55

Say company A advertises a salary of £30-£40k, does it make sense to ask for £50k when asked for a salary expectation?

Some facts:

  • My previous salary was similar to the high end of this.
  • The specific job requires a total of ~3hr commute daily (walk, train, tube/cycle).
  • Commuting costs are super high in UK. In this case ~5k annually - that is a big chunk of the salary.
  • I fit the job description 90%.
  • Other companies pay more for similar positions.

I am not an expert on negotiation and how business internals work, so I am looking here for some advice. Is it worth to try and push outside the limits they have advertised or do those tend to be "hard limits"? Is there a risk in asking for higher but eventually settling for less? (Namely they might think that I will not stick for the long run..)


UPDATE: I got a higher salary offer.

The company, after negotiation, was willing to offer a base salary of 46.5k for the first 6 months and then 49k. That is 16.5% and 22% increase in salary adequately. (All these numbers are changed slightly for obvious reasons but the ratios are intact.)

Although most of the answers below are a bit on the negative side, I listened to the few answers that suggested that it's totally fine since in the end of the day I didn't have much to lose. I did ask for the higher salary in the end of the main interview which lasted a couple of hours. Then I had a phone call where 46.5k was offered but I indicated that I would be happiest with 49k. Some days later I got the offer mentioned above.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Feb 2 '17 at 23:49
  • Possible duplicate of How can I determine a reasonable salary to ask for? – gnat Feb 3 '17 at 6:45
  • This question is a bit different than the one suggested as duplicate. I am not the one putting the first number you see, they have already put the first figure. – Johannesberg Feb 3 '17 at 15:14
  • Very glad you managed to get the salary you felt was fit for you. The abundance of negative answers is in line with the abundance of underpaid people in engineering. Asking for more money (if you are in a postion to do so) is the only way to get them! – Caterpillaraoz Oct 20 '17 at 15:45

12 Answers 12

29

I interviewed last year for a position advertising up to 40k, told them that I needed a minimum of 60k - and explained why, and they offered me the position. If your project has £1m+ annual budget, they can find another £20k for the right person. If you ask and they decline, what have you lost.?

I will say, though, that I made my salary expectations clear before the first ‘phone interview, so as not to waste anyone’s time. My CV was strong enough for them to agree to invest in a phone call, which led them to decide to schedule time for a face to face, which led them to decide to advance me to the next round, after which an offer was made.

Each “investment of time” on their part gave me an opportunity to demonstrate my worthiness to them and to advance me to the next round. Eventually they decided that I would be adding more than that extra £20k to the team.


Btw, in my current contract, I have a 2 hour morning commute and 2 to 3 hours in the evening -if I leave at 4pm, after 8 hours. It's one of those 37 hour things, with w short Friday, so my boss is amenable to me working 4 longer days. Leaving later actually lowers my evening commute to 1 hour, so I spend the same time away from home, but for fewer days.

This was my boss’s suggestion, actually. I have me made it clear that I will come in on Friday if required, which has not happened once in the last year, and that I will answer emails, which has happened, maybe twice. Perhaps you could discuss something similar., although I doubt that it will sit well with your request for a significantly higher salary, unless you have a very strong CV.

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    This is absolutely the way to do it - and I've done it myself. Up front say "The role looks interesting but my salary expectations are X" - they can then decide if it's worth going forwards on that basis. You may find some companies still go through the interview then try and make a lower offer once you've put time an energy in but that tells you all you need to know about the company... – Tim B Feb 2 '17 at 10:31
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    This is by far the best answer, the others are too speculative. None of us have any ideas about the company in question's finances, the strength of the OP as an applicant, etc. It may well be possible... or not. @TimB 's comment is spot on. – Jared Smith Feb 2 '17 at 15:20
101

Unless you're exceptional, you're probably going to rule yourself out by asking for a salary that much above the advertised range. Companies have a budget, and while there's normally some flex in that, it would be surprising for there to be that much flex. If you don't want the job at £40,000, go and apply to one of the roles at the other companies who are paying more.

Note that the job doesn't "require" a three hour or £5,000 commute - that's your decision based on where you choose to live.

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    @JoeStrazzere I've never meet 100% of the bullet points for a job description, but I have had offers above the listed salary. Not 25% above the listed salary, though. – Philip Kendall Feb 1 '17 at 14:50
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    That's not a question we can answer for you, as we don't have any real idea how good you are, how in demand you skills are, how much (if at all) the company is under "market rate", how desperate they are to hire, etc, etc, etc. – Philip Kendall Feb 1 '17 at 15:12
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit Still, it is not the company's fault (nor problem) that I live so far away, is it? The company pays you do your job, which typically involves being 8 hours a day in the office. Simple as that – Ant Feb 1 '17 at 21:19
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    "you're probably going to rule yourself " - that is not always a bad thing. that is often a good thing. – emory Feb 2 '17 at 2:23
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    @Ant: No, I agree that it's still your responsibility, but as I said (thanks mods for nuking my comment; very helpful) the notion that you always have a "choice" of where to live is nonsense. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 2 '17 at 10:49
49

Say company A advertises a salary of £30-£40k, does it make sense to ask for £50k when asked for a salary expectation?

