new job offered me a lower salary than I expected

A reader writes:

I was recently interviewed for a job I was very excited about. I completed an online application for the job, and I know the starting wage was what I was looking for. When I looked at the job posting a few days later, the starting pay was gone. I didn’t think anything of it at that time, until I got the job offer. They have offered me a pay rate that is $8,000 lower than I expected.

There is absolutely no way I can leave my current job for this amount. I am very qualified for the position, and the prospective employer is fully aware that I am currently employed by a great company, with full time benefits, and a union contract. My attraction to the newer position I am considering is I that have a very long commute to work, and the new job would be a virtual position.

How do I gracefully turn down the position I am being offered? They are very nice people, but I cannot leave a solid job for less money.

I answer this question — and four others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Interviewing for the job of someone who doesn’t know they’re about to be fired
  • Should I discourage my team from including personal details about why they’ll be away from work?
  • I’m being evaluated by a manager who just started last week
  • Is it normal to ask for a 2-3 year commitment to a job?

{ 101 comments… read them below }

  1. Murphy*

    #4, I had an annual performance evaluation about 2 months after I switched managers. I had worked with my new boss peripherally, but not directly for him before that. He didn’t even know all of my job duties. It was a little weird, but we based it on my job description (which I had to find and provide for him), he asked me questions, and it worked out OK.

  2. ChickenSuperhero*

    I’m curious what the week-in boss could possibly have done for the LW to think so very very badly of her in just a week!

    1. DecorativeCacti*

      I was wondering that, too. If it’s not fair for the manager to evaluate the OP after a week (or a month), is it fair for the OP to evaluate the manager after the same time period?

      1. Princess Carolyn*

        Maybe, but OP is evaluating the manager informally, simply forming an opinion. The manager, on the other hand, is formally evaluating OP, which could influence her career for years to come.

        Still, I have to wonder how OP managed to form such a negative opinion of this manager so quickly.

      2. Triplestep*

        Yup, I thought the same thing. People are usually still on their best behavior with each other after just one week!

    2. NW Mossy*

      Yeah, having that level of hostility towards someone you’ve known for a week is pretty intense. Absent any prior negative history between the two of them (such as working badly together at a previous job, or some non-work relationship that soured), I’d apply more than a few grains of salt to the assessment.

    3. Koko*

      Exact same question I had! How can you know someone has a terrible work ethic in just one week?

    4. TootsNYC*

      yes, that struck me. I know we’re supposed to take the letter writers at their word, if only so that the comments stay focused and helpful.

      But I think there’s an underlying resentment here that may make this tough for the OP.

        1. Torrance*


          What’s worse is that this is a reprint of a letter from Feb 2014 so it’s unlikely the OP will return to address these comments. Not to mention that similar comments to these were addressed in the comments to that letter. :|

    5. Anonymoose*

      THANK YOU!

      I find it hilarious that she didn’t want to be evaluated by a new boss (because that’s totally unfair, guys!), but she had already evaluated her boss of one week and found her seriously lacking. It’s like, you have to choose: if you can evaluate your boss with just a week or two (which I personally think is unfair), then she can evaluate you with just a week or two just as fairly (or unfairly as the case may be).

      I would suggest new boss’ boss provides evaluative summation in new boss’ stead, though have both parties present during the evaluation so everyone is on the same page. It’s also a good way for new boss to learn how this new company does their evals.

      1. John B Public*

        I don’t see it as unfair- one is a personal opinion, while the other is an official job duty resulting in a document that can have career-altering repercussions. A review after less than three months is ridiculous, and I’d be very concerned.

        I think Allison’s advice is spot-on. If you don’t tell the manager what the official expectations are for you and how you’ve performed, you have very little control over this process. Doing this gives OP some input and could likely be seen by the manager as a big help (considering she probably is doing this for a number of others under her).

      2. Geoffrey B*

        I disagree with this. Translate to a different setting – it would be unreasonable to expect somebody to do a safety assessment of a building in five minutes, and yet sometimes it’s quite possible to identify a place as unsafe in less than five minutes.

        Confirming “good”, or producing a nuanced and comprehensive assessment, takes time. Confirming “bad” sometimes only takes a few interactions.

    6. Candi*

      The letter writer commented on the 2014 post, about a day or so after it went up. So it’s likely no one saw her explanations. I saw the original post and read the comment threads a couple days before this originally went up. (Life… Dad is going on vacay -finally!- and prep is crazy.)

