another disadvantage. The employer sets the salary, so they should be providing the information that they (should) already have.

          2. Ego Chamber*

            No, that’s just pretending both sides have equal power when they really truly don’t. A candidate knows what their expenses are and they know what they were paid previously and they probably have some idea of what others in their industry are being paid. An employer knows what they have budgeted for the role and whether they’re willing to go over that budget.

            Further, a candidate is expected to make a case for their requested salary based on information that only the employer has because it’s unprofessional to base that salary on personal expenses (beyond a vague acknowledgement of “cost of living,”—as in, “If my company transfers me from their Ohio office to the Chicago office, I expect my salary to be higher for the same work because of the higher cost of living”). Both sides are negotiating from very different sides and it makes no sense for the side with all of the relevant information to be cagey about what they’re willing to pay.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          I think in those cases there may be room to say, “well, if that is the case I think we should hold off on all salary discussions until you are ready to disclose. Especially because, for me, the overall compensation package is as relevant as the salary number.” I mean, you would only want to do this in situations where you are OK with losing out on the job, but sometimes it can be best to call these bluffs.

          1. irene adler*

            The times I have demurred, I was told that the process cannot go forward without a number from me.

              1. pally*

                Yeah. I’d be tempted. But then I’d probably get the “you are not taking this process seriously” comment.

        3. Jennifer Thneed*

          Yes, THEY are still shafted, because they don’t get your wonderful self in that position.

          They may have a lot of the power in that situation, but tug-of-war only works when both players pull the rope. If you drop your end, the game is over and you can look for another playground.

      4. NotAnotherManager!*

        Ugh, I worked under an HR person once who was obsessed with salary history so she’d know at what point she could expect people to “be grateful” for the undermarket offer she was sure to put forward. (Shocker: It was near impossible to recruit and retain top-notch talent under this system.) I spent about two years finding/correcting all those pay discrepancy issues once she left and I got a head of HR who is obsessed with market and pay equity.

      5. Anonymouse*

        I think this is the way it should be – I have an idea of what I want to be paid for a given job based on my experience level and the job description; what I’ve been paid previously is not necessarily relevant.

      6. lnelson in Tysons*

        It does make sense to get rid of the salary history question. And not just to try to promote paying more equally but also to compare salaries more “apples to apples” eg moving from a low cost of living place to a higher one or changing industries, salary history won’t have the same meaning.
        I do know that this happened to a coworker. He was earning mid 80s. Applied for another job which would have even on the low end been over 100k. But somehow got his salary information and decided just to offer him in the low 90s because “hey it would have been a pay bump”
        But after finding out if the job would be of interest to me, I do ask for a salary idea and am honest that if it is too low: translation I can’t meet my monthly expenses, I don’t want to waste anyone’s time.
        When I was unemployed, sure I took some temp assignments that paid less than I wanted (God money really was tight) but bills needed to be paid and we are talking long vs short term

  6. Leela*

    Please let them know as soon as possible! I feel like employers often think that they’re showing their hand if they give up the salary range early but you’re going to have to show it at some point and you’ll save yourself a lot of headache if you throw it out there. If you were risking losing good candidates by throwing out that number early, you’ll probably lose them the second they have an offer closer to what their expectations are, if you managed to get them at all after they find out a low range after the interview. It is very, very unlikely that anything about your company will wow someone enough to compensate for a salary far below what they were after but so many companies I’ve worked with seem to think that if they could only just get in and see how awesome it is they’d be cool with the lower salary but I have rarely seen someone like that both take the job and actually stay without trying to get out the whole time they’re there.

    The biggest argument companies have against giving up the range early that I actually agree with can be easily mitigated. Often I’ve heard that companies don’t want to give a range of say, 50-60K because someone who is offered 50K feels shafted if they thought 60K was potentially on the table. This is true but the main reason they’d think that is if the company states the range without any additional context, like “For someone who meets a, b, and c, we’d pay 50K. 55K would look more like a, b, c, d, and e, and 60K would be more in line with someone who can do all that and also f-j” in which case it doesn’t feel like a slap in the face if you wind up with the 50K offer. So be up front with the range and what would put someone where in that range!

    1. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      This “rubric” strategy seems the most fair … least open to discrimination … AND lets the person know even before Day 1 what they have to do to get the max eventually.

      Love it.

    2. Parenthetically*

      This is an A+ comment. The objections that I hear for just putting the damn range in the damn ad are such softballs, SO freaking easily addressed by a system like this one. Which is why, in reality, they all boil down to “we want to be able to pay people whatever we feel like with no accountability whatsoever.”

      Refusing to be open about salaries, and putting the onus on candidates to “name their price,” absolutely perpetuates income inequality and gender/ethnicity pay gaps. Being clear and transparent about salaries doesn’t solve the problem but it definitely mitigates against it!

    3. goducks*

      Oregon has a newish pay equity law that basically requires this type of salary structure. It’s illegal to pay even $0.01 an hour different to two equally situated employees (benefits included). You have to develop bona fide differences in the working conditions prior to differentiating pay. For example you can pay more for certain degrees, or for length of service, or for years of experience, but you have to pay all other similarly situated employees that same differential. And you need to be able to demonstrate that all pay differences are due to these documented factors (you can’t use after the fact rationale to justify pay differences).

      Since this part came online just last year, there’s a lot of employers who have yet to comply, but it’s going to be a game changer. I predict salary negotiations will largely be a thing of the past. Pay transparency will go up, because it will be necessary on the part of employers to do so to protect from a wage discrimination claim.
      I thing it would be great if it were adopted nation-wide.

      1. Alice*

        That is so interesting. Benefits included? So someone who’s using employer-paid or employer-subsidized health insurance for a big family would get less cash than someone who is insured through their partner’s job? I feel like I’m misunderstanding something.

        1. goducks*

          Gross comp has to be equal. So PTO is included. Benefits can be different, so long as both employees have access to the same benefits. So, the employer doesn’t have to pay cash to the employee who waives benefits (or selects a lower tier of coverage), because they had access to the same benefit, and elected not to take it. Case law still doesn’t exist for this yet, but I think that pay in lieu of benefits would run afoul of the law.

    4. hbc*

      I’ve always given the range, and I’ve never had anyone give me grief about it. Maybe some people have felt more emboldened to say “What about $2K more?” knowing that we have that budget, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay to not have my first encounter with a new team member be some weird game-theory, adversarial nonsense.

  7. JJFinch*

    Another way about it would be to post the typical salary range. However, I expect companies don’t post salaries for various reasons including suppressing labour costs.

  8. GlamorousNonprofiteer*

    Amen! Amen! Salary transparency is part of ethical business practices and it’s a way that POC, women and other marginalized communities are kept out of economic success and growth. White dudes? Stay in your lane on this. We’ve got 100+ years of data and we’re right.

    1. Minimax*

      Plus even if they aren’t repressing salary of POC, women, and minorities the perception is that is what they are doing.

      I always find companies that pressure me for a number first to be skeezy. My take away is they are trying to cheat me.

  9. Marny*

    Save yourself and the candidates time by just being up front about the salary range when you advertise the position. You’ll weed through fewer resumes and we won’t have to take the time crafting good cover letters for nothing. If you can’t do that, make the salary something you reveal immediately at the time of first contact. Don’t make us play chicken.

      1. Leela*

        having worked in hiring and made lots of salaryless job postings myself, a lot of times it’s that something makes sense on paper and never in practice, and people get hardcore shut down when they point that out internally.