It's an immediate alarm that could cause you to not be considered.

My previous salary was similar to the high end of this.

Fairly irrelevant. People have been known to be overpaid before

The specific job requires a total of ~3hr commute daily (walk, train, tube/cycle).

Again, to the employer this is fairly irrelevant in terms of paying you more. They may see this as a concern (unless you have plans to move closer) as it means you could be regularly late due to delays (and knowing UK transport system, this could be regularly out of your hands)

Commuting costs are super high in UK. In this case ~5k annualy - that is a big chunk of the salary.

Most employees have to pay to commute to work. It's assumed you take this into consideration when you apply/accept a role knowing the salary range.

I fit the job description 90%.

You fit 90% of the job description yet want 125% of the salary.

Other companies pay more for similar positions.

What other companies pay isn't really relevant as such. It's an indicator of budget (but it's not necessarily a hard line).

I know I come across negative here but i'm highlighting things that an employer may consider.

If the company is paying less than the average rate (as you say in your question), then this could lead for cause for concern that they wouldn't value your role.

If you go ahead with the application, I would be looking to maybe accept less, but get, in writing, confirmation regarding pay reviews etc. I personally don't see it being that feasible that they would pay you 50k when they could potentially get someone for 30k to do the role (I appreciate there are differing levels of ability/experience).

I would also be up front about your current salary/expectations from your initial application. If they interview, then it's an indicator that they can budge. Maybe not all the way, but compromise is a two way street. If not, then no one's time has been wasted too much and everyone can carry on. As a note to end on, in my current role I am currently paid 3k more than the range. I was clear and up front about my current salary and my expectations prior to the interview (I went through a recruiter as i'm in Software Dev). If they are reasonable within the market, and the employer has the funds/ability to break the range, for the right person they will do so. The last thing you want is to have a really good interview, then drop your demands on them and for them to instantly say "Sorry, we can't do that".

  • 4
    You can be overqualified/experienced for a job which is what I was trying to highlight I suppose, maybe I could have worded it better. For example if they wanted 3 years experience and he has 5 years, he's exceeded their requirement – Andrew Berry Feb 2 '17 at 8:06
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    But... then that's also a bad fit and I wouldn't consider overqualified to be above 100% for "good fit for employee-company". However I understand your point. – Francisco Presencia Feb 2 '17 at 18:20
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    dude i don't know what job descriptions you look at, but most of them contain a fair amount of "spray and pray" written by HR-types or managers that don't understand the job's duties,anyways. 90% is unasked-for golden. – Walrus the Cat Feb 3 '17 at 3:16
  • @WalrustheCat I suppose it depends if he is in Web Development or software development. Software dev, with a specific language is usually pretty set on the skills needed (i.e. c# .net, mvc, sql etc) I work in software dev and have seen both blanket requirements of every tech under the sun and other pretty specific job descs. 90% is not necessarily golden, especially if they want 125% of the wage. – Andrew Berry Feb 3 '17 at 7:47
  • @FranciscoPresencia The job posting implies they'll pay 100% of the offered salary to someone you can do 100% of the job. So yes, it would be an uphill battle to get them to pay 125%. – jpatokal Feb 4 '17 at 10:18
28

Say you think you'd be a good fit with the company, but ask if they are hiring for a more senior position. They'll know what you mean.

Some companies will have a very fixed idea of who they are hiring, some are always looking for good {whatever you do}-ers. You don't want to work there for £40k, so there's no harm in asking, just don't invest any more effort than one email before you're sure they're offering sufficient cash.

There are plenty more fish in the sea though, and I'd be inclined to ignore under-market adverts unless I had some special reason.

  • This is the right answer. Do not succumb to the negativity that their offer is not negotiable. – DepressedDaniel Feb 2 '17 at 2:42
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    "Say you think you'd be a good fit with the company, but ask if they are hiring for a more senior position. They'll know what you mean." That's a good line. – Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 2 '17 at 12:38
  • What happens if I am not a senior developer though? With 3 years of industrial experience, I can imagine them laughing inside their heads if I throw a line like that. – Johannesberg Feb 10 '17 at 9:11
  • @Pithikos If you aren't worth 50k don't ask for 50k. I was assuming your assessment of your worth was reasonable. If you wouldn't walk away from 40k and you don't feel that it's under what you're worth, maybe you should just take that. I've never worked in London, but 50k sounds like a lot for 3 years. – Nathan Cooper Feb 10 '17 at 9:35
5

You should apply to any job that is a near fit, irregardless of the salary range posted. But you should not mislead the employer, for example by pretending you would accept the salary.

