I think my new job’s salary offer is a mistake

A reader writes:

I work for a toxic organization, and I’ve been looking for opportunities elsewhere. A job opened up in my home city that would be a lateral move for me so I applied and was offered the job. Hooray! However, the salary included in the offer email was WAY more than I was expecting — not in a good way — in a suspicious way.

For reference, I currently make $65K, which is (from what I can tell) fairly typical for the position in the area of the country where I work. The range for the job I applied to (only one state over, similar cost of living) was $63K-$87K. They offered me $86K. I feel like this has to be a mistake. The job qualifications are a specific master’s degree required (which I have) and management experience preferred. I do have management experience but only 1.5 years of it. I also have a second master’s degree but it’s not super related to the work I would be doing. I can’t understand why they would bump me so high in the range. I’ve been working in this field for seven years and I’ve always been started at or just above the minimum for each new position I’ve accepted. I’m suspecting maybe two numbers were transposed and they meant to offer me $68K, which would be reasonable.

How do I bring this up without lowballing myself? I need to know whether this is really the salary because I am moving to take this job and what I’m anticipating making will affect some of the decisions I make about living arrangements. But I don’t want to say, “Hey, I think maybe you made a mistake and are offering me too much money. I was only expecting to make in the $60s.” And then they lower the pay because I’m offering to work for less. There is a chance the offer is sincere and I don’t want to jeopardize that in the process of getting clarity.

I emailed back my acceptance to say, “I accept X Position with a pay of $86K annually” to give them a chance to maybe notice a typo and say, “Oh, wait, that’s not right.” But they just said, “Sounds good. We’ll reach out with the pre-employment paperwork soon.”

Is there another way I can approach this to confirm the salary without saying “I’ll work for less”? (Even though I will).

I’d just believe they intended to offer you $86K.

If they had offered you something way outside their advertised range, it would be reasonable to think it might be a typo and inquire about it. But they offered you within their range. And then you repeated the number back to them and they didn’t blink. That’s almost certainly because they are in fact offering you $86K.

Not every company starts people at the bottom of their posted salary ranges. And advertised salary ranges aren’t always “this is the range of what you could make the entire time you are in this position.” Often they are “this is the range we will consider as a starting salary for the right candidate.” You just ended up at the top of their range. That’s a good thing.

If you hadn’t already written back to confirm and you were still looking for a way to reassure yourself, I might have recommended getting on the phone with the hiring manager to discuss the offer and saying something like, “I appreciate you offering me near the top of the range” — which would have flagged it for them if they hadn’t meant to do that. But at this point, you’ve written back to confirm, they agreed, and it’s highly likely that this is in fact your salary.

If it turns out that they didn’t actually mean to offer you that … well, they made an offer squarely within their range, and you wrote back to confirm that number in writing. They’d have to be real shitheels to try to switch that up on you later. (Legally they could do it, as long as it’s not retroactive for time you’d already worked, but it would reflect terribly on them and a decent employer wouldn’t do it.)

{ 171 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonym*

    The posted range could also be location dependent. Breathe and celebrate, OP! Congratulations!!!

    1. Knope Knope Knope*

      OP there’s nothing suspicious here! As a hiring manager, the range comes from HR/finance. As a manager, I just want to pay my staff well so I’ll go as high as I can.

      Don’t lowball yourself!

      1. Lea*

        Op has two masters and experience!! People often jump jobs and get higher salaries. Rejoice and be happy

      2. Gawaine42*

        Agreed, I fight for the best I can.

        Our published ranges are geo independent, but cover the range of experience for a position. if a position says it’s for 0 to 2 years and an undergrad degree, and someone comes in with a masters, they’re either going to be in the top end of that range or we will offer them a higher position with a. overlapping range.

      3. Also-ADHD*

        LW sounds like someone who would merit the top of the range. I’ve gotten the top of the range or above for my last few jobs, particularly lateral moves actually because you usually hit all the higher level requirements. I mean, it varies, but there’s nothing suspicious about the top of the range when you’re hitting even preferred (not mandatory) qualifications and if it’s an in person job they’re moving for, that means it’s unlikely they got tons of folks (remote is easier because you have a huge hiring pool) that meet preferred and extra requirements.

      4. Tiny Orchid*

        This! I know that employees at my company will get 3.5% COLA annually, and it’s really hard to get more than that. so I start them as high in the range as I can. I’d rather start someone with a decent salary then have them leave in a couple of years because it’s not competitive any more.

      5. Bruce*

        Yes! If we have the option to give someone a raise offer and it has reasonable equity to what other people are earning then I would want to go for making a higher offer. I don’t want the candidate to feel any doubts if I can avoid it.

      6. Flat White Walker*

        Agreed. When I was interviewing for my current job in local govt, my now-manager went straight in at the very top of the range. I countered with +5k, and their eventual offer landed somewhere between the two.

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      Congrats! I’d be willing to bet that your time at Toxic Job has skewed your idea of your value. You have TWO master’s degrees and experience! Of course you should be making decent money.
      Hope you enjoy your new job and $$!!

      1. Isabel Archer*

        Agreed! Honestly this letter was a little heartbreaking, as the OP repeatedly voted against themselves and what they have to offer.

    3. Baunilha*

      I’m going to rewrite my own story that Alison already published a couple years ago: when I was interviewing for my current job, I was asking for X salary if the position was remote, or X+30% if the position was hybrid. When they offered me the job, the salary was X+30% for a fully remote position. It wasn’t a mistake, they really thought I was worth that much!
      And a few months before, another company I was interviewing with also offered me nearly twice what I was making at the time.

      The salary they offered is within their range, and you already double-checked. It’s not a mistake. Congratulations, OP!

    4. OP*

      OP here. Reading Alison’s response and everyone else’s very kind posts has been so cathartic. To everyone who said that my current toxic workplace has messed with my self worth, I think you are absolutely right. One of my biggest issues with my organization is the way they make staff feel constantly replaceable. I didn’t realize how much I had internalized that. I’m about to go celebrate my awesome new salary with my husband! And might look into a bit of therapy as well. P.S. to those who guessed I was a woman and also a librarian based on my level of self doubt, check and check.

      1. Carl*

        Ahh, I’m happy to read this update. You are surely worth every penny OP, don’t doubt it! Congrats!