        People think “well he wanted 50K but we got him for 40K! WIN!” except that it’s going to cost you way more than 10K when that person leaves the second they can find a job that pays what they could earn. And it’s going to cost you in work out of that person when their morale tanks as they took a low paying job out of necessity. Or you get someone cheaper because the one who wouldn’t settle for 40K now got a higher paying job, but they’re not as good as the 50K person and you’re losing money paying for people to step off the jobs they’re supposed to do to help train this one and get them up to speed.

        But all the decision makers see is that 10K savings and they can’t shut up about how great it was.

        Currently we have an accountant who took over our decision-making role, and now we have all these stupid, costly, horrible decisions that make sense on paper (let’s switch to a new payroll system that has a small cost savings, and we’ve actually lost people over how bad the new system is and lost an unbelievable amount in manhours because it’s such a poor replacement for what we had) and it’s impossible to get anyone to listen because all they’re looking at is that number on their spreadsheet that shows they made a cost savings. I’d imagine the withholding salary info is much like that

        1. 1234*

          Wouldn’t it have made more sense to try to go to Current Great Payroll System and say “You competitor sent us a bid for $Lower. What can you do to meet it?” *eye roll*

        2. Massmatt*

          It’s remarkable how many otherwise intelligent people that should know better make such short-sighted decisions.

          The lowest priced bid is often the worst bid when all costs and benefits are taken into account.

          I had the same experience at an old job. We needed new software and they went with a cheap bid. But the software was already old, didn’t integrate with anything, and was going to be obsolete in just a few years. Oh and the provider’s support stank. Productivity fell and they were in the same boat having to buy a new system a few years later. I was glad to be out of there by that point.

          I want to ask these penny pinchers if they go to a free clinic when they’re sick? When you bought your car did you buy the cheapest one possible? When it needs to be fixed do you take it to an automotive school for the cheapest repair?

          1. Ego Chamber*

            “When it needs to be fixed do you take it to an automotive school for the cheapest repair?”

            Don’t be ridiculous, they just buy a whole new cheapest car and save the $25 they would have wasted on that oil change.

        3. ceiswyn*

          Ah, yes. Like the time the small company I worked for was bought out, and one of the first things the new company did was get rid of the free bagels and pastries for Friday breakfasts due to the cost.

          The cost was less than £50 a week, and I know because I bought the breakfasts out of my own pocket a couple of times during the chaos of the buyout. The cost of replacing all the people who left due to newco’s pettiness? On a different balance sheet…

      2. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

        One reason — let’s say the salary range for a position is $60-80K.

        And there’s someone who is in that same position – either effectively, unofficially or officially and is making $55K.

        There’s gonna be a stink when an incumbent finds the ad.

          1. The New Wanderer*

            Right! If the market rate for the job goes up, then your current employees should be fairly compensated too! Just because they came on board when the market was less good doesn’t mean they should be stuck making $Xk less than brand new employees because it wasn’t a good time. I always marvel at stories where the medium- and long-term employees find out that new hires with significantly less experience are making more starting out than they are now. Those companies suck.

            1. TardyTardis*

              I left a job over 10 cents an hour, when a newbie was hired who got that much more than me. Petty? You betcha. And it felt *good*.

        1. Mike C.*

          Then pay that incumbent more. You shouldn’t be keeping normal folks down just because it might cause management to deal with an uncomfortable situation of their own making. They’re adults, and their actions have consequences.

        2. Nanani*

          Give the incumbent a raise to bring them in line with the market.
          The only reason not to do this, is you want to keep underpaying them. That is a bad thing to be doing.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Yes! FFS! “This is what we think this job is worth, except we won’t tell Susan that because she’s already doing this job for $10K less, shhhhhh!” IS A BAD THING TO DO

            1. Sleve McDichael*

              The trouble is, these people are not thinking in terms of what the job is worth, they are thinking in terms of what is the absolute minimum they can pay to get someone to come and do the job to their satisfaction, and there is a slight difference.

        3. Well Then*

          What’s bad about this scenario? The incumbent is either being underpaid (possibly due to discrimination), in which case it should be corrected, or there’s a valid reason for the discrepancy, in which case the company should be able to justify it. Secrecy exclusively benefits the company, at the employees’ and candidates’ expense.

  10. CatsAndGuitars*

    I agree with Allison. The “dance” around salary is silly, and really not justified whatsoever in today’s universe of easy information. I mostly work contract, consulting, and contract-to-hire gigs, often brought to me by recruiters? It is now (literally) my first question. “What’s their salary range?” It would be among my first questions for a “normal” job interview as well.
    Before I started doing this, i wasted plenty of time with first and second interviews for $30/hr gigs when I would never even consider anything below $60/hr; it simply doesn’t benefit anyone.

    One of the interns where I work now asked me last year if it was OK to ask about salary early on in the process, since her college career center old her “never” to do it? I told her to do her research first (Glassdoor, etc.), but absolutely to ask (if they don’t tell you) early enough in the interview process to avoid wasting everyone’s time.

  11. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    We always just put the starting range in the job posting. Then we ask them about their salary expectations, since we do have wiggle room, that’s our starting level and not actually the end-cap for the salary band itself. It’s negotiable depending on the specific candidate’s qualifications in the end.

    The only time we then reject someone is if they’re wildly outside the realm of what we’re looking for. One person responded to a 55k to start job and said he wouldn’t take less than 350k, we clearly weren’t going to come to a deal there. But I’ve had people respond to the same kind of advert that wanted 10k more and had the experience to back it up, we were incredibly interested and ready to work something out if all went well.

    Giving them a range to begin with is just the responsible thing to do and helps not waste either of your time. You’re putting a lot on a job seekers back to continue to play games with them like there’s a special password they’re trying to guess when naming their salary number.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        It was simply a low level marketing position. Seriously…this guy was like “well as a consultant I’d make X amount an hour.” It was clear that he didn’t understand that a FTE doesn’t get to charge us his fabricated billable rates.

        1. Oh No She Di'int*

          Ah yes, I’ve encountered that, although not to the extreme that you have. People in that mindset don’t realize that you can’t just multiply your consulting fee by 40 hours per week. As a consultant or freelancer, the company is paying a premium for the right to pick you up quickly and drop you after a very short period, and for the fact that you are paying for all your own equipment, health care, office space, supplies, advertising, and so on. Not to mention that the time it takes you to get coffee in the morning and search for the perfect cat meme won’t likely be billable hours. Once you’re an employee, all of those benefits to the company go away.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It always just makes me wonder how good they are at their freelance, sine they miss such a key aspect of business. It’s also the aspect of the stability that you’re taking on when you leave self employment, I know darn well most aren’t actually bringing in upwards of 350k annually in income before expenses. Consulting is full of feast and famine unless you’re in a fantastic position and then you’re certainly not farming job ads off Indeed, LOL.

          2. NotAnotherManager!*

            Yeah, if I’m hiring a consultant for something, I probably do it so rarely that there is no need to hire someone full-time to do it (or will only need it for a finite timeframe – I once hired a former employee as a very part-time, limited-scope consultant to bridge a project they’d already worked on through to a new, high-level hire’s start date). Most of my consulting arrangements have been for a defined project, not a full-time equivalent. My consultants also do not require a ton of supervisory effort or office overhead either.

