employer pulled the job offer after I tried to negotiate

A reader writes:

My job offer was rescinded after I sent an email attempting to negotiate the base salary to $3,000 plus what was originally offered. I was horrified after receiving the employer’s initial response withdrawing the offer. Such a situation is rarely talked about in internet job articles (I read yours on this matter but like I said — not too many others) and I was not expecting it. I have been job searching for almost a year now and I just cannot seem to get past the interview stage. I have had many interviews and no offers — until now.

In an attempt to be professional, I emailed the employer back asking the reason for his decision and thanking him for his time and consideration. He just replied with this: “Simply, I’ve never had a negotiation process with any new applicant in hiring. My experience is that if a new employee is not content that he or she didn’t get enough in the beginning, it results in lack of commitment.”

I’m very desperate right now. I know I should not have attempted to negotiate if I wasn’t ready to walk away. Now that I have realized my mistake, I would really like to rectify it. So my question is, should I frame a response that essentially begs asks for the first offer since I am content with it? Or should I just let this (as painful as it is) go?

Well, the first thing to know is that this guy is completely out of line. Assuming that you were professional and polite when you tried to negotiate, no reasonable employer would yank an offer just because you asked for a few thousand dollars more. They certainly might say no, but telling you that people shouldn’t even try to negotiate?  Negotiating in that range is a normal, common, totally accepted part of the hiring process. Unless he told you earlier that he doesn’t negotiate and that his offer was his best and only offer, it’s irrational and wildly out of touch to penalize people for engaging in normal behavior.

That means that you really might be better off not working for this guy. People who have rigid and weird and wrong ideas like this are often terrible to work with. You’d almost certainly see similar rigidity and weirdness and wrongness from him about other issues too — like vacation time or speaking up when your workload is high or expressing a dissenting opinion.

Basically, what he just showed you is that you dodged a bullet.

That said, if you’re desperate for work, even a bullet can be appealing.

If that’s your situation — if you just need work and don’t care if it’s for a horrible employer — then you can certainly try responding and seeing if it can be salvaged. It may or may not be salvageable, but you have nothing to lose by trying.

If you do want to try, I’d say this: “I’m actually very committed to this job and was incredibly excited to receive your offer. I’ve always worked with employers where negotiation was an expected part of the offer process, and most of what I’ve read encourages candidates to negotiate. But I’d be glad to accept your original offer, and could do so very happily if you’re still willing to extend it. I’d love to do this job.”

But again, I’d think long and hard about this before doing it, because if he says yes, you’ll be signing up to work with a horrid and unreasonable person.

{ 510 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    Oh, this is so, so horrible. It’s horrible the way toxic bosses are horrible, in that it hurts the employee not just currently but impairs what they do in the future. It’s a stealthy kind of class terrorism, where you can keep people from asking for more by scaring them, as if they were Oliver Twist.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yep. I even worried that in using this letter, I’d be discouraging people from negotiating in the future. Which would not be the right message to take away from this.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Especially women – I think we could go further in closing the pay gap if women knew they can – and should – negotiate on these things. I didn’t know when I got my first job offer that there was probably room to negotiate.

        1. Artemesia*

          And yet there is some evidence that women are punished for negotiating, if not through pay then through how they are perceived and treated once hired. I have always counseled my daughter to negotiate and she did so successfully for some small jobs when in school or just out. Her second big full time job made an offer at the bottom of their published range and she was clearly qualified to be higher in the range. She negotiated and eventually was unsuccessful in changing the salary but did get a signing bonus, but it colored the way she was treated by the boss. There was a sort of antagonistic ‘so you think you’re so smart’ attitude from him from the beginning although she did exemplary work.

          Women get punished pretty much no matter what they do — if they don’t negotiate they don’t get equal offers — if they do, they risk having the job withdrawn or being negatively viewed. Sexism like racism is woven into the fabric of US business.

          1. Jennifer*

            Sexism is woven into the fabric of humanity.

            I would never, ever negotiate, to be honest. Well, I’m a peon anyway and from what I understand you need to be a big shot in order to have any shot at negotiation (plus I’m in an industry where you can’t do it anyway), but even if I wasn’t, I don’t want to make it worse by not being hired at all or starting out as a problem child from day one. Getting not-hired or fired would hurt my income worse, after all.

            1. Apollo Warbuks*

              You absoultly don’t need to be a big shot to negotiate, you have to keep your requests proportionate to the role and what you’re bringing to it.

              1. Apollo Warbuks*

                Damn it I hit submit to soon

                But there’s no reason junior grades shouldn’t be able to negotiate

            2. MissDisplaced*

              Jennifer if you don’t learn to negotiate salary, prices and other things you will be underpaid and overpaying for a lot of things in life. Yes, there are times when you don’t (very entry level, part-time jobs, etc.) but you have to learn to do it as it exists at ALL levels.

          2. Apollo Warbuks*

            I didn’t negotiate for my first professional salary the margin wasn’t much compared to what others my grade were making, but two things struck me as having a negative effect firstly I think it marked me out as someone who wouldn’t necessarily advocate for themselves or push for salary increases and also raises were always given as a percentage of currently salary I’d get the biggest percentage increase in the department but in real terms it was the smallest rise going.

            1. Chinook*

              As a woman who learned to negotiate by accident (I went to quit my part-time job, male boss offered me f/t, I asked to think about it and he thought it was a tactic, so he bumpeed the pay too and left me wondering why I hadn’t done this before), I think that you need to go in with the attitude that AAM explains – know that it is normal, that they can say no, and don’t be greedy (thank you Kevin O’Leary). If they judge you for standing up for yourself, then you don’t want to work there (unless you are like the OP and need the job). If you still work there after they look down on you, then you know what to expect from them.

            2. Mabel*

              When I was hired at my first job out of college, I took whatever they offered me because I didn’t know any better. After I had been there a while, I discovered that I was being paid BELOW the scale for the position (I worked for the state government). I asked the appropriate person in the state capitol to increase my pay to within the range, and it was adjusted. I’m sure the legislator (my boss) had to approve it, but I never heard anything about it from him. He and his chief of staff were real jerks (and it turned out that the boss was also a criminal – issues with public funds).

            3. TrainerGirl*

              I haven’t negotiated often in the past, because I took two jobs when I was about to be laid off and was more concerned with getting the position than getting more money. I negotiated when I took the position I have now, and I was surprised that the recruiter seemed a bit taken aback when I asked about a salary that was $3k more than the initial offer. I think negotiating is fine as long as you’ve researched the salary range for the position so that you’re not asking for an amount that’s wildly inappropriate. If the offer was pulled just because I attempted to negotiate, I’d know that I didn’t want to work at that company.

          3. Sospeso*

            Yes, links to some of this research can be found here: https://hbr.org/2014/06/why-women-dont-negotiate-their-job-offers/

            I also remember reading a research study a while back that suggested that women were more successful at negotiation (i.e., receiving pay bumps and/or avoiding the social costs of negotiating you mention, Artemesia) when they couched it in terms of relevance to the job (rather than the person herself, i.e., “I hope you’ll appreciate that my negotiation skills will also be useful in the role in x, y, and z ways” instead of, “I have been praised for x, y, and z, in the past”). I wish I could remember enough to find the original study – pretty fascinating stuff. Do I wish women didn’t have to jump through these hoops? Yes. Do I plan to incorporate that into my next negotiation? You bet.

            1. Sospeso*

              BTW, is your name referring to Artemesia Gentileschi? If so, I love it! I did a paper on her back in college, and her ability to commit to her art in such a male-dominated field (and time) stuck with me.

          4. sally*

            My god. You’re one of THOSE parents. My guess is she was not qualified for a better job…if she was she would have gotten it elsewhere.

              1. Fact & Fiction*

                Thirding this. Extremely judgmental and uncalled for. I didn’t get the “My daughter is a special snowflake WHY CAN’T PEOPLE RECOGNIZE MY BABY’S AMAZINGNESS?!” from that account at all.

          5. GoneSane*

            is your tag name from the book series Piratica by Tanith Lee? I’ve never met anyone else who liked it!

        2. sally*

          2 real reasons for salary gap. 1. women typically don’t negotiate. 2. Women typically go for the safety of staying with the same company for years longer than they should.

          Solution: Always, always negotiate. Never stay in the same JOB for more than 2 years. Even if you stay with the same company after 2 years you should move on to a different job. IMO, there is no loyalty from company to employee so employees should not be loyal to them. Leave them wanting more.

          1. Rat Racer*

            I also take issue with this statement – although I don’t mean to hone in on you and pick apart your comments specifically. Do you honestly believe that everyone across the board should leave every job after two years even if they are happy, well-respected, well-paid, continuing to learn? In my experience it takes about 2 years to acclimate to a new job, and about that same amount of time to develop strong relationships with managers, colleagues and direct reports.

            Although I agree with you that people should always put their self-interest above what’s best for their employer, I think setting a 2-year time limit on every job is a bad strategy.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Never staying in the same job for two years really doesn’t make sense! It will make you look like a job hopper in most cases. Plus, in many fields, two years is barely enough to really be doing your job well.

            1. Dan*

              I disagree. In fact I feel that one can be an extremely competent and great worker within the first year. Although to give perspective, I am speaking from the entertainment industry. This also varies a lot with jobs but I think the core principle here is that people do tend to expect from their companies what they put out, but unfortunately in current day, this is not the case for most companies. Also, I feel the term “Job Hopper” shouldn’t be a pejorative anymore because it’s very common (once again speaking from my field), especially if you have references that reflect that you are not hopping jobs due to lack of performance, but an interest in growing and diversifying your work.

              Great Article btw, I personally think it’s great advice not to try to rectify and to just move on to an employer that will see a candidates worth.

          3. jamlady*

            I really, really disagree with that. My industry has you sit and the same level for 3 or so years (with lateral moves) and you’re much better off staying with the same company. Moving from company to company doesn’t just look bad on a resume (job hoppers, excluding contract workers on this), it also makes it harder to move up as quickly and it’s just draining to have to mold yourself into a new company and culture every 2 years. If you’re unhappy with your workplace, by all means, seek out another job – but don’t leave a great company/position just to “leave them wanting more” (by the way, you could be great, but they can still find someone to replace you after you leave – so they wouldn’t be wanting for very long).

          4. Labyrinthine*

            Yea it definitely has nothing to do with ingrained sexism that results in offers being well below what men are offered. Nothing at all.

            Or with punishing women when raises are handed out because they weren’t given as complex projects for fear they might procreate, or – God Forbid – have to take care of a sick child.

            Or because when women do negotiate or advocate for themselves they are not seen as strong, confident, decisive workers but pushy, bossy, naggy whiners.

            Yep. It all falls on our soft lady shoulders. Shame on us for being paid less.

          5. Liz T.*

            So it’s on us to negotiate–but if we encourage our daughters to negotiate, we’re “one of those” parents. Got it.

      2. jamlady*

        I will admit, I just had an offer this week that was more than I expected and so I accepted (it was very fair), but I read this thinking “Good thing I didn’t negotiate!” – but honestly, I doubt my new company would have responded like this. I promise I won’t be afraid because of this letter! Haha

        1. fposte*

          The older I get, though, the more I prefer consequences for sins of commission than sins of omission.

          1. MBA*

            Gah, I’m still very young which may be it, but I wish I could learn to keep my mouth shut. It’s like a little monkey gets on my back when I see injustice or wrong thinking and I just have to say something.

            While I do feel better being brave enough to say what needs to be said, I’m sure it has hurt me several times – even when I try to be diplomatic in what I say. Unfortunately, I think things I say are taken even worse because I’m a young women.

            1. VintageLydia USA*

              Honestly the trick isn’t keeping your mouth shut, but how to say what you want to say so that you actually get results. I have not nailed this down yet.

              1. anonForThis*

                One of the best ways to get results (and I sort of wince as I write this) is to phrase what you have to say in a way that convinces the other person that changing in some way is in that person’s best interest. For example “That’s sexist” might not get the same result as “The bosses really are cracking down on that kind of stuff – if you keep saying things at work that sounds sexist, that could be a problem.”

                I’ve noticed this more when suggesting ideas – an idea that will benefit someone else while giving them little to no extra work will usually be well received.

                1. Connie-Lynne*

                  Right? It sometimes grates on my senses to have to show people specific benefit to them for behaving decently, but it does get results.

            2. Marcy*

              Being young isn’t the problem. I find I am struggling more and more with this as I get older. I’m not able to bite my tongue like I used to.

            3. Connie-Lynne*

              MBA, please keep saying the things that need to be said, whenever you have the energy or gumption to do so.

              I have the same problem that you have, and I’m no longer young. As I got older, I have learned to say things more diplomatically or in a way that is better at getting results, but honestly, we need people of all ages to speak up.

              I guarantee that there are points where it has hurt me in my career, or where a man who said the same thing in exactly the same way would not have gotten the back-room censure I received. But in the end it’s people who are willing to keep speaking up in the face of such consequences that help change the world for the people who cannot speak up.

              (I understand occasionally just keeping a lid on it because some days you just don’t feel like Fighting the Good Fight. But I just want you to know that there are others out there doing it, too, and I’m glad when I hear there are younger women who speak their minds.)

          2. jamlady*

            I probably could have squeezed out some more from them, but the offer they had for me was great and I think I would have felt bad trying to negotiate. I don’t feel bad for keeping my mouth shut. That being said, any unfairness and I have no issues speaking up haha. I, like you, would rather deal with consequences of speaking up than of the consequences for not.

        2. Labyrinthine*

          I didn’t negotiate my current job but that is because I gave a range when we initially talked salary and they came in waaaaay above my top number. So…I was cool with it.

          But I’ve negotiated every other job and it has always been well accepted, even if they couldn’t budge on the salary. I’ve never had an offer pulled.

    2. AMG*

      Ugh. I got a knot in my gut while reading this. You are better off in the long run. Hang in there.

    3. Laurel Gray*

      Yes! And the OP has been job searching for almost a year. I can totally see how someone would take whatever job and salary was offered after this without any type of negotiation.

    4. Jake*

      I think this is even worse because there is a certain desperation that accompanies unemployment, especially given that the longer you’re unemployed the harder it is to get hired.

      At least at a toxic work place you still can look elsewhere without worrying about money as much.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        I’ve been in workplaces so toxic that they drained so much energy and life out of me. Job searching on top of it was trying and exhausting at best and downright impossible at its worst. Of course, I agree that not having any income brings on its own set of stress and anxiety, so it’s just a matter of which one a person is better equipped to handle.

      2. Oryx*

        I just turned down an opportunity to come in for an interview because pay was way too low. (I had previously interviewed with them for different position, they had a new opening and reached out.) I don’t like my current job but I like what I make so I’ll stay here for now. If I was unemployed it would have been a totally different ball game with that pay.

      3. Alma*

        This crap is like buying a car: equalize the playing field. Print the damn price on the sticker. Most men love the haggling game and will get a better deal than a woman (this is a generalization, yes). And STILL women earn 72 cents for each dollar men earn. PUT the damn PAY on the sticker!!!

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes! Who wants to work for a Bill Sykes?? This boss very likely treats employees as indentured servants, and I hope the OP is not desperate enough to take ANYTHING, so that they can keep looking and maybe find a halfway decent human being to work for.

    6. Chriama*

      “Class terrorism” is exactly right. I honestly can’t think of a good reason to assume that someone who tries to negotiate is likely to be dissatisfied in the job. Aren’t they more likely to be satisfied if they feel they got the best offer possible? Even if you’re positive that you do great market research and your salary and benefits are very competitive, the rigidity in thinking you could never be wrong (maybe market needs have changed? Maybe some skills are more in-demand than others?) is a red flag in and of itself. And what about raises? Do you only give people raises when they go abd apply for other jobs? If someone tries to present a case for why they should be making more money, would you fire them? The idea that only the employer can decide how much you should be paid, and you should be a good little employee and keep your head down and wait for the kindly boss to notice your hard work and reward you fairly is just so, so damaging. This is the kind of b.s. that keeps women earning less than men, and whether or not the OP is female it’s not an acceptable attitude!

      1. Sans*

        If I was desperate, I’d work for someone like this, but only as a bridge to something better. I’d hang in as long as possible, a year or more if I hadn’t gone crazy, and then look for something better. Because you’re right, you’d probably never get a raise or a bonus out of this jerk.

    7. Jeff A.*

      Agree 100%. Terrorism/bullying/whatever you want to call it, it’s awful and this person would be truly awful to work for.

      OP, for whatever it’s worth, in 2010-11 I was unemployed for a 7 month period, and was literally down to my last month of savings before having to ask my parents if I could move back in with them (and I was in my 30s at the time – not like age 22/23). I got a job offer, and I asked for (and received) $3,000 more than the original offer even though I was desperate and would have taken just about any salary in the living wage range. But yeah, if that offer was rescinded after I tried to negotiate….I don’t know how I would have dealt with that mentally. I’m really sorry to hear that it played out this way.

    8. Brad B.*

      I dissagree. Employers looking for stability with their hires know that people unhappy (or focused on salary) tend to turn over more than others. If the employer was offering pay at the top of their scale, and then this person asked for more money, it tells me they won’t be content with their pay, and that I have limited flexibility to increase it in the future. Both ways lead to turnover. Training an external hire is expensive for companies. I usually required 6 months before an analyst was proficient enough to manage responsibilities independently. I always steer clear of people solely driven by money, unless the job has a higher ceiling than the candidate expects. I realize everyone has their own living income threshold that must be met, but a job’s pay is based on the value for that position, The resulting range is reality for income expectations – not what a candidate determines they should be paid.

      1. Hanh*

        The one need to focus on this stability of employee imply to me 2 things:
        1. Their turn over rate is probably quite high. That is the reason why the focus on that factor because it happens so frequently there for them to worry.
        2. Their work and handover process are not managed or planned well and efficiently enough to factor in the leaving and joining of employee.
        As a candidate I always see negotiation process is necessary for me to assess the employer via how they react and handle it. They should have common sense to factor in buffer for negotiation and expect it.

      2. Nancy*

        You’re totally right that not earning what someone thinks is fair is a definite cause for dissatisfaction, which very much leads to turnover.

        But OP didn’t demand $3k more or he would refuse the job. This was a NEGOTIATION. “Can you do more” is very different from “if you don’t do more, I’m leaving,” and the difference there is not remotely subtle. I’m echoing other posters in wondering how this supervisor would handle requests for raises or other completely reasonable and should-be-expected conversations.

        It is disingenuous and foolish to think that compensation is not a huge factor in taking a job. The fact that this guy rescinded the offer over it makes it clear enough how important it is to the employer. The relationship goes two ways; a job is not a gift bestowed upon someone.

        1. Elle*

          Thank you Nancy, I agree completely. I find the employer’s reaction almost just bizarre. How does one stay in upper management with that attitude of non-tolerance for negotiation, a crucial component of the hiring and talent retention process? Baffles me.

      3. Amy*

        I completely agree with Brad B. and disagree with Hanh. The desire to maintain stability in an employee’s position isn’t an inherent problem in the organization’s employee retention system; it’s the ideal scenario for anyone hiring for any position (aside from seasonal jobs requiring a lower skillset). Many people I’ve interviewed seem to overestimate their value and feel entitled to more pay upon hire. We do whatever we can to retain tested employees who we feel have risen to our expectations by offering pay raises every quarter, and it really speaks to how deluded most people are after reading these kinds of articles encouraging negotiations no matter what, then blaming the employer when they wisely choose to let results speak for themselves.

  2. Joey*

    Well I disagree. (You knew I would)

    I might consider pulling an offer if I was being generous. For example, if I hired say a new grad for a job that normally requires experience and offered a salary commensurate with experience Id think the request was out of line and the new grad had some unrealistic expectations.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Over a few thousand dollars though? I’d roll my eyes in the situation you describe, yes, but I’d just tell the person no and explain why. Hell, I might even explain that I now had concerns about whether they’d be happy with the salary and wondered if they had realistic expectations, depending on the tenor of the conversation. But pull the offer over it?

      If we didn’t live in an environment where “you must negotiate!” advice is all over the place, maybe I’d feel differently, but you can’t escape the fact that everyone is told that they should always try.

      1. Just Another Techie*

        *especially* if the OP is a woman, there’s so much out there saying that we’re solely to blame for the pay gap, and if women “just ask” and “lean in” we can just magically vanquish centuries of entrenched sexism. That’s obviously bullshit, but you certainly can’t blame a person for following that advice since it’s everywhere.

        1. grasshopper*

          A few thousand dollars isn’t a crazy request. It is easy to stick with the original offer without rescinding it completely if the candidate tries to negotiate.

          My old company never negotiated on salaries, but my director told me that she respected those who at least tried to negotiate and made a case for their self-worth. Every bit of advice now says that there is no harm in at least trying to ask and that you’re probably doing more harm by not asking.

          1. Steve G*

            It isn’t crazy at all. I was used to doing monthly budgets/forecasts (not annual ones) at last job, so think about revenue, etc. in monthly terms, and this is only $250/month. I don’t know what business they are in, but at any non-retail job I’ve worked in, that is so low that it isn’t even a rounding error!

              1. LBK*

                I assume Steve G meant that to the company, it’s a relatively negligible amount, not to the employee.

