should a job offer be “take it or leave it”?

A reader writes:

I received a job offer from a company that I had been interviewing with over the course of almost four months. They are a multinational firm, and the role would require me to move to a different country.

Their initial offer was lower than my current salary, which I expected because the country has lower average wages than the U.S. However, the offer did not include any relocation assistance and the core benefits were the legal minimum for the market.

I tried negotiating a higher base salary, asking if they could meet in the middle. I had researched the position in that market and felt it was a reasonable request. They replied that their initial offer was good, and that they could not go up because the salary band for the position was restricted. They also said that they don’t provide relocation assistance.

So I asked if there were ways to get creative about benefits, such as a signing bonus or another week of paid vacation. They have refused to negotiate any part of the package. On my latest call with the company’s recruiter, he told me it was “take it or leave it.” Negotiating salary is completely normal in the country where this job is located, so I’m surprised by their lack of flexibility.

I want to make this work work, but I also don’t want to make a ton of concessions when they refuse to flex. Do companies frequently use “take it or leave it” as a negotiating tactic to get candidates to cave?

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:

  • My colleague feels excluded by my friendship with our boss
  • Should we let employee accept freelance work that comes through work connections?
  • When a chronic illness makes you throw up at work
  • Applying for a job with someone who fired me four years ago

{ 196 comments… read them below }

  1. InfoSec SemiPro*

    I pretty much support take it or leave it offers. I’ve already given what I’m going to give for a candidate, argued for the budget I can get, balanced it (or have a plan to do so) with the rest of the team. There are people I just can’t afford and that’s okay. I’m not buying a Lamborghini anytime soon either.

    I don’t love starting a relationship with a new hire where they learn that they have to fight with me. Day 1: you have to push me into doing what’s right for you. Day 2: Trust me! We’re a team!

    I want every one of my staff to know that I’m not playing games with them – especially not with their compensation – and that I will advocate for them to the best of my ability at every step. That means I haven’t held anything back for them to negotiate to.

    If what I have to give doesn’t meet a candidate’s needs or they can get more of their needs met somewhere else, I want them to be somewhere else!

    1. Cobol*

      Are you in HR, or a hiring manager? What’s the size of your company? How close are you to the top?

      I don’t know if you’re in the US. If you are though, you’re going against norms, which is fine, but know that’s what you’re doing, and by doing so you’re creating if not red flags, yellow ones.

      You say you don’t want people learning on day 1 that they have to fight you, but instead you’re teaching them it’s my way or the highway on day 1. I can’t tell you if what you’re doing is right or not, and you say you aren’t looking for a Lamborghini, but I think there’s a very real chance you’re hurting yourself.

      1. Hazel*

        Also, I don’t see negotiation as a “fight.” I just received a formal job offer yesterday (yay!) after I asked whether the initial salary offer could be increased. They told me they considered it, but given the salary bands for other positions, they needed to stick to their original offer. I completely understood. I knew that they could say yes or no to my request, and it didn’t feel adversarial at all. It felt like we were trying to see if we could work together, and I’m very happy we decided that we can!

        1. Cobol*

          Totally agree. It’s all about how you make your initial response. I hate negotiating, but I know I’m leaving money on the table if I don’t (usually). It’s never a fight.

        2. Rayray*

          I agree. If I hadn’t negotiated at all with my current job, I’d be earning nearly 25% less. I successfully negotiated by showing my experience which very closely matched the specific job. I wasn’t trying to fight or take advantage of anyone. It wasn’t even much of a debate, and I was able to get hired in at the top tier level of the position.

      2. Koalafied*

        I think it’s all the in the framing. “Take it out leave it” sounds like you’re not even particularly invested in which of the two they choose. “This is the maximum salary I could get approval for this role, and company policy requires vacation to be accrued the same, so unfortunately this is the best I can do. Knowing that there’s no upward room to negotiate, will you accept the offer as is?” comes across very differently.

        I once received an offer where I was told very candidly that they had already gotten an exception from HR to offer me $3.5k above the top of the previously approved hiring range because I was already making the top of the previously approved range and they knew I might not be willing to change jobs with no pay increase at all. They could have been bluffing, I suppose, though once hired I had access to the salary range data and I was indeed being paid slightly above the guidance for my rank and tenure, so in this instance they weren’t.

        If it’s your best offer, and you want to lead with your best offer, I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all, but certainly, “take it or leave it,” is not the right language to woo someone with.

    2. Play a doctor on TV*

      That’s fine, but know that it is very common to negotiate salary and benefits. I was offered $50k and negotiated to $55k, which is not a huge difference (I can see if someone comes back with a huge difference). You’re just losing out on a percentage of job candidates – if you’re ok with that.

      1. Hazel*

        Thanks for including your actual numbers! When I asked for an increase to my initial offer, it was around 5% more, and after I sent the email, I panicked that I was asking for too much of an increase. Now I can relax about it. Thank you.

        P.S. I’m proud of myself though because even though I panicked, I didn’t DO anything. I was fairly certain they wouldn’t pull the offer (I’ve been contracting with them for over 6 months already, so they know me and my work), so I made myself wait until I heard back.

        1. Spreadsheets and Books*

          If you want another example with real numbers, I received a job offer for $95K about two years ago and asked the recruiter if there was room to go to $100K. She was very polite about it and, after taking with whoever handles this kind of thing, came back and said that no, $95K is the max starting for the role, but they could offer a $5K signing bonus. I was fine with that, and really like having the peace of mind that comes with knowing I left nothing on the table.

          I didn’t hate my current job at the time, but wanted to get out for some reasons related to management. If they’d pulled the offer because I asked, I would have known the company wasn’t a good fit.

      2. Superlanon*

        This isn’t going against norms. I work for a fortune 100 company. We have zero wiggle room when it comes to things like benefits and vacation. And if someone is asking for salary that goes over our standard paybands, then they get the “take it or leave it” conversation. As Alison mentioned, this is done, in part, to keep pay equitable regardless of gender, age, etc.

        1. Cobol*

          I’ve worked for two Fortune 100 companies that did negotiate. I’m not recommending going above band, or even the going above the percentage you’ve targeted. I’m not even saying you have to negotiate. I’m saying if you don’t negotiate, don’t be surprised if people are taken aback, and tailor your response knowing that salary negotiations are common.

          1. Colleague’s Dog’s Viking Funeral*

            This is my experience. Yes, I negotiated. I was offered the bottom of the band, I said, that’s what I was making when I started my job two years ago and I have a degree in the field as well.
            I got 15% more than the offer, so about $2k more than the original offer, which was still $3 under the top of the band.
            I’m not saying, going in with unrealistic expectations, but a band is band.

        2. Cobol*

          And rereading your response, negotiating salary in my experience is common, but other benefits much less so.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, and this is even more true in Europe, where many benefits are statutory or based on a collective agreement and there’s no room to negotiate those at all. It also depends a lot on the employer if there’s any room to negotiate salary. At least for subject-matter specialist jobs and middle management jobs in the government, it’s also mandatory to post the starting salary and usually there’s very little room to negotiate that unless you have a lot of experience. The C-suite is a different matter.

        3. Good Vibes Steve*

          Additionally, going against norms to create a more equitable situation isn’t a bad thing. If a restaurant in the US asked customers to not tip, because the wait staff are receiving a fair wage, it would be going against norms, but in a way that creates more safety for employees. I see it the same here – maybe it’s a bit against norms, but if what you get in exchange is better wage equality, then that’s a good thing! Changing inequitable norms across society means someone has to jump in first!

        4. Kuddel Daddeldu*

          In our company, it depends on the country (we are a multinational) how much negotiable the offer is.
          In my country, benefits and vacation are pretty much fixed (and very generous by US standards; for example, healthcare, unemployment insurance, six weeks of paid sick leave plus 5 weeks of paid vacation is the legal minimum; many companies offer 6 weeks); you can negotiate on salary and target hours within company-set bands. My team is a bit different as we are all compensated at the very top of the salary bands for our positions; we are working on promotions to ease the pressure.
          There used to be more flexibility; a few years ago we went through a merger and many individually negotiated benefits and bonuses were folded into an increased base salary.
          When I joined 10 years ago, I did negotiate on salary and a dedicated parking space (those are in short supply).
          A few years back, I worked for 6 months in one of our US offices. I compared salary and benefits in case I’d make a permanent move; the total package would have been slightly worse than I make now (considering cost of living, taxes etc.) – but partly this depends on how one values, say, vacation time or commute.

