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Do Employers Have To Provide Salary Ranges?

 When an employer requests a salary range from applicants but refuses to provide one

Our salary negotiation conventions are probably the most bizarre of all the strange and frankly nonsensical practices that companies use in hiring. Given that hiring is all about paying employees money in exchange for their labor, you'd think salary would be discussed early, clearly, and directly in any hiring process. However, for some reason, this approach is more of an exception than the rule. Instead, many employers play deceptive salary games, concealing what they intend to pay and even taking offense when candidates bring up money.

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salary ranges for jobs

On the job seeker side of the equation, candidates are typically very interested in how much a job pays which makes sense, given that most people aren't looking for work out of the goodness of their hearts or a desire to be hardworking. However, employers frequently refuse to discuss a position's salary range until late in the hiring process, or even after making a formal job offer. Meanwhile, they're often happy to push or even require candidates to demonstrate their hand by naming a number first. This is a fairly typical experience, according to someone who wrote to me:

A recruiter on LinkedIn contacted me out of the blue about a job opening they hoped I'd interview for. I responded by requesting additional information, including a salary range. The recruiter gave me the standard line about salary based on experience before flipping the script and asking how much I was looking for. I'm not even looking for work right now! It's infuriating that they're giving me the runaround on salary after approaching me. I'm sure they have something in mind. Why don't you just tell me what it is so we both know if we're wasting our time?

Candidates frequently worry that they will either name a number that is lower than the employer is willing to pay, or that they will overshoot and be removed from consideration even if they would have been willing to accept a lower number: 

After I applied for a job, the hiring manager... emailed me to say she wanted to interview me and inquired about my salary expectations. I researched average salaries for the position ($53k) and responded with my interest in the position, suggesting a few times for the phone screen, and my salary expectations ($50k-60k). "Unfortunately, the budgeted salary for this position is $40k," she replied. Thank you for your interest, and best wishes on your search."


To be honest, I'm still new in this field and would be content with a salary of $40,000. In fact, I planned on negotiating the salary using my salary range as a starting point. Now I'm not sure what to do next. Should we call it quits, should I say I'm still interested, or should I do something else?

And, more importantly, how should I respond if future hiring managers inquire about my salary range? What's the point of asking this question when hiring managers already have a range in mind? It's almost like a game. 

One way to fight back as a job candidate is to arm yourself with as much information as possible and to help others do the same. Talking about salary ranges with recruiters, professional organizations in your industry, and others in your field can help you flesh out your understanding of what is reasonable for the work you do. And, if you can overcome the apprehension that many of us have about discussing money openly, sharing information with others in your field can go a long way toward reducing employers' monopoly on salary data. Candidates will be at a disadvantage as long as employers treat salary information as a closely guarded trade secret.