salary quibbles...big deal or not

Hey guys,

I just got an offer from a company and it’s a little lower than I talked about with the founder of the company when I was interviewing. It’s not a crazy big deal and the offer’s still good, but when I saw it I mentioned it, and they circled back to the founder and he basically said that we never talked about any concrete numbers. I then got the whole “we could hire someone for about 20k less then we offered you but the people who interviewed you thought you were talented. Also, offering you any more might raise our expectations too high, etc”

I responded by saying I understand and am still interested in the gig (it sounds like a fun one), but I worry if there will now be sorry grapes/etc since I contested such a thing. What do you think?

I had the exact same thing happen to me almost verbatim. The CEO of the company and I discussed a specific salary and when I got the offer, it was from the future boss (VP of Business Development) for $20K less money. In my case, I politely reminded them that this was not the salary we discussed and they tried to backpedal and said “Oh, we meant you’d be eligible for a $20K bonus”, which was also not what was discussed, especially since no conditions were provided for these mysterious bonuses and whether they were even remotely achievable

Unlike your case, mine was one where I had a job, but I was looking. Prior to this, they sent up plenty of red flags including: e-mailing me at my work e-mail address on more than one occasion despite repeated reminders to please use the personal e-mail, and refusals to let me interview/meet with any co-workers, one of whom I would have to share a cubicle.

Meanwhile I had a crappy, albeit stable, job with my own office so why they thought I’d leave that for a shared cubicle and lower pay is a mystery to me…the fact they lied about the pay and backpedaled was the nail in the coffin, and I told them that.

As always, your mileage may vary and I have been at points in my life where I was desperate for work, so if it looks fun, and you need the job, I wouldn’t tell you not to take it. I would be less worried about sour grapes, however, and more worried about other surprises that they ‘forgot’ to tell you with regard to benefits, etc.

I think the way they responded to you (we could hire someone for 20k less… ) is pretty unprofessional. Maybe it’s just indicative of this one person you were talking to (who apparently has no savy) and not the company. But it’s a pretty weird thing to say. You caught a discrepancy, why turn it into a thing?

It is a big deal if you feel they are low balling you and you are not going to get paid what your experience and what you can bring to the company dictates. This ends up being bad for you as you will be unhappy and bad for the company as it is likely you will not be fully motivated and not do your best work.

If you are not in the situation where you absolutely need the job, you can certainly try and negotiate a better salary (or if they are inflexible on the salary try for better benefits like more vacation days). I don’t mean just saying you told me you were going to offer X in the interview and leave it at that. Come back to them and tell them basically that the offered salary is not in line with the value you feel you can offer the company and give a counter offer. Try to come up with some different options for them to show you have some flexibility and are willing to meet them half way. Make sure in the process of this counter offer to highlight why exactly you are worth the additional money you are asking for. This is really the crucial part to negotiating salary. They obviously want you as they are offering you a job, if you do a good job of reminding them why exactly they want you there is a good chance they will throw some more money your way. You absolutely have to be prepared to walk away if you go this route, however.

They want to hire you, but they want you to think they’re doing you a favour. They don’t respect you, and you will probably regret taking the job. Just my opinion, of course. :slight_smile:

Personally, I would tell them to go fuck themselves. I mean unless you enjoy being treated like a chump or a bitch.

eek :frowning: I really like what I’ll be doing but this might have ruined it blah

Had this not been a big deal, the founder would have just said give him what I told him in the first place. The president pulling that shows you what to expect from them in the future.

You’re living in a time of high unemployment with a bad economy.

Companies know this. I am in the hotel field and go on interviews where an asst controller positions are now adevertised for as little as 30K. One was actually 27K.

Two years ago an accounting manager was adevertised as 50K. So the salary expectations have really fallen.

You can’t expect to command a salary that was there two years ago. You could take this job but you will resent being paid less than you’re worth.

The question is what will be worse a job you resent or no job at all (or your present one).

The fact is you’re gonna have to work harder for less, at least for a good while till the economy picks up in a few years.

If you refuse the job the likelihood is they will hire someone else for less money and you’ll be forgotten so it’s not like you’re going to be “teaching the company a lesson” or something like that

What I would do is take the job and keep looking. So in a few months you can quit. Too many people feel misplaced loyalty to a company. Take the job and keep looking for something else.

