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When Is It Appropriate to Ask About Salary?

Ask Savvy: Can I Ask About Salary Before the Interview?


Dear Savvy,

Is it totally inappropriate to ask about the salary range of a job up front (before the interview)? I've applied for a job that sounds right up my alley, but that I think might be entry level (I've been in the field for several years). Before I waste my time and the company's time, can I ask what the salary is?

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A: If you haven't been asked to interview yet, you can ask the human resources representative for a salary range when she initially invites you to interview. It's inappropriate and tacky to ask about salary before the company contacts you — they'll think you're just focused on the money and your chances of getting the opportunity to interview would be slim.

Depending on the company's size and organizational structure, someone other than a human resources rep may initially contact you. If that's the case, it would be inappropriate to ask that person about salary. Do some research online to figure out the general salary for the position, and since you're already working in the field you should already have some insight.

There are instances where different companies will pay drastically different salaries to do the same job (so frustrating, but true). If you're over qualified and the company where you've applied could use your extra experience, they may even tweak the job description to better suit what you can bring to the table. You never know, so don't blow an opportunity by inappropriately asking about salary.

As a final, related note: Money shouldn't be discussed during the interview unless the interviewer brings it up. It's usually on her agenda and she'll get to it if she thinks it's worth discussing with you.

Good luck with the job search!

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