      2. Carl*

        Also, what I was going to add below – remember that the employer is competing for you as well. You have a job, and not all offers are accepted. Not surprising they would be going top of range for qualified candidate with two masters and experience!

      3. Tired Librarian*

        I had an immediate involuntary laugh that bordered on a sob upon reading your PS… Congratulations on the new job and salary!

      4. Michelle*

        Your letter put a smile on my face. What a wonderful surprise for you, congratulations!

      5. Anonimity for cash*

        OP, a few years ago I changed careers and was seeing ads for people starting out in my area around $85k, so that’s what I asked for. The recruiter said she thought I’d be very pleased when the offer came through … at $145k!!!! My years of experience in unrelated fields counted heavily in my favor and I lucked into an employer paying near the top end of the range anyway.

        I just got contacted by a recruiter last week about a slightly more senior level position and they asked my minimum to jump. I like my current job and my colleagues a lot, so I gave them what I considered an absolutely absurd number — $250k salary, plus stock options and a signing bonus. They got back to me the next day asking for an interview ASAP. I interview Monday.

      6. Momma Bear*

        I’m glad you’re feeling better about it. I had some big pay jumps over my career and it made me realize 1. my own worth and 2. that I was underpaid in the previous role. Treat yourself to something nice and enjoy your new job and salary.

        BTW, often women think we have to meet every item on the wish list before applying and men will apply to jobs that are somewhere in the ballpark of their experience. Just because you don’t have 100% what they were looking for doesn’t mean you didn’t meet their real needs – as verified by the offer.

    5. My 2 cents*

      I am currently hiring for a role that pays $85-$105. I assume I’m hiring someone I feel fits into the $105k range or I wouldn’t be hiring you. My budget allows me to hire to that range. I’m not going to hire someone I feel is well qualified and can fill the role really well at $85k. I have to give the stupid low end of the range, but I’m going to pay someone i feel can do the job what the job is worth. If I think you as a potential employee are with only the bottom of the range I shouldn’t hire you.

      Keep in mind that my ranges are the hiring ranges. There are some jobs that post the full job range. My hiring range is up to $105k and if I think you’re a solid candidate I’m getting that for you. It comes out of my budget, but at the end of the day I’d rather spend more budget for the right hire.

      So assuming it’s being range I would think they want to pay you what the think a high performing person in that role would make.

      So not a typo.

    6. Annony*

      When they said it was WAY more than expected, I thought it was above the advertised range. If the range were $63k-$87K and the offer was $165k then I would assume a typo since it is so far above the advertised range, but an offer within the range seems most likely to be real.

  2. LiberryPie*

    It’s like it’s Self-Doubt Week here, between this and the person whose manager kept encouraging her to apply for a job, yet she couldn’t believe he’d possibly consider her for it.

    1. B*

      For real! I opened this post expecting to see an offer of like, triple the posted salary. This is just the top of the range! Congrats — for getting a well-deserved job offer and for finding an employer that is not out to nickel and dime you.

        1. D*

          Yeah, this is high in a good way, not a suspicious way, OP! Suspicious would be extra digits!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Agree! When you’re on the lower end of professional salary, larger jumps are more expected. Some places do nickel and dime you from 63 to 65 to 68 but honestly, that’s not the way it should be. From sixties to eighties is a good but reasonable jump. Congrats, OP!! (and remember, some people are making like, 300K and up – you’re not exactly taking a spot from someone in the landed gentry here).

        1. D*

          In 2021, I went from 35k no benefits to 75k with them and a stock grant in a job hop and mostly just nodded enthusiastically.

        2. NotAnotherManager!*

          Yeah, in my industry, there is a substantial difference between 0-3 year pay and 5+ year pay. Once you have good experience and don’t have to be trained from the ground up, you’re more valuable to employers, especially the ones that don’t the bandwidth or desire to train their own people (which means the ones who do train have to also pay you more to compete).

      2. We're Six*

        Yeah, sometimes unusually high salaries are a sign of a scam job but there are usually other signs too. I was expecting a letter like that.

        1. Bananapantsfeelings*

          Under $100k isn’t a scam job, though, at least not in a city in the US. A masters degree SHOULD be paid like that!

      3. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I thought it was going to be something like “I was offered a salary of $400K. Having worked in the field for a number of years, I know the normal salary for this position is about $50K, so I’m wondering if they added an extra 0 by accident and are actually paying on the lower end of the scale.”

    2. MCMonkeybean*

      Yes seriously “I met every requirement they wanted, but surely they don’t actually think I’m valuable?” This makes my heart hurt! OP, I hope this company makes you feel more valued than your previous one.

      1. Midwest Manager too!*

        1000% OP your credentials and experience sound like just the type of thing I’d advocate for top of range to hire at.

        I had a similar experience when I took my current job. I was anticipating an offer, and was preparing my arguments to get the offer up to $65k (I was expecting around $62-63k). I’m glad I wasn’t the one driving the car when they called and offered me $80k!

        Congrats on your shiny new job and significant raise!

        1. Danish.*

          Ha, yes, I’ve experienced that too. Working in academia making $35k and jumping to tech being prepared to ask for the audacious amount of $45k… only for them to offer me $60k and a signing bonus. Some might have said I should have negotiated but I was pretty happy just accepting the offer of nearly 100% increase.

      2. FormerProducer*

        God yes that’s exactly what I was thinking! You have a masters, management experience, and SEVEN YEARS of experience in the field and you think it could only be a mistake to get an offer on the high end? I hate that the letter writer has been made to feel this way. Also, in many industries, $65k to $86k would just be going from underpaid to in line with labor market.

        I’m glad they wrote in, and hopefully the perspective will help them feel less worried about it.

        1. Jaydee*

          That was my thought too. For this employer, it sounds like $63K might be for someone freshly graduated with the required degree and little to no experience in the field and no management experience. Something in the middle (around $75K) might be for someone with the masters and management experience in a different field but maybe no experience in this field or someone with the masters and a few solid years of experience in the field but no management experience. $86K means the LW checked all the boxes to get that top-of-range salary offer.

          This is good news, LW! They don’t need to see you do the happy dance, but you definitely deserve to do the happy dance

    3. Goldenrod*

      Yeah, right??? OP, you DID IT! You got out of a toxic workplace AND secured a huge raise.

