I am a sole contributor in a marketing manager role for about 2 years, and finally got the approval to move forward with hiring my first direct report. I pitched salary ranges of 60-80k for a content marketing associate to help with efforts, and the company said they are expecting to pay upwards of 80k, but I only make 90k. How do I address that without flat out saying “my direct report with less experience shouldn’t make more than me”? Do I ask for a salary review now or wait until we hire them

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I would ask for a salary review once they’re hired and you can ask for more simply based on the fact that you have a direct report, let alone the fact that direct report could be making more than you. You could also talk to some recruiters to get an idea of what they’re paying marketing managers to know what you should ask for. But in my experience staying at a company longer than 2 years means you’ve fallen behind market salary. Someone started last year at the Specialist level making more than me and I hadn’t even been at my company for 2 years at that point. Looking to make a move soon!

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Thank you so much for sharing! I totally agree. Wishing you best of luck as you search for the next gig!

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How annoying! I don’t think there is anything wrong with pointing that out and saying those words. (Do it without a hint of emotion) Ask about compensation philosophy, how your job and the direct report job is graded and ask for a review and adjustment. Advocate for yourself. I’ve done this before with success and you can too! Good luck!

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My company is somewhat like this. Directors know salary, but manager levels may not. And there is a lot of inconsistency - some due to mix of old and new people, some due to consistent titles with inconsistent responsibilities. I am a big advocate of pay transparency, but companies need to do the work first to get more consistency. Nothing causes more strife internally than when people start talking and sharing personal salaries. There is always someone who walks away feeling like a chump.

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I encountered the same issue previously. I was never able to get my salary adjusted, so I ended up leaving the company. There are companies that care more about saving money where ever possible than paying people fairly.

Personally I would wait until the new person is hired to have a conversation. Then you have factual data to make your case. You may also want to start interviewing to get a feel for how much you could get elsewhere.

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Thanks so much for your thoughts and feedback!

I've been in this situation and was told to get over it because this happens across the business in departments where directors are managing specialists (e.g. marketing, engineering).

I know it feels unfair but as others have remarked maybe you've been at the business for too long. If you do have the salary conversation, I wouldn't make this the central argument. As much as you might grapple with the situation, I would leave it out if that conversation from personal experience.

Regarding the hire, my advice is: hire the best person for the job within the budget. As their manager, hiring right will help with how you're perceived by the leadership, help with your workload etc. Don't factor in what you think would be the "fair" differential in salaries given your seniority.

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Thank you so much for your thoughts! Great perspective and I agree, it might be time to move on

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Very good point, HoM. I’ve actually encountered that on my team where a generalist manager is over a senior technical specialist. Those technical roles have a different market value. Thankfully this manager understood that and understood their own salary was also fair.

It’s hard to balance the idea that comparison is the thief of joy with the reality that women are frequently underpaid, and you only know that if you compare.

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100%. Funnily enough my best hire as a generalist HoM was a Content Marketing Manager very much like this post and her salary was just 10k less than mine. She was a superstar and deserved every bit of it and more. I was always ready to advocate for her.

There's a parallel conversation in this bowl about an SEO Director making more than a Marketing Director and it's interesting to follow how the conversation in that thread unfolds.

To add on, I also found out that “managers” in other departments don’t actually know what their direct reports make. Only the owner of the company knows everyone’s salary, so I’m also a bit concerned they might try to keep me in the dark on the new hire’s salary offer. That fact overall is a bit concerning because how are managers supposed to evaluate if someone’s performance is equivalent with their salary?

I would speak my peace with this person before they continue with the search process because I agree with you that it’s unfair for you so that needs to be dealt with immediately. Warning keep your cool when addressing the subject as I am sure that personally you find it quite annoying.

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