Should You Apply for a Job When the Salary Listed Is Low?

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As you are job searching you may come across jobs that seem like a good fit for your skills and qualifications, but have a listed salary range that you don't think is enough for you.

What's the best way for you to proceed in this situation—should you apply for the position and hope for the best, or not bother and move on to the next job opening?

Should You Apply for a Job With a Low Salary Range?

In this type of scenario, you often don't have many options. If a company has this information listed in the job posting, it's probably not a randomly chosen range.

Most likely, the company can't offer more than what’s listed. However, there are some situations where you may be able to negotiate a better salary or a future raise, making it worthwhile to apply. 

How Salary Ranges Are Set

At most organizations that post salary ranges, committees evaluate each position, assigning it a job level with an associated salary range that is based on educational requirements, skills, and responsibilities. This evaluation is done before the position is publicly advertised.

Hiring managers use this salary range as a guideline as they interview candidates and make an offer. Their goal is to make an offer within the salary range, and they are generally reluctant to exceed it. 

If a job advertisement has a salary range that's well below your requirements, this may be a tipoff that it's not the right job for you and it may be best to move on.

However, if the salary range is close to what you're seeking, it may be possible to negotiate even if you want an amount slightly above the top of the range.

When You Want More Money Than the Listed Range

There may be some wiggle room to get an offer at the higher end of the range, but it would be very doubtful that any candidate would get more than the high point because that would require the job to be reevaluated.

The hiring salary range may not be the same as the actual salary range for employees in that position.

Therefore, if you were hired at the top end of the scale, there may be room to get increases soon.

When to Mention Salary and How to Negotiate

If the salary isn't what you expected for the position, it’s not a good idea to bring it up as an issue until you have a firm job offer. You may reduce your chances of getting the job offer if the hiring manager knows up front that you want more money than what the company is offering.

Flexible Salary Requirements

Rather, you could say that your salary requirements are flexible, and not say anything about the range being low, because the company will probably have plenty of other candidates if you're not interested. Plus, the hiring manager likely knows he or she has to work with the range given and will need to find someone who will accept it.

That said, when it comes to the point where you have a job offer, you can mention that you have been making a higher rate for equivalent work and ask if there’s any possibility of flexibility in the salary—either now or in the future.

Future Salary Increases

While the company may not be able to give you more money at your start date, this could open a conversation into how the company provides frequent year-end bonuses or raises after performance reviews.

Know What You're Worth

You can also do salary research on the industry and position. Does the range the company has listed seem fair? If it does reflect the market rate in the area, you may not have much recourse. But if you can show that comparable jobs consistently offer a higher salary, it's possible you'll be able to convince the company to reevaluate the salary range.

Stick Close to the Range

If you do try to negotiate, it’s best to stay close to the posted range. If the company says the salary range is $25,000 to $30,000 a year, and you ask for $50,000, that's double the lowend of the rate, and you’re going to get a firm “no.”

Not only are you unlikely to receive that amount, but it's so high compared to the posted range that the company is unlikely to want to engage in negotiations. However, requesting $35,000, especially if you can point to that being what other companies pay, or provide ample evidence of why you're worth the extra money, might be a more reasonable ask.

When Not to Apply for a Job

When the listed salary range is significantly below your expectations and/or needs, it might make sense to skip applying completely.

It's one thing to negotiate a small amount, and another to try to negotiate a salary that's 20% higher than the listed range. Trying to negotiate a significant increase from the salary range could leave hiring managers feeling frustrated, and as if you wasted their time. 

Article Sources

  1. SHRM. "How to Establish Salary Ranges." Accessed July 1, 2020.