      The LW comments can be summed up as:

      1) Small community
      2) Manager has a reputation in that community
      3) That reputation is as a backstabber, brownnoser, underminer, and all around mean girl snake in the grass
      4) Manager also has a silver tongue and can and has talked herself into and out of many situations -including into the position that supervises the letter writer
      5) Other employees and cowoerkers from manager’s former jobs have talked

      Taking even half of what the letter writer says at face value, and they’re just not liking this person, this manager is one nasty piece of work.

      Hopefully someone will see this. The LW may not be 100% right, but she’s not all wrong.

  3. SpecialK9*

    OP1, a salary negotiation is just that: a negotiation. Please please read up on how to negotiate your salary. It has implications for your entire career.

    1. Emmie*

      I am a fellow WFH (work from home) employee. AAM is right – you’ll save money on gas, and no commute is a quality of life issue! I didn’t expect expenses from my WFH job, but I have a few:
      – Higher a/c and heat. I run it at a higher temp now that I’m here.
      – Clothes. I didn’t have casual ones, and it felt strange working in PJs or suits. Shopping was a fun expense.
      – Higher speed net. My company doesn’t reimburse for this, so it’s on me. (I do have a work phone though.) Are these expenses reimbursable?
      – Printer. It’s not needed for my job. But, I debate frequently about buying one.
      – Extra office space. I bought/rented a slightly larger, but more expensive home / condo/ apt to accommodate my office / work space.
      – Social activities. You don’t have the in-person interactions of an office. So, how will you get that? Your existing friends? A co-working space 1-2 x’s a week? Starbucks?
      – And general quality of life issues (which, for some, is NBD): no cafe to buy my lunch, so I meal prep; folks are in different time zones, so figure out appropriate work hours; and work that’s in your house is very hard for me to shut off .

      1. Sally*

        I’ve worked from home in the past and one of the main things I remember spending more on was toilet paper. Makes sense since I basically doubled the amount of waking hours I spent at home!

      2. ThatGirl*

        Forgive me, you didn’t have any casual clothes? What did you wear on weekends or after work? I could certainly see needing to buy additional more casual clothes, but not having any? Interesting.

        1. Emmie*

          Well, I had two pairs of jeans. I’d cycle in my work tops and suit jackets for weekend wear. After work on weekdays, I’d usually go straight to PJs or stay in work wear – minus my suit jacket or cardigan.

      3. Geoffrey B*

        Ergonomic stuff can be another expense. I’ve invested in a bigger monitor, a better chair, and a Varidesk since I started working from home.

        1. Emmie*

          I forgot about that too. I actually had an injury that needed PTvfrom a non ergonomic set up. Didn’t realize how important that was when wfh full time.

  4. Here we go again*

    #1 – Since you had seen the starting salary, I think you should actually frame it as a mistake. “I’m confused about this offer because the starting salary was listed as $XX,XXX, which is what encouraged me to apply. Can you look into this, please?”

    1. Liz2*

      That sounds to my ears a little too confrontational and impertinent. Much more simply to negotiate on the strengths of your own case.

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Hm, I think I would probably do some combination of both. “Based on the starting salary indicated in the original job posting and my experience in Teapot Spouts, I was hoping for a salary closer to $X.”

      2. Here we go again*

        If a salary is listed in a posting and you chose to apply for a job because of that salary, it is very pertinent.

      3. Blossom*

        The “can you look into this, please” feels a touch too much, but the rest is completely reasonable and polite. It’s not a secret or a taboo that they had in fact listed a salary, and that salary is very relevant to the conversation. There may be a fairly innocuous explanation, anyway.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Yes, it’s not like OP is saying “Some generic article I found says the entry level salary for this position in any geographic market is X”–OP got X from the job listing, and negotiated in good faith with that as a known known.

          The tone should be “gosh this is perplexing and must reflect a minor mistake somewhere” rather than “you jerks are jerks.” But allow for the latter interpretation in your mind, and walk away if that’s what seems to have happened. Especially when you HAVE a good job you don’t necessarily want to leave–don’t ignore red flags (about ethics, or about competence, or about whether they have the budget to pay you).

        2. PlainJane*

          Yes. I’d replace, “Can you look into this?” with something like, “I really can’t accept anything lower than that.” I’d be tempted to add something about how I wouldn’t have applied if the starting salary had been so low, but that’s probably too confrontational.

      4. Rusty Shackelford*

        That sounds to my ears a little too confrontational and impertinent. Much more simply to negotiate on the strengths of your own case.