    3. Yellow Warbler*

      I can understand your POV, but an applicant has no way to know that you’re truly offering the max you can. We’ve all been given this song and dance, only to learn later that other people negotiated better.

      My company swore that PTO was carved in stone and absolutely not up for debate. A guy hired after me was poached from an adjacent industry, and got 4 weeks (instead of the 2 weeks I was told multiple times were the non-negotiable limit). So that was quite obviously a bald-faced lie.

      1. PlainJane*

        Which is, I think, what Alison was getting at by the comment that we may see more and more take-it-or-leave-it offers to avoid giving advantages to people who are just better negotiators.

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          Yabbut, is it really a principled stance against favoring better negotiators, or is it a gambit? If a candidate they really want declines the offer, is that the end or will the company “find” a bit more money in the budget? The only way to find out is to be ready to walk away.

          1. Brad Fitt*

            Dude we all know every company has infinite money in the budget and endless wiggle room on benefits for unicorns, the problem is 99.9999% of us aren’t unicorns. :(

        2. Forrest*

          The thing about this is that it’s not “better negotiators” — I think this still privileges the idea that it’s a skill that some people are better at than others. It’s more likely to be, “people who’ve got more options”. If you can afford to walk away from a job offer that doesn’t meet your requirements, and the employer decides they don’t want you to do that, that’s not “better negotiating skills”, it’s “a better negotiating position”.

          1. Rach*

            Plus the biases of the person hiring play a huge factor. Often times one gender is viewed as “skilled” and another branded “unlikable” when trying to negotiate.

            1. Forrest*

              It’s also just completely self-reinforcing. Like— it IS more likely the the white guy from a wealthy background has more options and can more easily walk away from a job offer than the disabled woman who cares for her elderly parents. If you care about paying people fairly for the quality of their work, then pay negotiations are a terrible way to do that because they inevitably reward the most privileged.

            1. PlainJane*

              Yup, that is a much better and more succinct way to state it. The ability to walk away from a potential job and not have to worry about whether or not you’ll be able to make rent or get health care is a basic difference. I know there’s not a single job I’ve been offered in my life that I could have afforded not to take.

              1. Brad Fitt*

                I grew up poor, so I’m accustomed to living on next to nothing if I have to and I’m in a state with low cost of living, so I’ve been in the position of being able to not take a job if it’s obvious they’re trying to screw me over during the offer.

                Oddly, that’s never resulted in an employer calling back with a more reasonable offer and I can’t imagine why—although some of them turned really hostile when I suggested their offer could use improvement and one said there’s no point “paying girls more than the minimum because they always get pregnant right away and quit.” (yikes to literally all of that.)

          2. hbc*

            Places that are this strict usually have some pretty stringent criteria they use to calculate their offer. They *will* let you walk away if you turn down their offer, even if they really wanted you. Or, depending on their agility, revisit their pay structure to take into account the fact that something that makes you worth more isn’t taken into account, which might even mean raises for similar employees.

            It’s not impossible to nudge the details, but it’s a lot harder to be all “I just got a good feeling about Fergus [who happens to be a young, tall, non-disabled cis-het white man]!”

      2. Antilles*

        an applicant has no way to know that you’re truly offering the max you can
        -Some companies have one offer and can’t budge from that no matter what.
        -Some companies are firm but will still negotiate if you can make a good case
        -Some companies will literally hand you more money almost on a whim*.
        As a candidate, I have no idea where on that spectrum you fall. But you know what I do know? Those who don’t ask, don’t get.
        *True story: I once got an extra $3,000 on an offer simply by smiling and making a joke about “hey, everybody loves round numbers, why not make it a round number like $50k instead of 47?”. The hiring manager laughed and said that’s an argument he’d never heard but hell with it, round number it is.

      3. Boof*

        I’d say it’s undesirable to be 100% never ever flexible.
        I’d also say it is desirable to have pay/benefits that are fairly fixed without unusual circumstances. I think it’s attractive if a company starts with their best offer, and maybe only negotiates within that (ie, if needing more days off then lower the salary, if wanting a relocation bonus then less vacation or other benefits for the starting year, etc etc)

    4. SomebodyElse*

      I think this is largely where I stand too. I encourage negotiations as a rule and don’t feel put out or challenged when it happens to me as a hiring manager, but that being said, I make the very best effort to offer my best first.

      I know my offers aren’t the best, but they are the best I can do, so yeah, no hard feelings if it can’t work for both.

    5. PSB*

      I don’t love starting a relationship with a new hire where they learn that they have to fight with me. Day 1: you have to push me into doing what’s right for you. Day 2: Trust me! We’re a team!

      But you’re expecting them to trust that you’ve done everything you possibly can for them without really knowing you. How is that different?

      1. InfoSec SemiPro*

        I don’t mind when people ask to negotiate, of course they’re going to ask. Again, this isn’t some psychological test game. This is -compensation- and I’m 100% serious about getting all I can to my staff.

        Which I tell people. They may or may not believe me, but all I can do is make sure I’m not playing games. They can take my words and the little they’ve seen of how I work so far and they make their own judgment on whether they can trust that I either mean it, or fake meaning it well enough to be relied on. (Or mean something else that could still be acceptable to them, or have deep secret hidden values that make this my best play but maybe they can out play me later. Whatever. Security has paranoia and game theory as job skills.) They’re going to package up what they know about the position and decide if it works for them. “Their potential boss says this is the best they can do because they do their best with compensation out of the gate.” is one of the bits they get from me.

        I want a long term trusted relationship, and the trust that I actually will advocate for my staff’s best interests as I understand them, in every room, at all times, whether or not anyone is watching or I can get credit for it later. So I start by doing that.

        1. BenAdminGeek*

          Makes a lot of sense. As long as you’re open with folks about this, I think it’s a great strategy.

    6. Artemesia*

      that works when the salary offered is not low balled to start with. I know someone who happily accepted a ‘take it or leave it offer’ that raised her income by 25% and had generous time off and benefits. The company’s approach was ‘we want to make our best offer and provide good benefits to attract good people. Plenty of companies instead focus on providing the least necessary — and alas those companies also tend to have a gender double standards on who merits the high salaries.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is the way we’ve chosen to handle entry-level hiring. HR stays aggressively on top of market, and the pay and benefits are above average. There are a few factors for a higher salary, like relevant work experience or relevant advanced education, but that’s baked into the initial offer. We also proactive adjust market for current employees – never want to have a new hire making more than someone experienced.

        This doesn’t apply to senior roles where there’s differentiation for years of experience and how relevant that experience is. For hard-to-fill and niche roles, someone choosing “leave it” could be a much bigger problem than someone we’re already planning to train from the ground up. The negotiation process doesn’t have to be adversarial, though – most of the time, we reach an agreement fairly easily.

        And Alison’s point about equity is definitely part of this. HR vets pay for equity issues and will ask questions to be sure pay deltas are based on articulable, consistent, work-related factors.

      2. Abyssal*

        That’s what my employer does too, and I’ve never had cause to complain about their pay or the salary increases we get. My pay jumped by 25% when I was hired, and each of my promotions have come with a 15% salary bump, plus yearly COLAs and merit raises.

      3. Anon for this one*

        Yes, this. If you *consistently* offer the maximum you have available, and never ever say “I could go up to $65, but let’s see if she’ll take $60,” then this is a great way to do things. But since few employers do that, you can’t blame applicants for assuming you don’t do that either.

    7. introverted af*

      This part makes me really uncomfortable: “I don’t love starting a relationship with a new hire where they learn that they have to fight with me.”

      Negotiating isn’t fighting. You may gain their trust over time that you don’t play games with compensation and that you advocate for them, but someone coming in prepared to ask for what they want isn’t a fight, and it’s troubling that you frame it this way.

      1. Cat Tree*

        Yeah, it shouldn’t be a fight. This attitude that any negotiation is a fight just makes HR seem strictly inflexible.

    8. Glitsy Gus*

      I think it’s great if you can do this, and if you can make it clear to folks when you are making the offer so much the better.

      That said, I wouldn’t look unkindly towards folks who still ask. This is sort of like restaurants that decide, ‘tipping is dumb, we will just actually charge what is required to pay the waitstaff what they should be earning with tips and tell the customers to not worry about the tip.’ It’s great they do that, and tipping IS dumb, but tipping is still the norm, so customers and new staff will still ask a lot of questions and may not be super comfortable with it right off the bat.

    9. anna*

      Why do you think a salary negotiation is so hostile? It’s a business deal, same as any other. Your vendor is not offended if you negotiate with them.

