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


6 Comments / Post A Comment

samburger (#5,489)

It is crazy scary to ask for more money at a company that’s doing regular layoffs. I would have sat on my hands, too.

I would probably also comfort myself by thinking that I could recover that 10k by switching companies in a few years, if I really resented losing the chickens I counted.

Marge (#4,715)

@samburger Regardless, the company is still being more cost efficient by promoting staff rather than laying off and hiring from the outside. It saves time in the search, and also will require less training. We don’t have any information on this persons salary history but they’re being offered 20k or 30k raises, what is the percentage increase over the former salary?

Susan Tidebeck (#5,691)

I think it’s important to weigh what you are providing the company. If you walked out today would they be unable to provide their product or service? I only ask because I was in a similar position and ALMOST walked out, which would have destroyed a number of important customer relationships. So, I got what was promised by being a squeaky wheel.

Another interesting aspect of this (presumed) scenario is that it’s possible the people running the show have no clue what they are doing, and may be raking in 6-10 times your salary. Sometimes it is in the best interest of certain individuals to channel resources into their own departments by manipulating others.

These days I get everything in writing, as a contract, with signatures. Even if it never goes into litigation it’s taken a lot more seriously and I don’t get jerked around, which can affect productivity.

@fo (#839)

“What do you think? should I have been happy with that I received, or should I have tried to negotiate more? ”

I like Mike’s thoughts, but have something to add:

DO NOT dwell on it. That’s a nicer way of saying ‘let it go’, which itself is a nicer way of saying ‘get over it’.

If you *need* to talk yourself into the idea that you did the right thing, Mikes’ got the right track. If you still have a lingering suspicion that you should have said “hell no, show me the money”, forget that how ever you can make it possible.

Now, when reviews come, if you’ve banged it out of the park, or if they ask you about adding a role or something, you may have an opportunity for an ask again, and you will have their own (reneged) word for why you deserve a bigger (like $10k bigger) raise, but until that point, whats done is done, and the only thing you can do is drag yourself down about it.

I didn’t negotiate anything before accepting my current job, and that was a bit of a mistake in hindsight, but I can’t get hung up on that–over, done, just need to remember everytime $$ or bennies or vacation or responsibilities come up in the future.

Goodie (#5,447)

@@fo thats good advice, once things have been done there is no need to dwell on the past. Whats done is done.

guenna77 (#856)

i totally understand this… one day i got surprised by a meeting with the boss and their boss, with no subject line. just before the meeting i overheard people in the bathroom talking about layoffs happening that day (we’d have several rounds already) and my heart dropped to my feet. but when i got in there, my own meeting turned out to be that they were consolidating two positions, one of which had been empty, and wanted to offer me the combined new one which was a step up. i probably should have asked for more money and/or a new title- i can see now that i *was* worth more to the company than i realized then- but in the moment i was just really glad to not be laid off.

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