        I think pointing out that they’ve done something that looks like a bait-and-switch, even if unintentional, is very relevant. I’d probably leave that second sentence off, though.

        1. Here we go again*

          You are going to have to ask them to take some action after pointing out the discrepancy. People don’t seem to like “Can you look into this, please?” which is fine, but I am curious about other alternatives, since no one has mentioned any yet….

          1. fposte*

            You don’t need an alternative. Shut up after the first sentence and let them come up with what to say.

            If what they say is “We changed it because we had a lower salary floor” or whatever that doesn’t include a “But we’re open to considering the original salary,” then you pleasantly say “That’s still definitely a salary target for me, though. Is that possible?”

    2. Brendioux*

      But what if they say it was a mistake and the actual starting salary is the one they’re offering OP? Just saying, the snakes I work with did something like that to me once…

      1. Not a Real Giraffe*

        Then you turn down the offer. If it’s not a salary you’re happy with, and if you wouldn’t have applied to the job if you knew that’s what the offer would be, then you walk away from it.

      2. Mephyle*

        The OP asked “how do I gracefully turn down…” From this, I suspect they are from a culture where you just don’t say ‘no’ as such. Faced with saying “I’m sorry, I can’t take the job for less than X,” OP couldn’t fathom responding like this: it seemed unbearably rude and impossible especially after all the ‘trouble’ the prospective employer had gone to in conducting the interviewing process.
        What OP had to learn was that it is part of the process, not a rude rejection, to tell the employer their bottom number, and turn down the offer if it means losing income without sufficient benefit in return.

    3. Amy*

      I don’t think it makes sense to frame this as a mistake. First of all, it almost certainly wasn’t (either they mistakenly posted the wrong salary range and tried to fix the error by removing the salary entirely, or they’re pulling an intentional bait-and-switch). Secondly, it’s not really an ace-in-the-hole negotiation tool even if it were a mistake; no one’s going to be like, “Ha, you got us, here’s the REAL salary!”

      If OP wants to negotiate, I think they would be better served to be straightforward about it. The current offer is $XX,XXX. OP would need $YY,YYY to justify leaving their current position. Can/will the company offer $YY,YYY? If so, it doesn’t matter what the original posting said; OP is getting what they want regardless. If not, once again, it doesn’t really matter what the original posting said; OP will not get what they need here, and should therefore decline the offer.

      Anyways, the OP doesn’t sound like they want to negotiate. It sounds like they want to walk away. (I might want to do the same, in their shoes–who wants to work for a company that is both lowballing you and pulling a possible bait-and-switch on you?) OP, a possible script for this: “I appreciate your offer, but after careful consideration, I don’t think it’s going to make sense for me to join you at this time. I hope you find a qualified applicant soon.” Really, though, anything that’s reasonably polite and makes it clear that you’re declining the offer is fine.

      1. selena81*

        There is a very small chance that they are not trying to screw her over: that the posted salary was and is what they plan to spend, but someone scared them into ‘your new employee will negotiate fierce-fully, so you should start with a salary about $8k lower than what you intent to pay’.

        But if it was a deliberate bait-and-switch she should keep the job she has. If they pulled that once they’ll keep being dishonest to her.

  5. Here we go again*

    #5 – Yes, it is normal to ask for 2-3 years, but you are under no obligation to stay if you aren’t happy. At my first real job, I was asked to stay for 2 years, was miserable after the first year and forced myself to stay because I wanted to keep my word and make it through the 2 years (to the day). They laid me off 2.5 months before my 2 year anniversary.

    1. Turquoise Cow*

      Yeah, that’s a good point. They ask you to stay that long, but make no guarantees they’ll keep you that long! So don’t feel bad about reneging on a promise they might not even remember asking you for, and don’t intend to keep themselves.

      1. selena81*

        Yeah, unless it’s specifically in the contract (which would be extremely rare for that kind of job) you should see the 2-3 years only as a soft promise that both of you can break

  6. Hmmmmm*

    I wish more managers were less interested in the reasons why people need to take their leave. Particularly last minute needs that don’t conflict with something important. I think it a bad habit that many people get into because so many managers irrationally “take it personally” when you use your leave or an as needed work-from-home policy. I also think this is part of the reason why “unlimited vacation” plans tend to fail. People know the policy, but also know that managers are people and people are not always rational.