      1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

        Yeah, the idea that negotiation is a ‘fight’ is a bit of red flag to me, TBH.

      2. Cordoba*

        Negotiating a job offer is no more inherently contentious than negotiating the purchase of a house or a car.

        When humans are establishing the terms of a complex transaction involving many zeroes it’s entirely reasonable for them to have some back-and-forth about it.

        Viewing this as hostile seems extreme to me. If I have a car up for sale for $X and somebody offers $<X that is not an example of them trying to "fight with me".

        1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

          Yes. And on a lower level, you negotiate lots of things every day. Someone asks for the Higgens report by Tuesday, but you suggest Thursday so you have time to incorporate the sales data. You don’t want to work in an environment where those requests are seen as inherently hostile or insubordinate.

        2. Joan Rivers*

          A job is like a house in that they’re both the biggest amounts of money you probably deal with, way bigger than most cars. And w/real estate, you can make an offer and so can they.

          That’s not a fight except to the extent peoples’ EMOTIONS get involved. Family memories, etc. Keep clear about the negotiation.

      3. whistle*

        I don’t read the original comment as indicating the negotiation is hostile. I read it as saying “making a low offer just to see if the person will take it when I have the ability to offer more” is hostile. That’s what they are trying to avoid.

        1. Cordoba*

          I don’t think that even what you’re describing here is hostile.

          If I make an offer on a house that is both below the seller’s asking price and below what I have “the ability to offer” that is not a hostile action.

          The seller may decide to reject my offer, in which case I don’t get the house, but they shouldn’t regard it as hostile. We just have different motivations.

          1. Lucky*

            Except in most circumstances, the hiring manager is not paying you out of his own pocket. There’s no upside to him in offering you a salary that is within his budget for that salary. The Company is not going to give him a big present at the end of the year because he refused to negotiate salary with you.

            1. Cordoba*

              The people who work in Purchasing are also not buying steel or whatever out of their own pockets.

              It’s still a reasonable expectation that they will negotiate the lowest possible prices on steel.

              This is literally their job. When they do this, it is not out of hostility towards the steel supplier.

            2. PSB*

              That’s not necessarily true. Some companies have bonus plans for managers that are based in part on how they manage cost, which might well include salaries.

              1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

                Or, if their team is large enough, snipping $x off each new hire might leave enough salary to hire an additional person.

                You have $550k. Hire ten people at $55k or eleven at $50k. I know it’s more complicated than that in real life, but there might be similar calculations going on.

          2. Rach*

            Realtors know not to make an offer so low they offend the sellers. People aren’t machines and business transactions have to take the human factor into account. Salary negotiations suck and lead to pay disparities, this is well documented (Allison even mentions it!). I’m not sure why everyone is quibbling with her choice of one word.

            1. Le Sigh*

              Yeah, this is something family members who are real estate agents advise against. There’s coming in low and then there’s coming in insultingly low to a point where the sellers won’t even play ball.

              1. Koalafied*

                AKA “why I stopped using Craigslist.” I was tired of offering something gently used that retails for $200 at $100 and getting an offer of $50. Like maybe if I didn’t get any bites at 100 I’d have come down to 90 or 80, but it’s only been used twice and comes with the original manuals, offering me 1/4 what I paid for it and 1/2 of what I’m asking is so insulting I wouldn’t even respond. At some point in my area it just passed a tipping point and you’d only ever get lowball offers anymore.

            2. Cordoba*

              Making a belligerently low offer is different from simply negotiating in good faith by making an offer that is something other than the maximum amount that it is possible for you to pay.

              People aren’t quibbling over one word, we’re accurately pointing out that normal salary negotiations are not the adversarial undertaking that the first comment makes them out to be.

          3. meyer lemon*

            But the big difference between a salary negotiation and a house or car negotiation is the power differential. In theory, sure, the employee is free to walk away from an offer if it isn’t high enough, but in practice, they might not have the financial security to be able to do that.

      4. meyer lemon*

        I’m coming down more on InfoSec SemiPro’s side on this. I can see where it makes sense to discuss some salary and benefits details, but I don’t like the idea of employers intentionally lowballing workers to see what they can get away with as a matter of course. A lot of this gets solved by posting a salary range and leaving room to negotiate within that range, depending on what information is uncovered during the interview.

        1. Le Sigh*

          I think take it or leave it is fine if salary bands are transparent and hiring teams are upfront about it. And it’s fine to present it as this is the offer, it’s based on X and falls within Y range, just to be up front, this is the best we can offer and would love to have you join us. Or whatever. Just give the person context for your offer.

          What’s tripping my wires with InfoSec framing salary negotiations a “fight.” Candidates are just trying to look out for themselves because very few, if any, companies are going to do that. They have no way of knowing if InfoSec is being truthful with them, they’ve probably been burned before. That doesn’t mean you have to increase the offer, but calling them a “fight” is really uncharitable (and has the potential for bias against women and people of color).

    10. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      I think that’s fine as long as you’re transparent about your rationale. Otherwise the canidates might worry that you’re inflexible about everything.

      One of my friends interviewed at an org where part of their process was explaining they didn’t negociate offers, in an attempt to avoid biases that can come from that. They also didn’t base offers on salary history. That’s fine.

      Some places have an attitude of ‘how dare you ask for more, you should be grateful to work here’ and that’s a huge red flag.

    11. TootsNYC*

      I once did this, when I was left to my own devices and given a salary band.

      I told the candidate: “You are my top candidate, and I am giving you my top offer. [I named the range.] I’m doing that because I want you to know that I will go to bat for you, and because I want you to be excited about starting here, and to feel valued by me. Don’t ask for more, because I’ve already given you everything I can get from the company.”

      1. TootsNYC*

        it was less about “not starting where they think they have to fight me” and more about “starting where they think I will advocate for them and value them.”

    12. lapgiraffe*

      I hope that along with this practice you are also totally transparent from the beginning – state salary and benefits right up front, let people know that company philosophy is to not negotiate and instead present fair and equitable compensation, and do this at the very least in the first conversation if not in the actual job posting. If you’re not then you’re really out of touch with the norms and, as others have noted, doing exactly what you say you don’t want and expecting a level of trust that, I’m sorry, is earned rather than immediately granted simply because you have the power to hire.

      And as others have also noted, a salary negotiation isn’t a fight and it doesn’t have to be a game. I’d argue that if you’re such a team player attitude kind of manager then you should be able to have a professional conversation about a normal professional expectation.

    13. Free Meerkats*

      Are your salaries and benefits totally transparent to everyone? If they aren’t, how is Dick going to know that he is being paid the same as Jane for the same work?

      Does your offer include something like, “Here’s the offer, and here’s what everyone in the position is being compensated and the reasons why The Queen of Cakes has a better package than the Goblin King.”? If not, you’re not transparent.

    14. HRArwy*

      I think even if the answer is “no, this is the highest we can offer in set reason.” It still starts the relationship on a better foot to be open and honest during these conversations rather than pulling an offer. Also, what a waste of everyone’s time and effort.

    15. Snow Globe*

      I agree with this, although it has taken me a while to get here. Negotiation is the norm, and I certainly don’t hold it against a candidate for trying, but I think in the long run, the best way to eliminate pay disparity is to offer the best possible salary right off the bat, then tell the candidate that is truly the best we can do, no further negotiations.

      It is weird though, because while this is actually in the candidate’s best interest (they are getting the best salary we can give them), a lot of people are going to be suspicious that they are being treated unfairly.

      1. Humdinger*

        “If that’s the best you can do, then I must decline the offer.” And then you’re back to Square One. Genius.

      2. Brad Fitt*

        Because companies refusing to negotiate out of an interest in maintaining pay equity is a new idea and there are a lot of other reasons companies refuse to negotiate that are the opposite of the candidate’s best interests.

        If you’re transparent about the pay scale and benefits, and you give context to explain why your company make decisions that way and the candidates still bounce? Wells shit man I dunno maybe your offer sucks.

    16. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      The last time I started a new job I took a 10k paycut. I tried to negotiate my salary more, and the hiring manager straight up told me that she couldn’t budge on salary but I should ask for a sign-on bonus. I did, and got a 6k bonus. That, plus multiple other things, made her the best manager I’ve ever had.

    17. Autistic AF*

      “I don’t love starting a relationship with a new hire where they learn that they have to fight with me. Day 1: you have to push me into doing what’s right for you. Day 2: Trust me! We’re a team!”