      Likely your self-esteem is too low because you have been in a toxic environment for too long. Your new employer knows your worth. Time to celebrate!!!

    4. Kyrielle*

      Yup! I once took a job after telling them I’d need at least $Y to take it (and thinking Y was something they could reasonably give me). I was expecting an offer of $Y. I got an offer of $Y+10k, and accepted it, and they meant it. Sometimes, you really can have nice things.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        Oh, that’s great. In the same circumstance I was offered $Y. My only attempt at negotiation was to ask for a new computer as opposed to a hand-me-down (which didn’t happen). I know so much better now!

        1. Kyrielle*

          If they’d offered below $Y I would have negotiated – but I had said I’d need at least $Y depending on duties and benefits, and when they offer me $10k more for the expected duties and with good benefits, I called it a win and said ‘thank you!’ I know some places might take advantage, but I’d *also* have been willing to work for them if they’d come in at $Y, so….

  3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Meant in the most positive way: Shut up and take it :) Congrats!

    1. 40 Years In the Hole*

      “Start the Car!” (Ref to an old IKEA ad in Canada – the deals were to good to be true so it felt like you were getting away with something).

      1. Sydney Ellen Wade*

        Such a classic I could immediately hear it in my head. Thanks for the much-needed smile today!

  4. Three Flowers*

    Woohoo, congratulations!

    I’m just speculating, but do you think the toxic environment at your soon-to-be-former workplace is making you devalue yourself? You have two master’s degrees! You have management experience! You are worth this salary and deserve to be paid for your skills and accomplishments.

    I wish you all the best and I hope you’ll send in an awesome update in December. :)

    1. Anonys*

      Came here to say something similar. OP, based on what’s in your letter I am not at all surprised that you ended up at the top of the range. Let’s look at it this way:
      – This is a lateral move for you, so you already have experience working at this level/in this type of position (a significant number of candidates are job searching to go a step up and those might be the ones ending up more at the bottom of the range)
      – You not only have the required masters degree but an additional one. you say it’s not “super” related to the new position but from that statement I infer that it IS somewhat related and therefore still a value-add. Also, some organizations (rightly or wrongly) place a salary premium on additional academic titles, independent of how related/necessary the degree is for the work
      – I think the most important point: your management experience. Having someone in the role who already has management experience is a significant advantage for the company. You call it “only” 1.5 years of experience but that isn’t a short amount of time. Also, this was a preferred requirement, not an essential. First of all, it’s natural that someone who fulfills the “wish list/ideal candidate” job requirements and not just the necessities would end up towards the top end of the range. And the fact that this was only a “preferred” criteria could indicate that they weren’t sure they would find someone suitable with management experience for this role and this salary band at all.

    2. Really?*

      Agree with the commenters regarding your self doubt. Think of it this way- if it’s a similar role, Newco is taking both your qualifications and the experience you gained in Toxic, Inc. into account. …and when you get there, don’t say anything that indicates you aren’t worth it! You are!

    3. ferrina*

      Yes! Toxic workplaces mess with your mind in so many ways.

      I had two toxic workplaces back-to-back. Both of them paid me as low as they could possibly get away with. Like $10-20k below what I should have been paid. I didn’t know my worth, so I accepted it. I was just grateful to have a job. My family of origin had also spent my childhood telling me that I wasn’t worth much, and I guess my brain had put a number on that.

      Finally I felt secure enough to ask for my worth in interviews. I remember giving my range to one HR manager, who simply said “we’ll be able to meet that.” When the offer came through it was what I had asked + $20k. To them, I was worth that money. They knew the job would be stressful, and they wanted it reflected in the paycheck. Their philosophy was that they hired good people and paid those people their worth. One of the lowest turnover places I’ve ever worked, and incredible coworkers.

      1. Snookidyboo*

        I was going to say the same thing. I got out of a toxic workplace when the pandemic started. I’m JUST NOW starting to regain self confidence and not flinch every time I get a text.

        I would strongly recommend some therapy for the OP to help let go of the feeling that you’re worth nothing and deserve nothing. Toxic work places absolutely mess with you and you deserve a good job with good pay where you are respected and treated with kindness.

    4. RVA Cat*

      This! You are a unicorn and they’re paying top of range because they can’t go higher until they promote you.

  5. Foxy Hedgehog*

    As I started reading, I thought we would find out they offered $168K or something like that. I’m with Alison–they offered a number inside their range, that’s not a mistake.

    1. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

      I expected a huge boost too. This is just a normal boost by an employer who is not trying to beat you down in salary.

      Ciongratulations and enjoy your new job!

  6. Pastor Petty Labelle*

    OP, you are letting your current toxic environment affect your thinking. Of course they must be lying to me because of toxicity.

    But it is more likely that your company is somewhat functional, for a given value of functional, and they meant exactly what they wrote. The offer isn’t wildly out there. Like if their range was 68-87 and they offered you 100K yeah something is up. But its in the range and you meet the requirements. Which is another reason your current toxic situation is affecting your thinking. They wanted management experience, which you have. You are just downplaying it as too little. Probably because your current toxic place is trying to make you feel too worthless to consider going elsewhere because who would want you?

    1. The Original K.*

      I think this is exactly it. I read the title and thought they’d offered like double the market rate or something suspicious, but offering at the top of the range is fine! Not suspicious at all! OP, don’t block a blessing or let your toxic environment cause you to question your worth. Take the money! It’s yours!

    2. Sloanicota*

      They could just have a pay equity issue where other people in the pay band with your level of education and experience are making closer to the top of the range, so they made this offer influenced in part by that. It happens all the time.

    3. ferrina*

      Exactly this!

      Toxic places/people devalue you and convince you to devalue yourself. Their goal is to make you stay because you don’t think you deserve better.

      It sounds like OP is a catch and a great candidate- as an outsider, I can definitely see why the company would offer OP the top of the range.

    4. Smithy*

      Regarding toxic thinking from a problematic workplace – I do think that part of it can be messing with your head a bit as it relates to salary, market rates, and what’s good, what’s normal, what’s abnormal, etc.

