As a relatively new hiring manager in the tech industry at a fully remote company, I've encountered numerous candidates in the Bay Area interested in the open role. However, their salary expectations often exceed our budget. Despite this, many express willingness to consider our offered range if the company aligns with their values. It’s worth noting that the salary we are offering is high with great benefits, but probably not as high specifically in the Bay Area.

My concern lies in discerning genuine interest amidst the current economic climate and widespread tech layoffs. While there's a surge in job seekers, I aim to identify candidates genuinely passionate about the position.

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    If you are fully remote, why does their current location matter to you? Those who are pricing themselves based on their local job market are going to be poorer value for you even before they become flight risk. Commented May 12 at 11:34
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    "potentially viewing the role as temporary until a better offer arises" You'll find that this applies to the vast majority of workers everywhere, and expecting to conclusively find people who would not care about getting a better offer seems unrealistic at best.
    – Flater
    Commented May 15 at 0:30
  • Many great suggestions here, however I did not see one that ties the threads together, so have offered a response where I try to do that, which emphasizes a consistent approach stemming from the company's values, resources, and risk management. Thanks for your consideration.
    – A.S
    Commented May 15 at 14:23
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    I think everyone is assuming (and most likely correctly) that "Bay Area" means San Francisco. For the sake of posterity, it wouldn't hurt to clarify that it's not Saginaw, Chesapeake, Hudson, Biscay, Bengal, etc.
    – Theodore
    Commented May 15 at 15:36
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    Everyone is being a bit hard on OP - while it's true that anyone is a flight risk, it's also true that in the harsher job market, there are going to be more employees looking to do minimum effort in an interim job until they get back to their dream work. Wanting to find someone who really believes in what the company does is not a bad goal. That said though, your company has to actually do something that people can believe in. If you're a recruiter for a giant, soulless tech company, then just take the people who will accept your money and be happy lol. Commented May 17 at 18:01

7 Answers 7


The days of employee loyalty to the company went away when companies stopped being loyal to employees. ANYONE is a "flight risk" if they are dissatisfied in their job.

Salary is one aspect of satisfaction, but far from the only one. Simple respect for their skills and appreciation of the fact that they are working hard for you can make a huge difference. Non-cash benefits, from picnics to good health plans to schedule flexibility to educational benefits to vacation and sick time can loom huge.

If you don't want to lose employees, keep them happy. Don't overstress them (some stress is expected), or when you must, reward high for accepting a high challenge. (I got a bonus of US$10k and three months sabbatical after surviving the 1992 World's Fair, and I wasn't one of the leads in that project.) Make it easier and more comfortable for them to stay than to leave.

If you can't afford to invest in your people, reconsider your business plan. If you are losing a nontrivial number of people, the problem is more likely to be your management practices than your hiring practices.

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    I would be careful about picnics, lots of people hate this type of mandatory fun, especially if held outside working hours. Everything else is spot on though.
    – AnnaAG
    Commented May 14 at 9:50
  • I didn't say "mandatory". Offer. My company once had a tradition of "family days", which were basically a large cookout (food supplied by company) with various employee-organized (but company supported) activities and places for folks to show off their hobbies if possible outdoors. On a weekend, but hey, engineers and free food... and nobody blinked if you had other things to do that day; it's a party, not a meeting. On the other hand I've also experienced the other type, which became real fun only when a badly organized canoe race across the duck pond turned into a water fight.
    – keshlam
    Commented May 14 at 13:38
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    This answer fails to address the nuance in the question: that these candidates may view themselves as overqualified and are taking a salary reduction. The nature of loss aversion means there's a higher chance of them leaving the company compared to someone who doesn't have this background.
    – Chris
    Commented May 16 at 20:27
  • I think that focus fails to address the realities of the situation. Anyone may get a better offer next Tuesday. You need to offer them enough -- in cash and non-cash -- that they won't churn too quickly. And yes, that means paying based on prevailing wages for equivalent workers in their part of the world. Which sometimes means you won't hire from some parts of the world unless you are willing to pay that surcharge. Business decision needs to be made before evaluating candidates.
    – keshlam
    Commented May 16 at 20:51
  • @Chris companies met employees half way by offering remote work. It is up to employees to choose affordable housing, food, cars, etc. Now that they can live somewhere not dictated by their work, they should make a sane choice. And expect that wages will have nothing to do with their personal decisions outside work. Seems great to me. Commented May 18 at 1:38

Looking at this from a different angle...