      I worked for a company that presented a good take it or leave it offer… and they refused to consider even the simplest disability accommodations. No one else wore headphones because they were a chatty group, so neither could I (and the chattiness really affected my ability to focus). Neither #1 nor #2 was the case – I fought for months to get what other departments in the company allowed without question, and I soon learned to hate the role I was initially very excited about.

      This is anecdotal, of course, and it doesn’t mean every take it or leave it offer means there’s no flexibility elsewhere, but it also doesn’t mean that negotiating internally on a candidate’s behalf means they won’t ever have to push for what’s right.

      1. InfoSec SemiPro*

        That sounds really awful and I’m sorry. I can not imagine spending energy on trying to tell my staff not to wear head phones. Long before it gets to a medical accommodation, that’s such a little thing.

        That sounds like the driving force for not having negotiated offers was around inflexibility, or maybe control not staff support. You’re going to get very different results based on the values and priorities overall, even if they end up in a similar space in one arena.

        1. Autistic AF*

          Nope! When I received a job offer from that organization, the manager told me up front that she negotiated a higher salary based on my experience.

    18. Alison*

      My company doesn’t negotiate and we also give take it or leave it offers. We lose some candidates and we’re ok with that, because we have full salary transparency. It’s not for everyone, but it works for us!

  2. funkydonut*

    Re: boss and friend/colleague: y’all sound like cliquey teenagers. Please be kinder to your excluded coworker. Don’t talk about your weekend hangouts in front of her, and stop going to lunch without her. Heck, maybe you could actually INVITE her to join you and treat her as worthy of your company??

    1. Ryn*

      Honestly. Like, she’s complaining about being feeling excluded because she is literally being excluded from potentially career-affecting relationship building and development. I think LW realizes this too, which is why they’re looking for the “well I’m not technically obligated to do this” as the out.

      1. Threeve*

        And framing it as “my co-worker is upset because I am so close with the boss.”

        No–she’s upset because you’re letting that closeness lead to unprofessional behavior, constant exclusivity, and blatant favoritism.

      2. Nanani*

        Ding ding ding.
        This is a frequent pattern in discrimination, too, when the boss just ~happens~ to be friends with all the people of the same gender/race/class as them, and those friends just happen to get picked for projects that look good on the resume.

        It is unprofessional AT BEST.

    2. Anonys*

      Yeah, I mean the boss is wrong for being close person friends with her direct report outside of work. But what really strikes out at me is just the concept of going to lunch with someone on your team and (regularly) not allowing another team member to come. Even if one of them wasn’t the boss, for two (or more) team members to regularly go to lunch together and leave the only remaining team member out is very cliquey to me and not an environment I would enjoy.

      Sometimes I might have a networking lunch with someone from a different department and it’s generally understood my colleagues wouldn’t invite themselves to that. But if I’m going to lunch with someone from my core team it’s always understood that everyone else is welcome to join too. Tbf we do usually eat in the company’s own canteen, so sitting together there is natural anyway and if we decide to go out for a lunch we usually do it as a team anyway.

      And if my boss was doing one on one lunches, he would schedule those will each team member.

      1. yala*

        For me, the lunch thing has been a fact of life for the past few years more or less (I guess this past year doesn’t really count, b/c we haven’t been in the office much). It. SUCKS.

      2. MistOrMister*

        Personally, I don’t want to go to lunch with anyone every single day. But in a small team especially, to see people going together all the time and never inviting anyone else, that is hurtful. But to have one of the people be the boss just makes it SO much worse.

        Also, the way the letter was worded, the coworker is not just not going, s/he is deliberately excluded. I mean jeez. Its one thing if people don’t invite you because you’ve made it clear you usually won’t want to go. In that case, you could say at least they’re trying to be inclusive by offering to bring back something each time. But to make it clear that, hey you are NOT ever invited, but we’ll throw you a bone and bring you back a sandwich….well that is borderline cruel

        1. yala*

          For real tho. That “we’ll bring you back something if you like” is really just some salt in the wound.

    3. Smithy*

      I’d also add that while the boss is most to blame – by accepting this inequitable treatment, the OP is narrowing their own professional networks unnecessarily. This third colleague is someone who’s in a position to know your work very well and down the road, speak positively or negatively about you. Potentially even serve as a reference.

      By being part of this dynamic – however much more the boss is to blame – the OP is actively shrinking the likelihood this person will be a positive voice in your professional network. So even if the OP never wants to change, it truly can serve to the OP’s benefit.

    4. Cat Tree*

      I used to work at a place where the boss went to lunch with 4 of the 5 others in my department. I was both new and the only woman in that department, which is in a male dominated industry. That didn’t feel great. It’s not that I even especially wanted to go to lunch every week or spend more time with some of them, but it certainly felt cliquey.

    5. ursula*

      Honestly stopping by to say “We are going to lunch without you – you can’t come but do you want us to bring you anything back?” is almost worse than just discreetly disappearing for lunch without making a big show of it… as if the acquisition of food was the problem here! That is some Mean Girls behaviour.

    6. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      I’m in a very similar situation right now. My boss and her other direct report have a very best-friend relationship. My boss actually called my colleague “honey” on a recent zoom meeting (as in “honey, could you run and grab that report we were talking about after work yesterday?”)! My check-in meetings are regularly cancelled in favor of lunch with the colleague, and my work is now frequently dismissed as less important even though our roles are comparable. I don’t at all care that I’m not also friends with my boss – I care that their relationship interferes with my job and career opportunities.

  3. ambivalent*

    Regarding question 1: I believe whether this is for an entry-level role matters. If it is entry-level, it is understandable that they are very inflexible for the sake of maintaining equality. The more senior you are, the more negotiation-room there is, based on your very specific accomplishments in the field and the value you add to them (plus you are likely part of a much smaller candidate pool).

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      This, but I think the abroad factor here plays the same role as being senior. You’re asking someone to relocate to an entire country; there are going to be lots of points of negotiation there in general, especially if you’re not offering generous benefits or relocation funds.

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        LW doesn’t explain whether her skills are particularly in demand in the target country.

        If they could just as easily hire a local, why should they spend an extra $10k on relocation expenses?

        If on the other hand it’s a specialised role and most applicants would be relocating, it makes more sense to factor that into your offer.

      2. Certaintroublemaker*

        I actually understand the pay offer rigidity, as explained by Alison. And some companies are very, “The benefits schedule is what it is.”

        I am absolutely flabbergasted, though, that a Fortune 100 company with locations in various countries does nothing in the way of relocation assistance. That seems like it should be a cost of doing business. And if they’re making an attempt to provide more equity, well, it seems like more privileged people will be able to front the money to take a job overseas while disadvantaged people won’t.

    2. New Mom*

      At my company, I’d say all entry-level and middle-manager positions are non-negotiable. There is a lot of work that goes into benchmarking a position, and we have set PTO that increases the longer people work here and we don’t do signing bonuses. So if someone asked for a signing bonus or more vacation, we don’t have the systems set up to accommodate that.

      1. Humdinger*

        You need to set up those systems, then. Only those candidates who are to timid and mousey to negotiate will see your process through. The go-getters will drop out.

        1. Rose*

          This is so wildly incorrect. The best candidates are going to choose a job based on:
          How appealing the job itself is
          How competitive the compensation is
          How much they like the team/culture/manager/reports
          How good the benefits they personally value (health insurance, vacation time, etc) are
          And similar factors.

          Anyone who is assessing an offer based on willingness/ability to negotiate rather than how competitive the actual comp is is making questionable life choices.

          I’ve worked for three Fortune100 companies who didn’t negotiate benefits at all, two of whom didn’t negotiate salary. The salary itself was competitive so I didn’t care. Many big companies are doing this now to keep benefits standard across races/genders.

          1. Allonge*

            This is also my experience. Of course if a company is lowballing salary / benefits, people will want to negotiate. But if your compensation package is good, you can hire also really good people.

            Might a ‘rock star’ or two say no? Sure. That happens everywhere though, and in my experience a place with a general good to excellent level people is a lot better anyway than the ones that build on a few magic unicorns and otherwise invisible peons. This is a good way of screening for ‘fit’.

  4. Lacey*

    Managers can get so weird about people freelancing. My current company is really excited for the opportunities we pursue outside of work, but past companies have always been looking for ways they can somehow lay claim to it.

    At least one person left a previous company over it, even though the only way the company was able to provide those services in the first place was that they said, “Oh, you have a side gig doing X? Well now you do X for us in addition to your unrelated job and you can’t do X freelance because you signed a non-compete.”

