In the March 22, 2016 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter, a reader wastes time with an employer who doesn’t negotiate.


I received a job offer for $80,000, which is low for what my position gets in my industry. I responded that I’m excited about joining the team, and I counter-offered for $85,000, outlining what my value is, how I plan to benefit the company, and overall how the raise is justified. That’s my understanding of the proper way to negotiate — you must justify your counter-offer.

i win-you loseInstead of just turning down my counter-offer and staying at $80,000, which I would’ve gladly taken, they rescinded the offer completely. The hiring manager wouldn’t even respond to my calls or e-mails, even after he said he’d be glad to discuss any questions.

I spoke to friends who are hiring managers, who in turn asked other hiring managers, and the consensus was that it was a total shock and an anomaly to rescind the offer because I tried to negotiate it.

Is this becoming more common, or is this just plain bad hiring practice? Was I in the wrong to negotiate? The hiring manager did claim that he already pushed for the $80,000, which is the maximum they could offer. But anyone with negotiating experience knows that might be a negotiating technique of the employer.

In all, this experience scared me into never wanting to negotiate again, and I’m afraid I’ll never get a job that pays at least the average value for my position. I would love to know your thoughts!

Nick’s Reply

When employers talk money, job applicants are supposed to gratefully nod YES. When job applicants say MAYBE and try to negotiate, more and more we’re seeing employers say NO and withdraw offers altogether.

That’s when you should say GOODBYE, because negotiating is part of any business, and hiring people is business. Any employer that doesn’t respect the negotiating process — even if it declines to increase a job offer — is doing bad business.

Here we go again: Another rescinded (or retracted) job offer. (See Protect yourself from exploding job offers and Protect Your Job: Don’t give notice when accepting a new job.) What is up with human resources management?

Your story is an interesting twist, because your offer was retracted simply because you dared to negotiate it. But more troubling is that I’m seeing a shocking number of rescinded offers reported by readers.

Don’t beat yourself up about what just happened to you. As long as you do it respectfully, there is nothing wrong with negotiating. It’s part of business. I compliment you for negotiating responsibly. (See Only naïve wusses are afraid to bring up money.) Here are my thoughts:

  • The manager is within his rights to not offer more money. But taking offense at a negotiation is puerile. As a job applicant, I’d walk away from this employer without another thought. As a headhunter, I’d never work with this employer again. (Employers should read Why you should offer job applicants more money.)
  • The company’s HR department reveals it is meaningless, clueless, powerless, or all three. (See Why HR should get out of the hiring business.) Yes, I said HR. Even though you were dealing with a hiring manager, it’s the HR department’s job to ensure the hiring process is conducted in a businesslike way by all managers.
  • The company’s Marketing and Public Relations departments are to be pitied because, while they are working to create a good image of their company before their customers and investors, hiring managers are tearing that image down in the company’s professional community. (I’m sure you’ll be sharing your story with your friends in your industry.)
  • You have dodged a bullet. Better to know now that this person doesn’t negotiate, than after you take the job.

What this company did doesn’t make sense. But please consider that the risk of working with people whose behavior doesn’t make sense, doesn’t make sense!

Move on. There are good employers out there who know how to conduct business. Business between honest, smart people is always a negotiation. You did nothing imprudent or wrong. When someone won’t negotiate, they’re not worth doing business with.

We learn through negotiating. As you pointed out, negotiating by offering sound reasons for your counter-offer is a way to find common ground and a way to understand one another better. This kind of back-and-forth is the foundation of all commerce. It’s how we learn to work together. (See The ONLY way to ask for a higher job offer.)

This employer doesn’t get it. It never feels good when someone dumps us. It makes us question ourselves. But if you take a deep breath, I think you’ll realize that a company that refuses to have a dialogue — a negotiation — with you, doesn’t care about you. There can be no commerce in that case.

I think such appalling, irresponsible behavior by employers has become much more common, because HR now so dominates recruiting and hiring that hiring managers are less and less likely to understand even the most fundamental rules of engagement with job applicants. They do stupid things that cost their company money and good hires. Even worse, HR is so dominated by automated hiring tools, regulatory blinders, and “best practices” that even HR “professionals” are less and less likely to understand the basic rules of doing business.