                1. steve g*

                  Yup all also meant that the one who rescinded the offer is thinking of this as a one-time lump sum of 3K….when it’s really a bunch of small individual payments spread out over twelve months……

          2. Jen S. 2.0*

            There’s a lot of space between “Yes, here’s exactly what you asked for, even though it was totally unreasonable” and “I’m snatching back this offer, you ingrate.” It’s not wrong to ask a question.

            How about, “This actually is as high as we can go. If this is acceptable to you, please let us know.” Or,
            “We can’t do that full amount, but we can do X.” Or, “We unfortunately can’t move on salary because our budget is already set at Y, but we can do a one-time signing bonus of Z.”

            1. JB*

              Agreed. And as some others have suggested, some people (I’m one) would feel better about the job because I knew I was getting as much as the employer would pay, so I wouldn’t be wondering if I’d been offered something lower than what my peers who had negotiated had gotten. Pulling the offer shouldn’t be based on them asking for more (especially this small of an amount more) but from how they react to being told no.

            2. Xarcady*

              This. My sister got a job offer, and when she did the math, given the longer commute and a few other things, even though the pay was better at the new job, she was just about breaking even in terms of disposable income. So she wanted to ask for $500 more.

              I suggested she ask for $1000 more, to give some wiggle/bargaining room. And she did.

              The company came back with an offer of $2000 more, but a gently worded warning that was the absolute best they could do (not for profit organization). She was stunned that it was so easy to get $2000 more a year. But they could have come back with half of what she asked for and she’d still have been happy.

        2. Sospeso*

          What a good point. I find it interesting that in this message that is obviously packaged as being empowering for women, there’s this inherent blame there, too.

          Two steps forward, one step back. Or something like that.

          1. Alma*

            Google “nurses pay inequality” – two days ago, a report was released showing male nurses made 8% more than women nurses, even adjusted for education, specialty, and years on the job. And over 80% of nurses are women.

            So – how do women approach job offers, given equal pay legislation has been in place for almost two generations? Do we ask for 10% more off the bat hoping to get close to parity?

            Alison and hiring managers, I’d be interested in some input.

        3. Lily in NYC*

          I would love to know what this guy’s reaction would have been if OP had been male. I just have a sick feeling that it would have turned out differently. She can’t be the first person to attempt to negotiate there.

          1. Ops Analyst*

            Does it say somewhere that OP is female? I didn’t notice in the letter and wondering if I missed something.

        4. Zillah*

          As in so many things in life, women are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. No, this world doesn’t make me feel angry and resentful at all, what are you talking about?

      2. Joey*

        It depends on how they asked. For example there’s a huge difference between “is that negotiable” and “i really need a salary of [$3k more].”

        Id seriously wonder whether the new grad would be content with the salary or would come in disengaged and continuing to job search.

        And that might make me consider offering it to someone else who didn’t make me worry.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          A new grad isn’t likely to know what their market value is and most have had it beat into their head to always negotiate because a too low salary in their first job can effect them their entire career. And there ARE employers out there who will purposely low ball new grads because they don’t have the experience to know whether a salary is reasonable or not. Pulling an offer for doing what is not only normal, but encouraged, is a bit low.

          1. Joey*

            Sure. That’s why it’s so impressive when you do get one who has a sense of the market. That is resourceful and smart.

            It’s sort of like negotiating when you buy a house. If you insult the owner with an insulting offer see you later.

            1. LBK*

              The issue here wasn’t whether the offer itself was insulting or not, it’s that even making an offer was considered insulting.

              1. VintageLydia USA*

                And I really can’t imagine an extra 3 grand a year being insulting, even entry level. Especially when the employer can still say no.

            2. Lola*

              I don’t get the concept of “an insulting offer”, unless it involves requests for sexual favors. For me, there are only acceptable offers and unacceptable ones. If a home owner reacts to an unacceptable offer as a personal affront, see YOU later. Don’t need drama where none is required.

              1. davey1983*

                I never understood that as well– yes, the house is my home (or future home), but it is just a business deal. If I receive an offer that is to low, I can always just say no. If I come in way to low on an offer, they can do the same thing– if it is a flat out no, I can always come back and offer more later (assuming I want to offer more).

                However, I have seen people get very emotional over houses. My spouse took it very personally when we were trying to buy a house and the negotiations fell apart over the closing date. I also had my realtor really push back when I wanted to put in an offer on another house– she actually told me that I would insult the current owner’s with that offer and I would lose the house (that realtor no longer works for me, and I ended up getting the house).

            3. BananaPants*

              Yeah, but in the field I work in, there’s at least a $10K range in starting salaries that one could reasonably expect for a new grad depending on company, exact job description, benefits, co-op or internship experience, etc. $3K would not be perceived as unusual or unreasonable to at least try to negotiate for, and for an experienced candidate the overall negotiation amount could go a lot higher.

              I don’t get this “insulting” business – unless the potential hire is cursing like drunken sailor or makes crude suggestions about one’s parentage, how is simply attempting a polite (and probably reasonable) salary negotiation ” insulting”?

        2. Sospeso*

          I also think how I might package the request would look a little different in person than over email (where I couldn’t use tone of voice, etc., to convey my excitement about the offer). The OP says she emailed to ask about it, which made me wonder how that might have been phrased.

        3. Jeff A.*

          If you would let the best candidate you found for a job walk over $3,000 salary because it insulted your sensibilities that s/he appeared ungrateful, you probably have no business making hiring decisions.

            1. Jeff A.*

              In the letter writer’s case, there’s nothing in this post that suggests the request was made thoughtlessly.

              In your case, I’d judge you to be a poor judge of character to spend all that time interviewing candidates and decide that out of potentially hundreds of applicants you’ve found the best one, extend your offer of employment – but wait! – no! – they are in fact so thoughtless as to warrant not being hired! Haha, you must be a peach to work with.

              1. Joey*

                Well there’s nothing in the letter that gives much of any context to the email. For all we know it could have been a demand.

                And yes I’m not easy to work for. I expect people to be able to justify it when they ask for something. I wasn’t hired to give away money just because people ask. It has to benefit the business. If that makes me hard to work for so be it.

                1. Cat*

                  Okay, I got to say, I think this is completely unfair. You know that candidates have less information than you about market price, you know that candidates are consistently told in job search advice (some of which is bad, yes) that they should always negotiate, you know women are told that the pay gap is their fault for not negotiating. And you know that $3,000 is a pretty minimal amount to ask for (even though not always a minimal amount to grant.)

                  I cannot think of a situation where asking reasonably for $3,000 warrants pulling an offer. If there is something completely out of line about how they ask that’s a different issue. But asking, even without market research (from where?) to back it up? Not unreasonable.

                2. Joey*

                  What if I hire you for a job that requires a masters and 5 yrs of experience, but I decided to hire you anyway even though you don’t have it and offered you a salary similar to seasoned folks because you seem to be as sharp and resourceful as them. Then you come in and ask for more money just because….with absolutely no thought behind it? Id wonder if you were the person I thought you were.

                3. Zillah*

                  But Joey, aren’t we usually supposed to assume the best of the OPs, not the worst? You seem to be answering this with the OP cast in the worst possible light.

                4. Mike B.*

                  So in this example you’ve found someone so special that she’s worth hiring and compensating beyond her level of education and experience…and you balk because she happens to agree that she’s an unusually good candidate and should be paid accordingly?

                  If a candidate is worth hiring at the price you name, they’re probably worth hiring at a couple thou more. And if they aren’t (or it’s just not possible), it’s certainly not ridiculous of them to have reached that conclusion based on what you felt comfortable offering.

                  That said, I agree that there are occasions where someone can negotiate herself right out of an offer and have no one but herself to blame; I’m thinking of course of the Nazareth candidate who blasted a laundry list of absurd demands at her hiring committee. But that’s an extreme case.

                5. Just Another Techie*

                  Joey, if I have little experience in the industry and am maybe fresh out of school, how am I supposed to know that your offer is reasonable? We’ve all heard stories (or maybe have our own stories) of getting hired at what the HM or recruiter promised was a great salary only to find out two or three or eight years into the job that the guy who sits next to you, who does the exact same work, gets paid anywhere from a few thousand dollars to fifty grand more than you (as happened to Maria Klawe, now president of Harvey Mudd college, when she worked for Princeton). For most industries, there is no market research that is available to candidates on average salaries. If you’re lucky you’re in a field where people report accurately, and in sufficient numbers to be statistically sound, to Glassdoor, or you have an especially on-the-ball career resource center or alumni association providing you data, but not everyone is in such a privileged position.

                6. MK*

                  No one is suggesting that the hiring manager should have just agreed to the OP’s request. Also, there is no reason to take for granted that the OP didn’t make reasonable arguments about why they should be paid more and even less reason to think they wouldn’t have done so, if the manager had entered the negotiation (the whole point of which would be the candidate trying to convince you that the extra salary will be worth it for your business), instead of acting arrogantly and petulantly.

                  The problem with your reasoning is that you are projecting your own knowledge and feelings on the candidates. You make a generous offer, you assume that the candidates also acknowledge this and you label the ones who ask for more as clueless and the ones who don’t as smart and having done their research. In reality, and quite apart from the fact that you may not be all that objective yourself in deeming th offer generous, the candidate who tried to negotiate might have done so because they have done their homework on job-searching and it is universal advice and the candidate who took it as offered might be someone with low confidence in their abilities or not particularly invested in their career.

                  The only way this is a reasonable stance if the candidate is asking for unreasonable things.

                7. bearing*

                  At this point it just makes you a pain to interview with. The candidate does not work for you and is perfectly within his rights to negotiate.

                8. Hanh*

                  @Joey: as a candidate I also interview and assess an employer who I consider to work for. I see negotiation process is necessary and very good chance to assess the employer via how they react and handle it.
                  If master degree is important to you then do not even consider undergrad candidate. Degree for me is not the most important factor. The important one is you confident the candidate can perform the work required. So when you consider him by offering, he should feel confident he is up to the demand and hence no disadvantage from other candidates to deal with negotiation fairly.
                  It seems that you do not know what you want in the candidate and try to get cheap labor in my judgement on the way you deal with the case.
                  You think master degree important to get the job yet offer to undergrad, and when he s confident that he is really competent to the job by your offering, you think the pay should not be the same or negotiation as the same because he has no master degree even though in your own judgement he can do pretty good job (else why bother offer, if not for trying cheap labor)

              2. Headachey*

                Hey now. You can disagree with Joey – many do, today – but no personal attacks , please.

              3. Joey*

                Mike B,

                Yes you’re correct she probably is worth a few thou more. That’s not my issue. My issue is her not being able to give a business case as to why she’s worth more than what on paper at least is a generous offer.

                1. LBK*

                  Who said she can’t or didn’t? She’s not applying for a job with AAM, just because it’s not present in the letter doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

              4. Zak*

                Wow wow wow. How do you know 100s of people were interviewed ? Employer may have been burned already. This is the real world. Employees need to prove themselves. If an employer gets a bad gut feeling just like employee can vanish, it’s better to leave it and look for someone else. Somebody who accepts a job with a lower salary than they want will not really be happy. Great way to run into problems!!

            2. A Cita*

              This is a 180 from your comments on a previous post where the employer pulled an offer over a salary negotiation (and that was a more complicated case).

              Joey, are you playing devil’s advocate here?

              1. Chriama*

                I think he’s just trying to point out that there are circumstances in which a negotiation could cause an employer to justifiably full an offer — like that issue a while back about a professor getting their offer pulled because of the long list of requests they sent during a job negotiation? There are times when the request itself, or the delivery of it, make a candidate seem so out of touch that you wonder about their judgement in other areas. And I remember a commenter in the open thread (Wakeen, maybe, or Totes?) telling a story about when they went to bat to get a candidate more money even though it wasn’t in their range and that person has turned into a very dissatisfied employee and it really harmed the overall morale of their office.

                Anyway, I think Joey makes a good point., even if it doesn’t necessarily hold true in this circumstance (and he’s acknowledged that in another comment).

                1. Joey*

                  Yes. I’m speaking generally that there are times when Id highly consider pulling an offer. The op sounds fine on the surface.

            3. Anonsie*

              So what would constitute asking for it thoughtfully, in your opinion?

              In all honesty I see you jumping around on opinions here as people poke holes in your statements, and I’m really thinking you are disagreeing for its own sake at all turns rather than because you actually have a differing stance on this. You’ve fallen back on “it’s ok to ask as long as they do it professionally” which is a significant divergence from your original statement that changing the offer at all is an insult and speaks to either poor attitude or lack of practical smarts or both.

              1. Joey*

                Being able to answer “why do you think you’re worth more given that I’ve done a lot of research to ensure this offer is fair and competitive for someone of your caliber?”

                Of course I don’t say all that but if you’re going to come at me with something different I want to know youve thought about how the investment you’re asking me to make is better for my business. And if you can’t speak to that you don’t understand how my org runs its business. I don’t care if youre off or we disagree, but I want to know you went through the process of making a rational business case for everything you do because I will expect that of every decision you make as an employee.

                1. Chartreuse*

                  Wouldn’t a rational business case simply be “because if you can’t come up by this comparatively small amount you could stand to lose your top candidate” ? If it makes good business sense to choose this candidate, then it also makes good business sense to try to work with them on requested negotiations. Are you wanting them to reiterate to you all over again the same information that made you decide it made good business sense to hire them over someone else?

            4. AMG*

              I think the point is that we would need more context before being able to assess the situation. How she said it, the salary range, her qualifications, if the OP is a she, etc. Yes may be extenuating circumstances to any scenario but we don’t know that to be the case and you can’t build an opinion on them. The question is intended as a general rule, and not to find the one place where it makes sense if you squint and the lighting is just right.

        4. Citizen of Metropolis*

          Keeping salaries low is one way to make very sure that employees are continuing to job search.

            1. Spiky Plant*

              And in the example you’re citing, where you hire someone with less experience or credentials than you were looking for because they seem really promising, I’d presume you’re telling them something to that effect: “As you know, we were looking for x, y and z, but we’ve decided to give you the full offer we’d give to someone with those credentials because we’re so excited to work with you,” etc. And if you did that, yeah, I would probably look askance at a negotiation attempt too.

              Similar with the general approach of “This is our best offer. It’s on par with your experience level and what others in similar positions are making, and we feel it’s quite generous.” Sure, a new grad wouldn’t necessarily know if you were lying through your teeth (though presumably you’d be giving off other red flags if you were), but they should be able to read that well enough to know that negotiating is not a great idea.

              In either case, I wouldn’t immediately pull the offer, but I would be really, really skeptical about their judgement.

              1. Joey*

                I don’t qualify that I’m treating you fairly or generously. I expect you to make that determination on your own.

                1. Spiky Plant*

                  But if you’re a new grad with limited information, how can you make that determination? I’m fine with the idea of expecting people to not negotiate a generous offer given in good faith, but they have to have a way of knowing it’s a generous offer made in good faith (even if it’s just you saying those words, and showing they can believe you by otherwise having a great and open hiring process).

                2. Lola*

                  You are also assuming the position that you know everything to know about your market and that you’re never ever wrong, hence the offered salary is the only possibly correct amount. From that standpoint, I could see how any attempt at negotiation would be futile and grounds for rescinding offer. For candidates must understand that you’re right and they’re wrong 100% of the time.

                3. Joey*

                  Spikey, its the equivalent of telling someone you have a better idea but can’t explain how its better.

              2. Joey*

                Hi Lola,

                It might seem that way, but only if you have no basis for trying to negotiate.

                As I’ve said I just want to know the person I’m trying to hire used a rational thought process to come up with a higher number and isn’t shooting from the hip.

                1. Chartreuse*

                  The way I see it, the rational thought process is that they need Y amount to pay their bills and have a little something extra for leisure and saving for their future. You need their skills, which presumably you have already decided are worth X amount. If that’s firm, you should tell them up front. A company’s first offer is generally assumed negotiable unless stated other wise. Therefore, if you don’t state that the offer is firm, and if Y is less than X, the candidate is free to ask for Y (as long as it is somewhere in the ballpark of X, of course). And they shouldn’t be judged for it. It sounds like you are thinking candidates should just read your mind and understand that the offer is firm. That’s unreasonable.

                2. Saurs*

                  Speaking frankly, if I encountered a hiring manager who played Vulcan like this, I wouldn’t bother negotiating either.

                3. Joey*


                  I’m confident I’m making a good offer, but willing to adjust it for a good business reason if that makes sense.

                4. Chartreuse*

                  Joey, afraid that no, your statement does not make sense as it stands; it’s terribly vague.
                  Care to define your terms in a more concrete and specific way, perhaps give an example or two? What – specifically – do you mean by “good business reason”? All up and down this comment thread, I cannot seem to find any place where you actually explain clearly what you mean by that phrase. It makes me wonder if even *you* know what you mean by it.

                5. olive*

                  Well, the way you might determine that she used a rational thought process in negotiating, is to talk to her about her negotiating, to discover what her business motivation for negotiating is.
                  to dismiss her on the basis of thinking people who negotiate are challenging or flaky is nonsense. if this employer has done this each time someone negotiates, he can’t have many staff who negotiated, so what is he basing his opinion of negotiators on? even if he thinks he has good reason, it is a response that says ‘I don’t negotiate, full stop’, which is never going to work with people who do negotiate. its a case of ‘I am in charge, I know best, I rule.’ power has gone to his head.

      3. SevenSixOne*

        It’s especially frustrating because there doesn’t seem to be much advice on HOW to negotiate, what is and isn’t realistic, non-monetary things you might be able to negotiate instead of or in addition to salary, when to give in, when you shouldn’t even bother, etc. It’s rarely as simple as “Ask for more and you might get it! Lean in!! You have nothing to lose!!!”

        1. Chinook*

          “It’s especially frustrating because there doesn’t seem to be much advice on HOW to negotiate, what is and isn’t realistic, non-monetary things you might be able to negotiate instead of or in addition to salary, when to give in, when you shouldn’t even bother, etc.”

          I have to agree that the lack of advice is frustrating but I think it is because every situation is different. In different jobs, I have negotiated pay rates, vacation times or hours. When I was teacher on a reserve, the salary wasn’t negotiable but the living arrnagements were. One teacher negotiated to have a fence put around his teacherage so his dog wouldn’t take off (because one of the roaming dogs could undue knots – I saw him untie my dog from a rope). Another teacher negotiated getting a 4 bedroom townhome instead of the 2 bedroom one for the same price. We newbies had no clue you could even ask for this type of thing.

    2. Relly*

      If you think the request is out of line, you can still state your reasons behind the original salary offer without outright pulling a job offer. I don’t think it’s worth getting personally offended if someone tries to negotiate unless you state upfront that the offer is not negotiable.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        This happens all the time with people I hire. We have a set amount budgeted and I can’t deviate from it. People ask for more all the time, and I just tell them that, unfortunately, the pay rate isn’t negotiable. The ball’s in their court at that point and they can take it or leave it. I would never rescind a job offer over that.

      2. Katie the Fed*

        Exactly. The only reason I could see pulling the job offer is if they acted unprofessionally during negotiations.

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Exactly, and this is a point I think is so important to reiterate. The conversation could well have gone like this: “Is there any way to up that offer by $3k?” “No, I’m sorry– it’s a set number.” “OK, then. Thank you, let me think about it, etc.” And the candidate accepts or doesn’t. Rejecting someone for simply asking is ruthless. I feel so bad for the OP.

    3. LBK*

      I would understand if that were the explanation the manager had given – if you were already stretching, it could be tempting to just say “Are you kidding me?” and pull the offer. But to give the explanation that you’ve never had someone negotiate and you think that negotiation signals a lack of commitment!? That is a batshit insane response.

      I cannot imagine how you hire on a consistent basis and never have anyone negotiate, or even if that’s somehow the case, that you wouldn’t know that negotiation is a standard part of 99% of all hiring processes. That’s like being confused if a candidate asked for an interview or sent you a resume – I don’t know how you can hire without knowing this is part of the process.

      I can see your point that there might be understandable reasons to do this. The reason given here is not one of them.

      1. Jake*

        Heck, I’ve had several people try to negotiate with me after I told them I’ve given everything I can.

        One is a superstar admin… the best I’ve ever had.

        My response is (in an understanding tone) “this is the most I can offer, I understand if that isn’t enough, but my budget just doesn’t allow more.”

        Sometimes they walk, sometimes they accept. I can’t imagine pulling the offer over 3000 dollars though. That is fucking terrifying.

        1. Artemesia*

          I worked in an environment where people were told all the time that ‘this is the best we can do’ but where people who were highly desired or who were good negotiators routinely got much more. ‘This is the best we can do’ really meant ‘this is all we are willing to do for you.’ There are plenty of men in corporations who got much more than women hired for the same job and women were told ‘this is the best we can do.’

          I am not saying the employer can’t say that and act on it — just that I know that in many many cases, the fact is that employers have the whip hand and are willing to go as low as they can and not budge on that for people they don’t value — and that valuing is often heavily tinged with the biases that run through the culture.

        2. Jim*

          Absolutely agree, and so far out of the norm of hiring practice that it makes me seriously doubt his judgement and ability.

          Recently I was made an offer, asked for another $3000, and got it without complaint.

      2. Leah*

        “You… you want to know about bathroom breaks? I’ve never had an employee ask me about that. You’re fired.”

      3. 42*

        This makes me wonder how many excellent people they’ve lost by pulling offers. OP can’t be the first one they’ve done this to.

        1. Cordelia Naismith*

          This. It makes me wonder if this is a deliberate tactic to make sure that the only people who accept jobs there are completely desperate, like the OP. Ugh. What a huge red flag for a toxic workplace. Run away, OP, run away!