    1. Reba*

      I get why the manager would feel uncomfortable (I get a sense of resentment even from the letter) with freelancing for shared clients. It’s a bit weird! And for competitors, trade secrets may be a legitimate concern. But thinking that you could take some of your employee’s income??? WILD to me! Is that really common?

      1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I could see it if it means the employee then doesn’t have to get involved in (say) billing, credit control, tax, etc. In my country most employees have their taxes deducted at source and never have to do any tax paperwork; taking on any amount of self-employment adds a significant administrative burden.

        If they already have a side gig, it would be different.

        1. allathian*

          Yeah, this. I even get my tax return prefilled online, and either accept it as is or make modifications for any deductions.

      2. Lacey*

        Like AAM says, if it’s work that the company would do for the client, it absolutely makes sense to have a rule against that. Even before my old company had a non-compete, I turned people down when they requested that.

        But, if say, the company does advertising for an events company and the employee does DJing on the side and gets a gig through that connection, that’s not a thing the employer really should be fussing over just because they know the client through work.

      3. Reba*

        Hm, in my experience the rate a freelancer would charge as an individual versus what they would be paid by the company who held the contract are so different that this issue of tax convenience would not be worth it! (I’m talking about like, the client is billed $90 per hour for my time, where the company pays me $30 per hour.)

        The part I was calling “wild” is the suggestion on the letter that a company could just… Claim 10% of an employee’s outside income, just because?

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          10% sounds like an agency fee, doesn’t it?! I mean, you’d need to be doing some actual introduction or referral to justify it!

          Yeah, if the employer isn’t making a meaningful contribution to the freelance project (such as eg if the employer wanted to use employer-provided devices or subscriptions or premises to do the project) then taking a slice is hilarious.

      4. Strictly Speaking*

        I could see taking a cut of the income making sense if the employee who is freelancing is on a full-time, exempt salary arrangement rather than paid hourly.

        When you’re exempt-salaried and overtime pay is not a thing, then it’s harder to draw a line between when you should be working on your full-time job and when it’s okay to work on your freelance gig. If your employer commonly requires employees to work early mornings/late nights/weekends, then they could see any freelance work as subtracting from the work you’re supposed to be doing for them, provided there’s an endless amount of their work that you *could* be doing.

        In that case you can’t argue that you need that time off from your main job for R&R, because you would actually be using it to do more work, just paid by a different party.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          I see what you mean, but could the employer also take a slice of babysitting money?

          I definitely think an employer would have standing to challenge a FT salaried employee whose side gig (in any field whether related or otherwise) was getting in the way of their completing a reasonable amount of work for the employer. As always it would be up to a court to decide how much work can *reasonably* be required of an individual employee.

          1. Strictly Speaking*

            Well, yes, because fundamentally the employer’s argument is not about the nature of the side gig; it is about whether that side gig subtracts from the employee’s amount and/or quality of focus on the work that the employer wants them to do.

            At least as far as I know in the United States, there is no jurisprudence on what makes a “reasonable” workload for an exempt salaried employee. So if the employer tells the employee to work through the weekend on a deliverable, and then finds out that the employee was babysitting while working on the deliverable, the employer could argue that the employee’s level of focus was compromised by that babysitting. And because that may have reduced the quality of the work delivered, the employer could demand compensation for that loss of quality, in the form of a cut of the babysitting proceeds.

            Of course it would seem a petty thing to do at the scale of babysitting money, but perhaps not for some larger freelance fees.

            Obligatory IANAL disclaimer. If I’m mistaken here, I would love to know!

            1. Autistic AF*

              That’s an awfully specific hypothetical, and one already addressed by General von Klinkerhoffen. What if the babysitting doesn’t affect someone’s full-time job?

        2. Malarkey01*

          No, that’s like saying an employer is entitled to 24 hours of your life if you’re salaried. Do they get a cut of your capital gains because you researched stocks at 10 pm? They can’t lay claim to second job incomes that are done after operating hours. They can specify that you need to be available certain times and then have performance issues if you are not accomplishing your work on time but cannot say tell me what you were doing at 7 pm Saturday and I get a cut of whatever that was.

          1. Strictly Speaking*

            “No, that’s like saying an employer is entitled to 24 hours of your life if you’re salaried.”
            They are, though, as long as you’re choosing to remain in that exempt-salary job. At least, there is no clean definition of where your employer’s entitlement ends. It’s not at normal business hours, because clearly they can require you to work late.

            “Do they get a cut of your capital gains because you researched stocks at 10 pm?”
            If you were researching stocks instead of working on timely work-related tasks that were still not done, arguably they are entitled to compensation.

            1. Firecat*

              No. You are just wrong on this. Even if an hourly employee researches stocks on the clock and earns a windfall the employer is not entitled to any of that income. At least not in the US. They can fire said employer, write them up, etc. But unless the employee willfully forks it over the company isn’t going to get their paws on it and I doubt they would ever be able to win a suit to claim any portion of the income.

              You seem to be confusing – at will employed with “company owns that person and thus all the fruits of their labor” which is just wrong and gross on so many levels.

              1. Strictly Speaking*

                Do you have any examples of US court cases/jurisprudence for this? As I mentioned above, I certainly may be wrong, but as far as I know this has not been tested in court.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              No, this is false. They can have a claim on work you do that could reasonably be within the scope of your job, nothing else. If you’re an accountant and you write a horror novel in your downtime, your employer has no claim on that.

    2. New Mom*

      I’ve actually been thinking about doing some side freelancing so this question is very timely. I’m going to look around and see if there are any company policies about it.

  5. Maisie*

    ||My colleague feels excluded by my friendship with our boss||

    I’m booing that awful boss too! I wouldn’t be surprised if that boss was passive-aggressive to the excluded employee.

  6. Bob*

    They are trying to play you.
    You know that negotiating in the target country is normal but their insistence on not doing so is their way of trying to strong arm you into working for less than you are worth.
    I am going to disagree with Alison, they think they are in a position to take advantage of you and you are not playing ball. They do hope you will cave, i suggest you don’t. They are showing you what they think of employees. Believe them.

    Key points:
    Did not include any relocation assistance – They are being cheap, obviously you are relocating for the job
    Core benefits were the legal minimum for the market – They are being cheap
    They replied that their initial offer was good, and that they could not go up because the salary band for the position was restricted – Attempting to appeal to their own authority
    Negotiating salary is completely normal in the country where this job is located – Again them being cheap

    They think you are not worth market rates.

    1. Yellow Warbler*

      Agreed, I would not take this offer. I can’t imagine starting off in a brand-new country, when the job that brought me there showed their a$$ like this right off the bat.

    2. RC Rascal*

      Good analysis.

      If a company believes in “ take it or leave it” then they need to make a reasonable offer. This one is weak.

      1. Threeve*

        “Reasonable” is so relative, though. I kind of get the impression that OP didn’t feel that the offer was outrageously poor, just that they think the refusal to negotiate was problematic on principal. Like if they had lowballed the offer at first, it wouldn’t be an issue.

        Asking for them to get “creative” seems like negotiating for negotiation’s sake. Not so much “make this a reasonable offer” as “prove you want me.”

        1. Asenath*

          No relocation money for someone they’re hiring from another country is a serious weakness in their offer, and that at least seems to be making the offer poor from OP’s point of view.

          1. College Career Counselor*

            Agreed. I got relocation assistance to move across the country for two different jobs. Because that’s an expense that you incur when you have to move your household. I didn’t get the impression the LW was asking them to buy her house from her–although some companies do that when they want the candidate in their country FAST. But, if you’re picking up your whole life and moving it to another country for the work, that’s going to be tens of thousands of dollars, potentially.

    3. Forrest*

      The relocation thing really depends on whether they are deliberately hiring outside the country or not. If they were planning to hire locally, and a candidate in another country who wants to move to that country applies and is successful, you don’t suddenly have budget for relocation expenses. If you were planning an international search for the right candidate for a skill set that most likely isn’t available locally, then it should be factored into your budget.

        1. Forrest*

          Sure, but they may not have known that before they started the search.

          In my experience it would be extraordinary for every hire to have a budget for international relocation expenses. It’s only done for the most senior positions in my experience, or situations where you expect to hire internationally because you want specific language skills or an expert in a non-local legal system or something.

          1. Bob*

            In my experience if you want a good candidate you have to pay them enough to accept your offer, not try to lowball them and try to play them into accepting.
            If they can’t find someone local they will have to pay to get that talent from elsewhere. Also pay market price.

            1. Forrest*

              Switched round the other way, does that mean you think they should discount a good non-local candidate if they don’t have budget for relocation?