            We do provide a couple of the company computers for security purposes, but they are only to be used for company work (definitely not other clients) and must be returned when the engagement is complete.

          3. Ego Chamber*

            “People in that mindset don’t realize that you can’t just multiply your consulting fee by 40 hours per week.”

            Back when I worked at the call center taking LET ME TALK TO YOUR MANAGER calls, we had no shit really real bingo cards at our desks with a space that said “I make $100/hr, how do I get compensated for all the time I’ve spent with you on the phone today?!” (These were just for managers. For sanity.)

    1. Mike C.*

      I’ve done that in response to people cold calling me wondering why I’m not interested in leaving my current job for temp to hire positions at half the salary.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        My boss recommended I do something similar when I got a random headhunting call a couple months ago, right to my place of business.

        I’m too cantankerous to play the game and just hang up on them.

      2. Massmatt*

        I have had people try to recruit me for really TERRIBLE jobs, they were oddly much more persistent than other recruiters, wanting me to “come and have some coffee” etc. One guy had a job paying 50% Less than I was making and I said no thank you, I’m not looking to take a dramatic pay cut, he tried to insist it was “competitive “ and entice me with their benefits, which were equally unspectacular. A 401k without a match and 2 weeks of vacation? Thank you very little.

        In retrospect I regret I restrained myself from laughing in his face and hanging up.

        1. irene adler*

          I think I’d just tell him that I wasn’t qualified for the job.

          Let him figure out what that means.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Considering the *redacted for name calling* sales rep that’s chomping at the bit to get our sale, despite me telling them I was going somewhere else because of these tactics, is STILL trying really hard. I can smell someone working for just commission hundreds of miles away.

          They’re peddling those jobs so hard because they want the check, they don’t really care that you’re taking a pay cut and it’s an awful job. Just like this guy I’m dealing with thinks I was born frigging yesterday and believe he’s the only one in a multi billion dollar company that can sell me this stuff. No, I’ll give the money to someone not so thirsty.

  12. Johanna*

    Another reason some places don’t want to post salaries is that the salaries are so low that it is embarrassing to the organization.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s frequently so they can hide the amount from current employees. Which goes along with your comment though.

      It’s shady AF but yeah, often if they’re hiring say Junior Llama Wranglers, they don’t want the other people in that position to know they’re bringing someone in at their salary now because you cannot find someone to start at the previous hiring rate. Yuck.

      It’s the continued clinging on to 1. trying to get the “best deal” and paying someone dirt verses market value and 2. desire to continue to act like pay is a huge secret that shouldn’t be spoken of among workers.

      1. Junior Assistant Peon*

        A coworker of mine was involved in the recruitment of new PhD scientists for our employer, and he found out that the company was paying new PhD grads more than he was making with a PhD and five years. He had been hired during a downturn, and the economy had improved and forced the company to raise starting salaries. When he complained, the response was “we need to pay new recruits this much to be competitive, but we’ve already got you, so don’t expect a raise.” He was sufficiently insulted that he contacted a headhunter, and was soon off to a better opportunity.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          I love when places are so blind that they think that “Ha ha ha well we gotcha at a lower number, so suck it up!” is acceptable. I’ll leave your ass, I didn’t even love you to begin with, Stanley.

        2. MonteCristo85*

          This kind of attitude is why I don’t believe in counter offers at all. I would actually be more insulted to get an offer after I quit, then for them to just let me go. Because if you could have paid me more to stay, you should have already done so.

      2. Quickbeam*

        That’s huge in nursing. People are often brought in at a far higher hourly rate than long term staff. Probably why my profession is a morale sump.

      3. Call Me Dr. Dork*

        The last time I worked for a startup, I got a raise after 3 years only because the office manager raised a stink that they were hiring new developers at a higher rate than I was being paid. And yes, I was the only female developer and the office manager was a woman.

        This is why it was the *last* time I worked for a startup, in both senses of the word.

          1. Chili*

            This definitely isn’t exclusive to startups but the lack of foresight/ common sense to realize this is a terrible idea is rampant in startup environments. Or even if the common sense isn’t missing per se, it’s nobody’s job to look out for stuff like this or standardize pay.

          2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It’s not a start-up thing but it’s often found within dysfunctional, messy organizations because of lack of concentration in specific areas [read HR/staffing] that is required to make sure you’re keeping up with market rates and employee retention.

            At the same time, lots of startups want to pay you in shares and your possible big return, instead of money to pay your bills.

            1. Texan In Exile*

              If my husband had made actual cash money from all the shares he got from all the startups he worked at, he would be rich enough to run for US president on either ticket.

              1. TardyTardis*

                The Simpsons had a good episode when Bart was working for a start up–they showed clearly that the shares were on square paper, carefully rolled up for ease of carrying…

    2. YouGottaThrowTheWholeJobAway*

      I absolutely agree that many companies know their salaries are terrible for anyone joining from outside the MBA good ol’ boys roles, and this is why they don’t post it.

  13. Ivy*

    One argument for not going upfront. Twice in the past year we had a situation where we were hiring for a llama groomer, but we ended up liking people with good skills and relevant experience, so we got permission to hire them as senior llama groomers. This is relatively common occurrence in our company. What if they had self-selected out if we had posted the range.

      1. Senor Montoya*

        Not necessarily. They might not have gotten an ok for the higher position at the outset, but when they encountered senior llama groomers while interviewing, they were able to then make a case for s senior hire.

        This sort of thing happens in academia, especially at public institutions. It’s no use saying, just publish your real range, because too often it’s not possible to do so,

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      That’s why you list a range and still say it’s negotiable depending on experience.

      Ranges are rarely set in stone, unless you’re a government entity.

      Lots of people are self selecting out to begin with because they don’t have a salary range and aren’t interested in being jerked around. So you don’t know how many great llama groomers you’ve missed out on.

    2. Mike C.*

      This doesn’t make any sense. You can always post a joint job rec looking for “llama groomers, ranging from junior to senior skill” and then post ranges that way.

      It’s ridiculous to try and justify such a policy that does nothing but screw over employees.

    3. Nesprin*

      Or you post side-by-side ads for a llama groomer and a senior llama groomer, with the differential pay ranges listed, and allow folks to apply for whatever is most relevant. Keep in mind you selected against the junior llama groomers because you had a higher range than you were willing to admit.

    4. Jennifer Thneed*

      How many really excellent junior groomers have you missed out on because they were job searching hard and just skimmed on by the ads with no salary range listed? Job hunting is exhausting enough.

  14. Chili*

    It sounds like you definitely know the range. From a pragmatic emailing standpoint, it makes sense to just give the range early on and avoid coy back and forth.

    And as Alison addresses in her answer, it’s unfair to put the burden of determining fair compensation on an potential employee who currently has very little information. I know every negotiation book tells people not to think this way, but a lot of people are scared that stating a range that is on the high end will lose them a job. If they really need a job, they’re going to end up offering to be underpaid and it is decidedly uncool for companies to profit off that.

    Asking for desired ranges upfront also tends to perpetuate (or even cause) inequities. Companies can say that everyone is free to negotiate, therefore it’s not their fault if pay amounts end up skewed, but that is disingenuous at best. We know groups of people are continually underpaid or less likely to successfully negotiate due to a combination of societal and social factors. That payment difference tends to compound itself over time. If companies cut the games in the beginning, they will have fewer discrepancies to address in the long run.