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I was wondering this, too. If the OP has been out of work for a year and they’re desperate… well that’s a toxic boss’ wet dream. Someone who can be coerced into plunging toilets or anything you want them to do because they can’t afford to quit, walk out or protest. Nevermind golden handcuffs, just regular ones of rough-hewn steel.

            IMO, OP, if you go back and use Alison’s suggestion, they may hire you after taking a lot of time to “think about it”, but they will hold that over your head because they will know they’ve got you good and hooked — you will take anything they dish out. They will know that you will not stand up for yourself and will fold under pressure. As someone else said, forget about future raises, they’ll just threaten to terminate you to keep you in line and you’ll crumple. I know you need and desperately want a job, but do you really want it like this?

            FWIW, have some good job finding vibes from a random internet stranger.

        2. Chriama*

          I expect they just have a bad work environment. The paternalistic idea that the company will always pay you what you deserve isn’t likely to attract good employees in the first place. People with better options will take up those options, and everyone left behind will feel resentful and trapped.

    4. JB*

      I don’t see how you get there. Just from reading this blog, you know that people are frequently encouraged to negotiate, even for entry level jobs. Why wouldn’t you just think that this hypothetical person was doing what they’d been told to do rather than think they have unreasonable expectations? And do you take it a step further–thinking that if they do have unreasonable expectations about salary, that necessarily means they’ll have a lack of commitment or will make a bad or unhappy employee, and so the offer should be pulled? In light of reality, your hypothetical reaction seems like unreasonable expectations to me.

      1. Joey*

        Because I expect folks not to do things that don’t make sense. And negotiating just for the sake of negotiating makes no sense. if you ask for more I’m going to ask why? If you can’t come up with some relevant justification I’m going to worry about how you’ll make decisions when you work for me.

        I don’t need robots who don’t think for themselves.

        1. thought bubble*

          Kind of harsh on the hypothetical new grad in your example, though. New grads don’t necessarily know the market rate for the job they’re applying for, or how to finesse asking for a higher number. Their job hunting knowledge comes by and large from career centers and parental advice. Not everyone’s, sure, but when I just graduated from college I didn’t know how much I was worth or what to ask for or how to find out what other people in my field were getting paid. Of course, you don’t have to be flexible, but showing a little grace is a nice thing to do for another human.

          Then again, I didn’t negotiate my first salary because I was just happy to say I got a job graduating in the middle of a recession, so there you go (and the guy I worked for bore an eerie resemblance to the hiring manager in this post).

          1. AnotherAlison*

            Maybe it’s just my field, but I felt like my first job was when I had the BEST understanding of the salaries. Everyone in my class was interviewing and getting offers, so everyone was sharing this information. I graduated in a peak year, and still didn’t negotiate. My salary was well within what everyone else was seeing, and it was for the company I had always set my sights on. I didn’t want to keep interviewing to get competing offers, and I didn’t have any unique, industry-related skills that my competing new grads lacked.

            1. JB*

              It may be the case in some fields, like yours, but when I was a new graduate it was very difficult for me to find market data. I didn’t graduate in something like a specific field of engineering where most of the graduates would have similar jobs and you could compare offers. So my peers were going into very different job fields and markets, and we had no good way to figure out whether we were getting fair offers or not.

        2. Sleepyhead*

          But that’s not what was described in the letter – he tried to negotiate and wasn’t asked why – the offer was just pulled. There’s no indication that they were trying to negotiate just for the sake of negotiating – perhaps they did have relevant reasons. The LW didn’t go into exactly why, only that they understood negotiation was a normal part of the process.

          The employer didn’t even attempt to find out why they might be asking for more, nor did they say there was no room for negotiation – they simply pulled it without any of that information.

        3. Jeff A.*

          Joey, the last time you bought a car, did you immediately offer to pay the seller the full asking price? How rude would it be for a car dealer to throw you off his lot and tell you he refuses to sell you a car just because you asked if they would accept a lower-than-sticker price offer?

          1. Joey*

            In fact I paid less than sticker. But I came with a whole bunch of justification why i should pay less. If it was a fair price to begin with I probably would have paid sticker.

        4. Joey*

          And that’s perfectly fine. If you’re not in a position to negotiate then it doesn’t make sense to.

          And just so you know where I’m coming from one of the huge things I look for, even from grads, is folks who think things through. and just blindly negotiating is a a bad sign of that.

        5. Mallorie, the recruiter*

          I actually agree with this. I have accepted offers exactly as they came, and I have negotiated. It completely depends of the situation. I would never advise anyone negotiates JUST to negotiate. If someone told me they were looking for 30k-35k, and we offered them, say, 34k, and then they tried to negotiate for 37k (3k more)… I would be annoyed.

          But I wouldn’t pull the offer. Pulling the offer is just…. not the appropriate response in this case. The only time I could EVER advocate for that, is if the person showed a completely different side, such as being extremely rude, demanding, or somehow else showing us serious red flags in their judgement or character. ASKING for more, even just a suggestion of negotiation, is not that.

          1. Spiky Plant*

            See, and if a candidate told me a range of 30K-35K and I offered them 34k, and they tried to negotiate to 37k, I would definitely consider pulling their offer, no matter how politely they did it. Unless they can build a compelling case as to what changed between when they told me their range and when I made the offer (which is totally possible), they were operating in bad faith, and I don’t really want someone like that in my workplace.

        6. Tomato Frog*

          This is a bit confusing to me. The application process and the interview and the fact they want to hire you are the justification. The applicant is stating what they think they’re worth based on the case that has already been made. This is different from asking for a change to terms that have already been established.

            1. MK*

              Have they? You said yourself bave thread that you are not there to give people money but to do what is best for the business. And I think you are deluding yourself when you proclaim how generous and fair all your offers are. I am sure you mean well and that you try to name a fair sum when your are determining the offered salary, but the fact of the matter is, you have the business’ interests at heart. It’s the candidate’s job to advocate for themselves and negotiating is their opening to do that. Penalizing them for trying (unless, as has been said, they are wildly unrealistic) is really not a reasonable response.

              1. Joey*

                No I only penalize them for making decisions by shooting from the hip. I hire for people that have good business sense which means if they ask the business to spend money they should be able to articulate how spending that money is better for the business.

                1. Anon21*

                  How, even hypothetically, are they supposed to make this case to you? Would you consider as an acceptable answer, “If you don’t pay me what I’m asking, I’ll start job searching immediately, and may leave after you’ve invested time and money in training me but before that investment pays off”? Probably not, right? Would you consider as an acceptable answer, “Because if you don’t give me what I’m asking for, I will turn down your offer, and you’ll have to go with your second choice candidate?” Probably not, right? Particularly since this impetuous offeree hasn’t even gone to the trouble of snooping through your files to find out the second choice’s qualifications so that she can articulate why she’s more valuable.

                  In the hiring process, there is inevitably an information asymmetry favoring the employer. Even if the candidate has done incredibly meticulous research about market rate salaries in your industry, they do not have the information that you have about the candidate pool for this particular opening, and it’s not information they can acquire. Since the only business case that makes sense is a case that demonstrates why the offeree is $X superior to your runner-up, you are asking candidates to do the impossible by presenting a case based on information you won’t give then.

                2. Joey*

                  Anon 21,

                  For example i would probably be willing to go higher if you said you were interviewing for a similar job with better pay or benefits. Just be prepared to give details.

        7. Cupcake*

          Actually, it sounds as though you don’t hire anyone who thinks differently than you. YOU think the offer is acceptable, they think it could be better. They ARE thinking for themselves, but simply not thinking the same thing you are.
          I agree with Allison, this type of boss would not be the person I would want to work for.

          1. Joey*

            Nope. I love to hire folks who think differently. i just expect them to explain why their idea/plan/solution is better than whats already on the table.
            If they can’t/aren’t prepared to do that then you’re right I don’t want them working for me.

            1. JB*

              But you also said that you won’t hire them if their expectations aren’t reasonable, and as cupcake said, that’s not always an objective standard. YOU think they aren’t being reasonable, but someone else might be reasonable in thinking they are.

              1. Joey*

                True, but I didn’t say I wouldn’t hire people who don’t agree with me. I said I wouldn’t hire people who have little basis for their opinions.

        8. ThursdaysGeek*

          Except that you can’t know if they are negotiating just for the sake of negotiating, or if they do have valid reasons, at least in their mind, for the negotiations. You really don’t know if they are thinking for themselves or not.

          1. olive*

            yes, you do, if you listen to them; and then you make a judgement, a decision. you decide based on the information you have. which is what the manager in the OP failed to do; he made a decision, without listening, based on a weak, judgemental and probably inaccurate, premise. it is possible to make a judgement without being judgemental, through listening and thinking. that would be the respectful way to deal with the negotiation, even if your answer is no.

        9. Variation*

          It sounds like you’re reading a lot into the submitted question. This isn’t about you or how you expect applicants to read your mind, or how they’re supposed to come pre-loaded with the information that you’re the most ethical hiring manager on the planet- this is about the OP encountering an irrational manager.

          If you’re making an offer that doesn’t accommodate negotiation, I hope you’re up front with that information.

        10. Lindsay J*

          Negotiating for the sake of negotiating does make sense for the employee, though, in most cases.

          In most cases it is a little to no-risk situation for the employee, with a potential gain. I might be perfectly happy with the salary offered. However, with an extra $3000 a year, I can afford a car payment on a nicer car.

          I also don’t necessarily know what the hiring pool looked like. I do know that I was the best candidate currently available, though. There might be a lot of very good candidates that I barely edged out for the offer to begin with. Or I could be the only good candidate that they had, and if I decline they have to go another 3 months not staffing the position while they rerun the job ads, collect new resumes, conduct more interviews, and risk not finding anyone as good or finding someone as good who asks for more money than I am.

          So I ask.

          As long as I ask politely and for something in the realm of reason, generally the worst thing that will happen is that they will say, “I’m sorry, we can’t do that. What we offered you is our highest offer and leaves no room for negotiation.” So I have no net loss from asking.

          However, if they say, “Yes, we can do that,” well, then I’m $3000 richer and still have the same great job offer.

          I understand that it doesn’t make sense for the company to negotiate just for the sake of negotiating. However, it also generally doesn’t make sense for the company to lose a good candidate by quibbling over $250 a month, given the cost of keeping a position unstaffed, going through the hiring process, and the lost opportunity cost of making a so-so hire over a good hire or a good hire over a great hire.

          1. Hanh*

            I agree with Lindsay here. And actually I consider negotiation is necessary to see the reaction of employer for further assessment the employer in addition to my judgement about them during the interview. To me negotiation is a norm and expected. So it should show the hr got enough common sense to put an offer with buffer for negotiation. If they want to give the max then must upfront say it non negotiable (but I dun consider them highly on this because flexibility is treasured by me more ).
            People keep forgetting all this hiring process is two ways. Employer assess the candidate and the candidate assess employer who they want to contribute to and grow together. I would not want to work in the place where common sense and flexibility is scarce.
            I do not read all comments here but so far the comments from the Joey guy annoyed me. If you expect candidate provide very ” good business sense “(don’t know your self-considered good sense criteria) further backup for the asking for more (even though I think highly of those who can make pretty awesome convince here), you should prepare to backup further and provide concrete reason for why your offer is generous (not by the only offer details and say that s good, good compared to what? To your competitor? To similar role in other industries? And how is it better? Please provide concrete one not just by stating so.)
            For me, common sense is the must for the people I wanna work with and it seems there aren’t much of them around.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Also, keep in mind this guy is saying he never negotiates with anyone. Which is fine if he tells people that up-front, but if he doesn’t and he’s saying he pulls offers as a matter of course for anyone who asks for more?

      1. fposte*

        Right, that’s one of those secret traps that people get paranoid about. It’s like “Oh, you asked about benefits. Bzzzt. You’re out.”

        1. Retail Lifer*

          Is that really a thing? Because if it is, I now know why I didn’t get the last two jobs I applied for…

          1. Adam*

            Yep, I’ve seen letters/commenters on here tell horror stories of people who got booted from consideration for bringing up compensation, regardless of how far along the in the process they were. One writer even got a job offer but couldn’t get the employer to name a dollar amount!

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Well, it IS true that the convention is not to get into benefits until you have an offer. If you’re doing it before that stage, that might be turning people off. I’m not saying that’s fair or reasonable, but it’s very much the convention.

            1. fposte*

              Right, I was meaning that that’s another reasonable and expectable thing for somebody to do after they get an offer.

            2. Retail Lifer*

              I always ask how much health insurance is. Every job I’m interviewing is paying in the mid $30,000’s, and insurance premiums seem to range from $80 a month upwards of $300. For jobs that all pay about the same, that upper range is a deal-breaker and I’d rather take myself out of consideration early if I’m going to have to pay that much.

          3. KTM*

            We did pull an offer recently from an entry-level candidate (straight out of school) over benefit negotiations, but it wasn’t a basic discussion of benefits. He wowed everyone in the interviews but then our HR spent 45min on the phone with him as he tried to basically negotiate a custom health care plan among other things. Turns out he liked our job but he had an offer from someplace else with benefits we could never match. This was only one of multiple high-maintenance and out-of-touch requests we received from the candidate after the offer had gone out. I don’t think we would ever pull a job offer due to reasonable negotiation requests.

        2. Kelly L.*

          Yup. That is game-playing. It’s like the boss who put a jar of jelly beans on the table and you were supposed to intuit what to do with them.

              1. Chriama*

                I love these answers! What a bunch of whackadoos. These guys sound like the kind of folks to treat people based on their personality types rather than actual observed behaviours. Oh, you’re an INTJ? Well unfortunately we can’t promote you to this management position because it’s suited for ENFPs, even though you have the most experience, have taken personal development courses, and were being groomed by the outgoing manager…

            1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

              Is there something else worthwhile to do with jellybeans?

              I guess other than sort them into piles by color. That’s fun too.

              I suppose if that actually happened to me, I’d immediately ask “Are these for me?” and I presume they’d either be weirdly silent (move on to the “dump out, sort, and then eat” plan, and just write these people off) or they’d say “…Sure?” (move on to the “dump out, sort, and eat plan” and feel entirely good about my decision, come what may).

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I’d want to know whether they were Jelly Belly jellybeans (the only acceptable kind), and then I might eat them. If they were the nasty kind of 1970’s easter-basket jelly beans, I’d make a mental note to look for other red flags indicating poor taste and/of judgment on the part of the company.

                1. olive*

                  possibly, the only thing to do if an interviewer plonks a jar of jelly beans down on the table is move them aside. what have jelly beans reasonably got to do with interviews and job offers? nothing.

      2. John*

        It then makes you wonder what would happen when you come due for an increase.

        Yes, no employee should be able to dictate their merit increases, but I’d like to feel my employer will listen when I address concerns with how my salary/increases are aligned with my performance and positions at similar companies.

      3. Joey*

        Oh I’m speaking generally that there are occasions where I might pull an offer if someone tried to negotiate.

        This dude sounds like an ass and the op sounds like she was fine, unless her email came across as a demand instead of negotiation.

    6. AnotherAlison*

      I am on Team Joey with this one. Would I personally have pulled the offer? No. But, I think the candidate was wrong to negotiate in this case.

      The OP has been job searching for a year with many interviews and no offers. (It’s not completely clear if the OP is unemployed, but my impression is that they were.) The OP doesn’t say what their basis for asking for $3,000 more was. . . was it that the job required XYZ skills and the OP had ABC in addition to XYZ? Or more experience? I don’t really understand negotiating when you have no position to negotiate from. It’s different if you have a job or multiple offers, and you can have a “take it or leave it” attitude with this offer.

      I also see the employer’s POV that the new employee may not be content with the original offer. I would personally make my offer lower, and have an allowance for negotiation so you would not be in this situation as the employer, but it’s their call on how they want to hire.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*


        I try to negotiate literally any offer I receive, unless they have been explicit that they are offering me the most they can, or there are unbendable rules about salary ranges (government, etc.). (I say “try” because I’m actually a wimp. I have my principles and then I have my actions and – sigh – they aren’t always in alignment.)

        We know, for sure, with tons of research to back it up, that people who ask for more get more. And that men ask for more than women, and are paid for as a result (and, um, receive higher offers to begin with, but that’s another story).

        Nobody has “no position to negotiate from,” unless your definition of negotiation means “Give me $35,000 or give me death.” Certainly many people can’t walk away from an offer, even if it’s bad. But that doesn’t mean they can’t or shouldn’t negotiate.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Sure, in most cases I agree with what you are saying, but most people ARE negotiating from some position of strength — they have a job and want a better one, or they could even be a new grad. New grads can have competing offers, no bills requiring an immediate income, or even stellar internships and grades. Who knows. But, it’s also naive to say there is zero risk in negotiating. The risk might be small — maybe .01% of negotiations end like this. I don’t know the real stats. I’ve been in positions on other negotiations where my response to counter offers was, “No thanks, now I’m no longer interested in buying/selling at any price.”

          The OP walked away from a sure thing over $40 a week. They didn’t see it coming, and that’s understandable, but people rarely measure risk properly and sometimes this happens.

          1. AnotherAlison*

            (Also. . .I did negotiate when I joined my company, although that was a million years ago. They could have easily pulled my offer, but I had a good job already, so if it happened, it happened.)

          2. VintageLydia USA*

            The OP wasn’t given the chance to walk away from a sure thing, though, and if told it was non-negotiable it doesn’t look like they would’ve walked, either. It’s the employer who is walking away over the suggestion of $40 a week increase that they could have said no to. We are told constantly that we need to negotiate, that we shouldn’t leave money on the table.
            We are not the orphans in Oliver Twist. If we have an offer, by definition we have a place to negotiate from. It means someone thought we were good enough to offer a job to, to exchange services for cash and other benefits. Negotiating is just coming to a mutual agreement for payment. It’s normal and not inherently combative or disrespectful. It happens all the time at all levels of most industries.

            1. AnotherAlison*

              I feel like you’re trying to argue that theory always translates to real life. I agree with the theory, but the a$$hole employer exists in real life. Negotiation is normal, but sometimes this happens.

              Honestly, I almost really effed up a business deal last week and almost lost $150,000 (aka, the entire profit margin). It was a situation where I was in a negotiation and didn’t know I was in a negotiation. I was following the direction provided to me by the top executive of my division and my immediate manager, and I thought I was presenting numbers and another manager was going to be negotiating terms later. That manager flipped out on me and told me that I was inherently presenting terms, and if the other party interpreted those terms the other way, than they might have forced us into accepting those terms. I get what you’re saying. I read the stuff about women negotiating and all that, too. My point is that shit goes south in a hurry, and you can’t expect a cordial back and forth all the time.

              1. VintageLydia USA*

                I just don’t see how we’re supposed to psychically know who will be the unreasonable employers like the one in the letter and who aren’t. Especially since the ones who aren’t way outnumber the ones who are. This situation is in no way analogous to the one you described because again, negotiating at the point of offer is normal and expected and $3000/year is not an outrageous number to ask for. You were put in a bad situation due to lack of communication and clear expectations. That’s not the case in a salary negotiation.

                1. AnotherAlison*

                  You can’t know. That’s why I’m saying if you are in a position where you really need to accept the job (as offered or otherwise), you don’t negotiate. This is probably a very small percentage of job seekers.

                  And it’s not really about accepting a complete crap offer, either, IMHO. I’m not telling a senior marketing manager to go take an entry level associate job at half the pay and be happy about it, but in this situation, the difference was $3,000. Unless this was a very low wage job, $3,000 isn’t a huge amount of money that’s going to change your life, but going from unemployment to having a regular income is life changing.

                2. Sospeso*

                  AnotherAlison, good point (for some reason, can’t reply to your specific post). “You can’t know. That’s why I’m saying if you are in a position where you really need to accept the job (as offered or otherwise), you don’t negotiate. This is probably a very small percentage of job seekers.”

                  I think the OP is weighing this out. It sounds like the OP’s thinking he/she *needs* this job, but might not *want* it after this employer’s response. That’s a tough spot to be in. I’d love to hear an update on this one.

                3. ThursdaysGeek*

                  @AnotherAlison – that is why those of us who have been laid off end up getting paid way less than our previous jobs – because half a loaf is better than no bread. And it’s not a small percentage of job seekers at all. We DO have to accept crap offers, because that’s what is out there, what is being offered. I only got a $15k pay decrease, my former boss went down about $40k. But hey, it’s a job and we should be thankful!

                4. LBK*

                  That just plain doesn’t make sense to me. You also can’t know ahead of time if the employer hates red shirts and never hires anyone who wears one to an interview – which to me would be equally absurd as rejecting anyone who tries to negotiate.

                  No matter how desperate you are for a job, you can’t be expected to prepare for abnormal situations. You can still only do your best to follow hiring norms, which the OP did here.

        2. Joey*

          But why would you negotiate an offer with no justification for it?. It just doesn’t make sense to ask the company to pay you more without being able to tell them why they should.

          1. Colette*

            Some companies deliberately offer less than they expect to pay to leave room for negotiation. You can’t tell from the outside whether that’s the case or whether they made what they believe is an appropriate offer.

            1. fposte*

              Right, this is where hiring is like car-buying, not like dating. If you’re a flat-price lot, you say up front, but otherwise it’s the norm to negotiate, and it’s enough of a norm that even a flat-price dealer is going to get people trying to do it.

