I am in the process of interviewing for another job within my company. I am not yet guaranteed a job offer, but it looks promising and I don't believe there are any other candidates. I do expect to need to negotiate a salary soon though. I managed to get one of the HR people to tell me the salary range for the job I am looking at. This begs the question,

Does knowing the potential salary range an employer is willing to pay change how much I should ask for in salary negotiations?

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    Ask at the top or more! Your initial ask forms the ceiling for the negotiated value.
    – MrFox
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 18:11
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    @MrFox I wouldn't say more, if you ask ridiculously high they will probably see you as a bad egg for not being satisfiable. But yes, I'd shoot for the top so that when they offer something less it is still high. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 18:24
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    Rather than explaining your research and offering to settle for less, explain that you've researched the cost of living difference between the location and your current location, and have determined that X is a reasonable salary. If you pre-emptively offer something lower, then their response may just be to try to see how low they can go. Start the negotiation at (or reasonably above) what you actually want, not below.
    – yoozer8
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 18:40
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    I can't say if it matters, but there is one key differentiating factor and that's that in this situation, the hire KNOWS the salary range the organization is willing to consider ahead of time. I could see arguments that that does change things a bit, but at the same time, one can also argue that you should ALWAYS ask for what you want/need rather than some other arbitrary figure.
    – DA.
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 23:06
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    @DA., yes, that was my thought. I think that knowing the possible salary range changes the situation. Imagine an analogy to poker; you would play very differently if you knew what cards the other players held. Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 13:14

3 Answers 3


Should I ask for a salary at the top of the range, and if so, how specific should I be, if not, why not?

I'd be careful of taking salary at the top of the range for a couple of reasons:

1) Justification. Are you sure that you are going to be the rock star in that position that justifies being paid the maximum in that range? There is the potential for them to ask why you think you are worth that much to which you should have an answer.

2) Future growth. By taking the top value right off the bat, in future years at that organization, you may be limited in terms of raises by starting out at the top for the position you'd have. While I will acknowledge that if you do plan on moving into a different role a year or two later this is somewhat moot, there is the potential to understand that by going for the top right off the bat, you may get limited raises for a couple of years or more.

The second point is more about the idea that if someone is going for the top of the range and expects raises on top of that, this could be asking for trouble. Some people would rather have the raises and get more emotional satisfaction from that than having more money at the end of the day while getting paid the same each year. Thus, I'm questioning if the person getting paid $100K for 3 years with no raises will be happier than the person that started at $90K and got a 5% raise each year for the next 2 years.

While some people want to make salary be all about money, there is something to be said for what expectations are coming with that money you are getting.

  • That's also a great answer. I'm not sure which I like better. The point about justification is a good one; I am confident that I will do very well and that I will be valuable, but I can see how a high salary would put extra scrutiny on me just as I'm coming on. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 20:46
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    So, let me get this straight. You ask for $90K rather than $100K when the salary is $105K with the idea that this gives them more room to give you raises??? If you make $100K for 3 years and get NO raise, you still get more total money than if you start at $90K and get a 5% raise every year for the next two years. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 20:55
  • @AmyBlankenship, I was thinking that too. Clearly the logic behind the raises is flawed, but the point about justification still seems reasonable to me. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 21:03
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    Also, at many companies, once you start "topping out", people above your manager start looking at promoting you OR why can't they promote you. If they can't promote you (e.g. mid-range reviews, haven't made much of a name for yourself) that could have negative consequences on your future at the company.
    – Dunk
    Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 16:55
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    Tell me more about these "raises" presumably HR keep them in the cupboard with the unicorns Commented May 16, 2018 at 10:05

You can ask for it, but here's why it's not a good idea.

When a company defines a salary range for a position, they base it not on just on the market rate, but also on their budgetary forecasts. From the company's perspective, the best place for a new employee to start is from the 0th to the 33rd percentile. This position gives the company an opportunity to assess the employee's talent and contribution. Depending on the overall business performance and the new employee's quality of work, the company has the ability to be more generous at review time. The higher you come in, the less wiggle room they have.

In most companies, once you reach the top of the salary range, they may not give you any more salary increases at that position. They will either have to promote you or you will have to apply for a position with a higher upper limit. In either case, if you go in at the top of the scale, they may not have sufficient justification for the promotion or transfer based on the fact that you haven't been there long enough. You could look at it as if you qualify for the top of the range, apply for a job with a higher salary range.

  • That sounds very reasonable. Thanks. I think that is very interesting about the 0-33rd percentile. I have been with this company for almost three years now and the new position is a lateral move just going by the org chart. With a cost-of-living adjustment, I could come in near, but not quite at the top. That seems like a good place to start to me. Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 20:43
  • That makes sense at the 'corporate' level but doesn't really seem all that applicable to the 'hiring manager' level. They don't necessarily care about the rest of that. They want someone and they need someone now.
    – DA.
    Commented Feb 12, 2013 at 23:07
  • @DA: Have you ever completed an annual budget for a department? Even if the 'hiring manager' wants someone and needs them now, they still have to deal with financial constraints imposed by their executive manager.
    – Neil T.
    Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 2:55
  • Sure, though one would assume that was part of the calculations done prior to doing the hire. Your post makes sense from a very carefully thought through, longer term plan view, but often getting a job for both the person applying AND person hiring is a more about the immediate short-term consideration...everyone will worry about promotion issues down the road (for better or worse).
    – DA.
    Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 3:05
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    If we just look at the hiring manager, unless this is the owner, they are going to have to seek approvals from their superiors for any new hire, including the salary range and any additional benefits the company offers. For those short-term, immediate-need issues, the better option is a contractor. The two parties agree to the terms of the contract, and everybody should get what they want. This is why contractors get paid more than employees: companies are paying a premium for getting the quick capital-based fix to a problem without making the long-term payroll-based investment.
    – Neil T.
    Commented Feb 13, 2013 at 4:54

Yes, you should always ask for as much as you can get. If you aren't your own self-advocate then no one else will be. Knowing the remunerative range is a big help. I've worked at a lot of jobs and applied for a lot more. I've literally been offered jobs where it was a big pay cut from what I was on and it was a big waste of time. I've also been employed at a workplace where I was actually working in the same role as the guy next to me but I was earning more than $20k more per year than him and had just been hired, where as he'd been in the same job with no pay rise for 7 years! It's often harder to get a pay rise after starting a job than negotiating on the way in because they ask, "What's the business case? You're already doing it for x and now you want y. I cant justify it." The loyalty thing employers talk of only seems to work one way it seems. That said, if you're in an area with a lot of competition or don't have much experience I'd just try to get in the door at the medium level of remuneration as you could be undercut by someone.

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