Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I heard back from the company where I interviewed a few weeks ago: the director of development says that she's very impressed with me and would like to make me an offer (yay!) but is having a hard time getting their HR department to match my current salary (boo!). I actually gave a current salary $2,000 above what I actually make, though (I had some reason for doing this at the time: I think I was counting the 401(k) match, maybe, or maybe my freelance work), though, so it would be a teeny bump, and she also says that there's an annual bonus of "at least a couple of thousand dollars." She called to "feel me out" about salary.

I think I was pretty clear: I'm certainly not taking a pay cut to take the job. A little bit of a raise is pretty much necessary.

It's frustrating because it's definitely a step up in job responsibility, and to have the thought of an equally substantial step up in salary evaporate is..well, annoying. Nevertheless, it would be a little more money. I wonder if this would be a good opportunity to ask for some of those more ineffable perks: an extra week of vacation, for example--now there's a thought...

But oh, what a joy to hear "We thought you had some really good ideas!" as a reason they want to hire me.


Anonymous said...

English Major, I know it's aggravating to find that the new responsibilities won't be coming with a substantial salary bump, but the money will follow. You can prove how indespensible you are and negotiate at the end of the quarter even. Also, at your age, responsibilities and opportunities are not dished out generously. Acquiring experience is so much more important than an increase in salary at this time. I really do believe that the money will follow. They'll recognize you. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I sort of disagree with anonymous. If they are hiring you into a slightly "better" position, pay should match.

Also, even though you will prove yourself indispensable once you have hired, your raises will be based on whatever they bring you in on.

But, a 2k raise isn't peanuts, even if it isn't what you hoped. Is it a fair price for the job?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps they'd be able to offer/beat your current salary if they made you an offer at a higher title? Sometimes HR sets salary bands that are simply not flexible, so you'd need to be hired at a higher position to get the pay you want. It sounds like you ought to get a title bump as part of this move as well, given that you'll have more responsibiltiies.

But if they can't match the salary one way or another, then by all means ask about other perks - vacation, the flexibility to work from home, an earlier-than-normal first salary review, etc.

pennypincher said...

Good luck! I am currently interviewing for a new job myself. My clerkship end on July 31, 2008, and I am looking for a permanent job. I hope to hear back from the jobs that I interviewed with last week prettys soon. It is such a stressful process. And I, like you, am not willing to take a salary cut. Best of luck!

Anonymous said...

Good job not capitulating on salary right away. It's hard to know if they genuinely can't meet your salary requirements or if they are just "feeling you out" and trying to get you for as low as possible. A lot of employers will do that. I know people who have huge variations in what they are paid based on how hard they negotiated. I would try to firmly and calmly explain your salary requirements with accompanying reasons (your skill set, the increased responsibilities, the prevailing wage for this type of position, etc.) and then see what they do. Don't actually say "I won't take the job unless you pay me X." But, also don't make it seem like salary is a non-issue and like you'll role over too soon because you want the job so badly. Let us know what happens!

thebaglady said...

If they aren't yielding on the salary issue at least you should ask for a big signing bonus. I wouldn't count on the yearly bonus. HR throws that line out all the time and inflate the bonus numbers. I would try to get them to raise the base salary for sure.

Anonymous said...

Hi--I agree with baglady about the yearly bonus evaporating. They are also definitely feeling you out to see if you will negotiate. The thing is if you want to potentially stay at this company for awhile (I guess it depends on your school plans) you need to negotiate hard now because if you come in at too low a rate you will never catch up. Don't go straight to the non monetary perks--let them bring that up after they have exhausted *their* pockets trying to get you!! You have the power in this negotiation--play hard and fair and you will come away with a solution that makes you happy--whatever it may end up being!

Sistah Ant said...