            2. Xay*

              Exactly. The only reason why I received a signing bonus at my current job is because I negotiated for it. If I hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have gotten it.

          2. brownblack*

            “I think I’m worth more.” A lot of negotiation doesn’t get a whole lot more sophisticated than that. You don’t have to present them with charts that illustrate how you will increase income 30% more than other candidates. And, of course, the company doesn’t have to agree with you.

            1. Jen S. 2.0*

              Also, whatever your starting salary is will determine future raises — in a year this person will be looking at a 7% (or whatever) raise from this salary. This number determines future compensation. That alone is for me reason enough to work to raise starting salary to its max.

              I do not understand people who act as if employees are not supposed to want money in exchange for working.

              1. Beebs*

                “I do not understand people who act as if employees are not supposed to want money in exchange for working.”

                This x1000. I often say this. I think it needs to be said more often. Can we please stop pretending that people want to work for the sake of working.

                1. Sospeso*

                  Yesss! There’s an old Dave Chappelle joke where he’s being interviewed for a food service job. Paraphrasing here:

                  “Tell us why you want to work at Smoothie Emporium.”
                  “Well, I’ve always had a passion for smoothies…. Man, I’m BROKE!”

            2. Joey*

              That’s just not good enough for me. If you’re telling me my salary research is wrong by asking for more you’d better come with data or show me what I missed.

              1. KHB*

                Are you sharing the details of your salary research with your prospective employees when you give them your initial offer? If not, why do you expect them to do the same for you?

              2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

                But that’s just it. You’re not presenting the Platonic ideal of a job offer… you’re offering a specific amount to a specific person. That’s based on research, but it’s also based on what you want to pay. Their counter offer is based on their research, but also on what they want to receive. Research will show you what companies tend to pay (or what employees like the one you’re considering tend to get paid), but it’s a range. By definition, some employees like yours get paid above average and some below.

                1. Joey*

                  If their offer is based on their research Id simply want them to articulate what info they used to come up with a different number. if they have no basis for it then that’s when I question whether I should pull the offer (not that I absolutely will.) it’s fine if we disagree I just require a real why that shows you’ve attempted to make a business case for it and aren’t just spouting baseless jabber

              3. nona*

                Are you sharing your research and letting applicants know what you require to negotiate? Because this sounds like anyone who asks to negotiate is set up to fail unless they bring up research by coincidence.

          3. AntherHRPro*

            I know everyone on the intranet says to negotiate, but not all employers do. And I do not agree with negotiating just for the sake of it. Some employers (mine included) pay a very respectable and competitive salary and their first offer is their best and last offer. It is a little unreasonable to pull the offer just because the candidate asked for more, assuming it was done professionally and the amount they were asking was reasonable, but I have seen situations where trying to negotiate has soured hiring managers.

            So negotiate at your own risk, be reasonable and professional and decide up front if it is worth it or not.

          4. Chriama*

            But I think the justification is that you offered them a job. Unless you make a point of offering *very* competitive salaries, a difference of 3 or 5 k is probably not even noticeable when looking at data for the overall market.

            And it could be a difference in benefits. My company contributes 8% to my retirement account and matches another 4% of my contributions. 12% of my salary is more than I’ve heard of anyone else offering, and I would definitely want a few thousand more for a company that didn’t have those benefits.

            Now a new grad may not have any benefits to compare to your offer, but I think often times 3 or even 5 thousand is money just left on the table if you don’t negotiate.

          5. nk*

            One school of thought on this is that many (most?) jobs require you to do some kind of negotiating or advocating on behalf of your company or department. And if you won’t negotiate for yourself, will you do it for the company?

          6. MK*

            The offer itself has no justification to it either. Joey, you are arguing from the frankly unrealistic position that the offer has to be considered fair until proven otherwise and that the burden of this proof is on the candidate who has to justify even questioning it. The only way that would be reasonable is if the offer came with a brief explanation: “We are offering you X, because you have A, B, and C skills, but lack D and E”; in that case, yes, the candidate should come up with specific reasons.

        3. Chinook*

          “I try to negotiate literally any offer I receive, unless they have been explicit that they are offering me the most they can, or there are unbendable rules about salary ranges (government, etc.). (I say “try” because I’m actually a wimp. I have my principles and then I have my actions and – sigh – they aren’t always in alignment.) ”

          I have negotiated within a set salary range scale by saying that I didn’t want to be in the low end of it. Of course, it probably helped that I had been their temp and been working in payroll and knew what every one else made. :)

      2. Sospeso*

        See, I found the employer’s statement – “My experience is that if a new employee is not content that he or she didn’t get enough in the beginning, it results in lack of commitment.” – insightful, but not in the way that he meant it. I completely agree that if a new employee feels that they were low-balled when they were coming onboard, it very well might result in a lack of commitment. So – and this is where my stance varies – doesn’t it make sense to try to address that on the front end by negotiating, or at the very least explaining why an counteroffer isn’t realistic?

        Instead, he’s not really addressing that at all. Candidates refraining from negotiating could be due to a number of other factors (e.g., not having a good idea of what they should be paid, new to the workforce, coming off a long bout of unemployment, fear, etc.), and does not necessarily indicate that they’re satisfied with the initial pay offer. He doesn’t know that all his other employees don’t fit into the same category as the OP – potentially dissatisfied with their initial pay offer. What a strange strategy.

        1. puddin*

          This is exactly what I thought…The employer’s statement is contradictory. The only loophole I can think of (to have it makes sense to my pea brain) is that he cannot negotiate at all per company policy. And in the past he has hired people/a person who tried to negotiate, he said no to the salary bump but hired anyway, and they were horrible. Still, even if that were the case, it is a poorly constructed deduction and has nothing to do with the current candidate (the OP).

          I don’t think its a strategy so much as a fear driven impulse. But I guess fear can be a strategic method??

      3. Sospeso*

        Also, we don’t know that the OP didn’t provide a strong basis for the pay bump when he/she emailed the employer. People become unemployed for many reasons, only some of which are related to job performance; I believe good employers understand this. I don’t think it’s fair of us to assume that the OP was unemployed (if he/she was, in fact, unemployed) due to job performance. And we don’t know what kind of industry the OP is looking for work in, or what the job market in the area is like. It’s entirely possible that the OP had a strong position to negotiate from.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          It’s entirely possible that the OP had a strong position to negotiate from. No, it’s really not. The employer obviously held better cards than the OP. This doesn’t mean the OP is a bad employee or bad person — the OP could still be a top performer. I never made that assumption.

          The OP could be an 8-time dundie award winner, and their position is still weak if they need a job due to their income situation, if the competition is strong, if the employer isn’t in a hurry to hire, or if the job market is weak. The negotiating position considers many factors outside of the candidate’s personal characteristics.

          1. Sospeso*

            I think that many of the factors you used as examples in considering the OP’s negotiation position are things we don’t know. We can infer some of it from her letter, but as I said earlier, we really don’t know. Does she even say that she’s not working currently? You seem pretty confident that she had no position to negotiate from, but there are so many unknown factors, I am not comfortable making that call.

            Also, it seems like the OP is still deciding whether she wants to go back to this employer or not. (“So my question is, should I frame a response that essentially begs asks for the first offer since I am content with it? Or should I just let this (as painful as it is) go?”) It sounds like she’s leaning toward going back. However, she may decide not to contact the employer again. In my mind, that means that she did have a position from which to negotiate because she was willing to walk away if her goals weren’t met. The employer just wasn’t willing to play.

            And I shudder to think what this work environment is like if employees negotiating *at all* is a deal-breaker, which the manager’s response suggests. Are those really such great “cards”? I don’t think so, and I think that is part of what the OP is trying to decide.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              No, she was asking if there was any hope if she did go back. It didn’t sound like she was willing to walk away, but rather asking if there was any way to salvage this first job offer in a year.

              1. Sospeso*

                Oh. Huh. I guess could see that. I was reading it as, “Should I try to salvage this job offer, or should I let it go?”

          2. Lizzy May*

            Hiring is an expensive and time consuming process. Every person who has an offer in hand has at least a bit of leverage because they were the best candidate. An employer who pulls an offer either has to go with a second choice who may not be as strong or start the hiring process over which comes at a cost. Depending on the employer’s needs that could result is a very small amount of leverage or a very large one. Candidates can’t know from the outside but no one with an offer has nothing going for them at all.

          3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            But it also includes realities about the employer. Maybe this employer churns through employees, so they need to get the next one in the pipeline. Perhaps a key employee left unexpectedly and their biggest program starts next month.

      4. LBK*

        That’s all fine to consider from the interviewee’s perspective when they decide whether to negotiate or not, but a) the employer doesn’t really have an idea of the interviewee’s level of desperation, so it’s not relevant and b) even if they do, I don’t consider that a valid factor in making a hiring decision. It strikes me as shady as hell to base your offer on how badly you think the person needs it (eg lowballing them because you know they don’t have a choice).

        Neither side should be basing their salary expectations on the interviewee’s financial situation. It’s none of your damn business if this is a last resort job – if the person’s qualifications make them worth the higher salary, they’re worth it whether they’re living off a trust fund or living off welfare.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          It strikes me as shady as hell to base your offer on how badly you think the person needs it (eg lowballing them because you know they don’t have a choice).

          This is not at all what I meant. I meant with ALL candidates, I would make offers at the lower end of the range I am willing to pay, assuming that ALL candidates (weakly positioned or strongly positioned) would negotiate. I offer $100K, but I think you’re value is in the range of $95-$105. You come back at $110, and then I say $105, and everyone is satisfied that both parties gave a little.

          I was just making the point that my offer strategy would be different than the employer in the OP’s case. Same as the people on Craigslist who say “price is firm.” It’s better to list a higher price and take an offer so the buyer thinks they got a deal.

        2. AnotherAlison*

          And you’re kind of harsh towards me, considering you totally misinterpreted what I meant. : )

          1. LBK*

            I still don’t really know how else to interpret this:

            I don’t really understand negotiating when you have no position to negotiate from. It’s different if you have a job or multiple offers, and you can have a “take it or leave it” attitude with this offer.

            I don’t know what “no position to negotiate from” means in this context – financial situation has no bearing on having a position to negotiate from, because salary is about worth, not need. Without knowing the OP’s qualifications and the requirements for the role, we have zero information about the strength of her position to negotiate.

      5. Jeff A.*

        I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you’re saying you’d consider a desperate candidate with no other options your preference to one who sees their skills in the workplace as having value. I don’t see how that kind of hiring philosophy could lead you to have the best team possible.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          No, not what I meant. See response to LBK.

          It wouldn’t necessarily be a signal to me of the candidate’s position if he negotiated or not. All I am saying is from the CANDIDATE’s perspective, you better be damn sure of how much you need this job before you go into a negotiation.

          1. Jeff A.*

            Gotcha. I misunderstood – I’m with you 100% on knowing where you value your labor as both employer and applicant (market value, acceptable salary range, unacceptable salary range).

          2. "I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea."*

            I would really hesitate to say “Yes, I really need the job you are offering, just not at the terms you are offering”.

      6. Beebs*

        As someone who was in a similar position as the OP having been unemployed for an extended period of time, as much as you want an offer, it has to have some quality to it. I mishandled my salary negotiation because the employer was not upfront with compensation even though they had given me an “offer” and I wanted to negotiate, but at the same time I just wanted to lock down the deal, so I didn’t follow up and push for more when they finally revealed their number. Now I am paying the consequences of that decision. Subsequently I am spending my energy focusing on how I can somehow transition out of this role or find a better paying job. A small investment from the employer may be significant to the employee financially. Also, not having current employment does not mean you should take anything handed to you, as evidenced by my situation.

    7. Ellie H.*

      I can understand both perspectives. If the offer was extremely generous and showed real faith in an unproven candidate, I can see how attempting to negotiate could make a candidate seem extremely out of touch and not adequately understanding the nature of the role, such that it would give you serious doubts about him or her. Pulling the offer immediately without any further discussion still seems extreme to me unless the candidate made the negotiation attempt in an off-putting way that further confirmed a poor understanding of professional norms and the role.

    8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Pulling an offer because someone negotiates, I don’t care what amount they ask for, is wrong.

      If the amount they suggest is off the wall, and that makes you feel it could be bad match after all, that’s the part you address.

      “Oh dear, this job cannot pay an extra $25,000 year and, frankly, I can’t forsee you getting to the salary you are requesting for many, many years here. We can’t offer anything more than we originally offered. It sounds like we’re not a match here. What do you think?”

      I’ve pulled a job offer once in my life. After extending the offer, there was a misunderstanding about benefits The employee to be misread the benefit information that was sent to her and she thought we were bait and switching her from what she’d been told verbally. She went batshit crazy screaming at me on the phone and then…, oh, nevermind. I didn’t waste a beat in telling her that I had to rescind her offer.

      Other than somebody doing a Batshit Reveal, pulling job offers is bad karma.

      1. Joey*

        You wouldn’t worry about someone leaving if he “took” $25k less than what he wanted? If you’re not that worried about turnover that might make sense, but ive seen too many times where the issue doesn’t die until the person finally leaves.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Oh, I *always* worry when we are too far apart in numbers. I don’t like it at all.

          We’ve built a lot of pre-negotiation into our process before we ever get to offer so there’s no big surprises on either parties end when an offer is made.

          FWIW, $3000 is the magic figure that everybody seems to want beyond any offer that’s made. It’s so common that we have “split the difference” built into the budget. True story.

          1. puddin*

            Would you consider the full $3k if the candidate and position warranted it? Just curious…

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              If someone is sought out for their professional experience and talent, with a bunch of employment years under their belt, that’s an entirely different negotiation from our typical situations. If you want/need someone badly enough, anything is possible. “Here, take my car too!”

              Typically, we’re hiring people in either their first or second job in the work world, at entry level. Virtually everybody has been taught to negotiate, so we preload with a win/win opportunity.

              We have a little flexibility for really impressive candidates or someone with relevant work experience.

              1. puddin*

                Ooohh goody! What kind of car is it? I prefer European Touring Sedans or a black and gold Firebird with T tops.

              2. C Average*

                I’m curious, given what you’ve shared here, whether you’d look askance at someone who didn’t negotiate.

                I’ve literally never negotiated, ever. For a long time, it simply wasn’t on my radar as a thing one did. I graduated in ’96, and I don’t recall it being standard career advice at that point. And I’ve just never thought about compensation through the lens of “what do I deserve?” or “what are my peers making?” I’ve always only thought in terms of “what do I need to get by?” and “how much do I want this job?” (The answers, respectively, were usually “not much” and “a whole lot.”)

                Also, it’s been quite firmly ingrained in me that as the owner of an English degree, I’m lucky to be gainfully employed at all.

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                  Honestly, my honest advice (this horrid situation in the OP not withstanding), in today’s world, you’re probably leaving something on the table if you don’t. “Everybody” negotiates.

                  Disclaimer: I don’t work in every industry, I don’t know the cultural norms in every nook and cranny, and the people who work in your (the general “your”) field are better able to give advice.

                2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                  P.S., I don’t look “askance” if I hear an new hire didn’t negotiate, but I am surprised.

                3. Mike C.*

                  Yeah, I didn’t negotiate on my current job, but that’s because I was crawling up the walls trying to get out of my last one, and they offered me a 70% pay raise. I later found out that the folks who were hired with me had similar offers, and that there were pay bands to determine pay rates.

                4. Joey*

                  Ask yourself this question when you decide to negotiate and you have your answer.

                  “Am I prepared to justify why I’m worth more than what they’re offering?”

          2. Erin*

            Agreed. We have a lot of “ballpark” conversations to make sure we are in the right range. I’m happy to negotiate at formal, verbal offer stage but we are never that far off. If the offer is really the max we can do, I comminicate that clearly as part of the conversation.

    9. Allison*

      I might pull an offer if someone demands an extra 10k, or if someone was rude or unprofessional in their negotiation tactic, but I think pulling an offer over a mere 3k is a little extreme, whether you were being generous or not.

      People are told to negotiate over major things like salary, and the common idea is that if someone accepts a job offer without negotiating salary, or a house or car without negotiating price, they’re an idiot who doesn’t know their worth, or the value of a dollar. And yes, it’s risky and needs to be done well, but it’s generally considered part of the process when a large amount of money is involved.

    10. Mike C.*

      Unless you actually spell this out, how in the heck is a candidate supposed to know that you were actually being generous?

      1. Joey*

        Research. If I require experience and you come with none-sign. If I require a masters and you come with none-sign. If you didn’t do any market research-sign. If you can’t answer “why” you’re worth more- sign.

    11. Hooptie*

      I agree, Joey, that there is a place and time to pull offers. One of my biggest regrets was not pulling an offer after the candidate countered twice. This person did not have the experience we were looking for, but we like to promote from within and felt that while very green, they had a lot of potential. Their first counter was more than I made as the department manager. The second was $1000 less than the first, even after explaining that we were taking a risk by hiring them based on potential and I would be spending a lot of time training and coaching them as a new supervisor. I’m not going to go into details, but I’m still paying for that bad decision.

      In the OP’s situation, however, I think the potential employer was a first rate jerk and like Allison said, she dodged a bullet.

    12. MBA*

      My MBA program has drilled it into our heads to ALWAYS negotiate so I have every plan to do so when given an offer – even if I’m very happy. The only way I won’t negotiate, is if they say up front that they are being generous or the offer is non-negotiable.

      To be very honest, I hate the idea of negotiating because it makes me feel ungrateful. However, as several others stated, women are often blamed for their low pay as compared to men. With this in mind, I feel obligated to always try to negotiate lest I’m leaving money on the table.

      My own personal experience probably colors my thinking as well. At my last job, I got a major promotion. It wasn’t said explicitly, but I believe my new salary was based on my old one although the jobs really had nothing to do with each other. The math worked out to a perfectly round percentage bump and the percentage bump was mentioned over the phone when the offer was given. I was happy with the pay because it fell in the ranges of what I might expect. Not knowing any better, I took it with a smile thinking that trying to negotiate would show I was ungrateful. Come to find out later, that I was the very lowest paid out of all others with the same title. I still thought… “oh..well…maybe there’s a good reason.”

      I had become good friends with a senior manager from another department. When I left my job, the manager and I had a goodbye lunch and somehow got into a conversation about pay. The manager said that they knew I got paid less than everyone else and it was a completely wrong and unfair as I did some of the best work in the organization. Hearing that come from another manager, really changed my outlook and has made me feel like I really need to advocate for myself even if I think I’m happy with a situation.

    13. The Toxic Avenger*

      There was a lot of contention in this thread – after reading all the comments, it seems to me that Joey was trying to say:
      1. He makes fair offers. You buy cheap, you get cheap.
      2. If a candidate wants more than he offers, they should justify it with something tangible. “I deserve more” doesn’t cut it. If a candidate makes a compelling case to get more, he would consider accepting their counter offer.
      3. If a candidate counters an offer, and they are a jackass about it, he may consider pulling the offer. He may consider sticking to the original price, depending on the circumstances.

      Is this an accurate summary?

  3. Journalist Wife*

    I also wonder how the candidate phrased the negotiation since it doesn’t say. Like, did OP say, “I would have to have [offer + $3k] in order to accept” or did OP simply ask if the range was negotiable and that X was what he/she had more in mind? Still not condoning this jerk for not instead saying, “Sorry, but your offer was our limit so think about it and let us know.” Just wondering.

    1. anon23*

      yeah definitely curious to how OP worded the negotiation. DEFINITELY not saying she deserved it, but would be interesting to see.

        1. blackcat*

          I have heard the undergrads where I work say that career services says always ask for 2-5k more, depending on the sector. If you don’t have a sense of what’s typical, they say 3k. Always ask for 3k more. It’s enough to notice but little enough that the employer is likely to go for it. It’s their standard advice.

          1. AntherHRPro*

            I really don’t understand the advice to always ask for more. If the package is what you were looking for or better why would you ask for more. I think blindly asking for more shows that the candidate does not have reasonable expectations or understand the market value for the position.

    2. OhNo*

      Even if the OP’s phrasing was poor, I would have expected a more professional (and reasonable!) response from the hiring manager. The response the OP got from them was neither, in my opinion.

      I can’t help but wonder, if the OP does try to salvage the situation, what are the chances the manager is going to come back with an even lower number? Like, “Oh, well since i now have doubts about your commitment, I’m only comfortable offering you $X lower than my original offer.”

      Ugh, what a jerk!

      1. Chriama*

        Well if that was the case, you’d know the guy is just full of it and the workplace os likely full of dissatisfied and/or low-performing employees. But honestly, I think it’s more likely that this guy views interviewing as a one-way street and has unrealistic ideas about employer-employee relations.

        1. HAnon*

          That’s exactly what I was thinking. This same scenario happened to me a couple of years ago. They made me an offer and I thanked them and said I needed a couple of days to think about it, and asked some additional questions about benefits, etc (it had not come up in our previous conversations). She got spooked, sent me an email detailing her concerns about my “hesitation and lack of commitment” and rescinded the job offer. I freaked out and emailed her back, called and left a voicemail reiterating my interest. Never heard back from her. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t get the job because I ended up moving to a new city and I’m in a much better place in my life. But the experience definitely shook me up. Being a few years down the road, I now think that employers who do this think that employees are theirs to do with exactly as they please, almost a sense of ownership/entitlement. Employers who don’t understand negotiation and mutual benefit are going to have high turnover and low pay rates, IMO.