      I used to work for a team that was 10000% convinced that they were paid at the top of our industry’s salary. To the point where some of my peers genuinely thought they couldn’t get a similar salary when taking a new job, let alone raise. And while in no way did we have bad salaries, that perspective was skewed wildly out of proportion. It had that kernel of truth in that the other major peer located in our city was known to pay way below industry standards. And if this was a smaller city or our industry wasn’t well represented, this could have a major impact. But this was NYC, and we were not the only two games in town.

      The major impact was that when people did apply for new jobs and were offered a similar increase to the OP – people were on edge. That they’d been offered a job way more senior than they were ready for. That the expectations would be enormous. That something was “wrong”.

  7. Mike*

    You meet their education and work experience requirements. That puts you at least halfway up the range. Keep in mind that they probably get resumes where they’d need to compromise on some of these requirements; those candidates go on the lower end of the range.

    Also, it’s a tough hiring environment. They may figure “why low-ball this person we want and miss out on them? Pay them near the top of the range and reel them in so we can get her locked in. “

    1. sparkle emoji*

      Yep, getting 80% of the requirements is usually pretty good. I’m not surprised you’re on the high end when you match all the important requirements OP!

    2. Covert Copier Whisperer*

      Yep. in addition, they may have done a pay equity comparison internally and want to offer a salary in line with others in the company, which would also be a good thing!

  8. learnedthehardway*

    There’s no mistake here!!! They DID mean to offer you that amount of money. It’s not out of scope. You ARE qualified and you have the experience. You clearly impressed them with your qualifications and strengths for the role. The offer isn’t even over their compensation range.


  9. Blarg*

    You said this was a lateral move, you have two advanced degrees, and 7 years’ experience. That your current pay is so close to the new job’s starting salary is the problem here. Toxic job skewing what you think is normal.


  10. House On The Rock*

    First, congrats on your new job and the big bump in salary! This is fantastic!

    Since you mention that your current job is toxic, also consider that what you’ve been led to believe about “normal salaries” is a bunch of bunk used to keep pay low. I had a similar experience years ago when I moved from a corporate hellscape to a large, public university. I was told by all kinds of folks at corporate hellscape that I’d be taking a huge paycut – turns out the university offered me $10k more than I was making at my current job.

    I can also confirm, as someone who now hires others, that posted ranges are usually the range that someone will be offered coming in, not where you might eventually end up.

    Good luck and enjoy!

    1. Bird Lady*

      This! I left a toxic environment where raises were promised as jobs were re-evaluated since we had all absorbed multiple full-time roles into our current job responsibilities and those raises or re-evaluations never happened. When asked, we were told that we were lying and they had never been promised, that it was some collective fever dream.

      I left that job for a field-adjacent position. I have half the amount of work, much less responsibility, and get paid $20,000 more a year.

      1. ferrina*

        All the place where I had to do multiple roles or do responsibilities way above my level were (not coincidentally) the same places that always had a reason why they couldn’t give me a raise or pay me market rates.

        I got a 60% raise when I left the last of the toxic places (that hadn’t given me a raise in 3 years, despite me working way outside the scope of my role). Now I’m a lot more picky when I look for new roles.

  11. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

    Congratulations, LW! Hopefully the job is as pleasant as the job offer.

  12. KimW*

    I sympathize with LW’s anxiety but I’m just really happy to read this and for LW to take this new job at the top of the salary range. I’m sure it’s not a mistake. Good luck!

  13. Alex*

    It just means that they think you are worth that, they really liked you, and they wanted you to take the offer! Congrats on your new job with a big pay raise! Go treat yo’self.

  14. e271828*

    LW, you could do more research into salaries for comparable positions in your new location, if that would put your mind at ease. I suspect, though, that you have been underpaid and that your experience (lateral move) is valuable to your new employer.

  15. [insert witty username here]*

    It seems like you are a pretty self-reflective, humble, pragmatic, and honest person and IME, that tends to speak to other good qualities you possess. You clearly have the experience and qualifications. I’m betting they picked up on your top-notch soft skills and wanted to go all-in on you.

    Congratulations – it sounds like you deserve this. Enjoy your new job and WELL EARNED salary.

  16. straws*

    I also used to work for a toxic organization. I figured I made somewhat less than I could, but there was flexibility and I’d been there forever. When I finally started looking for other jobs, I applied to an amazing job that didn’t list a salary. They were a large company and part of the interview process was discussing how they research compensation (despite not sharing it, which was weird but not relevant here). Their offer was double my salary. My husband dropped the phone when I called and told him. They were not the issue though – I had no idea what I was worth and just made assumptions based on the toxic company I had basically “grown up” in, career wise. Massive jumps like this can happen if you’re making assumptions based on your current situation! Take the job, escape the toxicity, and enjoy the additional income! Congrats!

    1. namityname*

      Yeah, when I left my last toxic job for a not toxic one, they hired me on at a 40% increase. I did no salary negotiations because I was so pleased to get more than I’d asked for. Within a year did a wage review and saw I was still underpaid and adjusted it up. Then I got a decent performance raise at one year and again at 2 years. Within 3 I was at double my previous salary. That was without me asking for a raise. I was just so deeply undervaluing my work that even when I researched salaries I was pegging myself way too low.

    2. kiki*

      Yeah! A lot of organizations that are toxic regarding pay work really hard to normalize wildly low wages, raises, bonuses, etc. The employer has the advantage because they set the tone on pay for everyone at the organization and most people aren’t constantly job searching to see what other companies are paying. This allows companies to retain employees for much less than they’d be paid anywhere else, but also creates the risk of folks starting to leave en masse once word gets out about better pay outside the organization.

  17. Falling Diphthong*

    OP, I think this is the current toxic workplace getting into your head.

    From the opener I thought it would be more like the range is $65-85 and they offered $150. But their offer is within their range. Your reply was a good way to check the salary, and they confirmed. I think they really, truly meant to offer you the top of the range. You don’t need to keep coming up with different cross-checks, waiting for the rug to be pulled from under you.

  18. Enn Pee*

    In my current position, I was offered 20% MORE than what I asked for.

    I recently discussed that a bit with my boss; he said that it was due to my experience and also that it was consistent with what my coworkers are making; if he had given me what I’d asked for, it would be so much lower to cause an equity issue.

    Trust that you are worth it!

