Got contacted by a company which wants to recruit me. I an had phone call from HR who told me "to avoid wasting both of us time, this is the maximum salary we can give you". I have good reasons to think they are really interested by my profile, but also good reasons to think that they are not lying and that this is the maximum salary I can expect.

Should I still negotiate for more, or is it disrespectful to do so, as the HR was pretty clear on that?

  • Had you attempted any salary increases/negotiations BEFORE you got the call you described above? Without context, I would have thought you had repeatedly asked about it before getting such a strong reaction from their HR. How far along the recruitment process did the phone-call occur? – user34587 Dec 14 '18 at 15:04
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    Is the "maximum salary" they told you an amount large enough to make you interested in working for them? – Seth R Dec 14 '18 at 16:10
  • @Kozaky None. They just asked for my current salary and them called me to say that what I currently had is the maximum they can afford. – Aulaulz Dec 14 '18 at 18:58
  • @JoeStrazzere I am wasting their time only if I go to the interview with a non-negociable salary range higher than what they afford. – Aulaulz Dec 14 '18 at 19:07
  • @SethR Yes, but on the low range. Thus my question. – Aulaulz Dec 14 '18 at 19:08

This is business, and when it comes to how much you're worth you should never feel bad about asserting your worth. However...

"to avoid wasting both of us time, this is the maximum salary we can give you"

This is interesting. It could be one of two things: this is either a strategy to keep your from being aggressive or assertive about what you deserve OR the truth. If it's the truth, you can still push back, ONCE. I would say "Are you saying that is non-negotiable?", if they respond "Yes, it's non-negotiable." Then I would make my decision.

However if it's just a strategy to keep you from negotiating what you want, then they'll bend a bit.

But the overall response here is: You should never be ashamed of asserting your worth. In business and in life. People will want you to compromise constantly. You can, if you want, but you should never feel embarrassed or ashamed asserting your worth. It's not disrespectful, it's business.

Do you think the company is embarrassed when it charges clients its fee? No, it isn't. That's business. They do their business and you do yours.

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  • I would not feel bad to negociate if the HR didn't say those words. What I would find respectful is agreeing to go in the interview and be ready to refuse that maximum salary they would offer, as I would be effectively wasting their time if its the thruth. Now it might be a strategy, as I said I have good reasons to believe it's not, but in the end I don't know. But if it's a strategy then they took pretty big risks by telling me that as they could have lost me. If they where ready to take that risk, I don't know why they wouldn't take another at the interview. – Aulaulz Dec 14 '18 at 14:15
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    Also, depending on how close their hard limit is to your acceptable perceived valuation, it may be worthwhile to ask if non-monetary negotiation is possible (vacation or any other perks). – pboss3010 Dec 14 '18 at 15:53
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    don't forget THEY contacted HIM. now they're being total idiots. – Fattie Dec 15 '18 at 12:52

Should I still negotiate for more?

No, they set a parameter, if it's not viable for you, look elsewhere for a job.

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    As a senior developer, i got this a lot in my last job hunt. They have a ceiling, HR told you what it was, and if you were expecting higher, then you need to go elsewhere. – Bill Leeper Dec 14 '18 at 18:54

It's worth confirming this with them: "This is potentially a show stopper for me. Is this really a hard limit?".

Chances are, it actually is a hard limit and they bring it up right away since it's probably on the low side of the market and they already have lost a few candidates because of this. So they actually do what they say: try to identify a hard show stopper up front.

I certainly had this discussion a few times. "Recruiter: XXX is the max salary", "Me: Sorry but that's not going to work for me. Can this be tweaked somehow?". "Recruiter: sorry, it's a hard cap". "Me: thanks for your interest, bye.". No harm, no foul.

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Should I still negotiate for more


Reply (assuming it's too low)

I appreciate your considerate approach.
In that sentiment I unfortunately have to respectfully decline your offer if you see no way to come to another agreement.

Thank you for considering me to become part of your company and I remain open for future inquiries.

If you like, you could include your salary expectation in case they REALLY WANT you but it seems a moot point to me.

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It sounds like they want to discuss salary up-front, to avoid wasting time going through interviews if both parties are not on the same page. It seems to be becoming more common and, in my opinion, it makes some sense, if they have a hard cap on what they can offer for that position.

I think the key question is: is that maximum salary within the range you are looking for, or would be willing to do the job for? If so, it might be best to just carry on with the process and see where it goes.

If not though, then you probably should just be honest and tell them that it's below the level you are looking for, especially if you already have a job. If they can't do better then you'll probably have to just walk away, but you might save both parties some time.

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  • I agree with you, it makes perfect sense to do that. But yeah basically I am ready to take their offer, otherwise I would have stopped the process. – Aulaulz Dec 14 '18 at 19:10

You have a minimum salary requirement, and obviously you would like to get more than your minimum requirement. The company has a maximum salary they are willing to pay, and would like to pay less. And then there is the number that HR told you, which may be their maximum salary, or may be an attempt to get you for less. Nobody knows. Being "pretty clear on it" doesn't necessarily mean it's the truth.

If HR's statement is below your minimum, then it's absolutely fine to tell them "your number X is below the minimum that I would accept, and even if it was Y I would try to find a position paying more". That is in no way disrespectful. Even if they think it is disrespectful, offering you less than you are worth is much much more disrespectful, and playing mind games to make you accept a lower offer is extremly disrespectful.

If they tell you that based on this they don't want to interview you, I'd say "I wish you all the luck with your search for an employee. If you find that your numbers are too low, you know how to contact me".

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