Responsible business people don’t just walk away from a negotiation like this employer did. They respectfully close out the discussion. And if an employer makes an offer that the recipient tries to negotiate, the employer doesn’t withdraw the offer as its answer to a request for more money. The employer just says, No, no more money. Do you accept the original offer?

Don’t beat yourself up. You can always negotiate with good people. The rest aren’t worth worrying about or dealing with. I wish you the best.

Do you negotiate to get the best job offer you can? Did the employer pull the offer as a result? If you’re an employer, are you willing to negotiate with job applicants? How would you deal with an employer that doesn’t negotiate?

: :

  1. As part of the reflection on this job prospect, make sure you ask yourself why you would have gladly taken a job offer low in your field/profession.

    We all need to work, and I respect that, but your chances of getting raises in this firm are zero. Move on and be glad you dodged that ammo clip.

  2. The 2nd paragraph leads me to believe that the counter-offer may have been made via email. If this is in fact the case, this was a big mistake as negotiations should be directly with the person. On top of other things (like the top salary was clearly stated earlier) it allows for mis-understanding of what he wanted to say

  3. “The hiring manager did claim that he already pushed for the $80,000, which is the maximum they could offer.”

    While this may indeed be a negotiating tactic, in the real world departments live and die by staying in their budgets, and this figure may have been exactly at the max of their budget allotted. Their behavior subsequently is certainly suspect, but if you HAD accepted the original offer after a discourse, might they not have perceived you as someone only after the bucks, and ready to leave at the first higher offer?

    Perhaps a better tactic would have been to point out the industry norms, and to negotiate a raise/bonus after a period of time when a performance review would have dictated increased value, preferably in a new budget cycle.

    But, in agreement with all, to bluntly rescind the offer with no discussion is evidence of a “good riddance” situation for which you should consider yourself lucky.

  4. The company’s behavior is odd. How did the LW determine the company’s flexibility on salary and benefits? Did the LW know the pay range and company’s policy in order to gauge future salary growth? Was salary the only thing negotiated, or were benefits (vacation, tuition, work from home) and an early review discussed?

    How many positions and candidates were there? If there were 5 candidates for 2 positions, all other things being equal, the firm thought they could walk away from you because they did not understand your value. Were the previous people in the job able to move within the firm? This could have been a foot in the door leading to another opportunity to do something you loved.

  5. @Hank

    A couple of comments:

    “While this may indeed be a negotiating tactic, in the real world departments live and die by staying in their budgets, and this figure may have been exactly at the max of their budget allotted”

    HR needs to step in and know the ball park numbers for the job and work with management to craft a job description that is in line with that budget. In other words, management may need to loosen their expectations a wee bit.

    But we are in agreement that the manager is a weenie to not got to bat for $5k. Which leads me into my next point….

    “Perhaps a better tactic would have been to point out the industry norms, and to negotiate a raise/bonus after a period of time when a performance review would have dictated increased value, preferably in a new budget cycle.”

    Problem is, that company may only budget a small raise increase for everyone and I would assume that if a company would balk at $5k on a $80k salary, that any hope of a significant raise would be small.

    I recently took a new job after 13 years at my former employer. In that time, we were bought out by a large F500 company. They wanted to say all the cliche’s that made one want to vomit “Grow with us” and “we’re a meritocracy.” But when it came to be review/raise time, they would claim that they are setting the bar high yet their raises were less than average. When I quit, the director of my division did nothing when I said the salary that the new company was giving me went into my calculus to leave and that if the company was willing to at least average raises, it would have been less of a problem.

  6. There is no answer to this that fits all situations. I know many companies initially offer less than they are will to pay because they assume the candidate will try to negotiate. I specifically heard one internal recruiter say she questions the judgement of a candidate who does not try to negotiate.
    On the other hand, there is one very large silicon valley company that for many years has had a reputation for rescinding an offer if the candidate ask for more money.

  7. Some job seekers have told me that their placement advisors tell them to drive a hard bargain for salary, relocation, etc. because everyone does it. As an employer, I think that’s bad advice. Negotiation is a matter of relative bargaining power. If an applicant is the world’s greatest expert in their field, of course they can negotiate. If the applicant is one among many similar candidates, they take a risk by negotiating even a little.

