A reader writes:
I applied for a job with a salary range of $20,000. I made more than the higher number in my last job — although they have not asked about my salary history — but am interested in the skills I would gain in this new position, and wouldn’t mind taking a drop in salary to get this new experience.
I interviewed, and was offered the job by phone within a few days and asked to respond within 24 hours. As the hiring manager was making the offer, there was no mention of salary, I waited and used the “stop talking” advice, thinking that eventually he would get there on his own. Nothing, so I asked if I could ask some questions. He said sure. I said, “We haven’t discussed salary.” He said, “Well, if that’s something you need to know, then yes we could talk about it.” I said it was. He still didn’t offer a figure, so I pushed back and said, “Could you give me a range? Is it the top end or the bottom end of the scale posted?” He said it was at the bottom end, and I asked “Is it within $5K of the bottom of the scale posted?” He said yes.
His explanation is that as they are hiring 5 new positions, they have to figure out the various salaries, which are all from a single line item. It doesn’t make sense to me, but I think my best course of action is to thank them, tell them I expected an offer in the higher range, and ask if they have any flexibility.
I have all the essential skills listed in the job description except for one, and 10+ years of experience in the industry. I am confused. Is this a negotiation strategy on their part, and if so, how do I convey that I’m not able to accept the range that they have-sort-of-offered? I’m also worried that they’re not convinced they want to hire me.
Honestly, I would run as fast as you can away from this employer, unless you’re desperate for the job. Find a safehouse and hide inside it, because there’s a mad man on the loose in your town.
Making an offer without mentioning salary right up front is odd enough on its own, but fine, whatever. But then to tell you when you ask about it that “if that’s something you need to know, we could talk about it” (!!!) is indicative of some pretty severe dysfunction there.
People accept jobs for money. They need to know what money they will be being paid. And being surprised that a candidate would need to know – and then still not committing to a number but expecting the candidate to commit to the job anyway — well, it’s crazy town in that office.
And no, it’s not a negotiation strategy on his part, not unless he went to the Negotiation School for the Criminally Insane.