How do I tactfully ask what a job pays?
December 15, 2014 12:11 PM   Subscribe

I have a situation where I interviewed for another position within the company where I am employed, I got a positive response and the hiring manager has told me he is going to work through some details with HR before he can give me a definite yes - problem is, I'm still not sure what the new position pays.

I realize I probably should have asked far before in the interview stage, but what do I do now? Is it acceptable to send an email to the hiring manager asking what the pay is, and if so how would I word that tactfully? Is there another method that would be better? An additional quirk is that I'm not sure if this particular position has a fixed salary or if it is negotiable.

Additional snowflake:
While the position definitely interests me and would be a great career progression, I think I would turn it down if the raise wasn't enough because I would lose perks of my current job which are valuable to me (working from home, flexible scheduling) That being said, I've been told by others in my department that turning the position down can get you blacklisted. I'm especially worried that given the hiring manager is so far in the process that he'd be upset if I were to bail. If I WERE to turn down the position due to a pay issue, how do I word that to avoid burning my bridge so to speak if I were to consider the position in the future due to changing circumstances?
posted by sputgop to Work & Money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You can almost always negotiate price whenever they tell you the price. They should print the salary on a piece of paper. Don't give them a firm yes before you "work through the paperwork". Respond within 24 hours with a counteroffer 10% higher and let them respond with 5% higher and take it.

That's what's worked for me anyway.

The hiring manager isn't depending on you yet, and it's their own fault if they get their hopes too high. It's not signed and done until all the negotiating is finished.

Also, even in your new role, it's common to negotiate things like flexible scheduling and additional weeks of vacation pay. At my company, unless you are overpayed, lateral position changes are treated to the same year-end pay increase plan, 10-15% increase if you are below average, 0-5% increase if you are above average, 0% if you are butting up against the pay scale of the level above you.
posted by bbqturtle at 12:17 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would send a quick email to the hiring manager, along the lines of "Maybe I missed it in the job listing, but could you remind me what the salary range for this position is? Thanks."

It's not a rude question or odd to ask it at this point. I can't imagine it would raise any flags for the hiring manager. Whatever they give as a range, if you're in private industry I'd assume it's negotiable.

Turning down the job doesn't seem like it should be a problem if you have a good reason why (e.g. the pay bump isn't enough to compensate for the loss of freedom etc.).
posted by craven_morhead at 12:19 PM on December 15, 2014 [10 favorites]

You don't have to be embarrassed about asking about money. You are exchanging your time and skills and talent for their money. We all are supposed to pretend that the money is not the main concern, but the money is why it's called "work" and not "play."

Don't be shy. I'd just ask, "By the way, what sort of salary range do you have in mind?" It's a sign of a person confident in his or her value that you're not shy about asking what they want to offer you.
posted by musofire at 12:21 PM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

the hiring manager has told me he is going to work through some details with HR before he can give me a definite yes

I'd be willing to bet that the biggest detail he needs to work through with HR is the initial salary offer, so get inside their decision loop and start talking to him about it now.
posted by Etrigan at 12:21 PM on December 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

It's the same company, you're assuming the pay is more, so are they.

Asking now isn't going to put you in the best light, and - to be blunt - it can't be that important if you didn't ask! I would sit it out and ask when the right time comes. You can always profusely apologise later.
posted by devnull at 12:23 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm sitting on pins and needles waiting for an offer. I got to the interview phase and sent the email, "Just so we're on the same page, what's the salary range for this position?"

Then he sent back a $40,000 range. I said, "Gosh, that's quite a difference, I'm making more than the highest number, but if I can be considered for the high end of the range I can work with that."

So you can always negotiate. He has to get special permission from HR to offer me what I want, and it takes time. Waiting is MISERABLE! But, once I get the offer, it'll be worth it.

Once I applied for and received an offer for a job that was $35,000 LESS than my base salary. It sucked that I didn't ask, could have saved us all a bunch of hassle.

So send a quick, one-line email and wait to be pleasantly surprised.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:30 PM on December 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

Ugh. This happened to me when I worked for McDonnell Douglas. I was recruited, taken out to lunch, and then told it was a "lateral move" salary-wise. My boss told me not to do it, and I wish I had listened to him, because it was much higher responsibility and yeah, I got flown to St. Louis and trained on their D-Base software, but man, babysitting a renegade sales rep as well as doing monthly accruals was so not worth the lack of increase in pay. Then, they started splitting up the company and our group was in the hocks because of corporate lugs, so buh-bye to my new and improved job anyway! I left before that happened, as I had wind-iness ears, but man, the person who followed me, she got a pink slip in the mail a few months later.

In short: get it in writing. Both the offer and the salary. If he comes back and hedges, say, "thank you for your consideration, but I respectfully decline." And in my experience, a lot of these, "I have to get back to you" things, drag out and aren't worth your time. So don't get your hopes up. Moving up often means moving on. Just my 2 cents.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:50 PM on December 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would wait. Negotiate when you get an offer.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:01 PM on December 15, 2014

Remember top performers negotiate. It is a skill top performers have. Top performers have expectations. Sell yourself as a racehorse with requirements to be met - you do not have to take any position that doesn't compensate you equitably. As a bonus leverage - it sounds like you like your current job. It is the job of the new job to sell its self to you.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:26 PM on December 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

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