  8. As a headhunter, I agree with Dave to a point. You are, indeed, taking a bit of a risk by negotiating, especially if the company has at least one other person that’s made it to final interview. Can you know that? No, you can’t. That’s the risk. On the other hand, hiring managers who have changed their minds and don’t communicate are the worst form of human imaginable, when working for this person, you will be the victim of their character over and over again. Know and understand your worth, and make sure you’re being proactive about getting in front of other hiring managers in your field. This one, you don’t need, boobie.

  9. @Martin P: “The 2nd paragraph leads me to believe that the counter-offer may have been made via email.”

    I’m not sure that’s true. The OP did not say one way or the other. But you make good points about how the discussions were conducted.

    @Hank: “Perhaps a better tactic would have been to point out the industry norms, and to negotiate a raise/bonus after a period of time when a performance review would have dictated increased value, preferably in a new budget cycle.”

    The OP pointed out that she made her counter by explaining why she was worth it, which I think is key. That’s the right approach. Your suggestions are good ones, too – and if the employer had deigned to discuss/negotiate, my guess is that she would have then brought up points like those you suggest. That’s what negotiating is for.

    @Dave: “Some job seekers have told me that their placement advisors tell them to drive a hard bargain for salary, relocation, etc. because everyone does it. As an employer, I think that’s bad advice. Negotiation is a matter of relative bargaining power.”

    Thanks for an employer’s viewpoint. I agree with what you say. Many people have the idea that employers always low-ball, and that “they expect you to negotiate” so you always should. Nothing could be farther from the truth. But I think this candidate did it right: She says she tried to justify a higher salary based on the value she’d bring to the job. A smart employer will take that opportunity to delver deeper into the candidate’s value. Heck, when a candidate starts talking like that, it’s a gift! It’s a chance to REALLY discuss what she can deliver to the work! I think this employer blew it.

  10. Why would this manager offer the very highest salary$$ if the budget was so constrained that offering one more cent would take an offer off the table?
    Does this offer make sense to anyone else?

  11. I ran into the exact same situation with FedEx last year. Attempted to negotiate and they rescinded the offer.

    Don’t recommend working with these guys in Willington, CT.

  12. I had a job offer pulled after I asked questions about the offer itself.
    Things like:
    How bonus is structured?
    Can I start immediately if my present employer lets me go after I give my notice?
    Is the stock option part of my salary?

    Never did get answers.

  13. @Dave,
    You don’t have to be the greatest expert to negotiate. In the depths of the recession, perhaps you should take what is offered, but in some fields anyhow there are lots of opportunities. More importantly, when employers hire they are out in the general marketplace, and so have to be competitive. When you are working for them, they have far more power in that it is tougher to pick up and leave after a bad raise than take another offer or keep looking. Don’t expect to negotiate from strength once you’ve taken the job. In many places I’ve worked you have salary compression, where new employees make more than more experienced veterans thanks to a hot market.
    Any company offering less than the going rate had better be prepared to settle for mediocre talent or people not very sure of themselves.

  14. Martin P and VP Sales are right on;Lessons learned hopefully while employed.

  15. Moreover, why would a hiring manager go scouting for talent with an offer that was (a) well below market, and (b) non-negotiable.

    He should realize that the company he works for has signed its own death certificate, but hasn’t filled in the date just yet.

    Along with the others, I feel the LW dodged a bullet with this operation.

  16. If the employer is one among a large and competitive industry, in this job market, take the offer, ask for a 90-day review period if you must and do your best. Then start looking for your next opportunity at a higher salary.

  17. Every job seeker (everyone) should invest in a course in negotiating, or at least read a book on the subject.

    Walking away from a prospective employee over a $5000 counteroffer is an example (a bad example) of the bidding process. If you go to buy a Persian rug or a used car there may be no good way around a bidding process. “You want $1000? I’ll give you $500.” “$900.” “$200.” (Etc.)

    If an opening bid is seen as too unreasonable the other party will end the negotiation. “$1000.” “I’ll give you $5.” (Seller ends the negotiation.)

    In this case even a bid that most people would consider reasonable was met with a retreat to the employer’s BATNA.

    Most would consider the employer’s walking away to be unreasonable. The employer could have said sorry, we won’t budge, nice try.

    The employer could also have recognized that employees with negotiating skill are worth having. Regardless of who you like for US President, it’s fair to say that President Obama, at least at first, was a poor negotiator. It’s also fair to say that Donald Trump, regardless of whether he’s otherwise qualified to be president, is probably a skilled negotiator.