              I’m in the UK, but me and my partner want to move back to her home country one day. If we can only apply for jobs where they’ve decided to hire internationally and budgeted for international relocation, that makes our lives a lot harder than if we can apply for any job and be treated the same as local candidates.

              1. Bob*

                You are going to take this all the way aren’t you.
                They pay below market rates, they can’t find a local candidate (if they had a better local candidate they would hire them), they don’t want to pay to move the OP.

                Your arguing for a race to the bottom, that may not be your intention but it is the result.

                1. Forrest*

                  Not really, I just don’t really get your argument.

                  Two things I don’t get: firstly, OP didn’t say the offer was below local market rates, just that the benefits were the lowest legal minimum (which isn’t really a red flag if you’re in a country where the legal minimum is pretty good— I’ve rarely had jobs with more annual leave than the British legal minimum, for example), that it was less than she’s currently earning, and that the amount she asked for wasn’t unreasonable by local rates. If the offered salary isn’t enough for OP, she should turn it down, and then the company gets to decide whether to go with local Candidate B or whether Candidate B isn’t actually suitable and they need to look at the budget again.

                  Secondly, I don’t get is why you are assuming that they’d definitely prefer a local candidate to OP, and that making an offer to OP means there are *no* suitable candidates rather than just that OP is their first choice of several suitable candidates. I don’t see why you can’t evaluate an international candidate and a local candidate equally, and prefer the international candidate, but not if they’re going to cost more than you’ve budgeted for. “We’d like Candidate A, but he wants £65k plus relocation costs and we’ve only budgeted £50k for this position, so we’re going with Candidate B”— seems pretty normal!

                  Both of these seem like normal business to me, not a sign that anything nefarious or dodgy is going on.

      1. Weekend Please*

        Yep. If there are good local candidates, they really don’t have an incentive to pay relocation costs.

      2. MissDisplaced*

        Yeah, usually if you are NOT specifically seeking to hire outside of your home country, you would state in the job posting “No relocation assistance available” and let candidates self-select out.

        But if they are trying to hire internationally to widen the pool, of course people expect relocation assistance, and if they won’t offer that, then they’re playing/being cheap.

        Not sure here, but it seems they should’ve told OP there was no relocation assistance from the first interview screen. Something is amiss about that.

    4. Stormy Weather*

      All good points. I’ve had take-it-or-leave it offers, and have both taken and left. No relocation assistance to move to another country is ludicrous.

      And they should not be telling the candidate that the offer is good. If the offer was good, there would be no question of taking it.

    5. Snow Globe*

      This particular offer may not be worth it, but just because negotiations are the norm in this country doesn’t mean that every business does it, and it doesn’t mean that lack of negotiations is inherently unfair. Some businesses have a practice of making the highest and best offer right from the start, to avoid pay disparity. The question isn’t whether “take it or leave it” is unfair, it is whether the specific offer works for the candidate.

    6. agnes*

      If the offer doesn’t meet what you want, just say no. I don’t understand what’s so hard about that. You are under no obligation to accept an offer that doesn’t meet your interests. They are under no obligation to meet your interests. It’s not personal. It’s just business. Maybe poor business on their part. but……..

    7. Bethany*

      I think whether ‘core benefits were the legal minimum for the market’ is reasonable really depends on the country the LW is moving to.

      I live in Australia and our legal minimum benefits are 4 weeks holiday, 2 weeks sick leave, 10-ish public holidays and 16 weeks maternity/2 weeks paternity leave. As that’s pretty generous, that’s what most people get. I work for Tier 1 engineering companies with lots of employee incentives and the only thing I get above that is extra maternity/paternity leave.

      1. Roci*

        I agree, that was the biggest factor for me concluding this offer was maybe not great.
        No relocation assistance, maybe they don’t necessarily want a foreign candidate. No negotiating, there could be equity reasons.
        If the minimum benefits are also the most commonly provided, and also objectively reasonable, then that’s not really any more information either.
        But if the legal minimum is 10 days off total and they give 10 days while most companies give 20, then that’s a red flag that they’re being cheap.

    8. Nanani*

      It’s also possible they really want to hire someone who is already in the country, maybe a specific somebody, but they have to advertise in LW’s country for some policy reason. Not offering relocation assitance will cut out candidates who need to relocate very effectively.

      1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

        Not offering relocation assistance is quite common in many markets. We hired an international candidate into my team a year ago; we had local (in-city), national and international candidates. The co-worker we finally chose had interned with us two years ago and was pretty nomadic anyway – relocating internationally is easier for junior people with no immediate family to care for, after all. They rented a furnished apartment and moved in with a couple of suitcases. We offered the rental guarantee/deposit for the apartment.
        To be clear, we routinely assist with (and pay for) visa, administration, and all practical assistance necessary.

  7. Jinni*

    This feels like it would depend on some serious other outside factors. I split my time between two different countries (one US) and in the other, this is sometimes a position because the COL is lower and therefore there’s less flexibility (non US branch is run differently, pay bands are tighter, etc). BUT the big issue I’ve seen come up time and again is whether the visa/work/resident permit is tied to this job. Because if it is, then the opportunity to take the job – as a way to move to that country could possibly be restricted by the inability to move to another role with greater pay/flexibility/benefits.

    1. Roci*

      Agreed. I assumed visa wasn’t an issue here because it’s usually the #1 factor in applying/accepting someone from another country.

  8. SC in NC*

    With Regards to “Take it or leave it”: I understand that my comment is probably not what you were asking about but the finality of the offer isn’t as much of concern for me as the conditions. You’ve been in this process for over four months and the offer from a large multi-national is international relocation with no assistance, financial compensation not only lower than your current salary but also low for the market you would be relocating to and benefits that only meet the legal requirements? Also, the general reluctance to be flexible on anything is not a deal breaker but it does give you something to consider. How bad do you want to relocate to the new country and what are the possibilities that you could find a better opportunity? Unless I was desperate to relocate, I would pass on this one.

    1. agnes*

      yes, I am having a hard time understanding why the person would take the job under these conditions. Sure it may be what you want to do in a place you want to be, but they don’t want to pay you what you want to do it.

      You add up all your pros and cons and make a decision. The company isn’t ‘bad’ for saying no to your requests, and you are not ‘bad’ for refusing an offer that doesn’t work for you. It just doesn’t match…..

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I guess if you already had family or friends there you’re planning on living with, and you just want the assurance of a job and paycheck when you arrive it could be fine.

        But like, the company isn’t even offering a plane ticket to get OP there? That is not a good sign.

        1. Jennifer Thneed*

          It might only be a car drive away! Some of those countries in Europe are SO small, like Rhode-Island-small.

  9. MollyG*

    I can understand that the company has limits on compensation and benefits, but not paying relocation when an employee is moving to another country is not right (unless the lack of moving expenses was clearly disclosed at the start of the interview process).

    1. LizABit*

      In my experience, relo assistance typically depends on the position. I asked for and received relocation assistance for my senior role. It would never be justified at my company for an entry-level position.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Relo assistance is not something I’ve ever heard of in my industry.
        There are PLENTY of skilled and experienced people in publishing in NYC. I’ve never heard it mentioned

        At a very senior level–editor-in-chief level, publisher level–I’d expect relo assistance. But I’ve also never encountered someone hired from another city; they’re all already NYers.

      2. SlightlyStressed*

        This is interesting – I received a bit of relo assistance when I moved to an adjacent state for my job in an entry-level consulting position. It made sense to me because I was fresh out of college and had no money for a security deposit on rent. Why pay for a senior person to move when the lower level employees likely need the assistance more?

        1. Cordoba*

          The answer from the employer’s perspective is likely “Senior people have more options and are generally harder to find, so it makes sense to make it easy for them to move. Entry level people can more easily be hired locally with minimal relocation expenses.”

          It’s great that your employer provided you with that assistance but they definitely weren’t doing it to be nice. They were doing it because they determined that paying part of your relocation was more efficient than either hiring a local person for that job, or having you distracted by moving logistics your first month on the job.

        2. Cat Tree*

          Yeah, relocation assistance is standard in my field too. I’m no longer interested in moving again, but I was offered assistance for previous roles at different levels.

        3. Autistic AF*

          The senior-level has a better bargaining position – they have more experience, often unique experience, and it’s usually the employer that wants them to relocate and not vice-versa. It’s not necessarily fair, but that’s capitalism.