  15. Granny K*

    I really appreciate it when an HR person brings up the salary range before setting up all the phone interviews, etc. However, when they ask me what my range is, I usually answer that question with: Help me understand the full package–what are your benefits? Is there a bi-yearly or yearly bonus and what is that based on? Is there a lot of travel involved (to places I want to go)?
    Even for a contract, throwing out a number is dicey because I have a wide range of hourly rates I’m comfortable with, depending on the circumstances. I’ll start my car for X but I could work remotely for Y and still pay all my bills; this project is more difficult but really interesting and I’d like to get that skillset on my resume; that project is difficult and your team is in chaos so it’s going to take a lot of wrangling… see what I mean?

    1. lnelson in Tysons*

      That is one advantage of recruiters. At least for me, they have an hourly range for me or lowest salary number and the smart one don’t bother me with jobs lower than that. Unless there is some unbelievable perk that they know I want/like. I have even seen job descriptions that look interesting, when I ask, again the smart recruiter will answer “way below your range or a bad commute” Nice.
      The one recruiter who didn’t pay attention to this and when I brought it up (I know that sometimes on a temp to hire rates/salaries can differ) and asked for something in my actual pay range, they were insulted. I left within a new for a new contract that paid what I wanted. Also, doing that to someone in HR is dumb as I will never use them for my staffing needs.

    2. cncx*

      same same. also within the same types of jobs, like, i will do a 9 to 5 butt in chair for x but if you want me to work 60 hours a week it’s gonna need to be y. If some place is going low on salary but it’s an “easy” job it’s something to consider.

    3. Helena*

      My experience is that HR is either offended or intimidated when I ask about benefits, particularly when I bring actual math into the conversation. If your company is covering more of my family’s medical insurance premiums, or if the deductibles or out-of-pocket maximums are lower, then I can take a lower salary and still come out ahead.

  16. Carlie*

    YES TO ALL OF THIS. Also, think of it as a great recruiting tool! If you’re putting salary range out front, you can also advertise the perks/benefits. If your salary range is on the low side, you can soften it with the rest. “The salary range for this position is X-Y, with Z vacation days to start and a health insurance plan that costs A per month with no out-of-pocket deductible.” Even if X-Y is a big pay cut for me, the health insurance and vacation days might make it a very attractive overall package. If no parts of your salary or benefits are attractive, then you as a company have a different and bigger problem.
    If your goal as a company is to lowball people for as much as you can get away with, they won’t be employees for long once they figure out how much they’re underpaid.

  17. Old Cynic*

    They also need to be prepared to pay the bottom of the scale.

    I was recruited for a position and was told the range was 40-50k. I was earning 28 at the time. While comfortable with my employer, they didn’t realize what market was and couldn’t be persuaded to review my compensation.

    The new company made me an offer at 32k which annoyed me (and in hindsight I shouldn’t have made the move). But I took it.

    I jumped to another job within a year. If they had paid the 40, or even 37, I likely would have held on a while.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Did these jerkwads do the age old trick of asking you for salary history [many places are outlawing it but it’s still not everywhere and it still happens, despite laws.] This scenario reeks of that behavior.

      Or the age old trick of acting like that range is actually only for the perfect candidate and since you don’t hit “everything” they want, they start trying to deduct money from your starting wage.

      Nonsense pulled by awful people looking to take advantage of others.

      1. Old Cynic*

        Yes, on asking for history.

        After I interviewed with the Director, I had a meeting with the CFO who grilled me about my current salary and I tried, but failed, to keep the number to myself because I knew it was low. But then the CFO made it a take it or leave it thing when the recruiter tried to negotiate on my behalf.

  18. Hulk*

    Amen to Allison’s response!

    But also:
    Entry level =/= “we don’t need to pay a living wage”.

    I was recently invited for a phone interview where it would be a career transition, but I wouldn’t be starting out completely green (I have a decade of professional experience in a tangential field). I was told starting salary is $40k. PEOPLE. This is insane. Ten years ago I was paid $35k in my first job out of college working for a government organization. And ten years later the starting salary for “entry level” is $40k?
    These big companies need to stop acting like the candidates are being unreasonable needing to earn enough wages to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families. It’s infuriating.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      Your overall point stands, however, specific numbers are tricky. So much depends on what part of the country (or what country) you’re in and what industry you’re in that there can be quite a range. $40k (or less) is absolutely entry-level wages in a LOT of industries.

      1. Hulk*

        Yeah, I’m in the same region as where I had my first job out of college so the fact that the needle has moved so little in 10 years was shocking (plus, at the time I was working for a a city public health organization, so very low wages compared to finance or tech for example).

        I’m currently paid better than market rate as a legal assistant and while it’s challenging and specialized, it’s not especially well respected. So when I apply out for things that *seem* like they’d be better paid and then I tell the hiring manager what I’m currently paid, it’s always awkward as they do the quick math to compare their salary ranges. And I hope the subtext in each of these exchanges is “Sh*t, if a legal assistant is being paid $30/hour we should probably bump up our salary ranges.” Probably wishful thinking, though.

      2. Rew*

        Agreed. Point stands but the numbers are tricky. I don’t personally know anyone who had a starting salary as good as $40k. Also in a lot of industries that is the salary even after years of experience.

    2. Maeve*

      I’m 32, have seven years of professional experience and only just crossed the $40k barrier and it was because I was promoted to management…(now making $43k). I’m sure it varies a ton by industry and region but yeah, salaries aren’t going up.

      1. Working Hypothesis*

        Among other basic facts, the Cold War served one incredibly useful function nobody at the time realized: it made American businesses frightened that, if they didn’t treat their workers with some degree of basic decency, they’d revolt. This kept them in line to a certain extent. Ever since they ‘won’ they have decided that hard-core, laissez-faire selfishness is the moral standard, and that they cannot be held responsible either morally or via the practical power of unions or government anymore, so there’s no reason not to grab every cent they can.

        Corporate income has been (with a very brief bobble that was instantly paid off by the government) skyrocketing over the last twenty to thirty years. Virtually none of that additional wealth has made its way to the working population.

        1. Hulk*

          This is really interesting, I hadn’t heard that theory about the influence of the Cold War.

          How can we make employers scared again? Anything short of mass riots and general strike?

          1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

            No reason to categorize general strikes on the same level as rioting. An orderly general strike is a great tool for reminding the fat cats that they won’t get where they are without the guy who puts the kibble in the bowl.

            1. Massmatt*

              Not to derail the thread, but historically in the US strikes happened when labor was weak, not when it was strong. This is especially true for prolonged strikes.

              I don’t agree with the Cold War reasoning of the poster above but there’s no doubt we are seeing the long term results of the dramatic decline of labor organizing in this country: Wage stagnation, the gig economy, skyrocketing health care costs, reduced benefits, vanishing pensions.

              All while unions are vilified as some sort of communist plot trying to prey on workers.

            2. TardyTardis*

              But you need some rioting to back you up. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t get nearly as much done without the specter of Stokely Carmichael holding a torch. The Pankhurst sisters performed much the same function for suffragettes.

        2. Filosofickle*

          Great point. Living through the dot-com crash, I immediately saw that the recession was forcing a big step back on workers. The power — what little was left after the 80s/90s — swung back hard to employers and labor hasn’t really recovered while corporate profits keep going up. And tax rates keep going down.

          I still live in the SF area, and of course there are lots of people making lots of money. I’m one of them. But more people in the middle and bottom are still getting by with the same or less as they had years ago, yet they’re still hearing the hard luck “wow business is tough we have to tighten our belts you’re lucky to have a job” story from the top.

