WWYD: Told One Salary Number, and Offered Another

This question is more of a “what should I have done” since it’s already too late, but I wanted to know the answer so I know what I should do next time.

A bit of background: My company has been going through some changes and a whole bunch of people have been made “redundant.” Various positions have disappeared and some have been created. I was verbally offered one of the newly created positions in a different department and was told by the manager of that department that it would be a pay raise of about $30,000.

When the offer came through, it was only a pay raise of $20,000 (I shouldn’t say “only”—it’s still a lot, but it doesn’t seem that way because I was told a different number before). When I brought this up with my manager he informed me that this was the highest he could go as his boss had overridden his decision. I ultimately I signed the contract and accepted this amount without really questioning the decision at all.

Of course, since then everyone has been telling me that I should have pushed harder and demanded more money. But I kind of feel that with our company cutting jobs and with more cutbacks to come to save money that I should be happy with the $20K, which is still a lot of money. I am grateful for it, though I do feel like maybe I should have pressed a little harder and that maybe I cheated myself out of a bit of money.

What do you think? should I have been happy with that I received, or should I have tried to negotiate more? — A.

A., with so many changes happening at your company and with more to come, I’m not surprised that you were originally told one salary number, and then offered another. If I were in your position, the only thing I would have done differently is ask how they arrived at the salary number, whether the number is negotiable, and if there is opportunity for advancement. I would have also made sure that the given salary number is comparable to similar positions on the job market before signing the contract.

And that’s what’s really important—that the salary is fair given the job requirements and what you’d be paid to do at a similar job at another company; that it pays enough for you to pay your bills and save and live comfortably; that it can be justified.

Your company must recognize that you’re valuable and have something to bring to the table—you’ve managed to survive the cutbacks, after all. And during such an unpredictable time period, I don’t blame you for playing it safe.


Photo: Roger Gregory



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