    1. NW Mossy*

      I’m one of those bosses that is intensely uninterested in what you’re doing, other than to know if the reason requires special coding in the payroll system (such as FMLA or bereavement). I also generally like an indication if the reason is positive/neutral/negative, mostly so that I don’t put my foot in my mouth by asking you if you enjoyed your day off when you spent it at the vet’s saying goodbye to a beloved pet or something. Other than that, an “I’m leaving early today” is enough.

    2. JD*

      I think it is just a knee jerk reaction to explain. Like if you are at home with your spouse you’d say “I am leaving to bring Timmy to the Dr.” I truly don’t find it to be odd to throw something like that out there. I actually don’t truly get why it is offensive to someone. It may be unnecessary but to me it is no big deal. I often leave the office or am not available. Sometimes I mention why, sometimes I don’t, more than anything it just depends on if I think to mention why or not or if I am explaining that I won’t be back in the office that day.

      1. Koko*

        Yeah, for me it’s not something I do intentionally, but sometimes it feels natural. I’ve done the vague, “I need to take a personal day today,” and “I’m running a quick errand and will be away from my computer for about half an hour, I have my cell if anything comes up.”

        I’ve also done the, “I was up all night with insomnia and I’m going to be slow and stupid all day if I don’t get some more sleep, so I’m taking the morning off,” or “I am a disgusting germy mess so I’m working from home today to spare you all the sight and sound and contagion risk of me.”

        To Mossy’s point above, particularly when I’m changing my schedule at the last minute, I feel like it’s socially helpful to give a sense of whether it’s positive/negative/neutral or contextualize how reachable I am or why I’m not reachable. I’m in a sort of “24/7-adjacent” role where I am not required or expected to be available 24/7, but where my potential to be effective is much greater the more available I am, so I generally do want to be sure that people feel comfortable reaching out to me when my reason for being off allows for it.

      2. Someone else*

        It’s not offensive per se, but it is unnecessary. Allison explained why perfectly, to me. It gives the impression the justification is required when it is not. If the policy is manage your own schedule just do that. It can also in some cases come across a little “protest too much” especially in cases where it’s just one over explainer in the group. If you’re telling people “ok I’m leaving now for my Dr appointment, bye” casually, that’s just conversation, but if it’s something more like an official notice of Why I Must Leave Now, that’s when it comes across a little odd. A better example is maybe “I will be out of the office tomorrow for a funeral.” That’s reasonable. “After a long fight my great aunt Matilda finally succombed to handwaviosis and I will be taking the day off to mourn and celebrate her life” is TMI. That’s an exaggerated example, but hopefully illustrates the type of difference.
        For me the main point is if you’re allowed the time off or the shift of hours or whatever it may be, the only thing work needs to know is when you’ll be gone, if someone needs to cover, and if it’s a specific subset of time off (sick vs vacation etc), which kind. If you’re sharing personal details because of a friend-ish relationship with the co-worker that’s fine on a personal level. But if the details are there to somehow convince the office the reason for leaving were real, it’s unnecessary, and in many cases needlessly awkward.

        1. NW Mossy*

          It also has the flip connotation that when you see it frequently from someone whose reasons are somewhat shaky, it can feel a bit like “Seriously, Fergus, I don’t need a 5-paragraph essay about your symptoms, and I’m rolling my eyes approximately 12% more now given that this is the 17th time you’ve called out this month. Either show up or don’t, geez.”

          1. Koko*

            I have a coworker who, 9 out of 10 times, attaches photographic evidence of the reason he is emailing out. Although he has repeatedly been told we don’t need to see a photo of him in a hospital bed or his flooded kitchen being torn up by a crew. It’s a weirdly defensive posture given how casual/liberal our team is with letting people manage their own schedules, but he’s also a pretty uptight/regimented person in a lot of other ways.

            1. Hmmmmm*

              His last job was probably a lot like the other letter writer today who was hit by car and hounded by work. I know my last boss would say horrible things about me if I didn’t send photo evidence of needing a repair made to my home or an injury when I asked to work from home.

      3. Triplestep*

        “Offensive” is too strong a word. It’s just not necessary, and it risks making others feel that they need to justify the way they manage their time working.

        My team’s previous manager always sent out a group e-mail to the team mid-Friday afternoon before a long weekend saying “Everyone log off and start your long weekend; Thank you for all your hard work” or something like that. And I’d always think, “Thanks, but I’m in the middle of something. I’m an adult and can manage my own time.” I understood the sentiment, but it always felt a little like being babysat.

        When one of my co-workers half-jokingly told our new manager that the previous manager had this habit, he said “yeah, you’re all adults and can manage your own time.” That’s more my speed.