          1. Chriama*

            I’m sorry that happened to you, and I’m glad you recovered from it. I think everyone hearing about this should know that good employers don’t do stuff like this. Unfortunately, not everyone has the luxury of screening for good employers.

            1. JB*

              At some courts that do legal clerkships, you are expected to accept the offer as soon as it’s offered, and it looks bad if you don’t. But you don’t walk out of the final interview without knowing what the salary and benefits would be if you got the offer, so you already had time to think about whether you want the job before you get the offer, and there’s a line of people behind you who really want the job. So it seems either unprofessional or clueless to ask for extra time to think about it. That is the only situation I can think of where it makes sense to get annoyed if someone asks for time to think about an offer.

              HAnon’s situation sounds awful.

          2. Mallorie, the recruiter*

            I had a manager once who was turned off that the candidate did not accept right away. When I told her “I spoke to so-and-so, she’s calling me back tomorrow!” the manager was like, whaaaaat, I don’t know how I feel about that.

            Really? You don’t want someone to talk it out with family, etc? Wow. Thankfully, I talked her off the ledge and the candidate accepted. But hiring managers are WEIRD.

            1. Jeff A.*

              I had a manager like that when I first graduated (owner of a small business). Everything was Be grateful for whatever I offer you / His word was final / Take it or leave it / if you don’t like it, there’s the door / etc. And he couldn’t figure out why he could never retain his good employees and all the ones who stayed resented him. Eesh it was pretty painful to watch sometimes.

      2. A Dispatcher*

        I wonder/worry about this too. I certainly can’t blame OP for going back and trying again for the job, but it definitely signals he/she NEEDS this job and I bet this (horrible) manager would pick up on this too, and probably use it as leverage.

    3. Karowen*

      But if it was a matter of phrasing, why would the hiring manager say that they never negotiate? It’s possible that the phrasing was bad but I can’t imagine that it was the reason behind rescinding the job offer.

      1. fposte*

        Right. It doesn’t sound like the OP’s approach had anything to do with it; if you negotiate at all, he’s done with you.

  4. POF*

    This is very interesting – because I almost pulled the plug on a candidate this week. This candidate was very skilled and experienced but also lacked a degree in finance or accounting – which is typically a requirement. I was wow’d by his interview – which included discussion of case studies and technical aspects of the job.
    He gave a range where the bottom was $5,000 above where our compensation analyst would place him. I went to bat, convinced HR to go $5k more ( which meant I needed to fund some parity issues in this dept ). He immediately said he wasn’t happy with that and wanted closer to his upper range. We said take it or leave it – offer only stands for 24 hours.
    I happen to know that the offer is close to what he is currently making, this is a lateral move and will involve some learning curves , and the organization he is with is downsizing like crazy.

    I felt it was a very fair offer, given the market and I had a secod candidate ready to place an offer to.

    So sure – some negotiation is expected, but at some point you eitherwant the job or not.

    I do agree this guy sounds like a jerk. I think instead of lack of committment, he meant to say that you may not stay long term if you are not happy at the beginning, you may be wanting more money and the company may not be able to do that.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Interesting example. Did you use the fact that while he had experience he lacked a degree and use that argument in your counter? Also, would u have been willing to review salary if he finished the degree? I ask because I know someone who is trying to move up in accounting (10 years experience but no degree) and the glass ceiling keeps hitting her because she does not have a degree.

    2. fposte*

      And I think that’s a good illustration that there are shades on this. If you ask for more money than your stated range, that needs to be handled very carefully because there’s a huge risk of squandering good will by moving the goalposts. I think there are situations where it may still be valid to try (the range provided was before you knew about a key higher-value expectation or responsibility, for instance), but that’s a different dynamic, IMHO.

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        I agree. Saying you’ll take $50,000 – $60,000 and then being disappointed when they offer you $51,000 isn’t the same thing as getting an offer for $50,000 (without having offered a range) and asking for $53,000.

        I actually wrote in about exactly this three years ago. I was cornered into offering a range. They made an offer in high end of the range (~$5,000 below the high end of the range) and I was wondering whether it was possible to try to push it at all. Alison said no (because no new information had emerged – I was just wondering if I could, for the hell of it, ask for more).

        1. Chriama*

          Would that change if you got some information about their benefits package that you didn’t have before? Like, “I’m really excited to take this position, but given that you only offer 2 weeks of vacation I’m wondering if we can discuss my overall compensation?” Or would that still be a no?

          1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Definitely yes. If you get more information (the benefits are crappy, the job has different responsibilities than you originally understood, etc.) you should be able to revisit your previous estimate of an appropriate range.

        2. puddin*

          Victoria Nonprofit (USA)’s experience is an example of why my ranges are less than $5k and do not end in zero or five for the thousand position. For example, my stated range (when asked) would be 24,000-28,000 NOT 20,000-25,000 or 25,000-30,000.

          Not sure if this really helps my job offers or if it just makes me feel better.

    3. it happens*

      So, here’s my question – if I give a range I’d be comfortable with, doesn’t that imply that I’d be comfortable at any point on that range? Sure, I’d love the high end, but I wouldn’t walk away from the low end or else I wouldn’t have given to you…

      1. Steve G*

        I was thinking while reading this “I better double check if I REALLY am comfortable about some of the salary amounts I am putting out there” in this job search!

      2. Joey*

        If you say you’re happy with a range that better be true.

        That’s why I always say the range you want (not the bottom line that you need) and say you’re negotiable

      3. Jeff A.*

        When I give a salary range to a prospective employer, my assumption is that we will settle on an actual figure that makes sense AFTER both parties have done due diligence and determined how well each feels the applicants skill set matches with the employer’s role. It can be really difficult to tell from a job posting what the actual responsibilities of a position will entail, and so the low end of my salary range may not be satisfactory once I’ve actually learned enough about the position to make the decision.

      4. Meg Murry*

        After learning the hard way, I always add on the caveat of “of course I’d have to calculate the actual range once I see the whole package including benefits” after having been burned once by a company that offered me the very bottom of the range I asked for and then sending me the benefits package where the only health insurance offered was 100% employee funded – the employer didn’t cover a thing, so if I took that job I would have been losing money compared to my current position.

      5. Malissa*

        When cornered I give a very broad range with a qualifier. Yesterday I had a phone screen with a recruiter and got cornered. My response was $60-$80 depending on benefits. Mostly because I would be happy at the lower end if they ponied up on paid insurance, paid days off, and if I though the environment was going to be something that wouldn’t stress me out. My current employer tried to peg me at the bottom of my range and I negotiated 10% up because they don’t offer hardly any benefits.
        The qualifier in there gives you room for negotiation.

      6. Mallorie, the recruiter*

        I would say that if you are offered within your range, and NO NEW INFO has come up (like half way through the process, you learn they would like to have XYZ and you DO have XYZ, or you will have to travel 20% of the time or SOMETHING) then negotiating is in bad faith.

        If you say “I’m looking for around 30k-35k” and I offer you 30k…. there should really be a reason if you are asking for more.

        Having said that though, I would not pull an offer. I might turn you down, but I would not pull an offer. The only thing that would freak me out is someone suddenly saying they need 40k+, because then we would be so far off, I would be afraid of turn over. But even then I wouldn’t pull the offer, but I would have a conversation with the candidate to truly make sure this job is still a fit.

        1. Jeff A.*

          I don’t think it’s negotiating in bad faith. If I state I’m looking for a range of 30-35, that doesn’t mean I’m negotiating in bad faith if I don’t accept an offer of 30 after I consider it more carefully. Likewise if you post a job and state the salary range will be between 100-120, it’s not bad faith if your offer to the applicant is less than 120. Negotiating in bad faith would be if you gave a salary range of 30-35 and then when an offer was made tell the employer you wouldn’t take anything less than 40.

      7. BRR*

        Your low end always needs to be for real. I always add in depending on benefits because that makes a huge difference. I have great benefits now and a $10k bump in another position might not balance out retirement, health insurance, etc if the other employer has terrible benefits.

    4. Chriama*

      While I think you might have been better off not offering that guy the extra 5k (becuase if he doesn’t have all the desired experience, why is he coming in at a level that would put him disparately higher than his peers), I don’t think it’s relevant to take his current circumstances into consideration. Whether or not he makes less now or is company is downsizing isn’t a reason to lowball him, and it makes it sound like he should be happy with whatever you’re willing to offer him.

      On a more general note, what is the general consensus around offering a candidate more money than your salary range for a position? I could see doing it if it turned out your expectations weren’t in line with the market (e.g. you’re looking for a junior analyst but the people with the experience you want have senior analyst experience), or the candidate had some skills you hadn’t thought of but are useful to your company. But if you have a salary range that you’re confident is in line with market rate for the expectations of the job, when would it be advisable to hold fast to your original range and when would it be advisable to try and meet a candidate’s expectations?

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Well, this guy did have the experience – and he wowed her. He just didn’t have a degree.

        Moreover, the current situation IS relevant. It’s not his personal circumstances, but rather that the market has changed. Big employer is downsizing? A bunch of accountants are going to flood the market.

        1. Steve G*

          I’m no expert, but I think the current situation is only relevant to a certain degree. What is a new hire just got lucky and worked at a company that pays a lot? Or worked in Manhattan but then is applying to jobs in the suburbs where salaries are lower? Or worked in a paying industry and then is moving to a lower paying one, even though the higher paying industry doesn’t require additional skills?

        2. Chriama*

          Well either the degree is necessary or it isn’t. If it’s necessary, then he didn’t have everything he needed for the job. If it isn’t, then it shouldn’t be a factor in the salary decision. I just don’t see how he could wow her enough to be worth more than the top end of their range and yet not have all the necessary qualifications for the job.

          And although a big employer downsizing might flood the market, the effect is temporary and contained. It’s not like a factory closing in a small town — these people will get other jobs, move away, start their own businesses, etc. There might be a temporary overflow of qualified labour, but if you lowball people now you’ll have turnover in a few years when the market corrects itself.

      2. Colette*

        His current circumstances give you insight into whether his expectations are reasonable. During the high tech boom, everyone got raises, and during the crash, the company I worked for started doing tons of layoffs but did not cut salary. People who left (voluntarily or not) were taking about 30% pay cuts because the market had changed. Anyone who expected to get the same salary for the same job elsewhere would have been out of touch.

        1. Chriama*

          But does that really matter to the employer? If the market is down, it’s down. What he was making before might influence *his* expectations, but it shouldn’t influence yours.

          1. POF*

            I use it as a gauge to see if we are really out of line in our offers. I din’t want to insult anyone. It was a lateral move and that doesn’t always correlate into more money. Plus stability of a company is worth a great deal.

      3. POF*

        To answer this – he had very specialized skills that were not evident in my group and he had more years of experience. I try to build a team with a variety of staff. I also knew that my group was being analyzed for market equity in a few months.

        Current marketplace plays a big role here. As does my budget and the financial situation of the organization. I felt the ranges in this position were low – which is why his initial formal offer was 5K higher. We told him where he would fall in the range before the formal offer.

        The fact that his organization – one of our main competitors was downsizing administrative and financial staff drives up supply and will reduce price.

        One time – I engaged in a multi layer negotiation that tool a lot of time and the person has turned out to be just OK. I now try ot figure out what will be attractive, what will be fair and make my offer and be prepared to walk away.

        1. Chriama*

          That’s some interesting context. I think you were completely justified in your behaviour, but I would still caution against using someone’s current circumstances in the future. In this case it sounds like you were trying to make sure you *weren’t* lowballing, but remember that one candidate is only one data point and it’s dangerous to rely on that when trying to keep in line with the overall market.

    5. Case of the Mondays*

      Did he have any way of knowing what other people are paid and that you had to go to bat for him to get him the extra $5,000 you initially offered? If not, I don’t think you can hold that against him. For all he knows, everyone else is paid $10,000 more than his range and you were getting a deal by offering him the lower end of his range.

      1. POF*

        He was told what the range of the position was and where he fell. So he was told that his salary offer would be 80,000. He told my recruiter he was looking for 85,000 – 100,000 (not real salaries . So he definitely knew and was told that we increased his offer from our negotiating point by 5K. And it was fine of him to ask and I did what I could. I could not and would not go any further – so he either had to make up his mind or let me offer out to my other candidate.

  5. Apollo Warbucks*

    This situation shows the contempt you would be treated with if you worked there. I’d be very weary of going back cap in hand you’ll mark yourself as a doormat for any further mistreatment that the company want to throw at you.

    1. Anonsie*

      Agreed. What more, I’ve never taken a job out of obligation and not regretted it later.

      Of course this varies, I wasn’t looking at my house being in foreclosure or anything that dire.

  6. TotesMaGoats*

    I guess because I come from a field where negotiating is typically not done that I struggle to have a response. Like others I wonder how exactly the negotiation was phrased. Are you actually happy with the salary that was offered? Were you negotiating for the sake of saying you did? My gut agrees with Allison that boss is probably hard to work with given his response.

    1. LBK*

      I would think that you still understand that negotiation is normal in other fields though, right? That’s why I’m so blown away by this response – even if somehow you have never had someone negotiate, to seem so shocked that someone would try to do it is, frankly, delusional. It’s normal and it doesn’t mean anything about commitment.

      1. TotesMaGoats*

        Of course I know it’s normal in other fields. It’s just not normal in mine so I have no frame of actual reference from which to offer advice. Did you think I seemed shocked that the OP was negotiate? Maybe I’m not reading your comment correctly. I have no real advice and agreed with Allison. I do wonder how the negotiation when down but that’s really out of curiosity because I’ve never done it.

        1. LBK*

          Oh, no, I meant that the interviewer in the letter seemed shocked! Not you. My point was just that even if you’ve always been in a field where negotiation doesn’t occur (which maybe is the case for the interviewer in this situation), you’re still aware that negotiation is a thing that typically happens during the hiring process. It was meant to be a further strike against the interviewer for the unreasonableness of his reaction.

  7. SlickWilly*

    A $3k negotiation is like getting fries with your burger. To most companies, pocket change, even at entry-level. I think the advice should have stopped at, “you dodged a bullet.” If the OP grovels to the hiring manager and gets in, he’ll probably regret it.

      1. Hanh*

        The fact of not everyone have the luxury to turn down the job with bad manager does not change the fact the manager is an ass. Of course people must decide which option best for their situation but do not need to try reasoning to see an ass**** for sth else. An ass is an ass. =D

    1. Xarcady*

      Speaking as someone who was unemployed for over a year and has spent the past two years underemployed, working two jobs, I’d grovel a bit to get the job.

      Then I’d invest as little emotionally as possible in the job and the workplace, with a master plan to start job hunting again, the day I hit the one-year mark. It ought to be an easier job search because of having been employed for that year, even at a job I hated. Knowing that you are going to be leaving might make the crazy a bit easier to take.

      Not an ideal situation, no matter how you look at it. But unemployment stinks, and the longer you are unemployed, the harder it is to find work.

      1. Laurel Gray*

        I think your plan is so much easier said than done. I think if you groveled to get into a job that already had a serious red flag presented before it began, I don’t know if things would get better before they got worse. Also, even with little emotional investment in a job, a job and workplace can be soul sucking depending on many factors and a bad boss is one of them. It is hard to put your best foot forward and appear to be an appealing candidate as you job hunt outside of a job that is eating you alive. Our attitudes play a role in the job hunt.

        1. Xarcady*

          I don’t disagree with you.

          But if the choice, for example, is to try to exist off $150/week unemployment and random temp jobs, I’d go for the horrible, soul-sucking job. I’m not at that point now, but two years ago, I most definitely was. I got lucky, and now have a part-time, but permanent retail job and a long-term temp job that may at some point turn permanent. I can support myself (barely) while still job-hunting. But two years ago? I would have taken anything.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      “A $3k negotiation is like getting fries with your burger.”

      I wish I’d known that when I started.

    3. PEBCAK*

      When negotiating salary, I like to remind myself that it’s not coming out of the manager’s pocket. On a personal level, it doesn’t affect her the way it affects the candidate. Of course, the manager has to spend some social capital within her organization to get the 3K or pull money from somewhere else or whatever, but it’s just not an even negotiation in terms of what that 3K means to each party.

  8. Dang*

    Sheesh, this is really horrible. I’m really sorry to hear you’re in such a crap situation. I certainly understand the feelings of desperation that come with being out of work for a year, but I honestly think that a situation like this is probably indicative of how they treat their employees and what kind of support (or lack thereof) that you’d have at that company.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      I agree. The strange part is how personal it seemed to be with this manager. I wonder if he negotiated his salary when he took his position. Super strange.

  9. Retail Lifer*

    I had a similar thing happen to me. In the interview, I was told what the salary range was. When I was presented with an offer, I was offered less than that range (despite having way more experience than what was required). When I inquired about getting paid in the range they originally mentioned, they rescinded the job offer. The differece between what they offered me and the lowest end of the salary they originally quoted was only just over $2000. It was so insulting.

    I was on unemployment at the time and really needed a job because I couldn’t pay my bills, but I was still glad (in the end) that one didn’t work out. I don’t get why they were being so petty, but I felt that it was a warning sign about how other issues there would play out.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      Your story and the OP’s makes me wonder if these horrible bosses base negotiation talks on whether or not the candidate has a job or is unemployed. Are negotiations only on the table when the person is employed? These types of bad bosses really create the “desperation” in unemployment and of course benefit when they use it to their advantage.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Knowing that my only other choice at the time was unemployment probably did factor in to their salary decision. I hadn’t thought about that.

      2. chicken_flavored_deodorant*

        Cruel bosses seek out vulnerable employees. Unhealthy working relationships start, and end badly, in much the same way that unhealthy romantic relationships do.

    2. Negotiation DOES work!*

      I have a happy version of this story, just so everyone doesn’t leave this thread scared of negotiation. I just went through a negotiation. The organization had posted a range on their listings. They offered me the rock bottom of their range. I was taken aback; I had been sure they would offer me the top of the range. (This was not hubris; I brought way more experience to the table than they were anticipating they would get.) I told the hiring manager exactly that – that not only did I need more, but that I was concerned that we seemed so far off. They came back and offered the top of the range… and it turned out that HR had misclassified the role when they made the original offer (they had given me the top of the range for the next more junior job classification).

      1. Steve G*

        Good for you and glad this was fixed!

        It would help to know what kind of job the OP was doing, I know that in last co, they expected all employees to be “salesy” and look for opportunities to cut cost and increase revenue, and that wasn’t just lip service, people actually did those things…..so to discourage negotiating but expect your employees to be looking out for your financial well being long term…those items didn’t go together.

      2. fposte*

        And I’ve negotiated twice, once at an entry level offer and once when an acting position went permanent, and gotten additional compensation both times. Is there a way we could all note our successful negotiations without burying the thread? Maybe in another post? I’d hate for the “negotiation will doom you” narrative to end up predominanting.

        1. Chriama*

          Yes please! Maybe this can be another ‘ask the readers’, but I really want to hear about how people negotiate and how it turned out (and what did you say when negotiating, and what position were you negotiating from, etc).

    3. BRR*

      Speaking from experience there is something pleasing about not ending up at a toxic workplace when you are unemployed and it was them turning you down. You are not in a position to dodge the bullet but at least they pushed you out of the way of their bullet.

  10. librarianna*

    I’m curious as to how the OP tried to negotiate. Was it a soft ask, like “Would it be possible…” or was it a hard ask, like “I need…” or “I can’t accept less than…” If you really want the job, you always want to leave the option for them to say they can’t raise the salary. However, if it was the first, the boss should have just said it is not possible. It seems to me like most negotiation is bluffing on both sides, and this boss really doesn’t know how things work.

  11. LBK*

    That said, if you’re desperate for work, even a bullet can be appealing.

    Damn, without the context of the metaphor that is a grim statement, especially given how often the literal meaning is true.

  12. John*

    It’s a reminder that each of us have our own red flags, rational or otherwise.

    As crappy as this guy’s views seem to be, he could well have had some bad experiences that created/reinforced his biases.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      You are right. In the other thread today people were admitting the biases they have against certain email accounts. How they could attribute it to not being tech savvy etc. I’m sure the @aol or whatever would be considered their red flag even if it was not rational.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        I wouldn’t say irrational, but more not absolutely true. I don’t know that if you have a Gmail address that you’re tech-savvy, and I don’t know for sure that if you have an AOL or Hotmail account that you’re not tech-savvy, but I see a much higher percentage of non-tech-savvy folks with AOL or Hotmail email addresses.

  13. Cheesecake*

    This case is exactly why i advised to negotiate in one of the latest posts. The reaction you get will tell tons about your employer and future boss.

    It is ok to pull offer after negotiations: candidate wants x, we don’t have that money, trying to negotiate down or offer something else instead, candidate does not agree, well, goodbye. Key here is negotiations. It is not ok to revoke the offer immediately after candidate asks for more. And bananas to give explanation: “because those who negotiate are not good employees”. Eh???

    Dodged a bullet. Hang on, OP! You will get there!

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      The thing is, you’re not pulling the offer. The candidate is turning it down. That difference is important to me.

  14. some1*

    Sub-question: would you pull an offer if the salary was a substantially higher figure than the candidate had ever mentioned, or if the asked for wildy outlandish perks?

    1. Retail Lifer*

      I would make it clear that those demands far exceeded what we could offer, but I still wouldn’t pull the offer.

