update: I accepted a job without finding out the salary

Remember the letter-writer who accepted a job without first asking what the salary was (#1 at the link)? Here’s the update.

They eventually told me a salary, in terms that sounded non-negotiable. However, it was well below the bottom of the range I’d agreed to. At the same time, I was interviewing for a different position elsewhere at a place I knew and respected. I knew I had a good shot at the other position and was equally interested in it and the company–plus their salary range was higher. Because of those two factors, I felt more comfortable in putting my foot down and telling them I was willing to walk away. Things got a little bit tense (they said the last offer was an error and insinuated that I was being hostile). In the end, they honored the bottom of original range. I still considered walking away, but my previous experience with them had been entirely positive and I thought that their jumbled hiring process wasn’t indicative of the rest of how they operated. So I took the position and decided to go into my first day with a blank slate and hope they did the same.

And it seems like they did! The organization isn’t perfect, of course, but oddly enough, outside of hiring, they operate much more transparently and in a more egalitarian way than anywhere else I’ve worked. Since I started, we’ve added a bunch of new staff, and from conversations with the ones I’m close with, they went through similar mis/uncommunications during the hiring process. It does make me worry it about our reputation or that people with more options might get scared away–one of our new staff almost did give up during the hiring process. (We’re lucky that good jobs in my field are pretty scarce.) However, that’s a conversation I’m not in a position to start right now, and that issue doesn’t impact my work. As far as I can tell, the other new staff feel similarly. In general, I am very happy there and after a few previous miserable job experiences, I feel very lucky to finally work with coworkers I adore, at a place I respect, doing work I find meaningful. I hope to not have to write you for quite a while!

{ 19 comments… read them below }

  1. LizNYC*

    Call me cynical, but misquoting people’s hiring salaries on multiple occasions? Sounds like someone’s hoping the candidate doesn’t notice and the company gets someone at a discount.

    OP, glad you’re in a FT permanent position! But always keep options open, no matter what you’re doing.

  2. Stephanie*

    Oh…I did this recently. Not for a full-time, salaried job. This was for a part-time, nonexempt job. I was switched into that role from another role last minute (since my predecessor was fired) and wasn’t told how much it paid. I’m still looking for full-time work (and UI ran out a long time ago), so I was just like “Uh, well, it has to pay at least minimum wage, right? That’s more than I’m making now…” I figured out the wage from my first pay stub.

    Yeah, probably not the best way to go about that, I know.

  3. Joey*

    I also admit to doing it years ago when I moved to Austin. Except I asked what the job paid when I went into HR to bring a copy of my ids. I wasn’t too worried as it was a luxury hotel known for high wages. They were a bit aghast that the manager didn’t discuss it in the interview. When they told me (it was embarrassingly low) I asked them if they knew their sister properties paid far higher. The HR guy said they had the luxury of having a lot of college students nearby so pay was different there. I backed out and felt terrible about wasting everyone’s time.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Though it is abusive, it is a pretty widespread phenomenon. I live in a college town and I have a professional position. My friend moved out here to try to shake things up, and on the east coast, she was a manager in retail/food service, and here she couldn’t get more than 30 hours of non-managerial work because there’s too much of a supply of cheap labor. She lasted less than a year because there are no real livable wages because there aren’t enough people who need those wages enough to demand them.

        1. Melissa*

          Or is it rather that even if there are enough people who need the real livable wages, there is a consistent and sufficient supply of people who don’t need them and/or can live without them (because they are < 24 and in college)?

          1. sunny-dee*

            Yeah, 100,000 college students with Pell grants and daddy’s credit cards have a way of skewing wages. I’ve seen it in both tiny college towns and large-ish cities (like Austin) where I’ve lived. It was like a breath of fresh air when I moved back to my hometown of Tulsa, which is not a college town and has an insanely low cost of living, and I could actually afford stuff. On a real salary. That covered bills. It was insanity!

    1. Pineapple Incident*

      That’s unfortunate. Sorry- that sounds like the hiring manager took advantage of your good faith that the chain would pay fairly. Probably not the first time they’ve lured people in on the reputation of the sister properties, despite their intention to lowball. I’m sorry that happened to you, but I think you were right to bail.

      When I started my current admin position 7 months ago, they verbally confirmed the range I was looking for during my interviews, but the final offer (verbal and written) was 2 dollars per hour lower, which for me is still significant. Because I was working a crappy retail job that was paying me so little I couldn’t get by for much longer, I felt as if I had to take it. I’m still fairly fresh off graduation (May ’13), and didn’t find this blog until this July, so I didn’t try to negotiate. I’ve found out since then that the department and division of employees that I’m a part of are not subject to standard raises like the rest of the organization at least can make a case for, and negotiation is basically impossible. So this job is going nowhere, and it doesn’t even look like it’ll get me the foot-in-the-door I was looking for as an internal candidate down the road.

      1. Artemesia*

        My kids each got significantly more money than their peers when they started out by negotiating each time. My daughter with a part time job while pursuing her masters was able to negotiate from 16 to 18$ an hour which meant a lot to her. And for her first real job, she was able to get a signing bonus of $1000 in lieu of a higher salary (they were starting everyone at the bottom of the purported range). My son was paid about a third more than his peers.

        Negotiating often gets you more and it is expected by most hiring managers.

      2. Melissa*

        I think $2/hour lower is significant for a lot of people – pre-tax that’s $80 in a 40-hour workweek, or $320 in a month.

      3. Ted Mosby*

        Don’t worry about it TOO much. When I realized my first admin job wasn’t the foot in the door I thought it was, I was crushed at having signed up to basically waste a year or two. It turned out that having admin experience made it waaaay easier to get interviews and offers for other jobs, even at other companies. That first full time job is the hardest. From here out, other doors will be easier to open.

      4. sunny-dee*

        Use it for networking! Your first real job is always a growing experience (oh, the memories…). But you will have people in your office who leave for other companies, just naturally, and you can build on those relationships when you’re ready to start looking elsewhere.

  4. Not So NewReader*

    I am amazed, a rocky start and an okay landing. I will admit I was surprised that you were able to let go of the other job, so readily, OP. Was there a gut feeling or something else going on there that swayed you?

    But you sound happy, so good choice and congrats.

  5. Treena Kravm*

    More evidence that any sign of dysfunction doesn’t mean an automatic run away. OP, would you be able to share what specifically led you to believe that the hiring experience wasn’t indicative of the rest of how they operated?

  6. Z*


    from conversations with the ones I’m close with, they went through similar mis/uncommunications during the hiring process

    Regarding offering you a job without talking about the salary, then telling you that it was well below the range you’d been offered? Then compromising at the bottom of the range?

    Is it just me or does it sound like this company, or at least the arm of it that does the hiring, is delibrately and systematically trying to avoid salary negotiations in order to pay people far less than what they expect, taking whatever advantage they can of people’s desperation, naivety or lack of negotiating skills?

    I hope the job continues to pan out well for you, but this hiring process just sounds plain scummy and dishonest and I also hope that it isn’t indicative of any future scummy and dishonest attempts at screwing you out of money.

  7. mel*

    It seems like some companies really get a kick out of hiring constantly, or something. Every time I see an ad for my workplace and it says “competitive wage” I laugh out loud. But it’s not the wages that bother me, it’s the lack of communication regarding shift times!
    We’ve been just cycling through workers constantly because no one is willing to tell applicants that their shifts end at 2am. Therefore, we rarely keep new workers longer than a month after they realize they’ve got no bus ride home. It’s a complete and utter waste of time to do all of this constant unending training!

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