        1. Lora*

          Sometimes I have had to tell people to stop working and go home because they are obviously sick/tired and trying to do that “ohhh I’m soooo important and I work sooooo hard I spend 70 hours/week here” thing like that would be way more impressive than doing a good job. As Jessica said down-thread, it’s a hard habit for people to break sometimes. And I don’t want people to think I value butts in seats more than quality of work, no matter what other managers told them to do. And sometimes I can SEE people burning out and I know if I don’t tell them, “no, you need a nap, go home and pick it up again in the morning” they will stay there stupid hours, make a zillion mistakes and then have to fix the zillion mistakes they made from being tired.

          But generally, yeah, manage your own time, you’re an adult.

    3. PlainJane*

      I’ve never had a manager who took issue with my time off, but I tend to explain (not in graphic detail) when I ask for time off on short notice, because I feel weird about taking time off like that. I also go out of my way to reassure people that I can be reached if needed–also usually unnecessary and a bad move. I’m working on it, but I was raised to believe that you don’t miss work unless you’re on your way to your own funeral, and it’s a hard mental habit to break. Just today I asked for a week off next month and assured my dean that I could work from home if anything urgent comes up. She probably thinks I’m insane.

    4. MCMonkeyBean*

      I do worry though that it’s hard to tell people they don’t *have* to disclose details to you without coming across as disinterested in their lives.

    5. Irish Em*

      When I worked in retail I had to be at death’s door to get any sick leave, and so I was programmed/trained into oversharing private medical information. Eg. If I got feed poisoning I would get management pushing back “oh, it can’t be that bad” so I would have to explain what was coming out of where. Humiliating but normalised in the retail environment. Maybe some staffers came from similar backgrounds. My current p/t place has a crap policy, but Boss Lady has said, if you’re sick, you’re sick, I don’t need more than that, and it is SO hard to get back into the old medical info is private info frame of mind. :/

  7. WG*

    Regarding the second question, interviewing for a position where the current employee is going to be fired, I’m currently in a role that was obtained this way. It was made clear to me during a confidential interview that the current employee would be terminated, but the process was occurring where HR was working to manage her out – providing some some assistance to help her be positioned to find a more suitable job elsewhere. The supervisor wanted to minimize the time that the position would be vacant after the termination, so was working quietly to find a qualified replacement.

    To me, it certainly does matter how and why this type of thing is occurring. Is management being sneaky and underhanded and not being upfront with the underperforming current employee? Or are they being respectful and discreet while processes play out? If I was being managed out of a role, I think I would want the situation being handled upfront but with sensitivity. To know that your prospective employer operates that way is helpful information.

    1. BF50*

      Agreed. Also, I have worked for a company that was absolutely unwilling to fire anyone unless the situation was extreme. I’d much rather know that the company values employees enough to make sure they are performing, etc.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      I interviewed for a position like that once. I withdrew because it wasn’t a good fit (they were blatantly loons during the interview.) A year later, they asked me to come in and interview again, and again, the incumbent was going to be fired once their replacement was identified. I declined. The third year, I think I actually said WTF? to the recruiter. I have no idea what was going on in that company, but I do know that I never, ever want to work there.

  8. MsMaryMary*

    At OldJob, it was the culture to share details when you were going to be out of the office or working from home. I think a lot of it was the high performance culture and people worked a lot even when they weren’t in the office. “I’m taking little Johnny to the orthodontist” meant that person will be answering emails and taking calls while sitting in the waiting room. “I’m going to the orthodontist” meant they might answer some emails but don’t try to call them. “I have food poisoning” meant only bother them in the most critical of circumstances.

    1. Not a Real Giraffe*

      But couldn’t the same message have been conveyed without hearing about someone’s bowel distress? “I am taking the rest of the day as a sick day and will be unavailable via email or phone.” Or conversely, “I will be out of the office on Tuesday but will check and respond to emails throughout the day.”

    2. Yorick*

      I think it would be much better to just say “I’ll be checking email” or whatever than to give details. I don’t want to try to interpret whether you’ll take calls based on the fact that you’re taking the kid to the doctor.

      1. nonymous*

        I’d imagine the details help set expectations. Taking calls in a waiting room will likely be a quiet discreet experience, while at kiddos soccer game will be punctuated by loud cheers? just a guess.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          And during kiddo’s school concert, punctuated by people seizing your phone and flinging it to far reaches of the room.