    2. Cheesecake*

      My initial reply would be salary, but it depends on the perks :). We had a candidate who wanted to have home office 3 days a week every week. But the position was very hands on, 3 days a week was a no go. She insisted and we pulled out. Usually if a candidate passed all rounds and we all liked her, very rarely she comes back asking a private golden wc.

    3. LBK*

      I’m reminded of the woman who got an offer for a professor job pulled because she wrote a negotiation email with number additions, like a higher salary, tons of additional time off and a built-in fast track to teaching higher level classes. In that case, I thought pulling the offer was justified because a) the salary showed a serious lack of understanding of the market value for the role, and b) the perks were extensive on top of the already remarkably high salary request.

        1. jag*

          The situation is different but I don’t think it was appropriate for the University to pull the offer. The University’s response should have been “We can’t do that,” not “We can’t do that and won’t even take you on our original terms.”

          1. BRR*

            I go back and forth on that one but there is a chance the candidate would have been very unhappy there. That situation sounded like a total mismatch of candidate and employer really and while I would debate over whether or not the university was ok in pulling the offer the candidate didn’t want to work at a teaching college and the university didn’t want to hire a professor who wanted to be at an R1 university.

          2. LBK*

            I think it’s because the newly proposed terms indicated that she was no longer a match for the role in the way they thought she was before. Even if someone makes a wildly high salary counteroffer, that doesn’t necessarily say they’re wrong for the role – maybe just that they have wrong expectations for what that role is worth. If someone makes requests that reshape the inherent nature of the role (like wanting to do more research when it’s not a research position) that’s more worrisome.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, I’ve softened to think they should have first had a long, hard come-to-deity conversation with her about the problems with fit her request suggested, but I understand why they pulled the offer–it really suggested the candidate had no idea how this institution operated (and it’s a pretty common way to operate) and what reasonable expectations would be there, and that’s likely to mean problems.

              1. jag*

                Even then, does someone not understanding how an institution operates at a moment in time mean they probably never will?

                1. LBK*

                  At which point they’ll quit because it’s not the job they actually wanted? What’s the point in hiring that person?

                2. fposte*

                  It means they’ve missed a huge amount of professional acculturation they would have been expected to have by now and that their competitors likely did have, and that therefore there’s no way of knowing whether they’d fit this very specific culture or not.

                  This isn’t like finding out you’ll have to use Open Office; this is like trying to negotiate with the Navy Seals about a less demanding schedule. If that’s what you’re asking, you don’t understand what you’re trying to get into.

                3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                  There are definitely times where, when people are trying to negotiate the job itself, its clear that they don’t really want the job you’re hiring for, they want the job they think they can shape your job into. And if the job they really want isn’t what you need, you’ve just learned that this person is a possible mismatch. There’s no point in hiring someone for a role you think is mismatched for them, especially since there are probably people who are a good match for the job you actually want to fill.

      1. LBK*

        Wow, I don’t know what “number additions” is supposed to mean. Clearly I shouldn’t be swapping between AAM and writing macros.

          1. Cordelia Naismith*

            D’oh, you were responding to your own comment! Never mind me — I also shouldn’t be posting right now, I guess!

            1. LBK*

              Ha – I welcome attempts at interpreting my linguistic failings all the same! I swear I have some sort of dyslexia-esque issue where my brain screws up on parts of words – I frequently type out words that have the same first half as what I want, but the second half is the ending of another word. My suffices tend to be a mess (extra “-ly”s all over the place).

            2. einahpets*

              Totally off-topic, but I just started the Vorkosigan Saga and had a double take while reading the comments here. :)

      2. Big10Professor*

        That negotiation also showed a lack of interest in the type of institution she’d be at. Having recently been on the academic job market, I learned quickly that if you are talking to a school that is not an R1, you have to be sure you’ll be happy focusing more on teaching and service than on research. Those schools ask a lot of probing questions to be sure that you are not “settling” for a non-research institution.

        1. fposte*

          I think an R1 would have found those questions offputting too, though; I know I would. Some of them are already policy, and some of them are crazy talk for entering junior faculty no matter where you are. It was worse for the institution where she was applying, but I don’t think they’d have been appropriate anywhere else either.

    4. Jen S. 2.0*

      I likely would stand firm on the offer as made and let the candidate decide. You don’t have to go nuclear; you can just say that what they’re asking for isn’t an option.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Reserving my Batshit Reveal card for someone screaming at me during negotiations: I doubt I would pull a job offer for outlandish requests.

      Now, clearly there is something wrong with someone who makes outlandish requests and I realllly don’t want them to accept the original offer, but there are plenty of ways to make it their choice to decline without pulling the offer.

      I wouldn’t move an inch on the original offer and express grave concerns that we are so far apart. I’d probably affirm their right to the Tea Serving Manservant they requested while nodding my head sadly that “we don’t have that here. we’re never going to have that here. I just don’t think we’re right for you.”

      If, after all of that (and I’m good, trust me), the person still wanted to accept the original non-amended offer, I’d ask her to explain to me how she’s now going to be comfortable with the job, not having any of the other things that she requested and knowing they will never happen.

      If we got past that, with her still insisting on the original offer now, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not as if I haven’t had new hires flame out before. (I highly doubt an outlandish counteroffer person would make it through all those gauntlets without a Batshit Reveal, btw.)

    6. Lindsay J*

      Yes, if the salary request is significantly higher, or the perks are wildly outlandish then it would raise questions for me about the candidate’s judgement, the job fit, and a bunch of other things.

      With someone very new to the workforce I might be more forgiving if the request seemed to be from lack of understanding rather than a place of entitlement.

  15. Laurel Gray*

    I just brought this post up to a friend who is a Director of HR in her company. She says she would have never done what this guy did but she said to better understand, she said we are missing some context – OP’s work experience vs the job description and given salary. She said that in negotiations with candidates, this information has made all the difference in whether she was understanding vs appalled.

  16. Not Today Satan*

    Ugh. I know that this isn’t the norm, but these mind games are so tiring. Once I was filling out paperwork for a job application in the HR office, and I overheard a hiring manager ask the HR manager, “So what’s the deal again? We offer a few thousand less than what we want to pay, and when he negotiates we meet him in the middle?” And the HR manager confirmed that. Even if I was offered $10,000 more than I expected, I might (cautiously and politely) ask if it was negotiable, because SO many employers operate this way. It’s annoying that this is so common, and then some job hunters get penalized if they want to negotiate with an employer who won’t negotiate at all (and finds negotiating offensive).

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Doesn’t it make sense to pay people what they’re worth instead of what they ask for? If your job is databases or technical writing, your job is not salesmanship or being pushy, so why be rewarded extra for being pushy or negotiating?

        I certainly wouldn’t rescind an offer if someone tried to negotiate, but I believe in paying people what they’re worth. God forbid these hiring managers ever become teachers and give better grades to grade-grubbing students instead of students who earn the grade…

        1. Joey*

          Yes and I do. That’s why I ask folks to prove to me if they think they’re worth more than in offering.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          +1000000! Seriously — and we wouldn’t have a gender disparity in pay if we just did this.

          If your job is databases or technical writing, why are those who are not pushy or are bad at negotiation punished? It’s not their job, why do you expect them to be good at it anyway?

      2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

        Joey, I’m confused by your comments. It sounds like you’re saying (in various posts on this thread) that when you make an offer you’ve done your research and expect the candidate to “prove” that they deserve more than that – but also that you should leave room for negotiation.

        Either you’re offering them what you believe them to be worth (and it’s up to them to prove you wrong), or you’re offering them less than their worth so you have room to negotiate. How do you actually operate? (Or how do you believe one should operate?)

        1. Joey*

          Well first a fair offer to me can frequently be a range of a few thousand and I’m absolutely open to hearing folks pitch a counter. And what I’m willing to pay is sometimes beyond what I normally consider fair. For example if I’m two key folks down and hurting I might be willing to go higher than what Id like that number to be long term just to make the bleeding stop. But I would totally question my decision to hire at all if the candidate was shooting from the hip with his counter because I don’t want to hire folks who don’t think about how or why this is better for the business.

          1. Lore*

            But sometimes what’s better for the business is as simple as getting the candidate whom they’ve selected as the best person for the job to accept their offer. Which might mean paying a little more money. Think about it the other way: if you’re the hiring manager, and you’re going to be less satisfied with the second-choice candidate, then the business interest is–within reason–to do what it takes to get the offer accepted.

            1. Joey*

              That’s true, but you’re insinuating the candidate would have to be willing to walk. And if they are I agree it’s typically not worth losing someone over a small amount.

    1. Christian Troy*

      You summed up my feelings exactly. I am in a not so different position than OP and the amount of mind games that go into job interviews/hiring is so exhausting.

  17. Adam*

    Unless an employer upfront makes it quite clear what they are able to offer and that it’s not a negotiable amount, penalizing people for engaging in NORMAL business practices reeks of elitism to me. A candidate may be out of touch with what is reasonable considering their own experience and market values, but if that becomes apparent then you can always cut them loose. But doing so just for trying to negotiate their position is a Mr. Burns-esque level of slimy.

  18. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    I know I should not have attempted to negotiate if I wasn’t ready to walk away.

    ^^^ I hope this is not the lesson that you take from this. Negotiation doesn’t need to carry the weight of “or else” behind it. The outcome you both want is for you to come on board, happy with your offer and excited about your work. The tone of your negotiation can be “Hey, here’s a salary that I think best reflects what I bring to the table,” and their response can be “Unfortunately, we can’t do that, but we still really want you here.”

    1. Adam*

      +1. People negotiate for cars, contracts, deals with their phone/cable provider, and weekend garage sales. It’s a basic fact of life.

      1. Joey*

        The key is you have leverage when you negotiate those things. You can go somewhere else for the same or better.

        1. Adam*

          Yes. You have to know you’re own worth and how that meshes with the value of what an employer offers.

    2. Chriama*

      The thing is, I think this can be true. If you’re so desperate for a job you’ll take anything, negotiating is dangerous. There is always a small risk that you could lose the offer. Many people are able to handle that risk against the possibility of a little more money, but some people just aren’t able. And yes, an unreasonable response to a reasonable action is indicative of a bad employer, but if your house is about to be foreclosed on and you can only give your kids 1 meal a day, maybe a bad employer is better than no employer.

  19. Nachos Bell Grande*

    Something I’ve seen in a few comments is the idea of “negotiating for the sake of negotiating” being a bad thing. Is there anyone who wouldn’t actually want to receive more money if more money is available?

    1. Adam*

      I don’t get it either. I understand it getting awkward if the candidate has a warped sense of what they bring to the table/the market value for the position, but otherwise common wisdom indicates that most employers are going to try and hire the best the can for the least they can. Entering into employment at the core is a business deal. Employers are going to be looking to get the best deal they can so it’s unreasonable to think employees can’t do the same.

      1. Joey*

        It’s a business deal. In business deals if you come to me with a higher price doesn’t it make sense to know what value that higher price brings above the price that I’m positive other similarly qualified candidates would accept?

        1. Adam*

          I’m definitely not advocating people negotiate “just because”. Historically many people don’t know how to properly leverage themselves, even they could and therefore should in most cases, or they don’t even try altogether. I don’t begrudge companies for trying to hire at the best rate they can if the market deems it fair. But if the candidate can make a case for why they deserve a little more the employer should be willing to at least engage in the conversation, even if ultimately the answer has to be “Sorry, we can’t do more than X.”

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      The problem is the game, not the player.

      The fact that it’s culturally prevalent to negotiate sets up this whole asking for asking’s sake mentality. If it were the norm for people to get offered a fair salary and then just take it, no one would negotiate, because they would know negotiating doesn’t result in a higher salary.

      1. Chriama*

        And usually people are negotiating for something like 3 or 5 thousand more. Unless you make a point of deliberately overpaying your employees, 3 or 5 k is hardly an unreasonable demand. Again, it really depends on how the conversation has gone before this point, but asking for more just for the sake of getting more, in a culture where negotiation is common, is better than a life of being chronically underpaid because you didn’t ask for more from an employer who was willing to pay you more.

    3. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      This depends though. I have never offered a job to someone who was SHOCKED or SURPRISED by what I was offering. By that stage in the game, we’d already discussed salary and benefits, and probably more than once. So yeah, I would be annoyed if a candidate all of a sudden wanted more money.

      But I also tend to be FAR MORE transparent than others for this particular reason. Our company basically has the range for the job, and we basically offer the same amount to each person. Even negotiated amounts aren’t TOO much higher and about 75% of the time, we will stay firm.

      So this is really a situation that depends. If I was offered a job at 50k, and 50k was literally the first number I’d heard and we’d NEVER even discussed the salary, I might see if they could do more and feel them out. But if we’d already talked about me wanting around 45k-50k, and they’d already talked about the job paying around 50k, and then I’m offered 50k and I then feel them out for more…. I’m not comfortable with that personally. But hey, maybe some of you would be! —Regardless, pulling the offer would be INSANE to me.

      1. Juni*

        A few times, when they’ve been clear that there is a number they can’t go over, that’s the point where I feel okay negotiating some other things, like an extra $1000 yearly in my professional development budget, which is sort of a win-win.

    4. A Kate*

      I think it depends. If you’re offered a salary that’s in line with your skills and standard for your field, then asking for a few thousand more seems reasonable to me. But let’s say you get an offer that’s way more than you were expecting. It could seem a little tone-deaf to an employer who knows they’re offering you a very generous salary if you ask for more just because you think you have to.

  20. Neeta (RO)*

    First of all, I completely agree that the hiring manager’s reply was awful. I’m not sure how “truly desperate” the OP is, but I’m not sure begging would be a good recourse. What if they come back with an even lower offer? After all, if you’re desperate enough to “apologize”, why not be desperate enough to be a doormat?

    Secondly, would the “always negotiate” advice apply if you were asked about salary expectations, before getting an offer? I might just have had incredible luck, but I was always asked about salary, before being made an offer. Well… provided of course, that I got to the offer stage.

    To me it would feel rather weird to first name a range, and then when I get an offer within said range, to come back and ask for more. After all I was the one who named the range in the first place, so I shouldn’t be haggling now.

    Granted, if the offer is outside my asking range (i.e. less), it’s a different matter. And I guess there’s an argument to be made for cases like significant change in the job description, which they let me know AFTER I named a range.
    Other than that, I really don’t see how attempting to negotiate wouldn’t be considered rude.

    1. Not Today Satan*

      The pay range thing brings up another issue… job seekers are often asked for our salary requirements very early in the process (sometimes in the application itself). If $35,000 is the minimum I will take for the job in ideal circumstances–40 hours, great benefits, interesting work, etc. I might put that (if the job I’m applying to seems like it genuinely might be that ideal job). If during the interview process I learn that it requires more hours or will require more of a difficult/stressful task than I anticipated, my salary requirement might increase, and I don’t think that makes me dishonest or deceptive.

      1. Neeta (RO)*

        Yes, there’s always that. I remember having been at an interview when I had about 1 year experience, and was asking for a salary a little over what I was earning.
        The recruiter kept emphasizing that it would involve occasional night shifts, and other problem solving skills, and was I really sure I was OK with that salary. I was too shy to ask for more, again because I had already named a range… so in the end I just stuck to my initial range and refused the offer.

        I did however feel very ashamed because I honestly had no idea how to even go about suggesting a “reasonable” range for my experience. Oh an obviously, I was grossly underpaid at the time.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Right, if you’ve already named a range you’d accept, you can’t ask for more without being able to point to new information. That’s not really what “always negotiate” is talking about.

    3. Chriama*

      I think you need to make a point of not including a number that you actually wouldn’t want to make. If you need to name a range before the interview, give a caveat that it really depends on the overall job duties and other benefits. If they offer you the bottom of your range but there are aspects of the job that make this number unappealing (expected long hours, or really awful benefits), I think it’s ok to go back and ask to discuss things again. But at that point I think you’d also really want to be ok with non-monetary compensation.

  21. Jules*

    Sadly, this is not abnormal experience in my world and that is why I soft peddle my negotiation every time. I live in the smallish city Midwest though. Any positive experience negotiating in Midwest to show me that my experience has been abnormal?

    1. TCO*

      I live in a very midwestern state and have successfully negotiated higher pay at all three of my jobs since college. I don’t play hardball, per se, but I’ve never had anyone get upset at me for asking for more. I always ask for what’s reasonable (so not a 50% increase from the original offer or something), make a friendly case for it, and succeed in getting at least some, if not all, of what I asked for. Midwesterners should not be afraid to negotiate!

    2. SalesLady*

      I have a success story – I am also in a mid-sized Midwestern city and more importantly, in a very small industry so there aren’t a lot of opportunities to move around. I was with my last employer for more than 15 years and changed jobs about 1.5 years ago. My current employer knew what I was making and chose to lowball me $15K/year. I gave them a flat “absolutely not” and reiterated my reasons why I wouldn’t be moving for less. They came back with an offer over my previous comp along with an apology – apparently HR went rogue! In any case, I haven’t had issues since then – they’ve been pretty good to work for. And if it matters, I’m female.

    3. Liza*

      I grew up in the Midwest and lived there until recently. I negotiated salary for at least two jobs while living there, with good results.

      The first time, I got an offer and said “I’m really excited about the job and I’d take that offer but I’ve been told I should always try to negotiate salary. Is (offer + $2000) an option?” (That’s probably verbatim. I was excited and inexperienced at negotiations. :-) The hiring manager sounded amused, she said the amount I was asking for was what she had wanted to offer me in the first place. She had to get approval from higher up, but she did get that approval. Result: I started with a higher salary than I would have *and* I knew my boss would go to bat for me!

      The second time, I got an offer and asked “Is there room in the budget for (slightly higher amount)?” The hiring manager sounded regretful, he said if there were more money in the budget for salary he would need to put it toward raises for people who had been there longer. I thought that sounded fair. Result: I knew my new boss was fair to his employees. Also good!

  22. Case of the Mondays*

    The one area where all normal advice goes out the window is judicial clerkships. You are expected to accept those on the spot, on the phone, enthusiastically. No “I need a few days”, no negotiation. I’ve heard of judges pulling the offer because the applicant didn’t answer the phone! This was 10 years ago I was hearing these stories so I don’t know if it is still true. Judicial clerkships are totally different from normal employment though.

  23. WolfmansBrother*

    My previous employer did rescind a job offer to an entry level employee. Not because she had negotiated for salary but because she asked to think about the offer overnight. He was the director who had final say in the hiring process and forced the hiring manager to call this person and tell her the offer was rescinded. It just seemed so crazy since she seemed like a good fit. He felt that if you needed time to think about it you must not have really wanted the job in the first place. He was frustrating to work with for many reasons, but this always irked me. Especially because when I was hired I asked for some extra time to mull the offer over – and was granted that time – and to think that this could have been me.

    1. Laurel Gray*

      This is so sick on so many levels. It’s gun to your head hiring. That director must be a real piece of *work.

      *I chose to substitute “work” for the s-word. The nieces may still be browsing their strange aunt’s blog :)

  24. tesyaa*

    I haven’t scanned every comment, but it’s quite possible the employer was having second thoughts about the new hire and used the pretext of the negotiation to get rid of her, or hire someone else. That’s not professional, of course, but it may be an explanation for an action that doesn’t otherwise make sense.

    1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      I hadn’t thought of this, but maybe you’re right. Still terrible, but could have been their way of getting out of something.

    2. NickelandDime*

      This is a really good point. Maybe funding for the job was pulled entirely, etc. And instead of being honest about it, they come up with this. Praying the OP gets something soon. They did dodge a bullet no matter the reason.

  25. Christian Troy*

    OP, I am really sorry. I know what it is like to be a desperate job seeker and put up with all sorts of craziness during the interview process because any job is better than none. I also know it must be a crappy feeling to not understand why you are essentially being punished for what is a very normal part of the job process. I think if they were so quick to pull the offer, they probably would have all sorts of strange and unreasonable hang ups and expectations that you would never be able to meet if you worked there. I know any job is better than no job at this point in the process, but I would focus your resources on other opportunities.

  26. kirsten*

    This happened to my husband too. He was offered a ridiculously low salary but really needed a job, he asked instead of the company providing insurance for him (since he was covered by my plan) if they could give him the cost that they would pay in a year for insurance which was about 4k. They didn’t say “no” they just stopped responding to him. It worked out for the best in the long run, a few months later he got a better paying job that was closer to home. Good luck to the letter writer, you will find something better.

  27. Sage*

    As a person who lives in a low-wage (large) city in a low-wage state (deep south of the U.S.), I can personally confirm that this tactic is so common. Incredibly common. It made my stomach tie in a knot almost immediately as I read the post. My current employer (large bank with credit card and mortgage operations in one site) has a firm “we do not pay market wages” for non-management positions. At the same time, they have a current year “must win” goal of retaining top performers… as they watch them walk out the door over a bump in salary with another employer. They don’t see anything wrong with this. Employees leave in many cases for more money (or just to escape the toxic culture), but it’s not necessarily a huge bump in pay. When you’re underpaid and have been for years, $3,000.00 a year more is a big deal. Did I mention that top performers get a whopping 1% raise … if it’s even a year when the company decides to give raises? Class terrorism definitely fits.

  28. JBean*

    Do you know, when I read this, I immediately felt a shared sense of helplessness – because this is the same power dynamic that I’ve had to deal with in interviews. I come on too confident and I get push back, I come on too meek and I get contempt. I really appreciate the comments here, as I find them very empowering. They make me realize how important it is to frame discussions and negotiations and use particular language to create professional boundaries – like a sparring match.