You've got applicants from the Bay Area applying and asking for more than you're willing to pay.

Why are they living in the Bay Area but applying for a remote position that pays far less than the Bay Area, then asking for a big salary hike that still would pay less than local work?

My theory? Because they can't find work in the Bay Area and are desperate. They know it's a long shot, but it doesn't hurt to ask.

I would expect that such a person is just trying to keep afloat until they find another, better paying local job in the Bay Area. So, if I were in your shoes, I would put any application from the Bay Area in the "last resort" column.

(I have no opinion on whether your salary range is competitive for other areas of the country.)

  • This would make sense if it wasn't remote work. Their location is really moot. "Local work" only matters if they're going into an office.
    – Xavier J
    Commented May 15 at 13:49
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    @XavierJ OP said that the candidates are located in the Bay Area. Their location is not moot to them because they must pay to live there.
    – Theodore
    Commented May 15 at 15:55
  • @XavierJ My point was that I could imagine candidates from the bay area quitting as soon as they find a new, better paying job in the bay area.
    – Kevin
    Commented May 15 at 17:37
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    @HappyIdiot I disagree with your conclusion in general, but as for expensive abandoned real estate... that's absolutely a thing for some types of real estate. I'm not in the Bay Area, but I know of ugly empty lots in urban areas that exist simply because the current owner is holding out for a good enough offer. Some of them have been vacant for at least 15 years. The lots aren't attractive, but the location is valuable. And there are office and retail buildings which have stood unoccupied for 5 - 10 years, because no one wants to pay the lease and the owner won't budge on the rate.
    – Kevin
    Commented May 19 at 7:12
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    @HappyIdiot I really don't understand what point you're trying to make. I'm not trying to make any commentary on the sustainability of prices in the Bay Area, or on the fairness of current salaries. I'm not trying to make suggestions on how to improve the economy. I was just suggesting an answer for the OP's question.
    – Kevin
    Commented May 19 at 19:52

If you are offering a salary around the national average (for the relevant responsibilities and experience) and you don't want to be regarded as offering on the low side, then you should only look at candidates from areas where the cost of living is at or below the national average.

The other option, but you will need management approval for that, is to have a wider base range of salary and tailor the offers more to the candidates and the cost of living in their area. That means if you have otherwise equal candidates, the one from Bay Area gets a higher offer than the one coming from a less expensive part of the country.

  • Yes, you could discriminate in hiring. Until it is found out. If it's remote work, why not hire from countries where rates are way less? Commented May 18 at 1:51

Based on personal experience with hiring and attrition: I would start with realistic expectations about employee loyalty and flight risk, and work from there:

  1. Anyone can leave any moment;
  2. Everyone always wishes (and can justify that) they should be paid more;
  3. Nobody is passionate enough about their job to stay in it forever no matter what you pay them (just like in a marriage, you don't stay married because of passion but for more pragmatic, mature, and sustainable reasons).

On values: Whether your company's values match those of your candidates is not your problem or up to you to determine -- it's up to them to figure out. You cannot and should not cater to everyone, especially considering no two people perfectly align on all values all the time. (Moreover, individual values aren't set in stone either, but are subject to revision and evolution.) Rather than trying to satisfy, focus on clarity, consistency, and intention in maintaining and promoting a particular value system based on the direction set by leadership (after all, defining and disseminating a value system is leadership's job).