Oh good luck! I hope you get what you want.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all the comments. Anonymous has a very good point in the first comment, but you should definitely try to negotiate, as other commenters mentioned. It is always tough to know whether to take a job or not when you aren't getting the big step up you want. Just make sure as you follow up with them that you are clear on what you will really be doing, or as clear as you can be. You don't want to make a lateral move believing that you will have the exciting responsibilities discussed at the interview and then find out that they are a much smaller facet of the job than you imagined. Good luck!

Kate said...

You must increase the pie! If you try to just negotiate on salary, you'll only get so far. You can negotiate signing bonus, guaranteed annual bonus, housing allowance, more vacation time, a better start date, when you will be reviewed for a raise/promotion, flexible hours. They may be unable to budge a lot on salary but have room to pay/accomodate you in other ways. Expand the pie!

Ms. M&P said...

The way I look at it is that if you vet it properly, it can't hurt to ask. I went through this when I was offered my current job and I was able to garner a full $10K more than the original offer. And to think, I nearly didn't ask for more! One thing I did was offer to relinquish the bonus in favor of a higher base salary. They ended up raising my base salary AND keeping me eligible for the bonus, which was great. What I did was counter offer with a number that I knew was close to maxing out the position, and we went from there.

Every place is different and you can best gauge the culture, but you could consider reminding them of all your experience and qualifications and ask for a higher number and/or more perks (subway cards, vacation, student loan forgiveness, stocks).

Oh, and I would definitely ask about vacation days if they can't give you the salary you want. I had a friend who did that and was able to negotiate 8 more days/year.

Anonymous said...

Definitely agree with ms. m&p--ask for extra vacation days if they won't buck up the salary. I would also be wary of changing positions without at least a reasonable increase in salary. After taxes, etc., 2K is not much at all. I just received a $1700 yearly increase, which has netted me about $80 a month at best. Pretty neglible in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

OK, I'm a sometime (& admiring reader) of this blog as I work in the publishing industry... I've also been screwed & blessed by the industry. Don't take ONE DIME LESS THAN YOU'RE WORTH!
They're doing the typical pub. industry (a failing industry) b.s.: they're going to see how little you'll take vs. if they're ok with hiring someone less qualified that will love the amount & job, but they won't like as much.
Believe me, they have no problem with the latter. They're just vascillating at the moment on how many future problems they want to have with the low-wager. Give a re-affirmation of your amazing skills & get your $$!

Stay firm on the amount, & you should with massive inflation, & if they don't give in then you do NOT want to be there. They will not reward you in the future once they know you will bend *at all*.

Sorry, very typical job shi*, especially in the pub. industry.

Good luck!
(P.S. Above recommendation is on my experience of doing the wrong thing in exactly your situation : )

Mary said...

I'm not an English major. I'm not in the publishing industry, so keep that in mind with my opinion. I've negotiated my salary to transfer within my company. It makes me quite nauseous to think about it.

Yet I've learned one thing about negotiating your hire on salary. If you don't defend your worth and you bid lower, it has ramifications on your career. Your raises will be on par with a low wage earner. Your work is looked at differently and I'm not clear if you're a woman or not. Though if you think that a salary or a raise is something that you wait to be given, prepare to be dissatisfied. You need to demand your worth.

Things I do not do. I do not put down what my current salary is. I put down what salary I want to be compensated to do this job. I defend what I'm asking for by plugging my information on payscale.com (do check that site out) and making my target salary the average salary for someone with my background. That site gets your years of experience, time with your current company, size of your company, benefits, etc and your current salary and plots your salary with other profiles that match your background and their salaries.

I was successful pointing out to my current employer that I'm not making the average salary for someone with my experience and education in this area. I insisted on being compensated the average job market value. I added that I was asking (2) other companies that interviewed with for that salary.

It goes a long way to demand that you are paid your worth. You don't have to be defensive about it, but either HR will pay you at the market rate or they won't. I don't want to bust my hump at a discount rate in the hopes for months in the hopes they'll pay me the average salary later. I'm all for attaining experience, but I'm insistent upon valuing my worth. If you don't, your employers won't and sometimes that means you have to school them on how their salary expectations are out of step with the job market.

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