          1. Turquoise Cow*

            I might do that in the waiting room also. Ugh, people, step away from your phone for a little while. I don’t need to hear your conference call while I’m waiting for the doctor.

    3. Jessica*

      I’ve always found that the lower the job is on the totem pole, so to speak, the more unreasonable management gets about time off. All the jobs I had as a cashier, floor clerk, etc. insisted on tons of justification for being out, even for refusing to come in on a scheduled day off, or for managers reneging on a previously agreed day off, no matter how good the reason you’re out. (Graduation, wedding, death of parent, whatever.) They all acted like it was a moral failing that someone not make the effort to come in, insisting that employees arrange their own coverage even for management’s screw-ups, etc. etc. It’s occurred to me lately that all the retail managers I ever worked under were comically, abysmally bad.

      The higher I got into the professional world, the less I have *needed* to bend over backwards to justify not being at work. But damn is it a hard habit to break. “Am I really sick enough to stay home, or just being a wuss? Are they going to believe me when I say I’m sick? Should I just go in and fight through it?” I still ask myself these questions because in the past, management has pushed HARD against employees being out, to the point where you’re written up for it just on general principle even if your reasons were verbally accepted as legit. Witness the letter today with the temp who was seriously injured and still has everyone crapping all over her for being out.

      1. Jessica*

        Oh, and there’s an article about Starbucks giving its corporate employees 16 weeks of fully paid maternity leave (12 for fathers or adoptive parents), while retail employees only get 6 weeks of partially paid maternity leave (none for fathers or adoptive parents).

        1. Former Employee*

          I don’t know the details, but I was under the impression that Starbucks retail employees are mostly part timers.

      2. Someone else*

        You’re right about that being common in that kind of role. Some of OP’s staff may have previous experience like that, but it’s all the more reason to clarify, since they are now in a role with a flex schedule, which is I think what was described, that kind of “prove it” culture is not in play.

      3. Jaded*

        Yes! This has been my experience too. Both when I started out, and now again when I’m trying to change career.

  9. The IT Manager*

    I agree that I don’t need that much detail about why people are out. I do have separate personal and sick (which included medical and dental appointments for me and family members) leave so my boss knows the general category. And the short notice requests probably should come with a little explanation (“I’m not feeling well” is nicely vague though.)

  10. Delta Delta*

    Re: Details – This seems like something that is unnecessary but also fairly harmless. The OP might not need to know that Johnny has to get his retainer fixed at 3 or that someone’s hasty lunch of gas station sushi is causing distress. On the other hand, it doesn’t necessarily hurt anyone if the employee adds a detail or two. It almost seems a little nit-picky to turn this into an issue.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I agree. I understand where it’s coming from but I think if someone emails you and says “I’m going to be out this afternoon picking my kid up from soccer” and you tell them “I don’t need that much information” it would come across as rude. It might seem like you’re saying you don’t want to hear about their kid or whatever.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      This is kind of where I land. The two examples given aren’t over-the-top TMI and they don’t really read to me like the employee feels the need to justify their absence, they just seem…conversational, as you’d expect in a “close-knit” environment.

  11. I'll say it*

    it’s a small point, but for LW#1, working remotely doesn’t equal $8k. there may be commuting costs and I guess wardrobe costs that you could take into consideration, but you may have costs that make up for it. I hate the idea that you can say fair market value for this job is $80k but you know, if you work from home, it’s only $75k. and that may not be how it was meant (I’m sure more like “adjust what you think you need based on this”) but I wanted to be sure that it was stated.

    1. PlainJane*

      $8K is $666/month. I suppose if you considered the net amount (probably around $400), you might save that much by working from home–if you commuted in a gas guzzler, spent a lot on your work wardrobe, ate lunch out frequently, paid for doggie daycare, etc. You might also have new expenses (printer, fax, printing expenses–dang printer ink is expensive!, increased heating and cooling costs, etc.). It’s worth running the numbers carefully to see what you can afford to accept.

    2. Artemesia*

      It doesn’t even matter if it does equal commuting costs. They advertised X and now are offering well below that. This is one to matter of factly address — You advertised this job at X and I wonder if there is some mistake here. With the X starting salary and my extensive experience in rice sculpture I anticipated a salary of around X+Z. Then be quiet and see what happens. Certainly don’t allow yourself to be baited and switched.

  12. Ramona Flowers*

    #4 Huh. The LW didn’t want this manager to evaluate them after such a short time, but made some pretty quick judgements about the manager in that time. Maybe slow down on judging your boss or at least try to get to know them a bit better and basically try to do as you would be done by?