    1. Goldenrod*

      And OP, this is also a sign that your new company is trustworthy.

      Clearly, they could have hired you at the lowest end of the range – a crappy employer will try to lowball people and pay them as little as they can get away with.

      They did not do that. They value you, and prefer to pay you what you are worth.

    2. Boof*

      Yes, a healthy company very well should make their offers based on what work they want and what they are paying other people in their org for already, not the minimum of what they think they can get away with to hire – yes toxic capitalism says employers “should” behave that way but actually for long term stability, not to mention in this day and age legally, doing that will almost certainly lead to inequity. So I’m sure some folks who had been undervalued will be offered more, whereas those used to GUMPTIONING their way into top $$ with no added value other than the ability to charm the higher powers will be stymied.

  19. El l*

    You already confirmed the number. Done. If this is not the final word on the issue, it’s all on them and you should treat it as such.

  20. old curmudgeon*

    I agree with others suggesting that possibly your current unhealthy work environment has skewed your sense of norms to the point where an offer like this one feels like either a mistake or a “gotcha” waiting to happen. Are you able to negotiate a break of at least a few weeks between the two positions to start to detoxify your head from the old gig? I wonder if that might help you dive into the new position in a better frame of mind, getting yourself into the mindset that of course they’re paying you well, because you are darned well worth it.

    In any case, best of luck in making the transition from a horrible workplace to what I hope will be a much, much better one! And I hope you’ll update us all with how it goes for you!

  21. Abbey*

    I was offered a job last year at a salary that was over their posted range. The job posting also stated that they required a master’ degree, which I didn’t have. Sometimes an employer thinks you’ll be a good fit, likes the experience you have and are willing to offer you a competitive salary to get you on board. So, congratulations on a big raise!

  22. EA in CA*

    Take it and be proud that you were able to easily command the top of the range for their starting salary!

    It’s hard to overcome what we had perceived as the norm when coming out of a toxic environment. Your new company saw potential in you and you demonstrated that through your education and experience. There is nothing here that you do not deserve.

    Congrats again!

  23. Elarra Harper*

    Our starting salary ranges for a position go from “meets the bare minimum of requirements” to “hits every single mark”. Our salary band for that position goes much higher. The best candidate depends on the applicant pool at any given time, so that’s why there is a range. Apparently, LW is *almost* a unicorn for this company and should take the job and not look back!

    1. Storm in a teacup*

      LW you are making a lateral move. They’re recognising this and offering you your worth. If they had someone moving up into the role there would be additional training and development so likely to start them lower down the salary range.

  24. Parenthesis Guy*

    I think you’ve done everything you can do. I doubt that it’s a mistake, and doubt they’d screw you after the fact. But if you’re still worried, I’d just act like the real salary is $70k and just save the excess salary. Worse comes to worst, you can add money to your 401k or something.

    1. MCMonkeybean*

      Yeah, if you were expecting to move there and live on $68k this seems like a great opportunity to build up some nice savings!

  25. Viette*

    “The job qualifications are a specific master’s degree required (which I have) and management experience preferred. I do have management experience but only 1.5 years of it. I also have a second master’s degree but it’s not super related”

    This is really indicative of how you’re underestimating yourself! You meet the requirements! And you have another at least slightly related master’s! Why is 1.5 years of management experience not experience? This is totally reasonable. You met all their requirements, and little side bonus master’s, and they offered you near the top of their stated range. Go you!

    1. ItsAMe*

      No kidding! Also, seven years of experience, 1.5 of management, and two masters degrees should absolutely put you in the $80ks or higher in many fields and parts of the country. Congratulations, OP, you’re reaping the benefits of your hard work and experience! Enjoy it, and don’t let your self-doubt creep in if you start the job and find you still have things to learn.

  26. Peach Parfaits Pls*

    Even if it had been a mistake, what possible reason would you have for pointing it out to them? If they want to walk it back when they notice, they can. Why would you ever do the uncomfortable part on their behalf?

    If the had made a mistake and had to admit it, they’d probably come back with a higher offer than they meant to anyway so it’s not as likely to drive you off.

    1. MCMonkeybean*

      Well if it really was a mistake you’d definitely want to clear that up. It sounds like they would be moving for this role and it would really suck to make all your arrangements, show up, and on the first day they’re like “oops there was some kind of clerical error and we’re going to pay you $20k less than you were expecting hope that’s okay.” Definitely better to clear it up right away if something really seems off–but there is no reason to actually think there is an error here! They offered a salary in their given range to a candidate who meets all the requirements they were looking for plus has an extra master’s degree!

      1. Four Lights*

        Yeah, I had a boss who claimed he was paying me at the top of the market for my job. I made a lateral move and at least $10,000 more. Plus better benefits.

      2. Polly Hedron*

        Well if it really was a mistake you’d definitely want to clear that up.

        Yes, LW2 was wise to write that confirming email, including the salary amount.

  27. MassMatt*

    I am elated both that the LW got a great offer (take it!) and to read Alison using the term “shitheel”. It’s a win-win!

  28. Bertha*

    Maybe this is why some offers are given over the phone — I was paid $62k at my prior job, and said that was what I wanted to make at my current job when I interviewed. They offered me $80k, so, kind of similar to your situation. I said “80k??!?!” and they said “Yes, $80k.”

    I was also in a field where $62k was the norm, and required a master’s degree. So yeah, it’s really not so wild to get that much of an increase.

    1. Lily Rowan*

      Haha, I was once in the running for a job where the posted range was $60K – $80K, and I really didn’t want to live on $60K anymore, so when I was getting the offer, I got myself very well prepped to negotiate, and… then they offered me $78K. I didn’t negotiate. (Although now I might, just on principle!)

  29. froodle*

    OP, you say you’re currently at a toxic organisation. Any chance it’s knocked your professional confidence, maybe even more than you realise, and you’re underestimating your experience and worth as an employee?

  30. My Boss Steals My Work*

    This LITERALLY happened to me. I asked for like 65k and they offered me 80k. I emailed my HR contact to confirm – it was correct. It was the most pleasant surprise!

    1. stacers*

      Same! Only I knew it wasn’t a mistake because they underlined the point when they offered 80k (plus, I had previously worked with people who had jumped from our previous employer to the new one, and I knew they paid much better).

