In my life so far, I’ve had three major chances to negotiate a starting salary. The first was with a cash-strapped non-profit organization that had enough problems keeping its payroll account funded every other week. The second was with a company in the financial industry, a segment of that industry that is known for being cheap in the salary department, particularly for an operational position rather than a business unit. The third was with the same company in a different location.
In all cases, I didn’t have a lot of room to maneuver. And rather than spending my time outside the office looking for new opportunities, I’m spending my time working for myself. It would be nice never to need to negotiate a salary for myself again; and in fact, it’s possible I’ll be on the other side of the negotiating table.
But I liked one of the ideas offered by Liz Ryan at Business Week for dealing with a hiring manager whose offer is lower than one feels they deserve.
Go back to the hiring manager and say: “Thanks so much for the offer. The job seems terrific, and I’m thrilled to be moving along in the process. We’ve had some kind of miscommunication along the way, clearly. I’m focusing on opportunities in the $XX range, and the offer I’ve received is obviously way below that number. If you’re set on this type of salary range, I’m not your hire, but it may make sense to talk about having me consult with you as you get your new plans under way and your new hire up to speed.”
At first, I didn’t see this as an option applying to any of my situations, but maybe it would have. And maybe this is not a bad idea for winding down my day job to begin focusing on my own projects full-time.
Liz Ryan offered a number of other suggestions, like accepting the job part-time (wouldn’t they use that as an excuse to lower the salary offer?), but I don’t seem them applying to most situations.
Lowball Salary Offers: A Working Guide, Liz Ryan, BusinessWeek via Yahoo Finance, March 23, 2009
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published March 25, 2009.