  29. Chriama*

    I asked this in one of my comments above, but I think the discussion went down a different track. However, I’m still interested in hearing people’s opinions, so I’m posting it as a standalone comment (hope that’s ok, Alison!):

    What is the general consensus around offering a candidate more money than your salary range for a position? I could see doing it if it turned out your expectations weren’t in line with the market (e.g. you’re looking for a junior analyst but the people with the experience you want have senior analyst experience), or the candidate had some skills you hadn’t thought of but are useful to your company. But if you have a salary range that you’re confident is in line with market rate for the expectations of the job, when would it be advisable to hold fast to your original range and when would it be advisable to try compromising in order to meet a candidate’s expectations at least part-way?

    1. Mallorie, the recruiter*

      At our company, we CAN’T go outside the range; I would imagine it is the same in many companies. The job itself would have to change for the range to change.

      Since we are so large, we are very risk adverse. The salary range means that even if people aren’t making THE EXACT SAME, they are making CLOSE to what their peers make. I like this system, personally, because it creates more fairness amongst candidates.

      If this was a company without that kind of rule, I would say: only in VERY SPECIFIC situations. I would need to really be able to justify the money to not only myself, but other people. Equity amongst peers is worth its weight in gold.

      1. Chriama*

        I think you might have more flexibility in a smaller company or one where the roles are less definied. Compensation should always be based on the market value of the candidate’s relevant skils, but ‘relevant skills’ is the operative phrase here. If you’re hiring a receptionist who can actually be your office manager, it makes sense to re-evaluate what you’re willing to offer. But if you’re hiring a web developer who has experience in mobile apps and you’re not sure if you’ll need a mobile app, you may not want to pay her more than what your current web developers are making *until the point where you actually need those mobile app skills*.

    2. AntherHRPro*

      Typically there is an internal salary range and their is the new hire range they may tell candidates which is a subset of the actual salary range. In my experience, you typically do not bring someone in at the high end of the range as this means they may not be eligible for annual merit increases as salaries do not go above the actual salary range.

    3. Al Lo*

      I was offered 30% more than the salary range for my job. I work in a fairly niche field where I might see 8 job postings in a year (in my city) that are applicable to me, so it’s not exactly like I’m applying all over the place. When I applied for my current job, it was listed as an assistant position, but my education and experience put me at a higher level of qualification. At my first interview, I was asked for my salary expectations, and I listed a number based on my experience moreso than the fact that it was an assistant position.

      Second interview, they told me that they could meet that request, and that it was 30% higher than the position had previously paid and they were prepared to pay, but they wanted me in the role, and made it a co-manager job with the other person, rather than being his assistant.

      A year into my job, I found out from my co-worker (whom I had a close rapport with by then) that he was the one who pushed for them to rename the position because he wouldn’t have been comfortable with me reporting to him — he actually offered to switch the titles because he felt I was more qualified than him. That didn’t happen, of course, but I know I was paid more than him all along.

      He’s left the organization now, I’m the sole manager of my department, and I received a pay bump when we restructured, and now I have an assistant who’s actually at that job level (not-quite grad who’s just finishing up her degree).

  30. matcha123*

    At first I thought that this must be the other half to the letter the other week from the person who pulled an offer when the candidate tried to negotiate after the fact.

    But, the OP’s experience is one reason why I would be terrified to try to negotiate any salary.

  31. Belle & Sam*

    IMO, this instance is a reason why salaries or salary ranges should be posted along with the job description.

    For example, a few years ago I applied for a job that was very similar to the one I was in at the time (mid-level). I applied and a few weeks later, the hiring manager reached out to me. They mentioned that the job was in the range of $X – around $25,000-30,000 less than I was currently making. It was not an entry-level or part-time position – they clearly wanted someone with several years of experience. I politely told them their range was not in line with my current compensation package, and that I would be withdrawing myself from the list of candidates.

    It did frustrate me (a little) that I wasted time putting together a cover letter and other materials for the job application though, because I would have never applied for that position/salary.

    1. Macedon*

      What I especially dislike is when salary ranges exist but are not communicated even when you ask. I recall having an in-person interview some time ago, during which a rep inquired after my salary expectations. I gently asked whether she could name the budgeted range for the role, and she said that was 100% confidential and not something that she was at liberty to disclose. All right, fair enough, some places simply operate that way – I named my min. salary, and she immediately let me know what the budgeted range was. Not even, “Oh, our budget smaller/bigger” or “Oh, we can/can’t accommodate that”: she straight up gave me the numbers. I suppose the range stopped being confidential the exact second I committed to a min. salary.

      There’re a lot of awkward salary negotiation strategies and mind games, and I cannot wait until the advent of an ideal world, when we can get rid of them. And get free candy.

    2. NickelandDime*

      This! I got a call not too long ago about a job I applied for. It was clear they wanted caviar on a beer budget. I would have never applied and wasted their time or mine if I’d seen the salary – it was $5,000 below what I make now! The recruiter admitted, “This isn’t the first time I heard this for this position. I’m going to talk to the hiring manager and get back to you.” Never heard from them again. I didn’t care. They were pulling awesome resumes and finding out no one wanted the pennies they were offering.

    3. Beancounter in Texas*

      The first time I had to hire someone, my boss told me it was a numbers game (he had a sales background). So when I screened candidates on the phone, after introductions, my first two questions were 1) “Is $10 an hour an acceptable wage for you?” (even though this was posted with the ad) and 2) “From the address on your resume, your commute appears to be X miles and about X minutes. Are you comfortable with this?” Now, obviously this wasn’t a high paying job for which I was hiring, but a some people weren’t desperate for a job and saved me a lot of time.

      I was once on the recipient end of the commute length question and I was disqualified from even interviewing because they wanted someone who lived close by. I was stunned and a little upset, as I rather liked the job description, but I count it as a blessing. Perhaps they wanted someone who could “run up to the office” on weekends or they had baggage from a previous employee consistently arriving late from a long commute. Whatever their reason, the fact that they didn’t give me an opportunity to prove myself as reliable (in spite of a long commute) is enough cause for me to reject them as a potential employer.

  32. Macedon*

    Nothing quite like having hope dangled in front of your eyes, then rescinded at the last minute. I’m sorry, OP. Assuming basic courtesy governed the exchange (as I’m sure it did), you’ve done nothing wrong. Even employers who don’t like your price tag will generally come back to you saying, “No, this is our bottom line, take it or leave it,” rather than straight up withdrawing their offer.

    Long-term unemployment fosters a sense of quiet despair and the tendency to point fingers at ourselves for any negative outcome – I wouldn’t be surprised if you were blaming this situation on your ‘audacity’ to invite negotiation, while wondering how in the world you might ingratiate yourself with this would-be employer again. But I can’t agree enough with Alison: it doesn’t look it right now, with rent on the line, but this isn’t the person you want to work for. This combination of rigidity and, frankly, ignorance (” I’ve never had a negotiation process with any new applicant in hiring,” really? Did he start hiring yesterday?) are likely to reflect in other aspects of the company’s management as well.

    Whatever you decide to do, good luck.

  33. Juni*

    “Again, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with me about how you value negotiation skills in prospective employees. I typically find that my negotiation skills are strong – which is one of the reasons I’m well cut out for sales jobs – but I understand if that’s not the kind of skill set you are looking for. Best wishes as you continue to explore other candidates!”

  34. Agile Phalanges*

    Oh, man, I can so relate to the OP.

    I had two interviews (first with the would-be boss, then a panel interview with a few would-be co-workers) with a place, and it sounded like a good fit for me, so I was thrilled when they called with a verbal offer and said a written one would be forthcoming soon. I enthused about it on the phone, and she asked if I had any questions, so I said I did wonder whether there was the possibility of more PTO. (Note, I didn’t actually ASK for more PTO at this stage, but simply inquired whether there was even any wiggle room–I had built up seniority at my current position and was earning five weeks of PTO (joint vacation/sick), and the potential job was offering two weeks with fewer paid holidays, plus were offering a lower salary than we’d discussed in the interview, so I figured a little extra PTO might be a good tradeoff.)

    The hiring manager said she’d need to check with her boss, who was out of town (hence the verbal offer to later be followed by a written offer when the boss was back to sign off on it), but off hand she didn’t think it’d be a problem.

    Then radio silence. I e-mailed a few days later to inquire about the written offer (they were responsive only by e-mail, as I’d learned earlier in the process). The hiring manager claimed she left me a voicemail the day after our conversation (I had no missed calls and no voicemails, and my voicemail at that time was very reliable), but that they were rescinding their offer due to my PTO request. I was STUNNED. Why couldn’t they have come back and simply said, “no, our original offer stands as is,” especially given it was simply an inquiry and not even a counter-offer? I was really pissed off for quite a while, but got over it. However, when another co-worker later had an interview with them (we were in a layoff situation–all of us were interviewing around town and were very open with each other about job openings and our experiences, etc.) I did tell her about this experience and warn her she might want to either take or leave any potential offer and be on guard for any other red flags in the hiring process.

    So, OP, I totally understand the frustration, and also that platitudes about how you dodged a bullet probably don’t help much, especially in the immediate aftermath. I hope you land the perfect job, with a salary and benefits that make you happy, very soon.

    1. Gizmo*

      Ugh. Did you ever find out if your co-worker was hired, and if so, what that company was like to work for?

      I wonder if in some of these situations, the company interviews numerous candidates and several of them rise to the top in a tie of sorts. They have a hard time deciding on their number one – maybe some of the panel members or the hiring manager thinks another candidate would have been a better fit, but majority rules – and they use these types of things as a reason or excuse to decide the next person on the list would be better after all. Pulling the offer is still a crap move, to be sure.

      1. AntherHRPro*

        I think your take is accurate. If an employer has a very strong number 2 candidate they may decided to just go with them vs. negotiating, especially when they believe they made a very competitive offer.

      2. Agile Phalanges*

        She’s not working there now (found a job elsewhere), but I’m not actually sure how far through the process she made it. We’re still FB friends (company closed 9 months or so ago now), so I could probably ask her.

        I have no idea whether it was the case with this company, of course, but it is plausible that a hiring manager could have two (or more) candidates he/she can’t decide between, and puts out feelers to them both to see if one rises to the top in the verbal offer / negotiation phase. It’s a pretty crappy thing to do, because as a candidate, I’m not going to put in a resignation for something I don’t have a written offer for, but I WILL take it on good faith that a verbal offer is legit, and it would (does!) suck to have it pulled even if you haven’t made irreversible actions at that point. I was “lucky,” of course that I was in a 6-month layoff notice period, and not in a huge hurry to get a job, so it wasn’t a HUGE setback, but it still sucked.

  35. Deborah*

    I think the AAM response here is great (agree: sounds like an awful employer!), but it’s missing one thing: In the future, don’t try to negotiate salary over e-mail! When you have these conversations over e-mail, you lose the ability to read someone’s tone and the ability to respond to the other person’s reactions in real time. You also give the person on the other end of your e-mail time to possibly stew and over-think their response, which is particularly harmful if they misread or misunderstood your tone to begin with, due to the limitations of e-mail.

    In the past, when I’ve received an e-mail from an interviewer (during the offer stage, because THAT’S when you talk salary) asking for salary history or salary requirements, I’ve responded by reiterating my interest in working for the company, asking if he/she is available to discuss this over the phone, and offering a few times that day when I am free. I just did this for a recent offer, and I’m happy to say that everything worked out! I start the new job in a few weeks!

    Again, I think everything else in the response is on-point – it’s just that in the future, the person who wrote the letter should keep in mind that negotiating over e-mail is not the way to go. Good luck in the rest of his/her job search!

  36. Cath in Canada*


    “He just replied with this: “Simply, I’ve never had a negotiation process with any new applicant in hiring. My experience is that if a new employee is not content that he or she didn’t get enough in the beginning, it results in lack of commitment.””

    I’m now imagining a scenario in which the OP uses Alison’s suggested wording to get the offer reinstated, finds out that the manager really is unreasonable about other things, and quits for a better job – and then the hiring manager’s bizarre views about lack of commitment become even more deeply entrenched, thus perpetuating the cycle for future applicants.


    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Yes, that kind of outlook really does become a self-fulfilling prophecy, unfortunately.

  37. Wilton Businessman*

    Let me say first that I am usually very fair. I don’t believe in low balling people just to see if I can get them cheap. I will offer them what I think is fair for the position taking into consideration what they currently make, what the position pays in the market, and how much I need this person.

    Once I figure out my number, there needs to be a significant reason why I’m going to come off it. I once came up $5K because somebody got 4 weeks vacation and I can only offer 3. But $3K just because you think the 15-20% I already gave you wasn’t enough? Nope, not going to happen.

    That being said, I’d stand firm. I’d explain my position that my offer is my final offer and I would love for them to join my team. I’d put it back in their court. If they want to give it up over $3K then that’s their prerogative.

    Lastly, negotiating through email is probably not OK.

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I highly applaud this approach. Offer people what they’re worth. Don’t lowball them.

      I will say, as someone who’s been the candidate on the receiving side of fair offers, I really appreciated it when my future employers would say something along the lines of (preemptively), “We really went to bat for you with the finance department and this is absolutely the highest we can offer you.” That happened to me with my current position.

      During the interview stage, my future boss asked what my salary requirements would be. I said in the range of X to X+$5000. When he offered me the job, he said he wanted to give me the highest offer he could but it wasn’t negotiable beyond that (he ended up hiring me at X+$8000, which is above market rate for my kind of position).

      Straightforward. Upfront. That’s how it should be. No games.

      1. U*

        Hmm. Isn’t that sort of like believing a salesman who says “this is the best I can do.” If you have no idea what’s really fair you just moved the goalposts based strictly on the story you’re given.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Well, in my particular case, no… I gave a salary range that was acceptable to me, and I happen to know what the market rate is.

          At the same time, even if an offer is a low-ball, and they say “That’s the best that I can do,” at least they’re being honest in terms of you being in a take-it-or-leave-it situation. It may not be the best salary you as a candidate can do, but it’s the best salary they as the hiring company can offer.

      2. Aunt Vixen*

        Yes. When I left my previous job for my present job, the hiring manager asked what kind of range I was looking for. I knew I’d be taking a cut to make the change–and I was more than fine with that, as I wanted to get away, but of course I didn’t want it to be any bigger of a cut than it had to be–so I said I didn’t want to go lower than X (which was about 8% lower than where I was at the job I was trying to get away from). Manager said “I’ll be honest with you: my max budget for this position is Y, with these benefits,” where Y represented a pay cut of more like 11%. I asked if he could move on PTO–he couldn’t. There’s also a tuition reimbursement benefit that would have just about got me where I wanted to be; I said how about rolling that into salary instead. No good; it’s a different budget line and only activates if the employee is enrolled in a course.

        I did take it, obviously; the fact that he wasn’t trying to be cute with me gave me some confidence. I mean I’m sure he’d have loved to bring me on for less than his maximum budgeted rate, but I’m glad he didn’t name a number he wasn’t prepared to pay. It’s a small contracting company, so it’s true that there’s not a lot of wiggle room if the customer isn’t paying more than the agreed-upon rate either. I’ve since found out that I was hired at a higher salary than my co-worker had reached in several years at the position, so I’m extra-sure nobody was lowballing me.

    2. Malissa*

      I appreciate this! I got low balled once. It started with $10K below my range and ended with me telling them no. They then asked if I wanted to talk it over with my husband and call them back. I hung up. Anything that would have come out of my mouth would have been much more rude than hanging up.

    3. MsM*

      How would you recommend negotiating, then? Because personally, while I’d be more than happy to talk things through, I’d rather have stuff in writing.

      1. Wilton Businessman*

        You’ve got to know what you’re worth and what the current market is paying. You’ve got to do some soul searching for the number that is going to make you happy and you’ve got to be willing to walk away.

    4. Joey*

      Why would you base offers on what people previously made? Does that resign previously low paid folks to be lower paid with you?

      I do it differently. Here’s my hiring salary range, are you good with that or no?

      1. Wilton Businessman*

        I didn’t say I base my offers on what people currently make. I want to know what the number is, but my offer is not “based” on their current salary.

        I do this because I want to know that my number is going to make the candidate happy. If I can’t give them 10% or more than they are making now, I’m probably not going to offer them the position. It depends on the candidate, of course, and their situation. I want people to come work for me that are excited and happy that they made a great move.

        On the contrary, I love people that are underpaid now. I offer them 30+% more than they’re making now and I’m going to have to force them to go home at night.

    5. Windchime*

      What do you mean when you say, “But $3K just because you think the 15-20% I already gave you wasn’t enough? ” 15-20% of what? Because you should be offering a salary based upon market value for that particular candidate’s skill set, not on a percentage of his or her current salary. The salary I’m currently making should have nothing to do with what you are offering.

      1. Joey*

        Not always true. For example, if I’m Samsung trying to hire an engineer from Apple i might have to pay more than current salary to get that talent bc that’s what the market is for someone with Apple experience.

    6. Not telling*

      And how many people have turned down your offer because of your intransigence? How many people simply bided their time and then asked for a bigger promotion a year later? Or left within two years because of dissatisfaction? AAM’s point is that walking away from an applicant over $50 bucks a week is going to cost you a lot more in the long run (and probably in the short run too).

      Beyond that, there hasn’t been any argument presented in the comments here against negotiation that has anything to do with more than ego. All of the explanations that an applicant should have to show you their research and evidence validating a higher salary really just validate that you wouldn’t actually accept any of their arguments. That is arrogant, and an arrogant manager not a good manager to work for. Again, this proves AAM’s point.

  38. So Relevant!*

    This is so relevant to me right now, because I just looked at how much pay I will loose at the current company (3/4 of my current salary over a period of 5 years and more than my starting salary in 10 years) because I didn’t negotiate.

    I would love to know though, has anyone ever had a chance to negotiate with the hiring manager? My experience has been that I always get the job offer from HR, who typically are not willing to budge since they had very litte stake in my offer. Do you try to negotation with HR? Do you give HR a counter offer and then let your hiring manager know you are exciting or countering?

    So often with pay I have noticed that HR get’s the blame (sorry to all the HR peeps out there). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from a manager “I want to give you a raise, but HR is really strict about this” or something along those lines.

  39. Interviewer*

    For the most part, people negotiate with me to make leaving their old job work out with the cost of our benefits – especially if they’re coming to a place that also paid to cover dependents, because we don’t do that. I am always open to that discussion, and if they’re willing to run the numbers with me, we look at everything and present to my boss, to ensure they’re getting a really fair offer.

    For $3K, depending on the base, that seems fairly negligble. Now, don’t tell me about your debt, your house payment, your student loans, your kid’s daycare, etc. – but tell me what you think the fair market value of your skills, education, and experience would be, and I’ll consider your negotiation seriously. Just countering to my own offer would never be a deal breaker.

    If the email was simply, “I need $3K more” then it would make me pause, but I would still engage in Q&A to find out what justification existed in the candidate’s mind to make a counter offer to my own.

    And as a suggestion, perhaps you could practice interviewing with a trusted colleague and ask for genuine feedback on your interview skills. It sounds like the resume is not the issue, if you get the interviews – but something is happening in the interview process to prevent offers.

    Good luck.

  40. Anonymous Ron*

    I think it’s really hard to remember how much you want something is relative to how much you need it.

    I was looking for students to tutor, and ended up telling someone I’d be willing to work for $20/hour or $15/hour for a 90 minute session (so 22.50 for 90 minutes). I actually just want to work for $20-$25/hour, so this was a stupid thing to offer, but I’d just started looking for clients and was feeling kind of desperate. I got to the first meeting and the parent asked me if I’d be willing to do $15 for one hour since this was kind of an introductory session. I wasn’t happy about the backdoor negotiation that started once I was already at the house, but I figured it was my fault for not clarifying the time up front (we just agreed that I would meet on a certain day and time, not for how long). But after the meeting, they wanted to see if I could go down to 12.50/hour, and at that point I knew I didn’t want this job. It turned out they had some special funding for educational enrichment activities that only covered up to $12.50/hour, but paid for 20 hours/month. I said I’d think about it and went home and imagined how I’d be passing up $250/month if I didn’t take this job, so I said if they were still interested I’d be willing to do $15/hour but no lower.

    Eventually they did get back to me and ask if I was still interested, and I started thinking about that extra $250/month. But then I started thinking about how I’d fit the lessons in around my current clients, and how much more tired I’d be working an additional 5 hours a week, and how little I’d be getting for my time. In the end I turned down the position. It just wasn’t worth it to me anymore.

    And now, I can see that the$250 was only worth it when I thought I couldn’t get anything else. But now that I’ve got clients paying $20 and $25/hour, even if I’m not making overall as much money, I have a better mix of extra cash and free time. So the bottom line didn’t matter as much as the $/hour in the end. (And I can see the same person is still advertising for a tutor, so I think their expectations are unrealistic in the current market).

    Anyway, I just wanted to encourage the OP. That salary seems like everything because you aren’t making anything, and maybe it is. But when unreasonable people reveal their unreasonable expectations, you’re not wrong for wanting to be treated better. I hope you find something that’s right for you very soon, and can look back on this and laugh.

  41. Linda*

    Ok, guys, here’s a question: what’s some good phrasing to use in a negotiation? If you didn’t name a range and the employer just offered a number, how do you reply back?