      It’s an amazing feeling, so I understand the OP’s confusion. But there are, indeed, employers who don’t try to just get away with something. Add in the fact that my new gig is 100% remote so no more 3-days-a-week commute and a $50/month stipend for my mobile phone bill, and it’s a bit stunning.

      I hope the OP enjoys it!

  31. Simona*

    As your experience increases, it would be weird for employers to continually offer you pay towards the bottom of the range, that may be for someone with less experience. I realize you may have been lowballed in the past, and this seemed normal to you, but that is definitely NOT normal, but now you are being compensated appropriately.

  32. Another Michael*

    Hope this was a helpful reality check for OP. I, too, was expecting a six figure disparity in the offer from the title of the post!

    Perhaps another helpful example: I work in a city that requires salary ranges on job postings; for our entry to mid level roles we offer the same starting salary to all candidates in each pay grade. For reasons I do not understand HR lists a range where the offered starting salary is the top of the range, so we essentially offer all candidates the top of the salary range. When I’m hiring I do usually let candidates know this at the outset because we are not able to negotiate in most situations.

  33. hellohello*

    Girl, you have two masters degrees. You deserve the top end of the range! Celebrate it!

  34. pally*

    Here in California, they now have to post salary ranges.

    During a screening interview with a large employer, the HR person explained to me that their policy is to offer a salary at the midpoint of the range stated in the job posting. And go higher if they see fit (i.e., candidate possesses most or all of the job description criteria). She surmised other companies in the area probably do similarly.

    (NOTE: she revealed this information without any prompting on my part!)

    Being offered an $86K salary with a range high of $87K with what you bring to the table does not sound out of line at all. This employer recognized your value to their company! Yea!!

  35. Moose w/o Squirrel*

    Something like this happened to me. I was making $124,000 and after interviewing for a new position with a competitor company, they made me an offer of $175,000. It was within in their range, but at the high end. It was great. OP, enjoy your new salary!

  36. Jam Today*

    My guy, TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN! What are you doing?! I launched myself into a nearly 100% increase in salary across three sequential jobs, each one offered me about a 20% increase over the prior one, with a couple of raises thrown in there for good measure. It turns out that my starting point was about 30% below industry average, so I made a rapid ascent into the range that my peers had been operating at for years (to my great surprise).

  37. CraigT*

    You’re overthinking this. They liked you. They made you a nice offer. You’ve accepted it. Go do a great job for your new employer, and enjoy that extra money.

  38. Sabrina*

    LW, my partner interviews people and his number one complaint after each one is that they don’t ask for enough money. This is across the board, it drives him bananas. Luckily he’s got enough sway that he can say “they asked for X, but at that salary they probably won’t stay as long as we want them too, let’s offer them X +” and as a result people get higher offers then they expect all the time.

  39. i like hound dogs*

    If it makes you feel better, when I was hired for my current job they asked what my salary expectation was. Having freelanced/had a small child/not worked full time in some time, I said 47k. They offered me 75k. I was way off. Lol. I know it’s not a lot for some people but it’s double what I’ve usually made.

    Congrats on your new job!

  40. NotARealManager*

    You’re coming out of a bad job that was underpaying you for your skillset (even if that’s what people with your job title typically make). Since New Job is offering you a salary at the top of their range, it indicates that they recognize you’ve likely been underutilized and underpaid and potentially that they see you moving into an even higher paying role after some time with them. Organizations don’t usually start people at the top of their range unless they see value in also investing time in developing them and incentivizing them to stick around.

  41. spcepickle*

    Just a side note to anyone applying for government jobs. For those the the salary listed is for the position, not just the starting salary. I bring people in towards the top of the range all the time (normally 5% below the top so they top out after their first year). But that is all the pay raises they will get until they get promoted (or we get cost of living increases which as legislator approved).

    1. Dawn*

      In America, anyway. I know it’s an American site but worth pointing out this isn’t necessarily universal.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      This is highly highly location dependent.

      It’s more typical for government to start you at the advertised salary which is usually bottom range of the salary. Historically that’s one of people’s biggest gripes – the low starting salary.

      There are more progressive governments who will at least do a range but sadly gov as an “industry” is way behind. It’s one of the reasons so many governments are struggling to attract candidates for pretty much all positions.

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        Raises are also dependent. Where I work, and many surrounding jurisdictions, every budget year is an opportunity for a merit based and cola.

        I think the bigger point is that in government your boss is not going to say hey you did great this year here’s a 5% raise.

      2. Governmint Condition*

        Correct. Here, we were required to start all new hires out at the bottom of the salary grade due to the known disadvantage that some groups have when it comes to negotiation skills. They did recently change this, but it’s very strict. The candidate has to decline the bottom-of-grade offer, without being told that we can offer a higher step within the salary grade. (Of 7 steps.) We then have to make the same low offer to all other applicants who have the same experience and qualifications. If they all decline, then we can go back to the original candidate with the higher offer, hoping that they didn’t take another job elsewhere.

  42. Generic Name*

    I left a toxic organization and asked for $25k more than I had been making. I had been given lowball raises for years on top of low pay, so I knew I was underpaid, especially given the recent rise in salaries in my area. I did my research and asked what I thought seemed reasonable. They countered with $10k OVER what I asked! When one works for a toxic org, it’s easy to internalize how crappy they treat you, which includes low pay. Enjoy your raise!!

    1. Anonymel*

      Similar! I hated the toxic boys club BIG 3 LETTER firm I was working for so hard and getting nowhere. When I decided to leave, I decided to go BIG. I asked for a lot more than I’d been making, thinking, “yeah I’ll negotiate a little” and the HM came back and said, “I like round numbers how does *rounded up to the next $10K* sound?” Sounded pretty darn good and 5 years later, I’m still here and have gotten 6 more raises!

  43. Big round table*

    OP, It’s totally ok to move from 65 K to 85 K! Lot of companies have increased their salary range sin the last 2 yrs!

    Congratulations and good luck in your new role!

  44. ThisIsNotADuplicateComment*

    Very kindly OP I think you should schedule a few sessions with a therapist, your old job has clearly done a number on your self-confidence. As Alison and many other comments have said there’s nothing weird about being offered a salary within the posted range, so the degree to which you’re panicking over this – especially after double-checking with them! – is a little concerning. Will you assume assignments to major projects are mistakes? Will you refuse to ask for raises or promotions under the assumption you don’t deserve them? Talk with someone so you can see when you’re the one holding yourself back.