Reasons for Applying:

  • 90% match is excellent in IT, a company that lists 10 or more technologies will never meet anyone who has worked on the exact combination of technologies listed unless they are all strongly connected, (for example, provided by a single vendor.)

  • There may be a reason this combination of your skills is poorly compensated in the market. There is no better way to learn about why then by applying to a company with an open position. Depending on what you find out, you may want to focus on developing your other skills or new skills.

  • Many companies have no idea what they should pay and what combinations of skills are available in the market. When they are unimpressed with the fit of people who are willing accept their salary or if they see something else in your skill set that they did not think was available they will consider you and any other applicants like yourself before deciding whether they need to repost the job with new terms. This gives you an advantage against other high-skill workers who don't apply to partial fits.

Reasons not to Apply:

  • Discomfort, social awkwardness. These are mostly excuses and things you need to overcome.

  • Time/resources constraints. Unless you are already actively applying to many other jobs, this is probably an excuse to avoid discomfort.

Reasons not to take the Job if offered at your requested salary:

  • The employer (or manager's) expectations may rise absurdly for a slightly higher pay than what they expected and what they pay other employees. You really want to gauge how they are responding to your demand, which is all the more reason not to hide it until final negotiations.

  • A commute is lost time. Unless the commute allows for practical use of that time in a way you would actually use (i.e. time to study on a train that is not too crowded) this lost time every week will cost you both in terms of your quality of life and your overall ability to keep up with the market.

  • This is an excellent answer for the most part, total +1, but one (possibly US specific) caveat: 90% match in IT is good if and only if the job requirements are not written simply to guarantee someone they already have in mind is the 'perfect fit'. I have been asked in the past to write the requirements for a job posting for a job that I was to be given. – Jared Smith Feb 3 '17 at 13:32
  • I have seen 100% match when a company already decided to hire X and the requirements were "everything X has ever done in his life". – gnasher729 Jul 15 '17 at 14:55
3

If the maximum salary indication is 40k, and you ask for 50, you are probably wasting your time. If this is a hard requirement for you, I would just give them a call before you schedule any meetings, I have done it in the past, and saved myself and the employer valuable hours.

Spread the pain across budgets

That being said, the following may be realistic:

Ask for 40k salary, and the possibility to claim your travel expenses.

Typically you would not be able to claim the time spent commuting (unless the company keeps changing location, the commute is because you are too far away, not because the company is), but depending on local circumstances the hiring manager may well have the flexibility to cover your 5k commute.

  • 3
    Depends. If the company is based in an expensive city (such as London) but pays insufficient salary to live there (£35k/year is insufficient), commuting a long distance is not a choice but a necessity. – gerrit Feb 2 '17 at 12:28
  • It's not a waste of time. If the company wanted an entry-level employee for 40k and is told they can get someone much better for 50k, then there is a decent chance that they bite (and since few highly qualified people apply, you may be the only one and get the job by default), and if it doesn't work out, there is very little lost. – gnasher729 May 9 at 22:01
3

It depends on what the job is

If you're applying for a low-grade job, where one person is as good as another, then no, you can't ask for 25% more.

If on the other hand you're applying for a job where you could potentially outperform another candidate by a significant amount, such as a CEO or software developer job then yes, absolutely, pick your own salary. You'll need to be able to explain why you are worth 1.25 ordinary people.

I've gone in at 300% before and been accepted. Don't be shy. The worst thing that can happen is they turn you down. If you're decent and not desperate, this won't be a problem.

2

There are many things to consider including:

  • Are you in a buyer's or seller's market
  • Could the company be pricing the job too low? (is it a big company or a startup?)
  • What unique skills do you bring?

A lot of answers almost seem to suggest you are applying for a custodial job, but you're in software development. Do you have a unique skill of a new technology that few have that just matches with this company? If so, you can ask for much more than they are asking. They may not even know the space. Just because a non-expert hiring manager looks up averages from the research-firm-of-choice doesn't mean they are quoting the market clearing rate. And even if they are at the market-clearing rate, doesn't mean they aren't willing to pay more for top talent or your unique skill.

I'm not saying you should definitely ask for more, just push back a little against some of the other answers: don't discount the possibility that you're worth more in this market than they're asking. Companies do pay more than they are asking sometimes. If you are in a position that you have your pick of any number of jobs (as is sometimes the case with software), and you are willing to lose this opportunity (as much as it might seem better for your personal circumstances than the other higher-paying listings), then you might want to consider asking for more. Find a negotiation coach that knows the industry and your leverage if you do plan on interviewing and choosing between many positions.

