How Do You Handle Going Through an Interview Process and Getting a Low Offer? |

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EP 1685 “Is it a good / normal thing to go through a job application process (without knowing the salary) only to receive a job offer which is low and cannot be accepted or modified?

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A question I received from someone I thought will be helpful for me answer. I can encapsulate it in the title this video. Let me read the full question.

“Is it a good/normal thing to go through a job application process without knowing the salary eventually to receive the salary offer which is low and cannot be accepted or modified? How do you handle this?”

Well, I'll simply say I don’t want to say it is common or normal, but it happens and will happen more frequently. I will explain why in a second.

Firms tend not to want to divulge the salary level for a position because what they've learned is if they say, $100 to $120 and you're making $95, there are reluctant to give you the $120 because they’ve got people internally . . . I can give you all of their excuses. They are excuses.

They’ve got formulas really to go by. They will talk with you about their people internally who are stronger than you and out they’re making $115 and they can’t give you $120. Bull.

Really, what it comes down to is they have formulas that they used to calculate the percentage increases. Thus, the tendency is not to divulge because they know you are going to lock in on the top number. They know you our never going to think in terms of the lowest number in the range or any of the numbers in between. You hear $100 - $120. That's all you care about is the $120, right?

Is it common for them to make low offers? No, because it's more common for them to try to get you .. . Try to Push you out the door or get you to say, “ yes.” you would accept what their thinking of much earlier in the process.

If you think back, they probably give you signals along the way that they're not going to meet what your salary requirements are. Maybe, you misled them and said, “ Oh yeah, I would be flexible,” never thinking in a million years that you would need to be flexible but now, they are now calling your bluff.. So, that is part number 1. So, yes, it happens and, in a world where firms are reluctant to discuss salary until the very end, it happens with some regularity.

The reason I say it's going to happen with more frequency is that organizations are going to start complying and have been forced to comply with jurisdictions where it is. Now illegal to ask about your current salary. So, you can just imagine they cannot ask you what you our currently earning and use the formulas.

”Yippee! I can you ask for as much as I want!”

Well, yes, within reason, because, again, using the previous example of a $95,000 per year person is not qualified to do a $180,000 your person's job, right? It's just different roles. No criticism. It's just different.

So, it's always going to be within a spectrum and, here is where the problem is. The problem is firms don't know what you're earning. You could be making more than what they're prepared to pay, right? So, if they can't find out that you're making $130 and they’re only prepared to pay $120, at the time of the offer, they are going to say, “Good news! We are going to give you the most that we can pay-- $120.” You turn around and say, “That’s less than what I’m making!” That can become a common occurrence. It doesn't make anything bad.

The intention of the law is that there are certain people who are disadvantaged because the system has always paid them less and it’s designed to compensate for that. This is the price we are going to pay because more and more people are going to get low offers and scratch their heads and go, “Why?” That's because firms don't know what you are currently earning and their jobs pay less and they are going to be reluctant to say, “Our position only pays $120K.” You are going to need to have asked the question, “I know you can ask what I am currently earning in if I making more than this job, there is no reason for me to come back 5 times for you to make a low offer. Could you give me a sense of what to prepare the pay?” Then, from there, be able to manage them, just like they managed job hunters for a lot of years.

So, back to the original question. How do you handle this?. How do you handle this situation?

Well, you can do it with some humor.

“I am confused,” you may start by saying. I'm doing a caricature. “I am confused by this offer. Did I not tell you during the course of my interviewing with you that I was looking for a salary in the area of . . . (whatever the number is) and you have extended an offer for significantly less than that.”

“ Uh, yeah.”

“Was there something confusing in the statement?”

“U, no.”

“Then why are you doing this? Why have you dragged my butt over here 5 times to make me go through this as though, magically, I can accept less money. If I went to a store that sold your product and service, and you are selling it for $100,000 and I offer you $90K, what do you tell me to do?. You have to throw it back at them.

I've been very clear about what I'm looking for. The reason you do this (I’m going to interrupt myself here) is that there are some firms who like to give the impression that there's no wiggle room when there actually is.

I don't know if it is in this case. I know you said there is no wiggle room but until you say no, there may not be wiggle room. it's only when you say no, that it may show up.

I remember a client of mine in the consulting industry, a global firm with billions in revenue, whose premise was that they would extend offers that they thought would e turned down. Sometimes, they got an acceptance and sometimes what they were able do is say, “I went to bat for you and I got the offer increased by (whatever the number was) and the hiring manager really thinks you’re terrific! I went to bat for you with corporate and was able to get the offer upped. So, I need you accept this.” That became a game that they played . . . only until you said, “no,” were they willing to pull this rabbit out of the hat.

So, is it common? It happens. Not all the time. It happens.

Will it happen more often? You bet it will for reasons I explained. How do you handle it? You turn the offer down. You don't reward such behavior by sacrificing your talents at the altar of the Almighty Corporation.

There is another corporation that will hire you at the right money unless your numbers are so completely out of whack as to be ridiculous like that one example of the $90,000 a year person who is not qualified to do $180,000 per year work. That’s just ridiculous.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1600 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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