    1. Junior Dev*

      This is a false equivalency. There’s a difference between expressing an opinion on someone in a letter to a third party and formally evaluating them in a way that will be recorded and carry authority and impact their career.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        No, barring extreme exceptions, one week is definitely too early to call your new boss the textbook worst manager ever.

  13. Thornus67*

    #2 reminds me of a friend. His bosses had him sit in on an interview with a person potentially being hired to replace him. From what I know, my friend still kept his job, and the other guy was also brought on board. But still. What an awkward situation.

  14. anon for this..........*

    The culture in my office is that if you’re out or leaving early/ planning on being late, you send a mass email to the entire office distribution list stating that you are going to be out/late/leaving early, why and when you’ll return.

    And this is a govt agency office.
    Not a fan.

  15. Lindsey*

    #1 I think it’s totally legit to reach back out and say “Hey guys, you know I’m really happy at my current job, and when I applied the job was listed at $Xx. The offer that you outlined is significantly beneath that. Can you explain a bit more why the offer is different from the listed range? I think I’m a great fit because of X and Y reas

  16. Torrance*

    The OP for the new manager evaluation was active in the comments to their letter &, since there have been a few comments regarding it, an excerpt:

    “I have prior knowledge of her management style. Solid references from prior employees. We live in a small community, where everyone knows everyone so to speak. I am certain of her unprofessional work ethic.”

  17. Yet Even Another Alison*

    OP #1, you did not say whether the new position is union or not. Your mentioned that in addition to your current position being union, you had great benefits working for a great company. From your letter, and I may be WAY off base here – the negative you mentioned was the commute to your current position. You may wish to move closer to your current position to mitigate your commute. Why? Consider this – one of the reasons, but not the only, that Alison gets so many letters is that employees in the US have VERY limited rights at work. If you are covered by a union contract, AKA as a collective bargaining agreement – you generally have more protection against the common abuses that people write in here seeking advice about. You also generally have an advocate, if issues do arise, that is not in the management’s back pocket. It may not mean much to you now if you are young, but wait until you start hitting 40 or if you are a minority or women – believe me, it can make a BIG difference in how your are treated and your employment security. If you like the work, like the company – and the commute is the only issue – you may wish to take a big pause and think hard. Remember – businesses, in general like to trash unions – but we can all thank unions for some of the protections that we currently have in the workplace.

      1. Gadfly*

        I don’t like to be the one who chimes in with the +1000 comments, but if any posts deserve a show of solidarity it’s these ones…

  18. Gee Gee*

    I once applied for a job that required a minimum stay in the position. It may have influenced my thoughts on the topic.

    It was a group interview of about 30 people for a receptionist job at a small private health clinic. The owner/practitioner made us do round-robin interview stations of things like practicing taking appointments, role-playing dealing with irate patients, and assisting PAs in physical therapy sessions.

    He then pulled us all back into one group to talk about how the job required three late nights per week to make up for the alternating three days when he went to church with his seven children (he was very precise on stating this multiple times). The job also required traveling out of state every weekend to accompany him to health fairs to drum up business.

    He was offering minimum wage, and ranted about how whoever was “gifted” an offer would be required to sign a “legally binding contract” stating that they would stay in the position for a minimum of 3 years, because he was “tired of people jumping ship constantly”.

    As soon as I got into my car afterwards, I burst into giggles that lasted at least ten minutes.

    1. Yet Even Another Alison*

      Gee Gee – did this clueless owner eventually get someone to come work for him with the conditions you describe?

      1. Gee Gee*

        I can’t say for certain, but I assume so. The place still seems to be in business when I’ve driven by.

    2. Gazebo Slayer*

      Good God.

      People like him are why our uncritical national worship of Small Business Owners and Job Creators makes me grind my teeth with rage.

      I hope his business fails and he ends up working for some crappy clinic that laughs in the face of his demand for three days off for church. Or that he hires a nice reliable receptionist… who embezzles vast sums of money and disappears without a trace.