          In my youth, I thought unions had outlived their usefulness. I was so, so wrong.

      2. Senior Contributor*

        I hate to say it, but you are grossly underpaid.

        Senior Contributor (non-management) making closer to 50K

      1. Maeve*

        I think $30k is pretty normal…I’m in Portland, OR, so it’s not San Francisco but it’s not cheap either.

        1. goducks*

          Come this summer, 30k will be just $1.17/hour over min wage in Portland.
          That’s bargain basement for any professional job.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            Amazon still advertises it’s WONDERFUL AMAZING PERFECT warehouse jobs for “$17 an hour!!!!!!!” and bro, bro, that’s literally less than a dollar above minimum wage within Seattle.


            1. SimplyTheBest*

              Minimum wage in Seattle just went to $15.75 last month. No saying $17 is good, but it’s not less than a dollar above minimum wage.

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                It’s $16.39 for entities over 500 people. Which is where Amazon lands.

                I think you forget there’s a tiered system between those under the 500 employee mark and those above it. Please feel free to revisit the poster that should be hanging in your place of employment if you’re within the city limits.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yep, it’s pretty standard stuff. Even when you have higher than the national average of minimum wage.

        Everyone wants that magic $15 an hour minimum wage…saying that’s the start of a living wage.

        Seattle is above that at 16 now, ain’t nobody living off that comfortably. Still having to room together and the idea of having a family, not even going to happen if you don’t want to commute thirty miles.

    3. CatsOnAKeyboard*

      Wages have been stagnant for years, so it’s not surprising that the entry-level salary is very comparable to the entry-level salary you had 10 years ago. I think where you disconnected is you’re not looking for an entry-level position, you’re looking to leverage existing experience in a new field in a mid-level position.

      1. Hulk*

        True that I was not looking for an entry level position, but my point stands– the fact that the entry level salary is practically the same now as it was 10 years ago is horrifying to me.

      2. TardyTardis*

        Companies got used to paying squat for a PhD with 10 year’s experience during the Great Recession, and they still think people are that desperate for jobs, especially with benefits.

        Sadly, in rural areas this is true.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      All my friends graduated into the Great Recession and are still making anywhere from 14-17 an hour. They only dream of the day they’ll get over the 40k mark. But they also can’t find jobs within their field of study either, so these are cobbled together jobs.

      A current friend works in a government department making far less than 40k…she’s constantly trying to get to another department with better budgets in place for staff to have better wages. It all depends on so many factors.

      Everyone is lining up around the block for some of these positions, so they get to play the lowest bidder game and keep their prices and overhead extra low on the backs of workers. Until we’re not playing the capitalistic game over here, it will continue to be like that.

      1. Hulk*

        Ugh, same. I graduated December 2009. Worst timing and I always feel like such a whiner when I try to explain that to people outside that age bracket. It really cut us off at the knees.

        It kills me because my spouse and I are both paid quite well for our fields (neither of which require special education or licensing) and graduated debt free, so compared to others we’re doing really well. And yet with one kid, owning our own house and living very modestly we’re constantly watching our money and trying to climb out of [minor] credit card debt. I’m horrified to think of how others are managing with lower payer and bigger debt, etc. Like… how? Are we all just drowning in debt and in denial?

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          All my circle came from low income families who had to mortgage their future with student debt that’s still crippling them over 10 years later.

          Some were even so caught up in the idea of education being the only way to get out of that circle that they went BACK for more specialized off-set degrees after graduating in 2007-2008 because they couldn’t find anything. They were turned away from retail until the last few years because they were deemed flight risks. All while the debt sat there waiting for whenever they dared to start making anything.

          They don’t have credit card debt at least. They’re not able to get a credit card with their credit being blown and their income being so spotty and bad. Now in their early 30s, they can’t even afford to live on their own, everyone has roommates and live in bad areas because the rent isn’t much cheaper but just enough that it makes them comfortable enough to at least have food and can afford upkeep on 20 year old vehicles, etc.

          One of my friends just got promoted…finally. And it’s only 37k :| I made that a decade ago, without any schooling.

          The world is simply eating it’s young I have come to realize.

          1. Nesprin*

            Yep- the average age of my grand school class starting in 2008 was 3 years older than the class starting in 2007, since lots of folks lost jobs and figured it was time for more education

        2. Turtlewings*

          I graduated in December ’07, with considerable debt, and went into a notoriously low-paying field. So to answer your question: Yep, drowning in debt and in denial to keep from panicking about it every minute of the day. I can baaaarely afford a studio apartment and a dog.

        3. CheeryO*

          Your cohort got completely hosed. I have a coworker who graduated around then and ended up way behind our younger coworkers in terms of career progression at our state agency, because she got stuck in crappy jobs and had lost the “new grad smell” by the time the job market picked up again. We are in a fairly in-demand STEM field, too. She said that she has countless college friends who ended up in that same boat. So I see you.

        4. Maeve*

          I graduated in June 2010 with a lot of student loan debt, 10 years later am making $43k which is more than a lot of people I know but I definitely can’t afford to buy a house or have a kid anytime soon. I finally paid off my credit card debt that I racked up in the years when I was making around $20k a year (mostly for vet bills and occasional groceries when I just ran out of money). Definitely luckier than some though.

      2. Dr Wizard, PhD*

        Yeah, I’m making €35k in my third year in a govt job, with a PhD.

        I’m doing the job of – and am equivalent to – a grade that starts on €48-50k but they only pay that to people who are *promoted* into the role, not people who are hired into it.

        I hate everything.

    5. P peace*

      So much. I think the worst is when a company is hiring for a starting level position and makes the applicant play the ‘how much does this job pay’ game. It is disgusting. It’s not enough to live on, but how little is it paying?

    6. MissDisplaced*

      Oh, I’m running into that a lot lately!
      I make a good salary, but I’m looking. Unfortunately, so many of the jobs for even highly experienced marketing skills + ten years experience are only advertising at $40-$50k which is pathetic and basically what I made 20 years ago.

      1. Hulk*

        It’s so depressing. I’d leave my current job in a heartbeat if I could get off of this track without being knocked back to start salary-wise. I’ve gone so far as to apply to grad school and enroll in classes, then dropped them when I realized how insane it would be to be working full time, doing evening classes, and have a little kid at home. It’s just… ugh.

  19. Cordoba*

    I understand why employers don’t publish ranges or publicize them early in a recruitment process; inasmuch as I understand what they *think* the benefits of this approach are.

    I also think that they are wrong with this thinking, and don’t take into account wasted time or qualified candidates who they miss out on as a result of those candidates not wanting to invest a bunch of effort into an application process with mystery compensation.

    My personal rule is to absolutely ask about money at first contact with the hiring manager or HR manager, and not proceed as a candidate if I can’t get a straight answer. As far as I can tell, there’s no downside to getting everybody on the same page about money as early as possible in the process. We don’t need to have the same exact number in mind, but we need to be generally in agreement.

    1. 1234*

      What exactly do you say to them to get the salary info early on?

      For example, HR/Hiring Manager says “Hi Cordoba, Thanks for submitting your information for Role. We would like to offer you an interview. Some times we have available are X, Y, Z. Do any of these work for you?”

