Why Can’t I Ask About Salary?

MGR Accounting Recruiters in
on Mar 24, 2016. Posted inBlogging In Balance

Well, actually you can!

Asking about salary isn’t about whether it is allowed, but rather more about the consequences of asking too early.

Salary can be a touchy issue to discuss in a job search. First and foremost among the Salary negotiations - MGR Accounting Recruitersreasons that a job seeker may feel like they need to ask about salary early in the interview process is that you feel like you need to make sure that going through the process is worth your time. However, human nature is working against you in this situation.

For the majority of hiring managers, hiring a new employee has some similarities to shopping. They have a need or a problem to solve and they are searching the marketplace for the right solution.  They generally have an initial range of pay that they have decided is appropriate for the solution.  However, as they get to know the range of possible solutions to their problem, the amount they are willing to pay may change because the value of the solution becomes clearer in their mind.  Or in addition they start to perceive the true cost of an appropriate solution, which they may not have realized in the beginning of the search.

Asking about salary too early can potentially cause several issues:

  • You are given a lower number.  Since the employer will not really know you and all your abilities as well early in the process as they would have later in the process, they are not going to be as generous about the full salary range.  Without a complete view of your abilities, they are likely not to feel that you are indispensable yet and therefore they will likely quote you the low end of the range.
  • You are answered with a question.  If you are the first to ask instead of leaving that duty to the employer, then they are likely to turn the question around.  For example, you ask “What does this position pay,” and the employer responds with, “What are you looking for?” This leaves you in the less desirable situation of having to name your price early without much information about what the job truly entails.  In this situation it’s easy to ask for more than the job will pay, or possibly underestimate the position and therefore ask for less.  It is a precarious position to be in.
  • You are perceived as more interested in your needs than the company’s needs.  If you ask about the pay too early, it can be seen as a sign of too much self-interest at a time when they are looking for a solution to their problem.  In general, it’s best to be focused on the employer’s need early in the process before becoming too concerned with whether or not they will meet your salary needs.  Actually, if the employer starts to perceive that they may not be able to meet your salary needs they are likely to ask about it early on because they will not want to waste their time either.  Therefore, it’s generally not an area to be overly concerned with in the beginning.

All of these scenarios are less-than-ideal for you as the job seeker. Therefore, although in some cases it may seem like you are wasting time by not finding out what a job will pay up front, rest assured that you will most likely end up with a better result if you can hold off asking what the position will pay until either the employer brings it up, or you are being offered the job.  The more that the employer knows about you prior to discussing salary, the better the situation will be.

Until next time, I wish you the best in your job search.

Mark Goldman CPA