    I didn’t negotiate my first job out of school because I *was* scared of having the offer pulled. Even though I had no reason to think that, it was in line with what I expected I could get (based on what my friends told me about their offers) and I couldn’t risk not having a job over a couple grand. But when I got here, I found that I was offered literally the bottom of the range for my pay grade (and it was a very specific number, like not 45k, but 47,568). I think it was fair, given the description for the pay grade (someone with no experience, in a job that has a steep learning curve), but I also think there was probably 1 or 2 k on the table that I could have gotten if I’d just asked. When my next job comes along, what’s the best phrasing to use if they name a range first?

    1. Malissa*

      “I was think more of X”–what they offered plus what you want. And shut it. Over talking is the biggest downfall. Also this only works if they just throw a number out. Unless you are wildly off what you found to be market rate, silence is a very powerful tool. If you are off market, then you need a reason.

    2. fposte*

      If you look up “salary negotiation” in the archives, Alison has a bunch of posts about it, including one explicitly titled “What to say when you negotiate salary.”

  42. Sans*

    I’m not surprised. My SIL tried to negotiate an offer, and they acted as though she had committed a crime. They rescinded her offer, acting shocked and offended and disgusted that she dare negotiate.

    No, she was not unreasonable or rude in her negotiations.

    And that did affect me. I’ve always negotiated – sometimes succesfully, sometimes not. Even when I was unemployed, I negotiated and ended up with a 10% increase over the intial offer. But after that happened … I was in a job I just had to get out of. And I had to get back into the field I was in most of my life. I knew the longer I waited, the harder it would be to get back in my field. So when a good (not great) offer came in, I grabbed it. I probably could have negotiated and gotten at least a few thousand more. And I could use that money. But at the time, I just didn’t feel I could take the chance I would lose the offer. And that sucks.

  43. Amber Rose*

    Oh OP, I so hope you write back to us in the future with good news. This story breaks my heart a little. :(

  44. PostScript*

    I tried to negotiate the salary on my first real job offer after college. Their offer was way WAY below market rates for that particular skill. The company was public, so I knew they were very profitable (so it couldn’t have been a lack of funds). When I called the hiring manager back to discuss their offer, I tried negotiating the hourly wage up, and she actually laughed at me-A Big Loud, Long Guffaw. Embarrassed, I just told her that I would not be accepting the offer and hung up. I was so upset and devastated because I had done my research, developed a really great pitch for the increased hourly raise, and had even practiced with my college’s career counselor (who said she would have given me the higher wage). The whole experience was very off-putting and upsetting.

    1. Anon Accountant*

      I’d be upset too. That hiring manager was so out of line and rude in laughing. I think you dodged a bullet in working for her. Would she laugh when an employee requested a much-deserved raise too?

      Very rude on her part.

  45. ZenCat*

    This employer’s response made my stomach churn. I’ve read a lot of the comments and feel more on the side of salary being about perceptions of worth on both sides as well as who can get the best deal. Maybe I am a little risky, but I do believe in the “hey, why not try” strategy. I think a half decent employer who didn’t want to negotiate right then would at least give a 3 or 6 month re-negotiation opportunity.

    I’m female and was offered a job this past week – after 2mo unemployed – and did not negotiate because benefits had been detailed, the salary is within my target and market value, and the company was my ‘type’. But, the last job I received… I negotiated a 22% salary increase. I knew I was being lowballed. I also really needed that job, but joined the company pretty mistrustful. I got burned bad a year later. Despite being young with no degree, I specialize in something people HATE that I happen to love so I do have an easier time I think.

    The only thing I wish the OP had done is call instead of e-mail. I have a phobia of the phone so terrible that I have not had Chinese food delivery in years. Despite that… I’m just not sure email was the right way to go to get tone or intention across. I’m really sorry about this situation.

    1. Wilton Businessman*

      You knew what you were worth and they came in your range. What more could you ask for than everybody being happy.

      I agree that negotiation via email is probably not the best method either.

    2. Snoskred*

      Our local pizza place now has a pizza ordering app. I am sure it will only be a matter of time until my local Chinese has one as well. :) But then again, I am from Australia where we seem to be embracing the smart phones, texting, SMS appointment confirmation and apps for things to a higher degree than other countries might be.

      1. ZenCat*

        I exclusively order pizza on apps or online. There is even a burger place that delivers, and two places that serve breakfast!! No Chinese food place has yet to have an app or online order. :( not many in my town as it is though.

  46. beachlover*

    I had a similar situation. I went into an interview for one position, and based on some of my experience they also asked me to interview with others in regards to another position. At no time was salary discussed for the 2nd position, which had much more responsibility then the first. I then received an offer letter for the second position and the salary offer was not commiserate with the industry. I countered with request for a increase. The offer was rescinded.
    Whats made it worse, was that I was called in for interview because I had worked with the Vice President of the Company before, and also the HR director. So I call the HR director and asked what happened. He said, that because I was negotiating, they took it as me declining the offer, and went on to another candidate. I really think they did not anticipate my knowing what the industry std was, and they really did not want to pay more. It all worked out in the end, because my current employer found out I had interviewed, and gave me a substantial raise to keep me. I think the other company, eventually went out of business.

    1. Joey*

      Probably in part because they didnt pay to keep good folks. This is how it works. You have to know the market to negotiate well. Otherwise you have no leverage and will have a hard time getting what you want.

  47. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

    I understand being desperate after a long stretch of rejection. This is a very tough situation and I wish the querent the very best of luck. I negotiated my current salary up about 7%, with a lot of help from this site and a friend who gave me the advice to word the request this way: after you get the offer for $$$, ask, “Would you be comfortable going to $$$$?” That’s a fairly nonthreatening way to push for a little more, and I got what I asked for. After starting the job, I was really glad I did — it’s a tough place to work!

  48. Employment Lawyer*

    A little employer defense here:

    1) Was salary stated ahead of time? If I am advertising a job for a specific rate of $X/hour (rather than as a range), then that is, as a rule, what I am prepared to pay. I don’t enjoy it when I waste my time with an interviewee and then, after I’ve spent my energy on them, I find out they’re with what I have on the table.

    2) What %age of the gross was $3,000? There isn’t much difference between $100 and $103k; nobody quits over that. But plenty of folks would leave a $22k/year job to move to one that pays $25k, and I don’t like hiring employees who are likely to leave. A request for more money is another weight on the “may quit after 9 months” pan; it may have pushed the choice over the balance. If I was hiring someone whose longevity was a slight concern and if they asked for a $3000 increase I might well pull the offer.

    3) Did the employee

  49. RFan*

    I work for a municipality, and the salary rate is set by union mandated compensation and benefits.
    My HR manager and I have been very surprised by the ‘push back’ when we make an offer (Gen X and Baby Boomers seemed not to do this as much). Since we are not a for-profit, we try to stress there is no wiggle room and post the salary on with the job description.
    We have gotten to a point where a few candidates ask so many questions post interview but before they are given a job offer it does make us wonder about their commitment/ window into how they will be on the job.
    So while I don’t totally agree with the person who made the offer here, I understand a bit.

  50. Employment Lawyer*

    Here’s the problem:


    Sometimes negotiation is OK.
    Sometimes it is not OK.
    Sometimes you need to be aggressive.
    Sometimes you need to be highly conciliatory.
    And so on.

    The REAL issue here is that the OP is defending his/her actions using a generic rule (“negotiation is OK, so I asked for $3000”) as opposed to a specific situation (“he told me I was the best candidate by far, and I knew that the salary they offered me was at the bottom of the advertised range, so I asked them if they had any flexibility.”)

  51. A. Nonny Maus*

    I just had to write into this one. Five years ago, I took my current position. I had been unemployed for two years, though I had taken a few temp positions and done the occasional volunteer work in that time. Living in a new city meant that I had no connections. When this opening came up, I jumped at it. There were two openings and I had six months of directly related experience from one of those temp jobs, as well as nearly twenty years of work experience (some executive level) and a master’s degree. The initial offer was at the top of the scale. I agreed to it, but later was told that it had been a mistake and I would be getting the bottom of the scale. I was disappointed, but desperate to work, so I took it.
    The other person they hired was a very young man with extremely poor work habits. He had no college and less than a year of total work experience. Admittedly, three months of that was directly related. However, I found out later that the reason they changed my offer is that he didn’t accept his. He asked for more than the top of the range. AND THEY GAVE IT TO HIM. I was incensed, but as I was desperate, I didn’t complain.
    Five years later, I feel like a shadow of my former self. I do not feel as competent or confident as I was when I took this job. The verbal and psychological abuse that I endured in this job were hideous. My boss was openly opposed to women in the workforce and would scream at us for being unable to read his mind. He did fire that first guy he hired by the end of our first month, and I went through three other co-workers in the first year. As I look back, part of me wishes that I had done anything else but take this job.
    The tl;dr version: Think long and hard before taking on something with a boss giving you warning signs like that.

    1. Desdemona*

      Nonny Maus, you’ve said it exactly. The toll of working for a toxic boss is far greater than the hit of being unemployed. My boss at a prior workplace bullied me mercilessly, to the extent that when I ended up in therapy to cope. He felt I had humiliated him by offering information he needed to make a sound business decision, and for that, I had to be destroyed. (Before then, I sensed what he was, but felt that staying was the only way I could protect our staff. Also I felt guilty believing the worst about another human being so I made myself give his motives the benefit of the doubt over what his behavior telegraphed for all the world to see.) My escape plan involved making a complete career change (the only way I could think to avoid this guy exerting influence to prevent my finding anything else) but things were so awful I was breaking down. After I told my story, my therapist scolded me for staying, even with a plan in place. In her opinion, the healthiest choice I could make would be to leave, regardless of any other consequences, up including the real possibility of losing my home.

      I took her advice and cracked my nest egg to survive while I completed my education and worked out the issues arising from having been treated so badly. It took 60 weeks, but I ended up with a solid offer with a leading company in my new field. Looking back, I realize I could never have gotten that offer if I’d tried to stick it out while looking for the opportunity that would allow me to leave on my own terms. Until I left, until I went into my first interviews in my new profession, I couldn’t see how much I’d lost in the years I’d been with this other company. In my interviews, I kept meeting people who reminded me of someone I used to be, strong, bright confident men and women, who made conversation. Interviews weren’t just about the skills, they were about the kind of person they were looking for, well rounded and kind, and I thought, when did I change? That’s when I made the connection that the entire time I worked for this guy, the constant message, reinforced in a hundred ways, was that the person I was, was unacceptable, and so slowly I didn’t notice it, I had begun to change to accommodate his version of reality. It was like water dripping on a boulder. The entire time I worked there, I knew I was strong, so thought his comments were running off my back. Instead, they were wearing a grove in my sense of self, so gradually I didn’t even notice the changes, let alone register the cause.

      Nothing can be worse than being in the power of a character disordered person. OP, don’t try to recover the offer if you have any other options at all. Trust God if you believe in one, network, attend meetups in your field, take a subsistence job, relocate to where opportunities are better. Anything but trap yourself under the thumb of someone who thinks his role in life is to convince other people of their inherent worthlessness.

  52. lampshade*

    I have been in this situation of needing a job however, I am a huge fan of Glassdoor and I write reviews of both the good experiences and the bad ones. I would suggest writing about this company on Glassdoor, it might be cathartic and maybe it will save someone else from falling in to the same trap. I’ve also been known to ask an interviewer how they feel about their reviews on Glassdoor. This is usually after the interviewer has behaved like a real erk during the interview and I know there is no chance I’ll receive an offer. Yah, passive-agressive but it lets me have some control over a bad interview.

  53. Liz*

    Is it normal for the hiring manger to want you to come back in person instead of negotiating over the phone?

  54. Kidd*

    You can negotiate anything in life especially your salary. If the employer actually recinded the offer consider it a blessing in disguise.

  55. Bob P*

    You’ve been out of work for a year, and I’m assuming your prospective boss knew that, and the offered job isn’t good enough for you? MAYBE you should take what you can get and worry about PROVING yourself before you ask for a raise. In the current job market, the employer is holding ALL the aces… don’t try to bluff with a pair of two’s.

  56. Barry*

    I had something similar with a job candidate who I offered a position and they accepted. The person came in and said that they had a job offer from a competitor for a few thousand more and wanted me to match the other offer. I congratulated them on the other offer and pulled my job offer. The person was bluffing about the other offer. I understand that in my case, deceit was involved.

  57. HRLady*

    As someone who negotiates salaries often, I’ve seen all sides. I always try to nail down salary requirements with candidates BEFORE we ever get to the offer stage. Once I had verified a salary requirement on three separate occasions and all three times the candidate gave the same number. When I made the offer (less than 48 hours after the last salary confirmation) the candidate wanted 25% more than the number they had previously quoted three times. And then they were mad that I would not move from the number they themselves had given me on three occasions. I did give them the option to accept their original number, however, they declined and in truth, I was so glad. On other occasions, I have seen where the decision was made to negotiate and offer a salary higher than was discussed, and the candidate failed to work out because the manager had higher expectations due to paying a higher starting salary……… expectations and demands increase as candidate demands increase and not all candidates are capable of delivering.

    1. Zak*

      Absolutely. Candidates are setting themselves by not stating from very outset. They lie and say negotiable. Then with excitement of offer get greedy. Very off putting for a new employer. Be smart. I get a salary idea out of employer before comitting my time. If they are too hushy or gasp at my initial stated expectations I thank them for their time. Sounds like OP had 0 options and then tried to play hard to get with her 1 + only job offer. Stupid girl.

  58. PALADIN*

    If the job is re-offered, accept, but continue to search for other opportunities. If asked by a future potential employer why you are seeking another job so soon after starting, you could say that the challenges you expected did not exist, or that you had philosophical differences, or that you feel that you were not a “fit”, or that your efforts were limited by office politics, stringent policies and practices, or co-workers who felt that they should have been promoted to your position.

  59. Sam Johnson*

    I have to agree with this hiring manager. If you are not happy with the salary now, you never will be later. And then what is next that you want negotiate? Time off. This person will never hire you now and if you proceed with trying to beg…ask, you are surely doomed. Move on. You can’t negotiate in this job market.

  60. Dee*

    Firstly i really want an update to this story! Secondly, i recently experienced something similar. I applied for a senior role at a company and never heard back. About two months later the team leader called me and asked me to apply for a junior role. She didn’t know i’d never heard anything about the senior role so it started off awkwardly. We had an okay talk and she admitted i was over-qualified etc but that there may be other opportunities down the road and she’d like to meet me. We had the interview (which was awkward when the two other panel members both said i should have applied for the senior role!) and i was offered the job. The hiring manager had offered me the top of the salary range. I had some red flags during this whole process and i was really wavering and asked for the offer in writing to consider it.

    When we talked on the phone later to discuss it i asked ‘is there any flexibility in what you’ve offered’? (Yup, learnt the line from reading AMA, thank you!). She said no, then asked me what i meant. I said is there any flexibility in the salary and i asked for 5k more. She said ‘absolutely not’ and hung up a few seconds later while i was still saying “thank you for your time and…”but i was talking into silence. I didn’t fully expect her to say yes, but i did expect something – either a discussion about it or just a smaller amount (2-3k). But she seemed to be offended at my asking! I was wavering about the role and i willing to walk away so it turned out for the best. Having said that…i’m now really not sure how to negotiate salary if i truly want a role (i’m waiting to hear back about another role i REALLY want but i’m not willing to be taken advantage of in the salary).

  61. Zak*

    Hello. Two things. When a company offers you a position you are overqualified for ask yourself why. Saying you are at the top of pay scale = take it or leave it. Women particularly buy this BS about being the chosen candidate. Employers interview lots of people and if their first choice is too picky, greedy etc. they’re just move to second, third etc. Stop relying on stranger on AAM. If original OP was smart in any way. She would consider all options before doing sth. You never negotiate by e-mail or if you’re not prepared to walk away. Employer know you had been looking for a year they make you an offer then you put it in writing i.e. I want more money. Easier for them to think you won’t stick in job and move to next candidate. Hope this teaches you a lesson.

  62. Vince Norton*

    Really? How far from reality are you people? This is a job offer. You know, a means to keep warm and eat? What happened to starting at the bottom and working your way up? “I want it all and I want it now!” seems to be the current attitude and I would have pulled the offer based on that attitude. I see a potential nightmare with a malcontent who can’t be satisfied with any working conditions, much less pay scale. You have it your way, though. Go ahead and let your “empowerment” keep you warm while you shiver in the dark. Geez!

  63. Bob*

    My wife used to do recruiting, and candidates would commonly want to negotiate. However, she had to explain to them that when you negotiate you are basically rejecting the original offer. It may not be common, but the employer may rescind the original offer in such a case. This was not a male/female issue, but a statement provided to all candidates. I agree, it is common and almost expected to do some negotiation, but realize that it can imply that the original offer is being rejected by the candidate.

  64. Duchat*

    I had a really weird job offer withdrawal experience recently. After interviewing for a job in a city located about 3 hrs from my current residence, the interviewer asked me to send a follow up email with how much I wanted to be paid. I did the math and figured out, based on projected costs, what I needed to be paid in a worst case scenario, sent the quote, and then received a reply with a firm but much lower offer. I really wanted the job, and knew that I could shave off some of my costs by negotiating better rates on local accommodations and transportation to the area from my home for the days I’d need to be on site (the rest of the time, I’d be working at home). So I replied indicating that I wanted to make it work for all concerned for me to accept the job, and could the person just clarify the dates I needed to be onsite, as these dates were not entirely certain in the mind of the interviewer at the time of the interview, and also, to confirm whether or not the employer might, indeed, be able to provide on site accommodations at no/reduced cost, as the interviewer had suggested might be possible. The interviewer, after first replying that he was checking into these queries, then responded by withdrawing the offer, saying that he had decided to hire someone more local, and had in the interim, offered the position to this other person.

    So this was an example where there wasn’t even an attempt to negotiate, and only to clarify what I was signing onto. And yet, the job offer was immediately withdrawn, with no recourse.

    Unfortunately, these days, employers have become so nasty that unless you sign on the dotted line the instant the offer is put on the table, you’re liable to have the job snatched out from under you.

  65. JD*

    There is always two sides to every story, so do not automatically blame the employer. I have been on that end and I have withdrawn an offer. I am female and it was a female candidate. I offered this person a position of which she did not have all the qualifications but had a good solid background and I felt with training and mentoring, she would be able to be successful in the position. The pay was more than what she was currently making, the benefits were better than her current benefits and she would be working much closer to home. She was currently commuting 3 hours a day, 3 days out of the week and was a afraid they were going to transfer her to that location permanently. In the offer, she was also told that she would have a 3 month, 6 month and 1 year annual salary and performance review. She countered with a high salary, more vacation time and wanted a signing bonus. I was very put-off by that. This is someone that I would have had to work very close with and I felt that if I hired her, she would be constantly looking for more.

  66. JodyinCali*

    I agree. I withdrew an offer this past year. We had an applicant with little experience and our office requires complete teamwork and flexibility. I explained to her that we were pressed to find somebody, and I was willing to give her a chance with the inexperience that she had if she was flexible and could learn quickly. I told her that if we made an offer, we would need her to complete the hiring process quickly to get her in before the start of the month. I made her a non negotiable offer and explained this was the highest we can go. She took more than 24 hours to decide to call us back and counter offer for just a few thousand dollars. Counter offers are legally a rejection of the original offer. And I didn’t feel like working with her at that point. I just waited until the next cycle and hired someone with more experience at a much higher rate.

  67. zero*

    Something tells me that this boss knew that she is desperate. He probably tried to get her on the cheap, but when she came back, asking for additional money, he decided to make a power play. The advice is accurate; the boss sounds like a complete and utter ass. However, I understand being in a position where you just need a paycheck and can deal with working for an ass, like this, until you find something better. Ironically, his response created the conditions whereby she will not be committed..

  68. Simmo*

    I just had a job offer withdrawn after I asked for an adjusted title and asked if there was the possibility of remote work. Nothing that would cost them any money, even though the salary was at the low end.
    Hopefully better off in the long run.

  69. Tanida*

    I just stubbled upon this article and I think the advice given was fantastic. Absolutely negotiation is part of the process and if a hiring manager is adamant that they don’t negotiate and in turn rescind and offer…it’s not a place to work. Period. As difficult as it is sometimes to walk away (or be pushed in this case), it may have saved your career and kept your life in balance.

  70. rick*

    I know it is hard; however, I would count my blessings that you didn’t get the job. Negotiating is part of getting a job, all he would have had to say is no this is it etc. The whole commitment meme is baloney. That employer is not a professional.

  71. Garbo*

    Sadly even an offer by the employer comes with the liberty to randomly change their mind entirely.

    I just experienced this when I was offered a position . The negotiation was a bit laid back and I asked kindly for consideration to a bit higher amount. leaving them open to review such a request. A polite or business response could have been, we are offering a fair pay at this time. I simply asked that we review my experience and my years of skilled labor in this industry. As it warrented more asset value. Instead I get a voice message after I tried to call… The lady responded with: We are rescinding the offer. our business is choosing another option. Have a merry Christmas! *click*! Such backhanded maneuver.
    I wasted time off and traveling expense to meet with this company. Then the moment I suggested a review for higher pay , I get that. Sure they “said” a 2% increase after 90 days ‘might’ happen. I was 100% transparent in my interview. I offered them a skilled and experienced person. I didn’t come to the table empty handed. I sure did leave empty handed though!

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