      1. goducks*

        I’m frequently on the employer side, and it’s not uncommon for people to say, “Because I want to respect both of our time, could you tell me more about the position first?” And then they ask very reasonable questions about specific duties, reporting structure, size of company, compensation, WFH, etc.

        I’ve absolutely had people say things like “Thank you for your interest in me, but I’m pretty committed to XXX and it seems that’s not aligned with your organization” or “Sounds wonderful! I’m looking forward to meeting with you”.

        It’s so important for both sides to respect each other’s time and right to make informed decisions. As an employer, I’d so rather answer some basic questions early on, than realize two interviews in that we’re not aligned on something that’s critical for the candidate, if only for the purely selfish reason that I’m too busy to waste time like that.

  20. MWolfe*

    Why not share the hiring range as well as an honest characterization of the benefit package in the advertisement? That would eliminate wasted time and effort on both parts.

    1. TardyTardis*

      But that would cramp the company’s efforts to hire a PhD with ten years’ experience for minimum wage! People who want more money are evil scum, you know…

  21. CatCat*

    Why should I even bother applying for jobs that don’t post the salary range when they advertise the job?

    I mean, I am low key looking, but I don’t NEED need a new job. So I just scroll on by when I don’t see an amount posted in an advertisement.

  22. BluePens*

    I once did a phone interview for a company, and a few days later they e-mailed me to say they needed me to call them ASAP. Whenever someone wants me to call them ASAP and doesn’t tell me why, it’s ALWAYS something stupid, so I asked them to just tell me whatever it was over e-mail since it’s hard for me to make phone calls during work hours. The response was that they wanted to see if their salary (which was non-negotiable) was okay with me. They couldn’t e-mail me the salary amount for “security reasons.”

    What’s up with that? It makes no sense to me.

    1. ArtK*

      “Security reasons” means that they don’t want to put it in writing in case there are questions later on.

    2. Parenthetically*

      Ha! “Security reasons” sounds to me like either “we don’t want our other employees getting wind of this because we like keeping people in the dark about what their peers make so we can suppress wages as much as possible” or “we don’t want to put this in writing because we might go back on it later.” Or both! Why not both!

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      If they write it down, then it’s recorded.

      So when they turn around with an offer far below that, you can say “WTF I have this email that says you pay 80-90k, what’s this offer for 70 for?”

      It’s a very old shitty trick.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I have lived this.

        “$80K is your full compensation and it includes the value of your PTO, our contributions to your 401K, the value of public holidays, and our contributions for your health insurance.”

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          These are the same jackasses who list the mandatory taxes/insurances “social security and medicare and workers comp coverage!” in their “benefits” in their employee manual to really show you how much you cost them. RME.

    4. Allonge*

      Yeah, no. Security of what exactly? Times like this I am grateful to be old and experienced enough to take this as a RUN, fast! message.

      But what is the logic behind? This behavior leaves companies basically with desperate people, those who cannot afford to say no when their final offer is lower than the one mentioned in the hiring process. Just how long are they going to stay? Why would anyone want to start a business relationship with a big sign that they cannot be trusted at any level?

      Companies, if you can only pay X amount, name that. Otherwise, especially if you use tricks like this, you are messing with someone big time and then iterally handing them the keys to your business. How is that worth it?

    5. 1234*

      Well, they’ll also have to write down the salary in an offer letter, or were you just expected to simply agree to take the job via phone?

  23. goducks*

    I put the salary in the job posting, and then ask in the initial conversation what they’re seeking. I’m amazed how often people apply for positions with a posted salary well-below what they’re seeking. I find that telling the salary in the posting, and asking them on the first conversation, seems to be the best bet to avoid getting too far with mis-matched expectations.

  24. Kelly*

    As a current job seeker, PLEASE for the love of all thats good TELL ME THE SALARY RANGE upfront. Don’t be coy, don’t expect me to tell you what I think is, at best, a ballpark guess of what you’ll offer me.

    1. Kay*

      Yes! During the interview process for my current job, HR asked in the intro call what my range would be to “see if we were aligned.” I did some market research and had a number in mind, which they accepted right away as “within their range.” But I had such little knowledge about the job that it felt unfair. I don’t think I lowballed my number… but at the same time, I have no confirmation to prove otherwise.

    2. Xarcady*

      Especially if your online application takes hours and hours to complete. If the salary is just way too low, I have other positions to apply for that I’d rather spend my time on.

      Grumble: If I apply for one more job that wants advanced degrees, 10+ years of experience and wants to pay $32,000 a year and thinks that’s a livable salary, my head is going to explode.

  25. Jennifer*

    Yes, PLEASE tell people upfront. Knowing the benefits package would be helpful too. I think that it’s been taboo to discuss money early on in the interview process, but guess what the #1 reason is for most people getting up and going to work in the morning? Money and benefits. This shouldn’t be taboo.

    1. Champagne Cocktail*

      Big-time. I tend to ask what the health insurance costs because of experience with a staffing firm. The pay was okay (and I really needed the job), but the health insurance was ridiculous–and I can’t get away with a cheap plan. I had cancer five years ago and there’s always the worry that another one will appear because I have that risk factor.

  26. Lime Lehmer*

    My son is just started interviewing for a job in a new field while currently employed.

    I strongly suggested that he me ask about salary ranges before agreeing to an interview, since he has limited time off.

    He also asked me what “What does Alison say about taking time off for interviews?

  27. pleaset AKA cheap rolls*

    “I have read your column and it seems many job-posters are uncomfortable with revealing the salary range so soon in the recruitment process.”

    OP – FTFY

  28. beanie gee*

    If Alison’s advice becomes standard practice it would take such a huge stressor out of job searching! Nothing like being desperate for a job and feeling like you’re going to get screened out of a possible job when you name the wrong salary range.

    Maybe a lot of people actually have a salary range that they are looking for when they are job searching, but for me “what I’d like to make/what I think I deserve” does not always match “what I’d be willing to work for” so putting it on the applicant to give that range feels like you’re sacrificing one of those.

  29. J*

    I was recently contacted by a company on linkedin I’m not looking, but was intrigued by the job. I agreed to a phone screen. During which, the HR person asked me my salary requirements. I told her that it was hard for me to say, given that I wasn’t really looking at the time, didn’t know much about the job and did not know their industry very well. I asked her for her range. She refused to give it and continued to push me to name a number. I told her I’d get back to her.

    There were a few other red flags in that call, including the fact that all candidates would need to complete a 3 HOUR online test before being an advanced to the first of 2 in-person interviews. After the call, I emailed her to thank her for her time but to remove me from consideration.

    She never responded, but a week letter sent me an email saying that they didn’t move me forward in their process. OK, lady.

    1. Lemon Ginger Tea*

      Ha! I once went for an informational interview which turned out to be a surprise group interview. I got a rejection *postcard* in the mail a few weeks later. I never applied, but sure, ok.

  30. Fikly*

    Yeah, instead of asking, “how do I ask unfair question?” you should stop asking the unfair question.