    Take the new job at the pay they’ve offered you and be happy you’re going to work somewhere that will appreciate you and not stomp on your self-worth. Sometimes life disappoints you, but other times you get a new job with a massive pay raise you weren’t expecting. We’ve seen it happen dozens of times in the updates, it’s allowed to happen to you!

  45. Fluffy Fish*

    OP there really are companies who base their offer on what they think the candidate’s education (if required) and experience is worth. And if there’s a strong candidate they are willing to offer the high end of the range to ensure they have the best chance of securing that candidate.

    You are worth 86k.


  46. Skippy*

    As a hiring manager, I often cringe when making an offer less than the top of the advertised range–so it seems 100% reasonable that they made you that offer and then crossed their fingers that you would accept it!

  47. Anonymel*

    OP! Give yourself some credit and stop selling yourself short. They liked your resume. They liked YOU. They thought YOU were worth the top end of their range. Pat yourself on the back, say “Yeah I AM worth $86K dammit!” and take a shot of whatever makes you happy. Congratulations!

  48. Wendy the Spiffy*

    Another voice from the hiring side of the table to tell you: this was intentional, you are that valuable, enjoy!

    When I am hiring, I always push for the highest possible initial offer I can make, for several reasons. The biggest is that the easiest time for me to secure the salary is for hiring. Once hired, it gets a lot harder to move people up the pay range beyond incremental increases — so I want to start them at the highest base pay that makes sense so that I’ll be better able to retain them long term. I also assume I am competing against other offers for strong candidates.

    You’ve reminded me of when, earlier in my career, I left a large corporation to join a small consultancy. After much agonizing, when they asked me my salary expectations, I named a figure that was $10K higher than my existing salary. The actual offer was a whopping $30K higher. I was giddy for days, they earned my undying loyalty — and moreover, they did the right thing by paying me a competitive rate on par with their other associates. It was shocking to me that a company might choose to do what was right vs what they could have gotten away with. It’s stuck with me ever since, and I’ve enjoyed paying it forward where I can.

    1. 2 Cents*

      “…do what was right vs what they could have gotten away with.” <– so true. I left a job that no longer suited me for a contract role, and I didn't realize I was WAY underpricing myself (why yes, I am female.) When I told the external recruiter my $X range, she paused, then said, "We're hiring at $X + 20,000." I was a) flabbergasted I'd been SO underpaid and b) eternally grateful to this recruiter for being like "Um, no, this is what you're going to be getting." It's definitely made a huge difference in my life.

  49. CSRoadWarrior*

    You are overthinking it. It sounds like this employer is seeing what you are truly worth and paying you accordingly. On top of that, it seems like that they really liked you and value you. Don’t say anything, just take that offer.

    Congrats on your new role!

  50. Vathena*

    I would be willing to bet $86k that this LW is a woman. Most men wouldn’t ever doubt they deserved the top end of the range. You are more than qualified, LW! Sounds like they recognized your worth. Enjoy escaping your toxic workplace!

    1. ragazza*

      Came here to say this! We women seriously underestimate our worth. To be fair, so does society, generally, so this sounds great if OP is indeed a woman. If not, it’s still great!

      1. Fluffy Fish*

        The self doubt is in fact the evidence.

        Vathena is describing a known phenomenon not something crazy pulled out of the ether.

        Of course we don’t know for certain either way – that’s not what Vathena said. At all.

  51. Mic Check*

    Congratulations, OP! It sounds like you’re a well-qualified candidate, and they’re ready to pay you accordingly.

    I once was expecting a job offer in the $80-90k range and was all prepared with the AAM script to negotiate for higher in that range, even though 80k still would’ve been a lot more than the job I was leaving. When they offered $98k, I lost the ability to speak for a minute. Revel in knowing you’ll be getting a better salary because you deserve it!

  52. Tobias Funke*

    Not to get too touchy feely about this, BUT:

    OP, please give yourself permission to acknowledge it’s real. Give yourself permission to say “someone looked at my applications materials, wanted to talk to me, talked to me, wanted to hire me, and wanted to pay an assload of money for my experience, training, skills, and education” because that is TRUE. Just the facts, friend. I wish you all the best in your new job!

  53. Almost A Shrimp*

    OP, I had a temp (supposedly to hire, but didn’t turn out that way) that paid me $35/hour, no benefits. I stayed for 15 months, then took a ridiculously toxic job that paid $85k with crappy benefits (Alison actually published my letter about it lol). Stayed there for 10 months, then got my current job where I started at $112k. So in 2 years, I almost doubled my income It seemed crazy, but really, it was just that my current employer saw what I was worth. And your new employer is seeing what you’re worth. Don’t question it! Assume you are indeed worth it and go kill it at the new job! Congratulations!

  54. 2 Cents*

    OP, I mean this kindly, but I thought your letter was going to be “I expected an offer of $65K but got one for 160K.” TAKE IT AND RUN. 1.5 years of management experience isn’t nothing. You said your current company is toxic — could it also be lowballing incoming hires so what you’re making now is more on par with someone more junior? (Yes.)

  55. Rev Bayes*

    I’m sure someone else has made this point, but once you get out of entry level roles, it is surprising how fast it gets hard to find someone with the right experience and the right qualifications. They are paying you $86k because people like you do not grow on trees.

  56. Brain the Brian*

    Yeah, take this for exactly what it means: this is what they want to offer you. With two masters degrees, this is an entirely reasonable starting salary at a position. Go have some cake and eat it, too!

  57. AnonForThisOne*

    OP since I’m using real numbers (I’m just too lazy to make up numbers), I’m anon for this one, but I think this sounds legit.

    I accepted a new job recently-ish.

    I was at 98k and the range for the position was posted as 90k-102k. I asked for 100k.

    I’m making 105k because the range was the range…but it wasn’t firm. I was in late stages with another company at the 105k and my current company said “we want you, we will match”.

    Enjoy your new job and that’s a life changing $$$ difference. Good for you.