    If you have to enter your info into an applicant tracking system, and you encounter a mandatory “salary history” field, you’ve just discovered that the enployer doesn’t value, and isn’t interested in hiring people with, negotiating skills.

    I spend a lot of time on the phone playing Alfonse-and-Gaston with recruiters over who is going to throw out the first number. (“What rate are you asking?” “What rate are they offering?”) Always make the employer throw out the first number. If you throw out the first number and it isn’t in their range, they’ll end the call.

    I don’t put much effort into negotiating with prospective employers because they have all the power and they usually know, at least within a range, what they want to pay.

  18. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior is becoming more and more common. This is why it is important to get information about the salary range the employer has budgeted for the job and find out the details such as benefits, stock options, vacation time, sick time, personal days, tuition remission/reimbursement, and other perquisites.

    A few years ago, in a discussion in one of my LI groups, a member posted a question asking others whether they had ever had or heard of an employer rescinding the job offer when the candidate tried to negotiate a higher salary. She had the experience, and had been told at more than one interview that she was the only one who met all of their requirements. But she said that she felt that they had lowballed the offer, and noted that their offer was well below what others were paying for the same job with the same required skills. She said that the employer immediately rescinded the offer, and refused to speak or email her.

    One of my fellow college alumnae also wrote about the same thing–had multiple interviews, had an offer on the table, and when she tried to negotiate a higher salary, they immediately rescinded the offer.

    The thing is, unless employers start wears badges or ads like Nascar to indicate whether they’re open to potential new employees negotiating for higher salary, better benefits, etc., it is a landmine for us. We don’t know the salary range because that is top secret information and guarded more zealously than Fort Knox, much less whether there is any wiggle room. Every employer is different.

    But I agree; this was stupidity on the part of the employer. They found someone they liked and who could do the job, and instead of discussing the matter like professional adults, or, if there was truly no wiggle room, then behaving like an adult and explaining “I’m sorry, but $80K is the maximum TPTB have budgeted for the job. Are you sill interested/will you still take it?” Then the ball is back in the candidate’s court.

    Re folks’ comments about people asking for more because of the assumption that there will be negotiation and that they may have to come down, I agree that this is not unusual. My current dean makes this her practice (within reason, of course), and said that when she is negotiating with the administration for salaries, she ALWAYS asks for a bit more, assuming that she’ll have to come down a little. If she proposes a lower salary, then she found that the administration went lower still.

    You wouldn’t go to a car dealership and expect to pay the sticker price–you expect to negotiate, with the salesman trying to get you to pay more and you trying to get him to sell you the car for a lower price. Ditto with buying a house–there’s the asking price and then what gets negotiated.

    Of course, you don’t negotiate prices when you’re at the supermarket, and it seems that more and more employers today are handling salary as if they’re a supermarket (if you don’t want to pay the price/work for the salary offered, then you can put it back/we don’t want you) instead of the dealership or the housing market.

    OP dodged a bullet, even if s/he doesn’t think so now. What else will this employer nickel dime OP on late? Vacation/paid holidays, sick days? Insurance coverage? Future raises?

  19. In the nursing field, I’m frequently (if not almost always) now encountering a tactic where the first phone interviewer contact dangles “the rate” (not “the range”) for the position almost first thing in the conversation. It is presented with the implication (or sometimes expressly stated) of determining at the outset whether the interviewee will accept that rate or not—take it or leave it so the interviewer can move on to someone else. The figures I’ve had presented to me with this tactic have always been outrageously lowball compensation. When I said that I’d like to discuss the entire compensation package later in the process, the interviewer would not go further in the process; no interview.

    I can see to some degree where they’re coming from, but nurses aren’t minimum wage burger slingers. It’s a baffling race to the bottom and is pointing me toward leaving the profession entirely. I’ve watched my compensation go backwards for the last decade despite huge gains in experience and a proven track record. Despite the overwhelming need for nurses, organizations still act like they’re paying handmaidens and the handmaidens should be groveling in gratitude! Is this a “thing” everywhere?

  20. @Marilyn: You’re suggesting there’s something wrong with the manager’s business sense. I agree.

    @Dave Reading: “I had a job offer pulled after I asked questions about the offer itself.”
    Strange as it sounds, many employers are sincerely offended when job applicants raise money as an issue. While I think some employers feign offense (to avoid negotiating), I think many really take it as an insult that the salary of a job could be more important to the applicant than the job itself. “Well, if money means that much to you, we don’t want you!”

