Recently a dear friend of mine decided to go job hunting. She posted her résumé on a few job sites, the calls roll in and before you know it, its interview time! One particular employer required my friend jump through all sorts of hoops ranging from a telephonic interview, an online application, an online assessment, an in-person timed assessment and another interview with “upper management” face-to-face. All the while, the recruiter is stirring the pot claiming she’s a shoe-in for the job.
One week later, finally the offer has come and then BOOM! That’s when the silver lining turns into a big dark thunder cloud of hail. Now during this journey my friend kept me updated regarding her progress for this job. When salary negotiation is discussed she tells me that they “low-balled” her and she asks for my advice on how to handle it. I like to consider all elements before recommending a counter offer or turning down a job so here are the circumstances:
- She didn’t apply for this job, a recruiter found her first
- The fact that she didn’t seek out the job is telling about the career path she desires.
- She is in no immediate danger of getting the pink slip from her current employer
- She is worth exactly if not more than what she’s asking for (based on industry standards)
- The new job is over an hour away from home
- She works from home now
What is a job-seeker to do? My recommendation: Walk Away.
Why did I give such advice when clearly she wants to leave her current employer? She must have thought this through enough to accept the possibility of having to now commute to an office every day of the week right? Well here it is:
- Bonus Enticement. Further in depth conversation revealed that the reasoning behind the offer (as so stated by the recruiter) was that a bonus is “guaranteed” to workers in her position and it is “always substantial” and would get her to the salary she desires. This is an absolute mistake to believe. An employer can decide at any time that they will not pay employees a bonus based on a number of reasons beyond the employee’s control. Never accept a job based on overtime or bonuses to supplement your minimum required salary necessary to meet your financial needs.
- Value. The value that she can add is worth the compensation she requires. Employment is a two-way street. Yes, you can benefit from an employer when you are looking for a job, but don’t forget that they also benefit from you! Now this is all certainly assuming you are willing to put in the work you say you can if you are getting the benefit of a great paycheck.
- Not worth it. Taking the job at the pay rate the employer wants to give is simply not worth it. What she is giving up is worth more than what she is getting. She will have to go into an office, over an hour commute (assuming no traffic—which never happens!), give up her flexible schedule, play office politics, not work in a field where she sees herself growing and above all, receive a paycheck she is not happy with. Chances are when you accept a job under the employers’ terms and not yours; you will regret it and beat yourself up over it a year from your start date or earlier.
Eventually as you grow to become familiar with the work environment, the systems used and the culture, the time will come when you have accumulated more responsibility because of the skills you bring to the table; and only then may it become clear that salary matters. Unfortunately it is too late to do anything about it. Even if you demand a raise due to your added responsibility and the value your employer now sees you have added to the company, the raise you get will likely match what you should have received before you took the job to begin with. When you start a new job within your financial comfort zone then a raise or a bonus is considered excess, not a dire need. You simply never know what you are walking into until you are in it. It is for this reason your salary requirements should, at minimum meet your needs and consider your future responsibility at the company.
You are your best advantage; act accordingly.
All the best,
Mary V. Davids