  31. Essess*

    Don’t make the interviewee try to guess an appropriate salary before they’ve even had an interview. They haven’t had a chance to discuss the expectations of the position such as the amount of hours (especially overtime expectations for salaried employees) or the number of people being managed, or the expected work-life balance, or many other items that would impact their decision about an acceptable pay rate. It is more appropriate for you to state what the pay range is that your company expects to pay someone for the duties that YOU already know are part of the position.
    I had one company call me and tell me that they weren’t going to move forward with my candidacy because they couldn’t match what I was currently making. We had not even discussed pay rates or ranges yet and they never gave me an opportunity to confirm that I would have been willing to take lower. They had no way of knowing that I had already mentally calculated that I was willing to take up to a 30% pay cut to get out of my old job but I wouldn’t have initially stated that I had a pay rate of 30% lower than my current pay rate upon if they had asked me my expected salary in initial phone call before interviewing. I would have, however, told them that I’d still be interested in continuing if they had told me their pay range.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s one reason why salary history is such a misguided question!

      For my part, I am looking for jobs in a different state. I hate being asked my current salary because it comes with a ton of caveats, and I never want to give people the idea that they can offer me something crappy because I haven’t been making market rate in my new area.

  32. Jane2*

    If LW is asking this question after reviewing a resume, the candidate cannot answer the question. (Oh and BTW, it sends a bad message to the candidate)

    Applicant Answer to question: “I’ve only just read a description of the role – until I understand the responsibilities in detail I can’t possibly estimate the appropriate salary range for the position.”

    Because it isn’t about ‘salary requirements’ – it is about what the role is WORTH in the current market and what the employer needs to be offering to attract appropriate talent.

    1. irene adler*

      Not disagreeing. But I get told that I must offer up a salary number or the hiring process cannot proceed.
      And since they hold all the cards, I must yield.

      1. Jane2*

        In these (bullying) situations, it is important to be clear that you are estimating the salary appropriate for the job description provided … not stating your salary ‘requirements,’ wants, or wishes. But really, these folks are telling you a lot about themselves, and their organizations, by not proceeding with a conversation without you providing a number (and why do I want to invest my time in this conversation without them providing a number??).

  33. I Will Steal Your Pens*

    I love the last part – posting the salary band.

    Being in HR myself, I have never agreed with the practice of not posting it. Sure some people will apply anyway – but people apply without any of the experience in the req so what would you do there? Not post the duties and qualifications of the role? You only have to post a range. And in this day and age of pay transparency it would go a long way.

  34. Ancient Alien*

    My particular job is fairly “standard” in the sense that there are a lot of people in highly similar roles across many organizations and industries. We even have a professional society that conducts a salary survey of its members. So, I have a pretty good idea of my market value at any given time and it doesn’t bother me too much to give an employer my desired range when I apply for a job. That said, it is comical to me the lengths some companies will go to in order to avoid revealing their range on positions they are actively recruiting for.

    I recently had a funny experience with the recruiter from a very, very large life sciences company. They reached out to me out of the blue through LinkedIn and wanted me to spend several hours applying through their Taleo system. The position seemed reasonably interesting, but I wasn’t really looking. The email conversation went something like this:
    Me: “OK, that sounds interesting. Can you tell me the salary range for the position and whether I’d be required to sign a non-compete?”
    Recruiter: “Well, only my supervisor has the salary range info and he’s not here right now.”
    Me: “OK, that’s fine. After you get a chance to talk to them, just let me know what they say.”
    R: “Well, even if they were here, I’m not authorized to share this information. It’s not my place to do so.”
    Me: “OK, I understand. If you want to have your supervisor contact me, that’s perfectly fine.”
    R: “I agree we should make sure we are on the same page salary-wise. Can you tell me what range you are looking for?”
    Me: “Well, I’d really like to understand what level this position really is and knowing the salary range for the position will help me determine that. It’s hard to tell from the job description whether this is a junior or senior analyst role.”
    R: “I discussed this with my supervisor and unless you are willing to tell me your desired salary range, we won’t be able to continue this conversation.”
    Me: “Hey, I completely understand. You are just doing your job. You guys reached out to me. Best of luck on your search.”

    Now, normally I wouldn’t have taken such a hard stance on this, but I feel like if you are reaching out to me then you need to offer me SOMETHING information-wise. After that, just got really annoyed with the recruiter’s changing reasons (i.e., LIES) about why they couldn’t share this info.

    1. Jennifer Thneed*

      Yeah, I’ve had similar conversations, and I am so over it. More than once I’ve told a recruiter “YOU contacted ME. If you want me to talk to you, you have to give me INFORMATION. Otherwise, you are wasting your own time.”

  35. Liz T*

    I’m trying to imagine withholding info about my qualifications the way employers withhold info on compensation.

      1. Adric*

        I think it’s more a thought experiment.

        The basic employment agreement is the employee gives time, skills and judgement, and the employer gives money.

        If employers wouldn’t consider a potential employee without knowing what they’re offering, why should an employee consider an employer who won’t say what they’re offering.

        1. Liz T*

          Yes, I’d thought the phrase “I’m trying to imagine” indicated that it was at most a thought experiment.

  36. anonHere*

    “If you were risking losing good candidates by throwing out that number early, you’ll probably lose them the second they have an offer closer to what their expectations are”

    yup, i interviewed for a very interesting position.. that paid $45k in NYC. i ended up at a similar position that paid $64k near NYC. that first place was dreaming, and also kind of mad i expected more? but if they had stated the salary up front, we could have avoided each other.

  37. Jdc*

    Ugh please stop doing this. As candidates we hate this for all the reasons listed. It honestly makes me unsure if I even want to continue perusing when I hear it. It just makes me think “oh great let’s see how they can lowball me or put me on the spot with limited information”. Even worse to all who hire, never ever again ask someone what the minimum they need to make to live is. I just, I cannot with that BS. “How much do you need to not die but live a truly miserable life?”

  38. Lady Blerd*

    There was a twitter thread last week about this very question from a job seeker’s POV and wanted to tag in AAM for her thoughts. This feels like an add-on to that thread.

  39. Mill Miker*

    I know someone who had the HR person doing the pre-screen as this question. She told them she’d need a lot more information, but she’d need to see at least $X to be able to consider the position.

    The HR person responded with “Wow, that’s really low for this position…”, but of course when she got the offer, the pay was $X, and no amount of anything would get them to increase it.

  40. Xarcady*

    As someone who is currently job hunting, knowing the salary helps me determine if I should for “apply for for a job or not. But so few companies offer this info.

    Then I’m left trying to figure out if the job is entry level or higher. Job titles are little help. I’ve seen job descriptions for “assistant” positions that read like a head of department job. For someone who knows nothing about a company, “reporter,” “fellow,” “specialist,” “counselor (for an editorial job),” “consultant,” don’t carry a whole lot of meaning, especially when the job description doesn’t match what the title seems to imply.

    So to all those employers out there that are confused as to why I’m applying for jobs I’m under- or over-qualified for—take a look at your job titles and job descriptions.

    1. Pomona Sprout*

      Yeah, job titles don’t always tell you a heck of a lot. I used to be a librarian, and I applied for a lot of jobs that usually had either “cataloger” or “catalog librarian” as the job title (because cataloging was my specialty). Those terms were used interchangeably by various libraries for positions with pretty much the same kinds of duties and the same skill set, on the same general level on the organizational totem pole,. Except for one public library I worked at that used the term “cataloger” for a position with minimal supervisory duties and “catalog librarian” for another position that was actually the head of the cataloging dept. When both of those positions needed to be filled within months of each other, the job adverts were basically identical as far as skills and qualifications. The only difference between the two besides the job titles and salary ranges was a greater amount of experience required for the “catalog librarian” position. The library director (new to the job and not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so to speak) couldn’t figure out why so many of the applicants for that position lost interest when they found about the supervisory aspects of the role.

