Why You Should Never Accept a Low-Ball Salary Offer

Jul 14, 2016, 01:21 AM

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Music Why You Should Never Accept a Low-Ball Salary Offer May 11, 2016 Suzanne Lucas

No one starts to look for a new job simply because there's a full moon or Netflix removed your favorite show. There's generally a stronger reason, like you can't stand your boss, there are no promotional opportunities at your new job, or you really, really, really deserve a raise. All these things can mean that you are anxious to find something new, which can cloud your judgment. Of course, if you're unemployed that's another story, and I'll deal with that below. When you're anxious, you sometimes make bad choices and accept a low-ball salary offer. Here's why this is problematic. We'll Give $X as a Starting Salary and Re-Evaluate After Six Months Hiring managers say this all the time, not only with salary but with titles. "We'll hire you as an analyst, but we are preparing you for the management position in six months!" The problem with this is, that while it might be true, it gives all the cards to the company. You're in your best bargaining position before they hire you. When you've worked there six months, the company knows you're highly unlikely to leave. Job hopping after so short a period looks bad, and job hunting is hard anyway, so you're stuck, and they know it. Often that six months comes and goes without so much as an evaluation, let alone a pay raise. And that title? Well... Always, always ask yourself if you'd be okay with staying at the same salary and same title for several years before you accept an offer. If not, then that isn't a job for you. Yes, the raise and promotion might come through, but you should consider that a bonus and not an expectation of the job. Guess What? Your Raises Are Based on Your Current Salary You may be okay with a certain salary today because you know you are amazing and will get a great raise based on how awesome you are. Fine. True. (Anyone who reads Business.com is, by definition, awesome, of course.) But did you know that your raise will be based on a percentage of your current salary? Yep. So, let's say that Jane and John both accept new jobs with Company Z. Jane accepts a $50,000 offer, and John negotiates up to $55,000. (I've done the genders on purpose, and I'll explain why later). Both Jane and John are fabulous workers and their respective bosses give them five percent increases every year. Here's how it looks: • Year 1: Jane $50,000, John $55,000 • Year 2: Jane $52,500, John $57,750 • Year 3: Jane $55,125, John  $60,637 After three years, Jane had just caught up to where John was when he started, and John's salary grows faster than Jane's. This is even more pronounced if one of them gets a big promotion. These are often based on percentages as well. Starting out low means you never catch up. Bitter? You Betcha Sometimes you think you've negotiated a great salary and then come to find out that you didn't. Sometimes you think you can handle working for a lower salary because the new job is so awesome. But, that wears off, and you can become bitter. The problem with bitterness is that it infects every aspect of your job. When you get your paycheck every two weeks, and it's smaller than you think you deserve, you start taking it out on your boss and your coworkers, and you start to hate the job, even if you like the work. When you're bitter, it makes it very difficult to keep a positive attitude at work. How to Avoid This Trap Always negotiate your salary. Above I had Jane and John at separate salaries. In real life, it's highly possible that both John and Jane were both offered $50,000, and Jane said, "Grea...