Here's How Much to Ask For If a Job Description Has a Salary Range

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Laura Berlinsky-Schine2.3k
April 15, 2024 at 10:13AM UTC

It’s a new age of recruiting and hiring. Now, numerous states and cities are implementing pay transparency laws, meaning employers and recruiters are required to put salary ranges in job descriptions. This year, New York City is joining states like Connecticut, Colorado, California, Rhode Island and Nevada in enacting a pay transparency law. 

But while these laws have numerous benefits to job seekers, they also introduce new challenges.

“The ranges I've seen can be very wide, which makes me wonder how useful they are in practice to anyone who is looking at them,” wrote Georgene Huang, CEO & Co-founder of Fairygodboss. “Has anyone been more or less inclined to apply to a role because they have seen salary range on a job description? Has the wide range put you off or helped you negotiate towards the top of that range?”

The Fairygodboss community was quick to chime in with thoughts and tips on how to negotiate within a salary range.

1. Pay attention to the titles and experience.

“When I see a range I don't always think I should ask for the top of the range,” wrote Chre M. Davis. “But it should reflect my experience and show that upward mobility is possible.”

Davis added that there can be a wide range of titles, too, ranging, for example, from specialist to manager. “So that shows they are willing to hire someone with less experience and pay less, but that they want the person to grow into the role in that case. I personally appreciate that.”

So, when you’re asking for a figure, consider the title and your level of experience.

“Our company posts ranges that align with what level you could be hired on as,” another Fairygodboss member added. “For example, we may post a role for a lead, but if a good candidate with director-level experience comes through, we want to demonstrate what the max starting salary will be at the high end.”

2. Discuss it with the recruiter.

“If there is a wide range, then I look for specifics on how actual range for an applicant may be determined: years of experience, years in same type industry, etc.,” wrote Veronica Patty. “If you have in-house recruiters, they may be able to narrow down the market rate for someone with the top applicant(s) qualifications.”

In fact, any recruiter should be able to help you get a sense of the salary you should ask for. They will know the budget and the range of experience the employer is looking for, along with how your qualifications match up.

3. Look at the bottom number to ensure you’ll be satisfied with it.

“Personally, I look more closely at the bottom number than the top number,” another community member added “Yes, the top can be important, but generally a company is going to fall middle to bottom. If I don't think the bottom number is sustainable for me I don't apply.”

This is particularly important when the salary range is wide. While you may ask for something toward the higher end of the range, it’s important to understand that they’re posting a range for a reason.

4. Remember that it’s a negotiation.

Ultimately, when you’ve been extended an offer, it means that the employer has chosen you.

“You can always negotiate before accepting an offer,” a Fairygodboss member noted. “Now, if you know the range and you fall towards the top end of it, it might be more difficult to negotiate pay vs. benefits but not impossible. Some companies are more willing to negotiate than others, but I do tell my students that if they made an offer they are going to try within reason to get you to accept it through negotiations.”

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.

What’s your no. 1 piece of salary negotiation advice? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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