ETA: Markxxx is giving out some sage advice too.

yeah, they did offer good money and it’s in line with my experience, but so was the figure we spoke about. It’s a 5k difference, and it just seemed really petty to talk about a specific number only to change it down once I talked to someone else.

It is petty. This strikes me as the kind of company that will “lose” approved vacation requests, “forget” to hire desperately needed staff, “have no money” for worker Christmas parties, etc. Which is not to say you shouldn’t work for them if you really think you’d enjoy the job; just get everything in writing from them, and never give them an opportunity to screw you over (any more).

I wouldn’t call it petty – it’s the terms of your employment contract. If you’re confident of your memory and it was an exact number, stick with it.

That is, if you can afford to pass on the job if they say no.

So maybe in a year you’ll get a raise. And it will be a percentage of your current salary (they usually are). And the year after that…and so on. So, how much will this cost you if you stay with the company for 10 years?

Rule 1 of negotiation: Be prepared to walk away.

I would go back and say that this strikes you as an integrity issue. You would like to understand why the number changed, and why their response seems to be to insult you. Tell them you are willing (if you are. . .) to accept the delta as a signing bonus.

Then be prepared to go into a well-prepared spiel about why you are the right candidate.

UNLESS you are desperate and just need the job. Then take it as is, and keep looking like Markxxx said. But keep looking. It’s hard when you’re engaging in a new position, and very easy to lose momentum and just concentrate on the daily grind. Before you know it you are two years into the frustration and beginning to change as a person in response to it.

Agreed with TruCelt. If you need it, take it, but otherwise you should stand up for yourself.

The proper response of a company that gives you an offer lower than previously agreed is “Oh, I’m sorry, our mistake. We will fix this and send you a new offer.” That’s what happened at my current job.

If they’re willing to give you a line now about how drastically overpaid you are compared to other candidates, they’ll be willing to give that to you when it comes time for your raise or bonus. Anyone with the lack of integrity to go back on an offer and say no specific numbers were discussed can be the same person who will claim a bonus wasn’t ever actually promised to you, or what have you.

Further, if there were people willing to do the job for $20k less, and they’re not taking them, it means they aren’t as qualified to do the job as you. Period. They are doing you no favors; don’t let them convince you otherwise.

You can’t just look at right now (“it’s just 5k”); as others have mentioned, every raise you get will likely be a percentage of what you earn now.

Sure, the job market has been down and companies know this. And they want you to think that you should feel lucky for just having an offer with them. But the reality is also if they are extending you an offer, they must have a need to fill. And if they are extending you the offer, they must feel you are the best candidate.

So do you believe the only reason they are hiring you is because you are the lowest offer? Or do you believe you are the best candidate?
I’d be less concerned about the $5 k than their reasoning why they are lowering the offer.

I wouldn’t approach it this way, which is too damn near saying they are liars. Better to just be clear that a specific number was given. They can choose to attribute it to unclear memories or unclear communications, or in fact lying, whatever. But you shouldn’t imply their motives are less than honorable.

Yeah thanks for the advice guys.

I raised the issue and they agreed to evaluate me in 3 months to see if I am more on the programming side of my job than just a strict designer, and if so will give me a raise. They also offered a little equity. I guess it helps but I still feel like there’s some integrity issues. Only way to know is to try and see I guess-I do not need the job.

Did they give you any of this in writing?

Because, if not, it’s really not much of any concession to speak of. I’ve heard this story a thousand times, and it often seems to end up with “Well, they didn’t actually give me the review, because of <x bullshit excuse>…”

It’s up to you, but remember: they are on their best behavior now, when they want you the most. It will not get better; best-case, it’ll stay the same.

Truth-bending is a pretty slippery slope. If they’re willing to bend (or break) the truth to get a hire, they’ll be willing to do it to fire. And yes, they’re guaranteed to be misleading you. The story that no specific numbers were mentioned is obviously not true; you were there, you heard specific numbers mentioned, and offered to you. At best, they’re telling the truth that they don’t think you’re worth what you were offered, but they offered it to you anyway without thinking it through and are willing to reneg. At worst, they were lying through their teeth to try to lowball you, and to get you into a position where they’re strong (when you don’t have another job to fall back on). They’re liars, or they’re liars. Period.

Now, it may be worth the risk to you. That’s a call only you can make. It’s just that I hope you won’t wave away this problem. It’s a very significant warning sign.