      Well, gee whiz, dude, if you want to hire a dept. head, maybe you should, I don’t know, maybe mention in the advert that that’s what the job is. If he had done that, people who were not interested in that type of position would not have wasted their time and his applying, AND theadvert would have attracted more applicants who WERE interested in that kind of role. The person who finally took the job was not originally interested in a managerial role, but was talked into it despite their misgivings. It did not end well, either for her or the director, because the job turned out to be a very poor fit for that person, and vice versa.

  41. Massmatt*

    Kudos to Alison for fighting this terrible practice.

    IMO asking candidates their salary expectations (or worse, requiring their salary history) is quite often a lazy way for employers to narrow down their candidate pool and reduce their costs.

    If you give a higher figure than their range, they DQ you out of hand. If you name a lower figure they will nod and mumble that’s in their range. Either way the candidate loses, unless she guesses right in the range.

    You have a $ range, tell me what it is Vs making me guess your number like some carny trick.

  42. Goldfinch*

    One reason companies near me hide salary is because this is an up-and-coming “get out of the big city rat race and come to our close-but-not-too-close town instead” type of area. Companies know they’re trying to attract talent that’s leaving a major metropolis salary, and they know they can’t compete on money, so they get dodgy and skittish instead of being upfront about it being a lifestyle trade-off.

    If they’d just say “Look, your commute will be 20 minutes instead of 4 hours a day on a stinky bus” and “here are COL comps on major life expenses” then you’d think it would suffice, but I guess a lot of people just don’t have the critical thinking skills.

    1. Valprehension*

      …do they really think that job-seekers aren’t capable of making these calculations themselves? I literally have been applying for jobs that would be a 10% pay cut simply because they would practically eliminate my commute. People are able to handle these kinds of priorities and make decisions around them on their own – but only if job postings are upfront about the salary ranges.

      1. Goldfinch*

        I’m sure it’s all a smoke screen, as all these excuses are, but I do think the gut reaction to that type of sticker shock can be disheartening to a job seeker new to that situation. I don’t think it’s a permanent deterrent, though.

  43. Sled dog mana*

    In addition to salary I want to know what your benefits really mean. You tell me I get X weeks PTO but you don’t mention that that includes the government holidays when I don’t have the option to work because you are closed. That’s not going to go over well. You tell me that the employer values professional development And offers X in education benefits per year, but I can only use the education benefits to get a degree in certain areas or take college courses in those areas not to take the classes that actually relevant to my career or that allow me to maintain a professional certification. My personal favorite, you require me to get a certificate (Not required in my field just by this employer) that I have to take an in person 3 hour test to achieve, this test is offered 1 day a year in one location of the country (USA), but you pay zero of my travel, food or lodging costs and charge me PTO for the day I’m taking the test? All of this would have been nice to know up front, and I asked a lot of questions about compensation upfront but most of the answers were vague “what’s standard” non answers.

    1. irene adler*

      Ouch! Wince! Yep!

      I’d wonder about the competence of anyone who COULD give a salary given they don’t have the in-depth understanding of the position or the accompanying benefits.

      1. Liz T*

        I think employers all assume that the way they do things is the “normal” way so there’s no need to explain anything!

  44. Chronic Overthinker*

    I went to far too many fruitless interviews because salary expectations/benefits were NEVER talked about until the offer stage. Then when salary/benefits were talked about it was often too low/too little for my expectations of the role. It hurt when I genuinely thought I was a good fit for the position, have an amazing interview and then be let down/forced to decline due to wages/lack of benefits. Even if they had provided a range in the beginning or just general indication of benefits, I could have the ability to self-select out and save them the time and expense of an interview if I know it’s below my acceptable range.

  45. Jennifer Thneed*

    You are taking the wrong message from Alison’s columns

    > I have read your column and it seems many job-hunters are uncomfortable with
    > revealing their salary expectations so soon in the recruitment process.

    And there’s a REASON for that. Are you thinking that the reason is not a good enough one?

    > So what is the best, most professional way to ask a candidate’s salary expectations?

    Why do you want your applicants to feel you are their adversary? The better question is: what’s the best, most professional way to handle this situation?

  46. Mimmy*

    As a job seeker, how would you handle it if the employer posts the salary range in their job posting but still asks the applicant for their salary requirements?

    1. Macedon*

      Honestly, why do you need to know? Are you polling to understand the market value of a role with your requirements? Genuine question.

      You already have a min/max for how much you will pay for a role. The candidate’s expectations won’t change that.

    2. nnn*

      I think I’d tell them that we seem to be aligned based on the range indicated in the job posting.

      If I had specific requirements (e.g. I’m currently employed in a job I like and would need a significant raise to be wooed away) I’d tell them my specific requirements.

    3. Jennifer Thneed*

      I would say that the numbers look good and of course I need to know what the rest of the compensation package looks like, but let’s start the conversation.

  47. Carlie*

    This at least makes some sense. Then the question is really “justify why you should be at the part of the salary range you want.”

  48. I'm just here for the cats*

    Personally, I never understood why employers don’t put the salary range and benefits info in the job add. It saves everyone time and hassle. The company can weed out those who are asking more, and job seekers can weed out unwanted jobs without anyone talking to each other. I always find it a little sketchy when I can’t find estimate salary.

    1. MissDisplaced*

      I think because they may want to hide the salaries from current employees who may be getting paid less and/or haven’t had raises.

  49. Anon for salaries*

    I know other people experience this differently, but I am grateful we didn’t have a salary conversation early on, as I am sure matters would not have proceeded, because they would have turned down my range. Yes, sometimes it’s in everyone’s best interest to do this conversation immediately, but it’s not so cut and dried as many seem to think.

  50. MissDisplaced*

    I really do not have any problem telling companies what I’m looking for in a salary. In fact, the sooner it comes up the better! Preferably by email or first phone screen (or even better in the job listing). I really don’t want to take a day off work only to find out your job pays $30k less than I make now thanks.

    Granted this can change depending on whether or not one is currently employed or not. ;-)

  51. nnn*

    The other problem with employers asking candidates for their salary requirements is that some employers will automatically rule out candidates who name a number that’s too high and others will automatically rule out candidates who name a number that’s too low and others will automatically rule out candidates who try to negotiate.

    From the candidate’s perspective, it’s a guessing game where the rules change each time and no one tells you.

  52. CW*

    I think it would be easier just to post a range to avoid wasting anyone’s time. I took a job about 3.5 years ago; coming off a temp position at 27 with a late start in my career had me eager. Unfortunately, the job only paid $15/hr. Needing money, I just took it since it was an offer on the spot. However, I wasn’t happy. Being more than eager to move on with my life and move out on my own, there was no way I could live on my own on that pay where I live. I live in a very high cost of living area and I would have been considered dirt poor. It dawned on me that I should have just said no, and I felt really stupid for accepting it.

    Let’s just say that 5 short months later, I was fired. And my boss fired me on the phone on a Friday night at 6pm, effectively ruining my entire weekend.

    Since then, I have learned to avoid this mistake, so I learned my lesson. But not without derailing my career for quite some time after that.

  53. Maika*

    Basecamp put out a job description for a new programmer role. Not only is it an incredible JD and something I wish others would emulate, but they’re upfront about their salaries in the posting. They take out the whole negotiation burden right off the bat and they provide salaries commensurate with market rates in the industry they’re working in, regardless of where you’re working from.

Comments are closed.