The point is, rather than worry and focus on pay/passion/loyalty:

  1. Pay what you can afford considering what is reasonable based on the market;
  2. Treat employees fairly, building trust and respect (think culture/purpose/vision); and
  3. Establish mechanisms to manage and develop skillsets and shared knowledge in order to manage risks associated with talent turnover. This means being intentional about having redundancies and contingency plans if any member of the team leaves at a moment's notice (health reasons notwithstanding).

These three principles are equally important, and emphasize a balanced approach to hiring and retention that is grounded in the company's value system, resources, and risk management. The good news is these principles are also a win-win for the business, the manager, and the team. Good luck!

  • If everyone paid market rates, employees wouldn't leave to get higher pay. If they treated employees fairly and had good workplaces they wouldn't leave for those reasons either. Sounds like a plan. Commented May 18 at 1:25

First and foremost, in the book Cracking the Coding Interview, the author recommends for job seekers to move on every three years. This advice is targeted to the California tech corridor. What kind of longevity are you looking for?

Since it is a fully remote position why not advertise in markets other than California. A salary of 175K may be peanuts in places like Seattle, NY city, or San Fran; but a windfall in many other areas of the country. For example there are some very talented tech people in Huntsville, AL that are probably paid half that on average.

Loyalty could be bought.

To find someone truly passionate, you will have to do mostly listening and asking leading questions. For example if your company were about whale conservation you might ask "What is your favorite species of whale" or "What is the most significant thing you have done to save whales". If they dominate the interview answering those questions with details and specifics, then you found your person.

  • Maybe the expensive places will get less expensive now? If companies and employees have more freedom of location, then costs have to level out, right? Commented May 18 at 1:43

However, their salary expectations often exceed our budget. Despite this, many express willingness to consider our offered range if the company aligns with their values.

Pay peanuts, get Monkeys.

If you are worried about Flight risks, then you need to make the position more attractive. Typically this is done by salary.

And, as you clearly articulated in your question, you know this.

So either increase the budget or take the risk. And To add to this - How much is it that your company can afford to lose with a bad candidate choice? What is the cost in re-hiring, training etc. a new employee - I am betting that it is probably less than the difference between a competitive and attractive salary and what you are currently offering.

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    @MBo - If it is not as high due the region you are hiring in, it is not Competitive. End of. The market is telling you what the expected range is. So either take the risk or pay up. Commented May 11 at 22:00
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    It’s a remote company, so we are not looking for a specific region. It’s based on the national average. My question is if we should even consider those specifically in the Bay Area.
    – M Bo
    Commented May 11 at 22:02
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    @MBo - you are trotting out every excuse in the book for low-balling a candidate. I trust these excuses will be sufficient for your upper-management when the newly hired candidate leaves. Commented May 11 at 22:07
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    @MBo - and if you were primarily attracting remote workers outside of the bay area, we both know you wouldn't be having this problem and wouldn't be asking the question. If the applicants who are responding are indicating the salary isn't sufficient - the market forces are telling you the solution. Commented May 11 at 22:16
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    @JoeStrazzere OP doesn't care where the applicants are located. They noticed a pattern, namely that candidates located in the Bay area ask for way higher salaries, candidates located elsewhere don't. They want to know what to do about it and the other answers telling him to not hire fully remote candidates from the Bay area are a lot more useful than this one which tries to explain that OP should pay Bay area salaries for a fully remote position located god knows where.
    – quarague
    Commented May 13 at 9:44

If you as an employer are serious about retaining employees on a long term basis then you are simply going to have to create the environment that is hospitable for them so as to make them want to stay.

Seeing as you are already not willing to pay salaries in line with the extremely high cost of living that is the case with SF bay, I find it unlikely that you will go further than what is the minimum for your employees.

It truly is incredible to me how the willing worker, willing employer setup gives employers carte blanche to fire employees with zero thought as to how it effects anything but the company, and still you will find hiring managers who exclaim how hard it is to find loyal employees.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander. If employers think it acceptable to do business with zero respect to the people they employ then it should be equally acceptable for employees to show there employer the same consideration.

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