        4. MCMonkeybean*

          I think it’s not about who *needs* the assistance, it’s about how much the company is willing to do to convince someone to move for them. For a higher level position it is more difficult to find a qualified candidate so the company is more likely to actively recruit from a larger pool that includes people living across the country. Unless it is in a niche field, for most entry level positions it’s probably easier to just find someone who is already local.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      This was the key to me. I worked for a multi-national company and even as a lowly-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things individual contributor very early in my career, I was offered a very competitive relo package. So for the OP not to get offered something is fishy and would leave me to believe this company isn’t going to be great compensation-wise in the long run.

      1. Self Employed*

        And then they’ll be stuck in another country, possibly with a visa problem where they’ll have to self-deport back to the home country if they are no longer employed by the visa sponsor company. I’ve read that a lot of US companies totally lowball people from places like Russia and India who have good technical skills but don’t know what the cost of living is like in California. But once they’re here, they can’t find a better job because the visa is tied to the employer and they end up living 2-4 guys to a 1-bedroom apartment and riding the bus to work.

    3. Lady Meyneth*

      That’s a really different perspective for me. In my area, if I interview for a job abroad, it’s understood there will be no relocation assistance, because I would not be an employee until I’m already in the new location. There are companies that offer assistance for foreign or out-of-state employees, but they’re the exception, and it’s considered a major perk and advertised as such.

      I honestly don’t see much of a problem in #1’s potential company, unless they’re paying under market. Having a no negotiating policy can be a really good idea and avoid wage gaps and the resentment they bring. Maybe it’s not right for the LW, but there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with their practice.

    4. KayDeeAye*

      Some companies don’t offer relocation assistance simply because they’d genuinely prefer to hire locally. And that can be a perfectly legitimate concern. I mean, it isn’t always, but it definitely can be. There are times/places/industries when you want to be able to say “We hire local people whenever its feasible,” and if you’re offering a relocation package, it’s a lot harder to be convincing on that point.

    5. Malarkey01*

      Relocation benefits often come down to how robust the local recruiting/application process is. 99% of the jobs in my company don’t offer relocation because we have enough interest and talent in the local area and if someone would like to relocate to our area we consider them but we wouldn’t bear an additional cost in order to hire them over great local runner ups. The 1% are for extremely specialized or top leadership where we need to catch a wider geographic net in order to hire an appropriate candidate.

      I don’t think this is all that unusual.

    6. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      I am related to someone in an industry that has both govt and private company sides. The govt side tends to be better benefits (insurance, time off, work hours etc) but the pay tends to be higher for the private company side of the shop. Both sides used to offer relocation assistance – but the last time they heard of offers for relocation packages was about a decade ago and it only covered part of the move.

      The other parts of the offer on the relocating to a foreign country are what worry me more. Lower pay then what you make now, bare minimum time off amount, bare bones benefits, and no willingness to work with you on any of it worries me about any visa issues and who will be responsible for solving them. Please take how they are acting now into account for those other logistical challenges of moving to a foreign country.

  10. AthenaC*

    #1 – I think “take it or leave it” offers are fairly common for multinational (read: organized and structured) companies, particularly if you’re a bit lower on the totem pole. I do agree with Alison that it’s likely to help ensure pay equity.

  11. No Tribble At All*

    Ugh, I hate ‘take it or leave it’ when they ask for your salary expectations upfront. So I say 60-65, they come back with 58, take it or leave it, we pinky promise it’s the best we can do. It’s lower than what I asked for, so now I feel desperate if I do take it. If it’s take it or leave it, the company should make the offer first.

  12. CommanderBanana*

    This seems like a big red flag, especially if you are relocating to a country for a job.

  13. Greg*

    A few years ago, my wife interviewed with what was at the time considered a hot startup, although she already had some doubts about their staying power. They came in a little low with the offer, and when she tried to get creative with her negotiation, they shot down every single one of her suggestions. They couldn’t give her more vacation days. They couldn’t tell her the value of her equity package. They refused to bump up the title. The only thing they could give her was, “You get the privilege of working for” It got to the point where they were so arrogant, it really sapped any enthusiasm she had for the opportunity. She turned them down, and shortly afterward found out that the hiring manager (who had been the one person in the whole process who had really impressed her) had already left. Pretty soon the company was in the tank.

  14. Sleepy*

    I feel horrible for the employee who is the 3rd wheel in her own department. That just sucks.

    Honestly, either OP or their manager should try to transfer to a different department if they want to preserve this friendship.

    1. JM60*

      I don’t socialize with people I work with, and rarely go out to lunch with them, and even I feel sorry for the excluded employee.

      1. allathian*

        Yup, me too. The whole thing gave me a strong feeling of déjà-vu, I’ve been in this spot before, although my then-boss was not involved in excluding me. A few of my teammates were good friends even outside of work. Occasionally they’d invite me along for a team lunch, but mostly they didn’t. That didn’t really bother me much, until one day when I happened to notice some of them going to lunch and asked if I could join them. One of my teammates said straight up that “when we’re going for a team lunch, we’ll invite you along, but this time I’m going with my *actual* friends and you aren’t one of them, so go away”. I was so stunned that I couldn’t do anything other than turn on my heel and leave. I admit that I didn’t get much done the rest of that day and because I had some working hours banked, I left early. Fortunately I got over it fairly quickly, but it was a long time before I felt comfortable talking with those teammates about anything other than work-related stuff. Even though my boss wasn’t involved in this, I must admit I felt I was out of the loop when I only talked about work stuff with my teammates, and it definitely affected my job satisfaction.

        I had a 1:1 with my boss a few weeks later and told her about the incident when she asked me how I was doing. Both of us agreed that it was unfortunate, my coworker was unnecessarily cruel when she told me she didn’t want to to go to lunch with me, but that ultimately employees who go to lunch on their own time are entitled to choose who they go with and that an employer can’t dictate who employees can or have to socialize with off the clock.

        A few years later, my boss left for another org because she wanted to get out of management, and the coworker who was so nasty to me got promoted to our boss. She had 1:1 meetings with all of us to get an idea about our hopes and expectations, and I said something about how I hoped that she as a boss would treat all of her reports in the same way regardless of whether they were her friends or not, and that I still hadn’t forgotten the lunch incident. That’s when she apologized for what she said, which she hadn’t done when it happened, and said that as a manager it was her responsibility to ensure she wasn’t favoring any of her reports over anyone else. It’s possible that it helped that by the time she was promoted, her best work friend had left for another organization.

        I was bullied by exclusion in middle and high school. So I suppose I have some PTSD about being excluded from things at work.

        When we were at the office, I’d go to lunch with some coworkers who aren’t on my team occasionally, and our team had team lunches once a month, which I attended and enjoyed. So I’ll join in when I’m invited but I almost never take the initiative. For lunch I’d often get takeout, usually a salad, soup or a sub, and eat in our break room, and I’d happily chat with anyone else who was there at the same time. Of course, now with WFH the whole point is moot…

        I really do feel sorry for the OP and hope they can change things around. But unless the boss is willing to see how this is affecting their reports, I’m not hopeful. It’s possible this won’t change until the OP gets a new job, or is assigned to another team.

  15. yala*

    #2 oooh man that was cathartic to read. My department is slightly bigger than that (by, like, one person), but yeah, lemme tell ya–it feels AWFUL! And then if there’s friction between the reports? Yeeeeeeah, SUPER fun to watch your boss give your coworker a pass for talking to you in a tone of voice that would get you written up, while giving you a reprimand for “seeming scared.” Extra fun to find out that the rest of the department had a little Christmas celebration of their own in private during work hours, but not you.

    It’s one of those things where while I’m mostly just hurt/angry/frustrated/anxious, I also spent a good long while just…baffled that no one higher up ever stepped in to let boss know it wasn’t a great look.

      1. yala*

        Thanks. Honestly, one of the MANY things I love about work-from-home, and even just the hybrid schedule, is how much the little cliques et all in the workplace just…don’t MATTER. And not just in our department. Sometimes I do miss the social interaction, but it’s just nicer without gossip all around.

  16. Introvert girl*

    A lot of EU countries have rules for the amount of days off that a person can have depending on their age, work conditions,… Also, countries like Belgium or the Netherlands have collective labour agreements, so there isn’t much wiggling space, but has its own benefits.

    1. Nanani*

      But in those cases you know what you’re getting because it’s literally the same as everyone else, and you already know what it is before you apply.

  17. irene adler*

    My first job out of college, the HR person extended a job offer to me (via telephone) and included something along the lines of “first offer, best offer” before I even got the chance to respond. So, being desperate for a job, I accepted.

