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I left a previous employer to pursue a contract that was more in line with my passions. When I left, they told me I could come back at any time. Now, the contract has run out and I'm looking for a full-time job again. I'd like to ask them if I can use them as a reference and I'd also like to ask them what they would pay if I went back to work for them, since I'm now several years more experienced.

Is it inappropriate to ask a previous employer what they'd pay if I returned to them? If not, what is the most polite way to ask that?

If not, would it be inappropriate to ask for both what they'd pay and for a reference?

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    You can ask what you like when you don't work for them. It's up to them whether they entertain your question. – Matt Jun 13 '18 at 3:34
  • Did you leave only because of the salary? – Sandra K Jun 13 '18 at 16:45
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It is not inappropriate either to ask them for a reference and/or for what they’d offer you.

However, both items should be accomplished professionally (i.e not asking for a pay scale straight up, unless you are best buddies with the hiring manager) - reach back to the HR and/or the hiring manager/old contact and tell them that your contract opportunity has successfully come to an end and that you’re now searching for the next opportunity. In that process, you plan to list them as a reference or alternatively, ask them whether they’d be happy to write your a reference letter.

And then, mention that since you had a great time working there(presumably so), ask whether they have a need for someone with your skillset(and describe your enhanced skillset covering experience you’ve gained since you left them).

Any reasonable employer with a vacancy and one whom you left on good terms, will likely offer you a role. Once they make the offer you can assess and/or negotiate per your desire.

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