  58. Silicon Valley Girl*

    I’ve had that happen & did not question it! I was at the bottom of the local industry range at one company (known for low-balling salaries) & was offered the top of that range at a new job. Took it & have been happy. This is normal, OP. They offered & confirmed the numbers. Enjoy :)

  59. PurpleLaundry*

    It’s possible that the company did an audit on comparable salaries for the job in your market area, and they adjusted accordingly. It happened to me when I got a surprise “raise” because HR did a study like this.

  60. Michelle Smith*

    $86K sounds perfectly reasonable based on what you described of your experience and education. When you said suspicious, I thought you were going to say something in the low-mid six figures, like they added an extra 1 at the front or zero at the end that you weren’t expecting. This is very much not what I’d consider even remotely suspicious. Enjoy the new job.

  61. Dhaskoi*

    Maybe you’re worth more than you think you are.

    Also – maybe your current job is underpaying you.

  62. Suzannah*

    OP, THRILLED you got a big bump in salary -and away from a place that had you thinking you weren’t worth it! They clearly didn’t want you to think twice about accepting their offer. Good for you! From your impressive credentials, it sounds like you deserve it.
    I really recommend Mika Brzenzinski’s book “Know Your Value.” It’s directed at women, but I think it’s good for women and men. I hesitated picking it up, tbh, because I thought it might be a vanity project by a successful TV news person. it is jot that at all – she’s quite vulnerable in it, and points out the absurdity of her co-host and now husband, Joe Scarborough, making 20-odd TIMES as much as she was. She said, look, I know it’s his show, and and his name on it. But really? She got more money.
    Congratulations, LW! What an inspiring story.

  63. Long time reader*

    I recently applied for an open position at my company. HR initially said that my salary would be $X, the literal bottom of the posted range, and 6% less than what I’m making in my current role (same pay band for both positions BTW). I was taken aback but decided to go forward anyway. My current manager reassured me that they should at the very least be able to match my current salary.

    I ended up getting offered the position-and it’s 16% more than what I’m making currently!! Their actual offer ended up being 24% higher than what they initially told me they’d pay me. I’m square in the middle of the salary range and absolutely THRILLED to be getting such a big raise!

  64. Leslie Santiago*

    my guess is that someone else in an equivalent role with equivalent experience earns the same already so they wanted to match it.

  65. Flying Fish*

    I think they just really want you. Take it as them investing in keeping you happy and hardworking.

    Slightly off topic: I’ve had some big salary boosts like that in my career. My best advice is to use a chunk of it to up retirement contributions before you get used to the higher paychecks. Future you will be grateful!

    1. Madame Arcati*

      I agree with this advice. If you are managing ok on your bills, expenses and needs at the moment, put a chunk into savings every month (maybe round it down leaving a bit extra spending money to reward yourself) to bolster against unexpected boring expenses and to build up a fund for a holiday or new Thing. You could also put extra into your pension or mortgage, and you should certainly plan forward to get rid of any non-mortgage debts if practicable. And as Fish says, if you do that from day one, it will be easier because you won’t feel you have “less”.

  66. Twerp*

    I had this happen to me and it was because they had someone in the team in the same role as me employed at the grade above and were trying to head off problems at the pass. They’d originally created the role in the team at a lower grade than the other person as it was intended as a development position for someone to move into and then when it got to recruitment, brought me in and gave themselves a problem (not least that the person for whom this was intended to be a development position was still there working beside me).

  67. Anchorman*

    A similar situation is happening in real time at my workplace, and we may lose a brand new (and excellent) team member over it. An error was made-not in the offer, but in their paychecks, starting with the first one. The amount was too much—not outside of the salary range, but more than they thought the agreed upon amount was.
    They contacted HR. Twice. And were told that no, according to their records, all was correct. They received a document (as we all do annually—a printout with this info on it) corroborating this. They left it alone.
    They later heard from HR that “there had been an error” and that the overage was owed back. And that they could have this deducted from their next two paychecks. Then later, offered several other “payment plans” to repay the employer for the employer’s error, which they attempted to address 2x and were assured that all was correct and fine (and for reference/perspective, the total $ amount is negligible for the employer—but significant for the employee, as the salaries involved are low).
    I’ve urged them to contact an attorney, but they just don’t have the energy, and after just a few months with us, they’re looking for another job. We’d lose this excellent person, and be very understaffed (again) over this.
    I’m very glad that this doesn’t sound like it’s the case for the OP! But I’m not gonna lie- this coworker had some of the same thoughts and reassurances before finding out about the error that they are now retroactively on the hook for.

  68. Madame Arcati*

    OP all this is, is you being unable to believe your good fortune having been through the wringer. I get it! But it’s in the range so yes it can be right, you’ve effectively double checked, and you deserve it, so ride off into the sunset with a responsible savings plan, and maybe some extra guacamole, Hawaiian rolls and a sloth pencil case, as “go me!” treats :-)

  69. Lauren19*

    Congratulations OP! With 7 years of experience, 1.5 years of managerial experience and TWO master’s degrees, you are DEFINITELY worth 86k! It sounds like your old/current job was also toxic from a financial standpoint. Just because they were paying you less does NOT mean you are worth less. Celebrate that you found an org that values your talent and experiences – I hope they continue to show that value in every other aspect while you’re there!

  70. Anon for this*

    I got a job offer recently and the salary was $20k higher than I thought it would be. I just casually said, yeah, that’ll work.

    It is kind of a situation where you go to a new school and people see you with a new lens. You deserve it!

  71. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I found the same thing out in the mid-1980s when jobs were plentiful. I was likely about to be fired from one place (hell hole). And in the three places I interviewed, I was offered more money than what I was asking for.

    Why did they offer that?

    1) they liked what you were bringing to the table.

    2) They aren’t stupid. They surmise you’re looking at more than one position and they want to get you NOW without resorting to a bidding war. And they want to do it quickly, which is a very good sign, because companies that drag out hiring processes for weeks and even months usually lose their top candidates to other more decisive firms.

    3) BUT there is pressure on YOU to perform.

  72. Melo*

    It’s because your current employer underpaid you. I see this all the time in the industry I work in. It’s better to move around every few years to keep moving up the pay scale. Employees that stay with the same employer or in the same position more than 5 years are impeding their salary growth.

Comments are closed.