    Later on, this HR person tells me about all the people she’s hired who try to negotiate for better compensation. And she says no to each and every request by simply repeating “first offer, best offer” until they give up. She also uses the “It’s corporate policy” line too.

    Sure not employed there any longer.

    1. Cat Tree*

      I once got a lowball offer from a place that refused to negotiate. I declined the offer and they seemed genuinely surprised. I was already employed at the time, and I figured if it was impossible to get my worth when starting, every attempt at getting a raise would be extremely difficult. It’s not just the initial offer I had to worry about, but the long term effects on my income.

  18. TeapotNinja*

    No, a job offer should never be take it or leave it, because it’s a clear indication the employer doesn’t give a flying f*** about what you want/need. It’s an indication of things to come. Every conflict, small or big, is likely to be handled the same way.

    If a job offer is presented that way I will leave it.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      It could be an indication that this is what they’re able to offer for the role, and if that’s not sufficient for your needs, then you’re not the right candidate.

      Take it or leave it could mean that they’re offering you the max amount that they can instead of lowballing you in the hopes that they can get away with paying you less.

    2. JM60*

      I disagree. If an employer is willing to negotiate a high salary, than means they weren’t forthcoming about how much they’d be willing to pay you. If they aren’t willing to negotiate, that somewhat means that they’re offering you the best they’re willing to pay you (regardless of whether that is a high or low amount).

      What’s better, if a company offers $X but isn’t willing to negotiate that amount, or if they offer $(X – 5,000), but they’re willing to negotiate up to $5,000 more than what they offer? Obviously it’s the first, because you get $X regardless of whether or not you negotiate. With the latter, you won’t get anymore than $X, but you will get less than $X unless you negotiate, and ask for a high enough dollar amount.

      1. Willis*

        Right. And what if they’re willing to pay you $X, offer $X-10,000, and you negotiate to $x-5,000? Congratulations, you got to negotiate, but you’re getting $5,000 less than you would’ve if they just told you their intended salary for the role, take-it-or-leave-it. I get why job seekers try to negotiate, cause how do you know if the company is really telling you the highest they can go, but I certainly wouldn’t count it against them if their initial offer was the best they can do. If the offer’s bad for you, turn it down. But if their final offer is unacceptable to you, wouldn’t it be unacceptable whether it was the first, second, or tenth one they stated?

  19. agnes*

    Our policy is first offer , best offer, and we absolutely do not budge for anyone, period. We even have a written policy about it that I sometimes send candidates along with the offer, because I know that a lot of candidates don’t believe it. (we did this to address pay disparity based on gender, age, or race–we use a consistent formula to determine an offer).

    Yes, it means we lose some good candidates. It also means that we are fair and equitable with our salaries and benefits for all. It’s not personal to the candidate. We have gotten a reputation for being a good place to work and the word has gotten around that, indeed, we don’t negotiate, so people who do come to work for us feel better about their pay.

    I think the problem comes when the hiring manager lies to the candidate. You should never mislead a candidate “we don’t negotiate” if in fact you do.

  20. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    It’s the non-negotiable no relocation bonus that would do it for me. Dude is relocating to another country (which I presume is more expensive than renting a uhaul for a day) for a *pay cut*. At least show him you appreciate his dedication to your company and help him move.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Aaaand… my reading comprehension sucks and OP1 clearly never stated whether they are a “dude”. Sorry, OP! I promise I’ll do better next time.

    2. Roci*

      I assumed that the company doesn’t necessarily want to hire someone from abroad. In my experience/area, relocation assistance is a benefit used to entice people you want to bring over, but it’s not a standard benefit given to anyone who happens to apply from another country.

  21. MissDisplaced*

    Honestly, given this job requires moving to another country, I think I would say “leave it.”
    It’s not the salary you want, and they’re not offering ANYTHING to relocate you. Not a good way to start off in my book, and it kind of also says they probably have strong local candidates and don’t see a need to pay relocation costs. I’d be wary.

    The only way I think this could still be viable for you is if you REALLY want to move there and already have family or friends in that country/city you can rely on for a time, especially should this job not work out if you moved there for it. If that’s the case and you just “need a job” when you get there and you have the savings and means to get there, I guess it could be fine to get yourself working in that country. But I wouldn’t depend on this company for anything.

  22. MistOrMister*

    Re OP2 – I hope Alison’s response made them rethink the hanging out all the time. I never really knew that was a thing that shouldn’t be done until I came,here. But in hindsight it makes perfect sense. I have worked a couple of places where the boss was openly closer with some people than others, and if you’re not one of the preferred ones, it is a lonely, not fun place to be.

    Re the OP with the stomach issues (OP3?) I hope they didn’t have to deal with people speculating about their stomach issues!! I have had recurring issues which led to vomitting at work and it is just horrible. Vomitting at a work toilet just makes you feel gross. And the worry of someone coming in mid vomit…ugh dear lord save me now!! I also sometimes gwt bloody noses just out of the blue. People always stare like your face is peeling off and want to help and it really is just, no leave me alone with this ginormous wad of tp up my nose, it will pass! Even though I have no control over when they start, it’s still embarrassing to have to stand there dripping blood in the office…

  23. goducks*

    I’m a big fan of take it or leave it offers because it should lead to equitable pay, but a critical piece in doing that is defining the salary/benefits (and if it’s a range, matrixing the legitimate qualifications that land candidates where they will in the range) and being transparent all the way through the hiring process that the job pays X-Y based on these specific (objective, not subjective) factors. No surprises. That way, if it’s not going to be a match, the parties can part ways earlier rather than later.

  24. 'nother prof*

    I think you need to consider the facts of the offer carefully. I was given a take it or leave it offer in a similar situation (i.e. the organization offered only those benefits they had no choice about), and it was a direct result of the organization’s management just generally exploiting workers. It was so bad that I got a substantial raise within a year because an externally mandated review board said that I was underpaid (… and I was still underpaid after the bump; the board had a limited pool of money to draw on). My salary now was based on the salary then, so… the effects lingered.

  25. Black Horse Dancing*

    #2–oh, man , so been there. Boss was besties with my co worker, went on vacation together, exchanged clothes, etc. It is not a good thing at all. OP, as you are the bestie, you may not know but your boss friend is horrible and you aren’t acting much better.

  26. Judy*

    If it doesn’t feel right to you, walk away. Imagine how you’d feel if you accept the job and then find out the person who was hired a month later negotiated a higher salary and received relocation assistance?? It sounds like you’re gut is telling you something and you should probably listen.

  27. OP#4*

    Thanks again Allison for answering my query! This language really helped. Thanks to zoom, it’s no longer a problem but I now feel more empowered to tell my classmates (I entered to grad school) when my chronic health problem necessitates me turning off the camera and don’t feel like I have to over-explain. My health problem has gotten a lot worse and learning I can just give as much info as needed to do my job/get appropriate accommodations has been a godsend. Your blog really helped me advocate for myself! It cut down on unsolicited advice regarding my rare complications and gave me the language to shut down the few folks who feel the need to pry. You rock!

  28. pcake*

    OP 1 – why try and make something work that pays less than your current job, hands you a “take it or leave it” ultimatum, has absolute minimum benefits and on top of that requires you to relocate without assistance? This is a cheap, inflexible company, and they’re pretty much letting you know that.

    1. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      You need to look at the total package, including cost of living and possible savings. Minimum legal benefits could be negligible or very generous compared to US standards; in many countries the legal benefits are 4-6 weeks of paid vacation, full healthcare, retirement funds, paid sick and maternity leave, etc. so companies and employees are not used to negotiating those aspects.
      An 80k Euro salary in Germany is not directly comparable to a nominally equivalent $96k US salary – taxes are lower in the US, cost of living is likely to be a bit higher depending on the area, healthcare is more expensive, you need to save more for retirement, …
      For most countries, there are calculators to give you take-home pay from a gross salary as a first indication, but these do not factor in, for example, differences in sick pay or vacation.
      As others commented, many (especially large) companies now are more inflexible on salary bands to foster equality (between genders, social groups, local/non-local candidates).
      “Take it or leave it” is not a good wording, though.

  29. TheAG*

    On the second question in the Inc. article. I did not see anything explicit in the posted question that would suggest that the boss was female. Was there something that was excluded from the post letter writer that stated the boss was female? (because the response refers to boss as “her”)
    Just curious. I agree with the overall sentiment “bad boss”.

    1. Allonge*

      This is something Alison does consistently – if there is no information, she addressess the manager as female. To better combat the general assumption that male is default and managers are men.

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