    CUT TO: The sales department where the sales manager is upbraiding sales reps for not generating enough revenue.

    Cf. Marilyn’s comment above.

    @Scott: “Any company offering less than the going rate had better be prepared to settle for mediocre talent or people not very sure of themselves.”

    You just outlined the core subject matter of HR 101, a course no one seems to take any more :-).

    @L.T.: “Moreover, why would a hiring manager go scouting for talent with an offer that was (a) well below market”

    Thanks for saying it. The OP was implicitly criticized by the manager for asking for more money, but has anyone noticed (assuming the OP is accurate) that the manager seems to be offering a salary below market??

    @Michael Stone: Thanks for your comments about negotiating. I encourage you to take a look at “the anchor effect” in negotiating. Sometimes, throwing out the first number is the best way to get a higher offer. Check Bill Poundstone’s excellent book about how we assign value, “Priceless.”

    @Marshall Davis: “In the nursing field, I’m frequently (if not almost always) now encountering a tactic where the first phone interviewer contact dangles “the rate” (not “the range”) for the position almost first thing in the conversation. It is presented with the implication (or sometimes expressly stated) of determining at the outset whether the interviewee will accept that rate or not—take it or leave it so the interviewer can move on to someone else.”

    And employers wonder why they can’t find or hire the best people? They’re not hiring talent. They’re buying the lowest cost commodities.

  21. @Marshall Davis: “Race to the bottom” indeed.

    At the risk of sounding narcissistic… I’ve got two Masters degrees, two patents with a third on the way, and a graduate certificate in Six Sigma. I don’t come cheap.

    Yet the salaries that have been discussed for contracts or jobs are pennies on the dollar.

    Employers talk “engagement” and “passion” and “mission”. I can’t eat those. I can’t pay my mortgage with those, or pay for my kids’ school with those. If I might indulge in being cynical, all these words like “engagement” et al translate as “We want you to think you’re doing something IMPORTANT so we don’t have to pay you as much.”

    • I recently came across this link from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louise: It doesn’t have hard data about why so many people switch jobs for less money, but speculates that many supposedly voluntary switches were compelled by negative developments at former employer, or short unrecorded unemployment gaps. But the real shock is that most of their data samples predate the “Great Recession”. Shudder to think what the current figures are. I ran across another stat (don’t have link handy) that indicated last year almost 9% of workers suffered a layoff. And this is a recovery?

      There are other surprisingly good articles on the St. Louise website about job market trends. Nice to see official confirmation of what we are all seeing out there.

  22. @David Hunt PE: I’ve heard those words too, and have learned that it means the employer thinks he’s so special that you should be grateful and honored to work for him for peanuts.

    If “passion”, “mission”, and “engagement” are so important, then PAY for it!

    Unfortunately, too many don’t see it that way, and howl about the “talent shortage”.

  23. About anchoring: my daughter does research in this area, and we’ve taught a class in how behavioral economics applies to engineering. We did an anchoring experiment, and we got statistically significant results for a population of under 25 people. But it was in Dilbert last week, so they may be on to us.

  24. The hiring company could save all involved considerable time and effort by simply appending the following disclaimer to the offer:

    “The terms of this offer are final and not subject to negotiation. Attempts by the candidate to amend or otherwise negotiate these terms will void the offer as well as terminate further dialogue between this company and the candidate.

    Of course, this would force the company to be honest and upfront with the candidate – as well as themselves – about the rules of engagement, which is a little much to ask.

  25. If a company ever sent me such a memo I would publish it on LinkedIn as punishment. Companies that don’t negotiate don’t survive.

  26. I can’t comment on the trend, but this behavior has always been around. Going way back. Sometimes it’s just a particular hiring manager’s “thing”. For example I worked for a Director who had a rock hard rule, if the applicant kicks back and wants more, the offer evaporates.
    And at times this behavior is bolted to the practice of hard ball offers, not only is the comp fixed but the acceptance date as well. I know of one IT company back in the day that aggressively interviewed. A whirlwind with a rolling consensus. And the company would reach a hire decision during the day and would have an offer waiting to give the person before they left the building. This could be a great recruiting tool, except this company expected an answer before you left. Yes or No.