  • "What unique skills do you bring?" Why would my skills have to be unique? That's a silly thing to ask for. I'm good at what I'm doing. I'm sure there are other people who are good at what I'm doing. And most of them are not looking for a job right now. – gnasher729 May 9 at 22:03
  • I'm not sure which industry you're in. In mine, it's common. In Data Science when Deep Learning just started in vogue the skillset was unique. Before that, it was machine learning. In Software it was CSS, Ruby. Python, Angular etc.. I could go on and on. On the business side, the wide variation in salaries is at least, in part, due to unique skills and being 'good' is not enough. I personally have kept my consultancy position 100% above market average because they can't get people in Data Science who have 'hacking' skills. The OP got the extra 25% so not everyone is so cookie-cutter. – Joe May 9 at 22:47
1

Suppose this is a company you would really like to work for. Also, suppose you get to be interviewed. You go to the interview focused on the company and the work, never ever bring up the salary question.

If the interview and your match goes really, really well, they may make you an offer in their high end. Then, after they are sure it is in the best interest for them to have you join, the salary difference remains an issue but less so. Then the real negotiation begins - they offer 40k, you say you want 50k, and wait. There is a chance they may go your way - unless their budgetary concerns are paramount.

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    This isn't a great idea. Don't invest both your time and the company's time into a position that, as it stands, you don't want. – Nathan Cooper Feb 1 '17 at 15:06
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    Wanting to work for the company is the first thing I put as a condition. Also interviewing in general is a great exercise regardless of the outcome. – user1220 Feb 1 '17 at 15:19
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    Note that you can also ask for other benefits besides salary, potentially like working from home, since commuting is a big problem. – Wayne Werner Feb 1 '17 at 21:35
  • Interviewing has a real cost for both you and the company in terms of time and money. It's not worth going in unless there is a realistic chance of them hitting your salary expectations. – Tim B Feb 2 '17 at 10:32
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    For me it is always worth it. You get to know people, what they do, what tools they use. I always appreciate the opportunity of interviewing regardless of the outcome. – user1220 Feb 2 '17 at 13:33
0

In my experience it is rare for an employer offering a salary in the £AA,000 to £ZZ,000 range to actually be in a position to offer £ZZ,000. They want to pay £AA,000, maybe £DD,000 if they really like you. Most companies expect to pay previous salary plus a few percent extra.

If you are a perfect fit for the job, can start with your feet on the ground running, etc etc and they are feeling flush with cash then maybe you can get what you want. If you would never contemplate accepting the high end of the range they are offering then it is not worth your time applying. There may be other constraints that prevent them from offering more money, such as the current salary bands they apply to current staff; if they pay you what you want that might force them to pay other staff more too.

If I haven't put you off yet; my strategy would be to avoid stating a salary expectation and wait until interview to start negotiation. If you can't avoid it simply state your previous salary. At interview you should be able to glean whether you are a good fit or if you can stomach working for a lower salary than you want.

Interview is the proper place to bring up this kind of difficult negotiation. If you reach the end of the interview and they haven't discussed salary yet then you can always bring it up as your final question to them; e.g. "I'm a little concerned that the industry standard compensation for this position is in the range of X to Y - and that's for someone without some of the skills I have (which I know you need), so as you're offering less than that I was wondering how much flexibility you have with the salary ?" Try to put across the point that money isn't your only motivator, otherwise you will seem a bit shallow, but hopefully at this point you will have impressed them.

  • Previous salary should have nothing to do with it. Never disclose your salary. Salary's vary hugely by industry. – Gusdor Feb 3 '17 at 0:05
  • Some larger organisations use online application forms that won't let you progress to the next page until you fill in all the fields. You can always inflate your salary but that might lead to other problems. If I must state my salary I give it in a range. As I said in my answer, avoid giving numbers until face to face negotiation. – koan Feb 3 '17 at 0:43
0

If you're good candidate and company in urge to hire, you can ask higher salary and your success shows that it was worth to do.

Is it worth to try and push outside the limits they have advertised or do those tend to be "hard limits"? Is there a risk in asking for higher but eventually settling for less?

If company looks to hire and retain someone for a longer term, it may be a risk for employer. When asking above the limit or even settle for less later, a company may wonder how long you will stay motivated. For example, if candidate fits the salary range and is slightly under qualified, there will be more ways to stimulate him and he should be more enthusiastic and persistent to achieve new level.

A company can actively look and put advertisements for particular employee for 30-40K but also consider candidates which suitable for other positions which are not publicly mentioned.

-2

Very simple: no.

Why? This is not the job for you since you would have no room for growth in that job. And, based on that, very likely you will be unchallenged, and unsatisfied.

protected by Jane S Feb 3 '17 at 11:45

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