Salary question

Monday, August 30, 2010 • Category: A taste of DEI discussions Comments (1)


The last thread in a discussion on whether it is impolite/rude if the person you are looking to hire is asking about the salary before a job interview

I actually think the summary is too harsh for the reality and so I would
offer these final comments.

For example:

1.       I don’t think both employee and employer think they are the major
role players in this game – I think both understand there is a process here,
a blending of two entities. I don’t think anyone is naïve here. Everyone
understands this is about finding a match between the two.

2.       While some employers may want to find the most skills at the lowest
pay, most employers readily understand that if they pay “the lowest,” they
are almost guaranteed that a valuable employee will be out the door as soon
as something better comes along.

3.       I don’t view interviewing someone as a waste of time – or at least
not in most cases and I encourage people going on interviews not to view
this as a waste either. Learn from the experience to improve your
presentation skills, your understanding of the market, your people skills,
whatever. Learn and it isn’t a waste of time…don’t – and perhaps you are

4.       I think it is wrong to say  that an employee MUST NOT ask for a
salary before – because it is considered bad behavior – again, this is too
strong. What I’ve been saying is you shouldn’t because it MIGHT be
considered not bad behavior but a sign that your priorities are too
different from mine to find a middle ground. Honestly, I have been in
business long enough to know that people need and want to make a living and
maybe even a bit more. I just want a chance to meet them and learn about
their skills before they dismiss my job because they want more money. I
don’t mind someone asking what skills they need – if you don’t have them, I
too would like to save everyone’s time – but money…money is always
negotiable. Maybe I have something to offer that is more valuable or we can
work something out; or maybe you are willing to compromise because you’re
going to love working for my company and gaining new and valuable
experiences which might offset what you wanted. Or maybe you don’t have a
real sense of what the market is paying now and so if you keep telling
people rather than listening, you might remain without employment.

5.       Obviously, we all know that employees are, for the most part, not
working for the love of the job alone and that we are not naïve enough to
believe that employees aren’t or shouldn’t be interested in money.

Every part of the interview process – or perhaps I should say gaining
employment process – has a function. You aren’t going to get a job based on
your cover letter – I don’t care what it says. Does that mean you shouldn’t
write one? Absolutely not. Just understand the function and achieve the
goal. You probably aren’t going to get a job offer based on your resume –
sometimes, especially in telecommuting positions, but most likely not in a
normal work environment. Does that mean you should give up on your resume
–again, obviously not.

If you feel it is acceptable to ask about salary in a telephone conversation
before an interview takes place, why not state your salary requirements in
your cover letter and save us both time. The employer will save time and
simply decide if the money fits?

My point all along is that an interview is an investment of time by both the
interviewer and the interviewee. Many of the comments in this thread were
related to one side of this “dance.” I urge everyone to realize that there
are two partners in this process. Yes, each has goals and interests and
priorities – but more, there is a common goal: to find the best match. Maybe
it is you; maybe it is not – but if you ask for something like the salary,
or if you get a car, or how much vacation time you get…you may be sending
the wrong signal.

I would hope and expect that if I am willing to invest time, the person
seeking the job would be willing too. Just as I would hope not to dismiss
someone without giving them a decent chance to show they are right for the
job, I would hope a potential employee would feel the same. I’m smart enough
to know that money is a factor for everyone (or almost everyone) but come to
the interview and find out so much more.

If money is the key factor in taking a job – then by all means, ask during
the initial phone conversation. But if you do, and the employer says never
mind…perhaps you’ll feel relieved; you certainly should not be surprised.
Maybe they weren’t willing to pay your salary requirements anyway, right?

Bottom line – if you really want to work for a good company, invest in them
and they will invest in you.


Paula R. Stern is the CEO or WritePoint Ltd., a leading technical writing and training company in Israel. WritePoint offers a variety of services including a full range of documentation services, outsourcing writers full-time, part-time, or on a project basis. Her company offers a long list of training courses (in-house or at their Training Center), web design (web content, graphics, SEO and web promotion), consulting services for help development, social media, and XML/DITA conversions, and more. Paula is an Adobe Community Professional, recognized for her expertise and contributions in the field of help authoring and development. She is also the moderator of Techshoret, the national technical writers list, and the Chief Coordinator of the annual Technical Communicators Conference. You can learn more about Paula on WritePoint’s corporate website:

One Response to “Salary question”

  1. Aya says:

    Point of view of a job seeker to share with you:
    I’ve received an interview call from start up company regarding a marketing position, heard a few details about the company and then they asked me to come for an interview without any detail about the salary.
    I’ve arrived to the interview after leaving my child with a babysitter, payed for parking and than I found out they offer a very low salary for an interesting position. so, I ask my self and you: if Employer knows he’s offering a very low salary, Why not share it so I won’t waist time & money. next time I will ask for sure, never mind if its custom or not, this will be my sorting tool like HR people has there’s.

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