Should You ask for the Salary Range of the Position?

John Krautzel
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HR expert Liz Ryan laments that companies don't post a salary range as a standard practice during the hiring process. Knowing a pay range before you apply saves time, energy and effort. Here are some strategies for knowing when to ask about salary as you apply for a job.

From the Start

There's nothing wrong with asking for a salary range from the recruiter as you first start to apply for a job. Recruiters may not tell you what the exact range for the position entails, but when you first sign up for a recruiter's services, you generally tell the recruiter your salary requirements. That way, a recruiter can confirm whether a particular job meets your criteria.

Companies that hire directly generally don't tell potential hires about a salary range until after a job interview because the business wants to save money. For example, a company budgets $40,000 for a position, but the top candidate willingly accepts $37,000 for the position. The company saves $3,000 on those costs to put elsewhere in the HR budget. That's why you might not have luck getting a pay range from someone in HR at the start of the application process.

Your Previous Salary

Rather than divulge a salary range, internal recruiters and HR departments may ask you for a salary history. Instead of giving up those details, you can simply deflect the issue and tell the employer what range you want when the company asks you about money. For example, you can say you want something close to $60,000. That means plus or minus $2,000 to $3,000 in terms of a ballpark figure.

Neglecting to tell HR about your preferred pay range puts the focus back on your job search. Both sides want the perfect fit, and both sides have to give and take a bit to come to a compromise when it comes to compensation.

How to Bring Up Salary

When you tell the employer what salary range you require, human resources should at least respond with "We can handle that." Otherwise, an employer may not be worth your time. You can try to negotiate later, but if the employer's highest effort doesn't come close to your lowest, then everyone just wasted a lot of time with the job interview.

Help your case for a higher salary by researching the industry norm, local cost of living and what others in your position earn. When you know how much you're worth, you have a better position to dictate terms or find out what the position pays.

Remember one important thing about a job search: both sides ask questions of each other. Since the employer plans to pay for a position, there's nothing wrong with asking human resources or a recruiter for a salary range when you apply or before the interview.

Photo courtesy of Keerait at


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