I think the advice — the first to give a number loses — doesn’t make sense. Better said — It’s nuanced.
If you’re a software developer looking for your first job, this advice doesn’t apply to you. Your mission is to get your foot in the door and then come back to this advice when you’re looking for your next job.
Asking for a salary range doesn’t make sense when applying to tier 1 companies as salary ranges are available on levels.fyi.
Asking for the salary range works well when applying to startups and mid-sized companies because it’s hard to find salary data.
My colleague went through five rounds of interviews only to realize at the end that the company could not afford them. It was a waste of time could have been avoided from the initial HR interview.
A good recruiter will be upfront with the salary range and ask if it’s in your acceptable range. If the recruiter doesn’t ask, then you ask:
Can you tell me the salary range for this position? I want to make sure both of us are in a similar ballpark.
Every time I asked this question, I got an answer. If the company refuses to answer then I’m suspicious of their hiring process.
When asking for a salary range, you’re not leaving money on the table because you’re asking for a range and you’re not committing to a specific number.
You’re already an experienced developer with marketable skills. There’s no shame in asking about the salary range at the first HR interview.