Friday, April 13, 2007

Salary Offer Not Enough

My question is in regards to negotiations. I have interviewed with a potential new employer and all contact has gone very well. Early in the interview process I was twice asked what my salary requirements were and I clearly stated them to both my initial HR contact and the senior HR manager. I was told both times what I was asking was within the position range--in the ballpark.

I had a final interview yesterday with the CFO which went well and I was contacted by the HR head today. Their offer is 10k less than my minimum requirement. I stated to the person that we had discussed it previously and I was assured by him it would not be an issue/problem. He then stated that after yesterday's interview, he spoke with the dept. mgr. as to how much he would be willing to pay for the position and the 10k lower amount was his answer. Mr. HR then said he might be able to get him to go 5k more but that would be it.

How do I negotiate this, or do I just tell them to forget it? As an aside, I am currently employed with a good company, just in a position that cannot lead to further advancement, but I get a steady salary increase every year. In the new position, I would incur additional commuting costs, which would lead to the increased salary being equal to what my next raise here would be. Oh yeah, I’m 45 .
-- John (confused in NJ)

by Marc Effron, VP, Talent Management, Avon Products

Hi John – This reminds me an experience I had many years ago when interviewing with a major hotel chain. After an exhaustive interview process, they offered me $10,000 less than my then current salary. Their logic was: “Because you said you got your raise recently, this is still more than you made before your raise.”

John, you’ve answered your own question. If the offer is below your minimum -- end of story. Also, if they’re this cheap and disorganized right now, it won’t be any better when bonus/merit increase time rolls around. They don’t deserve you and you’ve just proved you’re employable, so move on.

It’s sad that yet another HR department has hurt the reputation of this field. Their job is to understand the budget and job requirements before interviewing. Before your next interview process, you might want to double-check that they’ve done this.

I hope that helps!

Marc Effron is Vice President, Talent Management for Avon Products. He has authored two books (including Leading the Way) and numerous articles about leadership. He is a frequent speaker at industry events.

Susan Ireland’s Two Cents
John, when you negotiated your compensation, did you consider the entire salary and benefits package? If you’re still interested in the job, get out your calculator and add up the value of the health insurance, vacation pay, 401k benefits, gym membership, etc. to see if, in fact, the job offer is what you want. To get help thinking about all those perks, check out Negotiating Total Compensation Can Be Totally Awesome by Barbara Safani.

Job Lounger, do you have a question? Email ( it to me and I’ll post your question and an expert’s answer here in The Job Lounge.

1 comment:

Ronnie Ann said...

I hope it's ok for me to add my own one cent, Susan and Marc.

I agree with Marc Effron that this doesn't show a coordinated effort and may be a very good indication of what the company is like - or at least the CFO. So I'd tread carefully with eyes wide open no matter what.

But that said...if you're interested in the company, John, you could at least try to negotiate with them. You have nothing to lose at this point! I'd use a friendly but confident approach about how much you like the company and that you especially found the CFO someone you'd like to work for - but you've thought about it and just "would feel much more comfortable" at $XXXXX. (Whatever feels right for you.) Then see how they respond.

One other case this is about the CFO not backing down (a red flag anyway) you could also offer an alternative negotiation: 5% higher plus a signing bonus and a guaranteed 6-month review for the other 5% - with the regular one-year review (or whatever is standard) still in place.

You've got nothing to lose - and the best way to negotiate is when you don't care if you lose. If they wind up saying no - fine. But if they actually wind up meeting your offer - then the decision is yours.

Now on your part, it might even merit a second meeting with someone there just to see if you can get a better handle on internal politics and how they might affect you if you took the job. I think Marc's instincts are probably spot on, but I've also had the experience of negotiating up past an "absolute" minimum and having it work out fine. Sometimes it can be done.

As I said, if you're thinking of turning it down anyway, you have nothing to lose by negotiating. And you get to see more of how the company operates. You never know.