A reader, Irene, wrote to say that her husband’s salary offer is less by almost $10,000 than the salary discussed in the interview. Even less than he’s making in his current job. And this got them into a heated discussion — to say the least.
Her husband feels he has no recourse, since he was assured this was all they could pay. And he’s ready to accept the job anyway. While he already has a job, the conditions are awful. And it’s taking a huge toll on his spirits. So he wants out now!
But Irene feels that since he already has a job — as awful as it might be — there’s no reason to accept something that will put them further behind the financial eight ball. She wants him to fight for what “he damn well deserves!”
So who’s right?
If salary offer is less what does that say about company?
On one hand, the way the company handled this would make me think twice about working for them at all. This certainly doesn’t show a coordinated effort internally.
And it may be a very good indication of what the company is like. Or at least the particular people he dealt with. So I’d tread carefully with eyes wide open no matter what.
At least try to negotiate some more
All that said … under these or similar circumstances, if you’re interested in the company, you can at least try to negotiate with them. Most companies usually expect that. And even though this company already said that’s the top offer, what negotiator wouldn’t say that?
I’d use a friendly but confident-in-your-worth approach, telling them how much you like the company and the people you met. And that you’d very much like to work with them, because you think you can make a real contribution. Or some similar statement in your own words.
But you’ve thought about it carefully and the original figure (restate it for them) mentioned in the interview would just “feel much more comfortable.” Then stop right there, continuing to look the person in their eyes with pleasant confidence, and see how they respond.
Your main job here is to re-open negotiations and see where it leads. Maybe there is a number in between that feels good to both of you.
Face to face is the best negotiating approach
Rather than handling all of this on the phone, if at all possible try to get a face-to-face meeting. Even if it has to be on Zoom, that’s much better than phone alone.
Not only will that be to your advantage, but it will give you a chance to get a better handle on the company and its internal politics. And how it might be to work there.
While a lowered salary offer may be a warning sign about the company, it can also turn out to be nothing more than a miscommunication. Certainly worth checking out.
Absolute minimums are not always absolute
Unless you must have this job, you’ve got nothing to lose. And the best way to negotiate is when you don’t care if you lose. If they wind up saying no — fine. But if they actually wind up meeting your offer or coming up with one worth considering, then the decision is yours Depending on how you feel about the company at that point.
Just so you know it can be done. I’ve had the experience of negotiating up past an “absolute” minimum and having it work out fine. Sometimes it can be done. And it also shows them that you value yourself.
NOTE: Now I’m not suggesting asking for an unrealistic salary. It’s always a good idea to check out the salary range for that particular job before beginning any negotiations!
Tread carefully if salary offer is less
Even if your current job is awful, there is no reason to allow yourself to be taken advantage of without standing up for what you deserve. At least by negotiating for what he feels he deserves — and was actually offered — he starts off showing he is someone who respects his value.
If the company really did this on purpose, it’s a bait and switch situation and that’s NOT OK. Irene’s husband may be jumping from the frying pan right into the fire. So now is the time to stand up for himself. And find out just who he’s dealing with, before it’s too late. And before he gives up his job.
As I see it, if this company is worth working for, they will respect him more and treat him better if he shows respect for himself. If not, what is he jumping to? I hope he at least gives it a shot. And truly believes he is worth it — since that shows when you negotiate. And in the job.
So if you ever get a salary offer that is less than discussed, unless you are absolutely sure that you don’t want the job, go ahead and negotiate. You never know what might come out of it. Also you’ll learn more about the company in the way they respond — even if it’s still a “no.”
[Post updated 2020]
About the author…
Ronnie Ann, founder of Work To The Wise and Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker.
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