      1. agatha31*

        I just debated the “small business owners keep a community aliiiiiiiiive!” bs with my mom the other day. Business owners are fighting tooth & nail on the minimum wage changes in Canada and she’s swallowing the “but how can we surviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive???” wailing and gnashing of teeth going on. She was shocked when she found out my wage – I’d never shared it as I’m quite private, but she’s well aware that I am very frugal, and still struggle to get by – and I’m several dollars over even the new minimum wage proposal! I then pointed out that if they cannot pay a person enough to live on, then they aren’t running a business that’s keeping a community alive, are they? I don’t know how these small business owners have managed to convince people they’re such bloody saints – as often as not they’re law-skirting tax-dodging employee-abusing assholes – more so than big businesses because they aren’t being scrutinized as hard, either internally or externally, privately or publically. So yeah, they can be just as (or more) awful than a big “evil, faceless” corporation, just on a smaller scale so even if they’re so bad they go under, the business usually just quietly goes out of business without anyone outside their immediate circle knowing why unless it’s egregious enough to hit the local news for one or two nights.

  19. Jen S. 2.0*


    Aside from the very good points about negotiation, you can also just…decline the job like you would any other. It doesn’t require special effort just because the issue is money. “Thank you for the offer. I appreciate having the opportunity to learn about this company and position. I don’t think it will be the right fit for me, largely because we are very far apart on salary. I hope you have success finding the right person, and I look forward to any future professional interactions we may have.”

    Or, “I’ve accepted another offer.” Or, “I’ve decided the time isn’t right to leave my current job.” Or no reason at all; you can just cut the reason entirely. You can just say the job isn’t right for you. They don’t need 50 details in a treatise about why.

  20. Casca(ding Carrots)*

    I had an evaluation with a new manager of 2 weeks, but the story is longer than that.

    The PTB decided that people one level up from my new manager would do the evaluation with the manager sitting in. Neither of those people had worked with us directly (and had actually been avoiding doing so, I found out in the sequel). We literally had the female director evaluate the women in our team and the male one evaluate the men. No one could ever explain why.

    In my eval meeting, the director kept asking about my team as a whole (what did I think of us, etc) and didn’t really know what to do although I pointed out it was my personal eval. I asked what I could improve on and she said communication, but when I asked for specifics, she couldn’t provide any and said everyone needs better communication. (More in the sequel)
    The new manager contributed nothing to any of our eval conversations but did the paperwork.

    Sequel: I asked the director a question about staffing a week later and she called me to her office to tell me they don’t like working with our team members except the new manager, which is why they’d been avoiding us until we had a manager in place. Also, I’m very aggressive in my communication- see these examples I’ve been hoarding (that I couldn’t provide last week when we had a planned evaluation meeting and you asked how to improve).

    And that’s only some of it! So glad to be out of there

  21. Amy*

    At my last job, my team commonly shared why they were going to be out of office. We didn’t offer much detail, more like: Leaving for an appointment, back at 1:30; my driveway is too icy to get out safely, so I’m working from home today; sick kid, checking email periodically. This was definitely voluntary (our managers made it very clear that they didn’t care why we needed time off or what exactly we were doing with our scheduling flexibility).

    One benefit was that when I was new, it helped me calibrate what kinds of outages were considered legit/acceptable for this role. My manager had done her best to make expectations clear, but obviously couldn’t list every scenario–we had discussed doctors appointments but not home maintenance things, for example. It was really helpful to see the kinds of things my peers were out of office for; I felt a lot more able to take advantage of that flexibility once I had a sense of what the norm was.

  22. MicroManagered*

    OP3 I think this is a valid observation. I’ve worked for that controlling manager who abused my openness about why her staff wanted time off. She would ask casually, like “doing anything fun?” That seemed normal enough, but she’d also use that info to decide if your request was legitimate. For example, one time, Fergus requested a whole day off for dental work. She approved it. After Fergus took the whole day off, she casually asked what he had done. He answered, she decided that wasn’t a sufficient reason for a whole day, and made him work extra hours to make up for it! Also, she didn’t let him take back the extra hours of PTO she made him make up!!!

    Another time, when I said I would be in two hours late and did not give a reason, she shook down the whole office (and then me when I got in) trying to find out if I was at an interview because “she usually tells me why she’ll be out.”

    I was at an interview, for a job I landed (thank god) and now work in a very different culture. Anyway, my point is that I now have a bit of a “tick” from working for this absolutely toxic manager (hence my handle!) of overexplaining every five minute increment of work I’m going to miss. I’m trying to work on it, but I would find a general announcement from my manager that I don’t need to provide a ton of detail or justify my absences very reassuring.

    I also think it heads off any drama around whose reasons are better. I’ve worked in environments where Fergus has Friday off but Jane wants Friday off too and can’t have it because Fergus got in first. Jane wants to go to her kid’s Thing, which makes her request more legit than Fegus, who wants to play the new PlayStation game the day it comes out. Stuff like that.

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