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Some companies (if not most) have internal grading system, based on which they define salary range. I am not sure if this is standardized at industry or country level, or whether there is a different name for it. Nevertheless, when I joined one company, my position was at grade 17. A year later, I learned, their fresh grads join at grade 16. This made me think that the position I was offered is, if not senior, it is not senior. Of course, one could argue what does matter if the job scope and the pay is suitable. That's true. However, later I learned, my annual salary increment is affected by this grade. In other words, because I started with salary higher than the average for grade 17, my salary increment is capped every year at low level. I was wondering, if I had known all this upfront, I could have either 1) asked for higher starting salary or 2) did not accept the offer and looked for another offer.

My question is, is it suitable, or acceptable to ask about the position grade in the company? The grade in itself is meaningless. But my question would be: What is this position's grade? and what is the entry level grade, and what is the highest grade in your organization? This would help me to determine: the seniority of the position (many companies give fancy titles for junior positions and they over market their roles), and also helps me to determine if my grade is really going to affect my future promotions/increments.

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    Yes, you can ask about the grading system. However, please keep in mind that each company may have a totally different system, and there may be no exact one-to-one translation. In many cases, the salary and benefits are more practical in evaluating a job offer. Jun 28, 2021 at 15:05
  • BTW, if possible, would you please describe your location (country tag) ? I am just curious about this grading system. Jun 28, 2021 at 15:09
  • @Job_September_2020, added. Although this system seems to more like company specific than a country specific. I worked for global company and they applied the same grading in more than 100 countries
    – TAM
    Jun 28, 2021 at 22:26
  • Yes, it's perfectly ok to ask. Just note that they may not know the exact level/grade until they decide to extend you an offer. Also, these three web sites may be helpful to you: levels.fyi glassdoor.com and teamblind.com Jun 29, 2021 at 1:57

2 Answers 2

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Nothing wrong with asking about the grading system, but knowing what it looks like may or may not answer your questions. It's better to ask specific questions:

  • If you want to work in a senior position - make sure you're interviewing for a senior position
  • Negotiate the salary that's right for you
  • What are the growth opportunities for this position?
  • What does the compensation review process look like?
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First of all, I am not familiar with such a grading system. I speak for Germany, I don't know which country you come from as you didn't mention this.

In Germany, there are usually two types of employment contract, collective bargaining and non-collective bargaining.

  • For collective bargaining, rules are set by a contract between the union and the employers, which is available, it depends on a number of known factors and either you meet condition 𝑋 or you don't.

  • There are also non-tariff contracts, which are completely free. (A lawyer told me, that contract law is very free in Germany.) What you have agreed to with your employer applies, and that's that.

In addition, for grades, we typically have two systems, 1−6 (school degrees, where 1 is "very good" and 6 is "unsatisfactory"; in the US this compares to A—F), or exactly the other way round, 0 is "unsatisfactory" and 15 is "about very good". So, for a grading system, if there is such a thing, first of all you have to clarify which area is there, and what is good and what is bad. There can be both, so be careful and don't get confused.

Clarify the following question:

  • Is the workplace paid according to a tariff?
    • Mostly, if that's the case, it's already in the job advertisement; because the collective agreement is usually a bit lower in payment, and I think they are also obliged to say that

    • If not, they should tell you all the rules, including which criteria for which standard you meet, or how far you meet them.

      By the way, when I say contract law is very free, it also means that it is perfectly okay to negotiate about anything (and that is literally about everything). If you disagree with a point, discuss it. It is always more difficult to change something later in an existing contractual relationship than to agree something before a new contractual relationship. Be brave and you will see (if you are wanted—but about self-confidence is a psychological issue and would be a different question) that before contractual relationship, employers are surprisingly accommodating (because they want you). (That may not apply to everyday’s jobs like garbage collection, but it will surely apply to studied jobs in highly specific subjects.

      I would like to tell another story here to give you courage: My uncle is a qualified physicist and was looking for a position as a university professor of physics. There aren't many of them. There were two places, one that he wanted and the other that he actually didn't want. Then he sent a message to the position he did not want, a kind of rejection offer, so to speak, if he should come here, he would expect so much (payment, high-tech equipment of laboratories, laboratory assistants, etc.) at least available. He was sure they would never approve this, but the university approved it! And today he works there and is very happy. Yes, it is abroad and the journey home is longer, but with more money, journeys by plane also become more convenient.

Basically, maybe I should have written that at the beginning, in German, the word "contract" (Vertrag) is derived from "to agree" (vertragen). In a contract, you should write everything in which you agree with your employer, even if it seems obvious and superfluous. That's what a contract is for. And that's what counts later. It is true that laws are above a contract and it depends on the jurisdication where you live, but you haven't written where you come from, so I can't answer for a specific jurisdiction.

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    OP is asking about position grading, which is an internal system for each company to rank their positions relative to each other, not school grading. This is particularly prevalent in large, multinational companies, since it facilitates organization standardization and international transfers. However, the grading (or "banding" as it is sometimes called) is very internal to each company, so what one company calls a band 3, another company can call it a grade 17, and another company calls it a grade 9. This is used in Germany too, btw Jun 29, 2021 at 8:42

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