Advertising salary range in job posting is becoming more and more common these days. Some of the ranges are very wide, say [x, 1.5x] (e.g., [60k, 90k]).

How to guestimate the final salary that the company would offer based on the advertised range? (Assuming one is a relatively good candidate who is fairly on scope with the job and performed well in the interviews.)

I can think of following approaches:

  1. The company advertises an artificially high upper boundary to entice candidates to apply, but only intend to offer a salary in the lower part of the range,
  2. The company advertises an artificially low lower boundary while intend to offer a salary in the upper part of the range, so that the candidate can “feel good” about their negotiation (and prevent current employees to renegotiate their salaries based on the job posting).
  3. It only depends on the candidate profile, performance in the interviews, and negotiation skills.

Additionally, should the upper boundary be considered as a “hard limit” by the company, or it is ok to ask something along the line of: “I am mindful of the advertised salary range, but considering x, y, and z, I looking for a compensation between

  • 88 and 93k. (i.e., overlapping the advertised range)
  • 92 and 97k. (i.e., outside of the advertised range)
  • I'm asking in the context of UK (or any country that doesn't legally mandate disclosing salary ranges),
  • I'm asking in the context of a startup/small company (i.e., not a large institution with rigid pay scales).
  • I'm sure all of (1), (2) and (3) are true for different companies. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 9:21
  • @PhilipKendall Of course — plus the specifics of each company (e.g., budget, VC conditions, etc.) are likely to have an impact. My question is thus whether one option is more likely than the others — or whether they are (roughly) equiprobable.
    – ebosi
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 9:48
  • As in what you would like compared to what you will actually get?
    – Solar Mike
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 9:51
  • @PhilipKendall I guess all three could even be true for one and the same company, depending on the hiring manager or department. Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 10:35
  • "(i.e., not a large institution with rigid pay scales).", there are large institutions without rigid pay scales
    – cdkMoose
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 15:26

6 Answers 6


You don't know how the company guesstimated the salary range, and I don't think it makes sense to grossly misrepresent the range they want to pay. So I would take the numbers at face value, and expect this is really what is in the budget for the position.

Now you can use information available to you: How good is the match between your skills and their job advertisement? Are you perfect for the job, or even a little overqualified? Then I would expect to be near the upper bound. If the match isn't that good, or if you need additional training, you will be near the lower bound.

If the upper bound feels too low for you, all you can do is ask if they consider paying more for a good canidate. In the end it's the same in all salary negotiations, but here you have at least a starting point, or a common understanding of budget.

In some countries, companies are required by law to disclose the salary range, or at least the lower boundary. For example in Austria you have the lowest salary allowed for this position in every job listing. It's something like "minimum wage", so unless you are applying for a very low level job, everyone expects to get a lot more.


The reason for wide ranges is down to the fact that for smaller companies they are often flexible on seniority / budget. As an example, a team has 2 headcount to hire over a year. With standard budget you could get an experienced person plus a more junior person. You put out a salary range that goes from junior to senior so is quite wide because depending on candidate you can make the position junior or senior. In addition, if two really great senior candidate turn up you can go to management (sometimes directly to CEO) and make the case for getting both while they are "on the market". So you both increase budget and bring forward the hiring. For smaller places, this type of thing is not particularly difficult. So what does this mean for you? Well if the salary you want is in the range just go for it. It will come down to how senior they perceive you to be. Also even a small company if they are good will have a progression framework. I.e. a mapping of seniority / skills to salary. This means pay is consistent and you get pay rises by being better at your job Vs making drama about quitting. Good places I have worked at will prioritise internal consistency Vs the progression framework over hiring a specific candidate. I.e. I don't want to upset my existing team just to bring in someone asking for a higher salary


The tree methods you describe regarding how the company determines their range make sense. Each company is different, each position is different.

Additionally, should the upper boundary be considered as a “hard limit” by the company, or it is ok to ask something along the line of: “I am mindful of the advertised salary range, but considering x, y, and z, I looking for a compensation between

  • 88 and 93k. (i.e., overlapping the advertised range)
  • 92 and 97k. (i.e., outside of the advertised range)

Your two examples about what you should ask for go against the normal advice. If you specify a range the company only cares about the lower number.

If they said 60K to 90K, and you specify $88K that means that you are only willing to take the job if you are near the top of the pay scale. If you specify 92K, then the minimum amount you will accept is more than they are willing to pay somebody new to the company.

Don't give them a range because they already know if they offer more than your minimum you are more likely to accept it.

Is the upper number on the companies range a hard limit? It might be. Sometimes that is the maximum they can sell your services for and still make a profit. Sometimes they can go a little higher, but that will mean the raise next yer will be minuscule because you will be nearing the absolute maximum for that position.

  • I usually give a range. Offer my the high end or close to the high end and I sign today. Offer me at the low end and I will look for better offers and only take yours if I absolutely have to. Offer me in the middle and I will have a good look around for better offers but sign if I don't find something better quickly. Currently the low offer will get you nowhere.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Aug 18, 2022 at 16:05

The purpose of giving a range is simply to weed out an obvious mismatch. If you are looking for 120k and the range is tops out at 90k, it's a non-starter.

How to guestimate the final salary that the company would offer based on the advertised range?

Trying to guess before applying and engaging is pointless. The company will decide the offer amount based on how the interview process goes and how you stack up against requirements and expectations. If you've aced everything and they switch from grilling to selling mode, chances are the offer will be at the high side. If you got through the interview ok, but it's more of a growth and stretch for you, it will likely come in lower.


As a candidate who is "relatively good and fairly on scope etc." you could expect a bit more than the middle of the range. If I offered that range, I would offer the low end to someone who is barely acceptable, the high end to someone who is incredibly good and that I definitely want, and a bit above the middle to someone who is reasonably code. If they say "HR wanted to offer you 75, but I convinced them to give you 80" then you might be talking to me :-)


Mature companies unless they are very small often have clearly defined career levels. And internal documents describe what title you get on a certain level, but also what skills are required and what kind of behavior and impact is expected from a person on a certain level.

And at the same time, those companies have defined salary bands for each role and career level. They do not have a fixed salary for each level because there are still notable differences between people working on the same level:

  • They might be new in that role or already close to being promoted to the next level.
  • They might have very valuable domain knowledge that others still need to gain.
  • They might check all the boxes that are expected in that role and got great performance reviews in the past or they might just have mediocre performance.

From the outside, it is hard to know how those levels a defined and where you would land on that scale in comparison to their employees.

Therefore you can only guess. If the job posting is, for example, for a mid-level software developer and the range is 60k to 90k then ask yourself:

  • Were you already working on a mid-level in your previous job? When were you promoted from junior to mid-level? Recently, 1 year ago? 2? 5?
  • What is a common expectation for mid-level developers? For example, they are able to work independently and do not need much guidance. Are you able to do that and can you give examples?
  • What is a common expectation for the next level? A senior should be able to lead projects, design complex architecture, and mentor teammates. Are you already doing that?
  • Do you know all the required technologies? Or will you need to learn a lot of new stuff for the new job?
  • Have you worked in similar industries before? Companies of similar size?

When you consider the answer to those questions you might be able to make a good guess where you would land on that scale. Juniors applying for their first mid-level position will likely be at the lower end. A candidate who was already performing on a senior level in their previous job might easily get the max salary from that range.

But of course, you still need to sell your experience to the interviewers because, in the end, they will access what level you are at as measured by their internal career framework.

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