    In most of managerial life and the companies I worked for, no one’s feelings got hurt if the candidate wanted to negotiate. As Nick said, it’s business, and good business.

    The ideal negotiating scenario is when the manager REALLY wants you to come aboard, and you REALLY want to as well. The manager will level with the his kimono and let the person know what the manager has to work with. Let’s say in this case, the decision to go over 80K was above the manager’s pay grade…an exception would have to be approved. (& for the right person, exceptions are made…if justified).

    And one more consideration to Nick’s point that negotiation good business…it’s good because it fosters creativity. If the manager levels with what he/she has to work with in bringing the person aboard, and the person levels with the manager as to the really critical things (which may not just be $) they can then put their heads together and craft a deal/plan to move forward. The candidate has to help the manager help him/her. In this case the person helped by providing “additional value” points for the manager to use to sell the person to higher level managers who are empowered to override obstacles. Know that the manager is going to have to sell “you” and it will take block and tackling. And creativity.

    There’s a tendency to always think of comp as base pay. But it can be sign-on bonuses (that don’t mess with pay structures), as someone said an early kicker/raise, a promo if performance warrants it, creation of a new role that fits a higher base, relo assistance, no strings attached pre-relo trips, move my boat, and things I’ve never run across

    And it takes work and guts in some cases. The manager may need you to help sell your added value..e.g. more interviews with people who can deliver. The guts come in because exceptions throw a spotlight on you…and how you manage. With a lot of managers the meat doesn’t seek the grinder.

    We called these exceptions silver bullets, you shoot it & it’s gone, very unlikely to be replaced. So you use them wisely

    As many have pointed out, turning someone off because they want to negotiate is dumb. At the very least, simple intellectual curiosity and business sense begs to know why you think you’re worth more?
    So if you encounter the faint of heart, no loss, because you just learned something very valuable about the person you’d be working for..very likely to not have your back when you prove you are ready for something out of policy, takes some heavy lifting etc.

  27. Throughout multiple interviews with a company, I was assured that my salary requirements were “in the range”. When they offered me a position of greater responsibility, it was at a significantly lower salary rate than we discussed. I attempted to negotiate the benefits package (the hiring manager almost cried during our conversation- I don’t think she was used to this type of conversation). Instead of rescinding the offer, they simply said “we can’t change the salary”. I declined the offer on principle: the surprise of a higher level job didn’t match the very low salary, and I felt like they could have shared their ideas about the new role and compensation much sooner than the end of our discussions. Onward and upword…

  28. The pattern I hear in these comments is if you are a critical thinker & speak, you are doomed :(

  29. A couple of things seem odd here.

    1) Nick advocates that HR get out of the hiring business, yet we’re told that HR should make sure the hiring business is on the up and up. I don’t think one can have it both ways.

    2) The writer says she would have “gladly taken” the employer’s first offer, so why did she make a counter-offer?

    3) The employer’s radio silence following the counter-offer is indeed strange, and a red flag about what the job may be like.

  30. @ Chris. on
    1) Recruiting can boil down to 2 aspects, the process used, which should be HR’s turf to ensure continuity across the organization and alignment with business goals set by the CEO & execution, the actual recruiting, best done by the hiring manager. Problem is HR doesn’t do much about process, and gets too involved in execution.
    2) To test the waters, & her worth. But the only way to find out that she’d gladly take the 1st offer is to keep talking to her.
    3) You’re on the money. Inside behavior is reflected by outside behavior.

  31. @ Chris & Don

    Not only does HR not do to much about the process, managers abdicate execution to HR.

    Then they both wonder why managers have a stack of unwanted resumes that show no concept of the actual job duties and are no one that the manager would sit next to on a crowded bus, much less have on their team.

    I recall one manager in the past who had set out to merely convert his contract team to employees. Out of five people, one flat out told him that the online application was just too frustrating, three applications HR refused to pass along and in the end he got one of the five he wanted.

    It would be best if managers would just quit attending time-wasting meetings and devote the time to recruiting. They should then walk the candidate they know already, are comfortable with and really want to hire over to HR, where (unless the candidate is a wanted ax-murderer) HR could do its level best to make sure that salary after taxes is on the paycheck correctly and the benefits are as promised.

  32. This happened to my husband as well. He was offered the job and then he asked for 6k more. The new job is a daily 200k round trip and that money would cover only petrol cost. Funny thing is he expected a counter offer or at least an explanation. I should have said that this was a position within the same company on a different branch.They hired another lady to do the job and just told him that she had more experience in the field. A month later the GM calls him and asks him if he would go to the other branch to help out the lady that took the job over him. Told him that they have their backs against the wall and need some help to get her up to speed. They were willing to pay more money for his trouble. My husband said he was sorry he could not help now as we have family matters and he doesn’t have 60 hrs a month more to travel to the other branch. What are these people thinking? Wanting to save 6k by not hiring a manager in the same company that genuinely wants to help with the new contract, hire someone with less money and then asking him to go and help them and give him the money but as a 6 month secondment. I wonder did they really thought he would say yes? I am hunting for other jobs at the moment..seeing what’s out there. Very strange behaviour I must say. I am so dissapointed.

  33. I had a similar situation where I aced a group interview for a small IT firm and was offered the job a few hours later.

    The problem was, the pay was insultingly low.

    I wrote back, explaining that according to a recent labor survey, the salary offered would put his offer in the bottom 5-10% of the other technical writers in this region. I proposed a counteroffer which was about midway between what I expected for a small company and the initial offer. I was compromising a lot on the salary; on the other hand, I needed a job and I probably could have accepted this split-the-difference number or even slightly lower.

    The hiring manager/CEO came back and said, you’re not worth that much (which was kind of crazy, because I had made about 20% higher than this compromise offer for 15 years). I guessed that the REAL problem was that most of the company’s salaries were below market. I would have been replacing another person who was getting promoted. I had an uneasy feeling that the salary of the person who had been promoted out of this job would have been lower than my compromise offer for the job this guy just left. Indeed, this previous person was probably not as qualified as I was. Paying me at a higher rate would mean having to raise the rate of the recently promoted person.

    Quite aside from salary needs (which I was relatively flexible about), I viewed the failure to negotiate as a signal that the company wouldn’t treat its employees well. I felt no regrets about walking away from that one.

    • Were you unemployed when the offer was made? Or yet another case of a company expecting you to change jobs for less money?

  34. @Robert, Mostly all I ever worked for was IT Companies, though on the large/huge size. But I have worked for a small company, privately owned outside of IT.

    The key is the company is small enough for the CEO to be the hiring manager…and it’s still small. Most likely the CEO cut the original code and anyone who works for the company…works for him…as the CEO IS the company.

    In a scenario like this, it’s not unusual for the company (CEO) to be clueless as to what the market pays for a skill and therefore has no idea of what someone is worth. He/she’s getting by being ignorant of it, and will until a more savvy competitor cleans his clock. Sounds like a boutique shop with a specialty no one else is offering..or IT companies are lean in the region.

    Small companies like this beat the bushes until they find people willing to work for that company’s pay scale. Usually done by hiring people with potential but no experience, who relatively speaking see the low pay, as a great pay and a chance to get a toe hold in a career transition. They then become acclimated to that companies pay, not the market pay.

    I suspect you’re correct about the person who got promoted. Likely a non writer who gravitated to it, or was assigned to do it, inside that company and did it well enough to meet their needs. And unfortunately tech writers are frequently undervalued in the techie world which doesn’t help matters.

    I used to manage a team of tech writers, and in another post outlined how my predecessor manager grew his own writers, low balling every one of them as they were hired. Which I had to fix when I inherited the group.

  35. Thank you for this response, reflection and all the comments!

    Similar thing happened to me after an in person job interview with some sales team associates of the hiring IT manager looking to fill 2 positions turned into offer letter. Said the company was top rated for best place to work 9/10 years and they had a great open door policy. Was given the weekend to think about. I emailed back with excitement, interest, and my value to the table. Then stated before accepting if offer was negotiable, cited industry average and something higher to discuss with mutual benefit intent.
    He called next morning saying he felt backed into a corner, taken aback at my inquiry, that my skills were impressive but lacked their specific platform and required training, part of the offer was a 6 month pay bump(to low end of expected salary range from application) which was “how he rewarded performance”, that he didn’t feel comfortable keeping the offer. I apologized for the miscommunication and said reiterated that I was only asking if there was any flex. Rescinded.
    Definitely adds more anxiety to being gutted by unemployment job searches and rejection or hitting a corporate pay ceiling of meritocracy reviews completed by proxy management!