job offered me half the salary I was expecting, vastly over-paying a student, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. A job offered me half the salary I was expecting

I’ve been at my current job nearly a decade, but have been volunteering my spare time running a committee dedicated to a social cause that personally impacts me. Through this, I’ve been involved more with organizations that work with companies in my broader, and a really exciting opportunity has come up at one of them. In that job, I would be directly involved in working on the social cause I care about, and will be able to significantly further my career. However, the role is something completely unrelated to my normal day job, and would be a significant increase in stress and personal responsibility in my work. There’s a lot of pressure riding on this new role.

They are apparently eager enough to have me that they have altered the job description around my own assessment of the role. They and I both acknowledge that this will be a developmental opportunity for me, and so I was expecting that the offer they made me would be somewhat below the salary it was originally advertised at.

I was not expecting the offer to be less than half the advertised salary.

I have asked to see a copy of the new job description so that I can see exactly how it differs from the original role, but apparently they’ve discussed it but not “formalized” it yet. One thing I do know is, if I try to negotiate upwards, I’ll still be aiming for a point lower than what I had originally prepared myself to expect. I find myself suddenly torn. The potential of it all still excites me, but I am worried that I will be taking on a significant extra load in return for an income increase I could probably beat by simply taking on a role identical to my current one in a more expensive city. How would you go about opening up the conversation on this without souring what have been extremely positive interactions up until this point?

It’s true that if the role would be a stretch for you, you should expect that to be reflected in the salary. But that means you should be at the low point of their range (maaaaybe a little bit less), not at half of it!

The only way this is reasonable is if they’ve significantly reworked the job and perhaps taken it from very senior to more junior. And that’s possible! It sounds like half their advertised salary was still a raise from what you’re making now, so maybe they’ve reconfigured it to be closer to your current professional level? This is all speculation, obviously — but you’ve got to see the reconfigured role before you can evaluate the offer or make any decisions, so I would push for that or at least for a detailed conversation about exactly how their vision for the job has changed. So I’d say, “Throughout our conversations, I’ve assumed the role would be what was advertised, including the salary range you’d listed. I’m very interested in the work we’ve discussed, but that’s a significant change to the salary — does that indicate you’re planning significant changes to the role as well? If so, can we talk through those changes more specifically so I understand what you’re envisioning and how it matches up with this salary level?”

If it turns out they aren’t significantly re-conceiving the role, I’d be concerned that they’re just underpaying you because they think they can.

2. We’re going to vastly overpay our co-op student

I have never been involved in hiring a co-op student until now. My manager just told me, “Hey, we’re getting a co-op” and I said, “Cool.” I didn’t know what our budget was or anything. Our director handled all the communications with the university. We did all our interviews and decided we were going to send an offer to George — he didn’t know this yet. Right before we sent the offer, he emailed, asking what the compensation would be. I got bounced from manager to manager, asking what our typical salary is for first year co-op students. Eventually one of them gave me an answer and copied and pasted the language from the contract to me ($30 an hour, with no benefits or vacation days). I copied and pasted the info and sent it to George.

My director emailed me to let me know that George accepted our offer, then said, “Now you need to figure out what to pay him.” It was like a record scratch. “Uh, I sent the salary info I got from Fergus.” Long story short, Fergus gave me salary information for a 4th year Bachelor of Engineering student (aka, someone with at least 4+ co-op work terms under their belt) … not the salary info for a first year Bachelor of Arts student (who typically make anywhere from $17.50 to $25).

After some back and forth with my director and manager (they were both laughing at the situation, phew), we’ve decided to pay George the $30/hour. Was this the right decision? Our industry is booming and we have the budget. Trying to change the salary after the fact is the equivalent of screwing over an employee who just resigned from their old company to accept a position at a new company. And when he gets here, should we/how do we tell him, “You’re damned lucky/don’t expect this from future employers/don’t go telling other employees here you salary, because some of them were once co-ops and might be mad cause we didn’t pay them this much.” We’re already awaiting urban legends of my company’s generosity to start spreading…

Yes, standing by the salary you offered him was the right decision. He might have turned down other offers or otherwise made decisions based on the offer, and it would have been wrong to go back and try to change it. (That said … this is easy to say and sometimes more complicated in practice. For example, if you had other co-opt students of a different gender or race and they were being paid less than George, that’s a problem no matter how it happened.)

I do think you should explain to him what happened at some point though. Not in a “you’re damned lucky” way (no need to guilt him over it) but so he doesn’t calibrate his salary expectations wrong for future positions. Just explain the mistake and what you typically offer and say it’s not anything he needs to worry about or solve and you want him to know what these positions typically pay for the future but meanwhile he should feel free to enjoy what you’re paying him.

3. My boss hasn’t asked why I’m leaving but really needs to hear it

I’ve been in my current position for two years. I’m leaving abruptly but with close to 30 days’ notice. I’m the second person in this role, and we both left after two years.

My boss, and her boss, are the primary reasons I’m leaving. I’m constantly frustrated, isolated, and feel like neither of them knows what they actually hired me to do, and neither value what I am doing. I have asked on numerous occasions for guidance on what is/isn’t “my job,” what my goals should be, how I should be spending my time – I get incredibly vague answers if I get any feedback at all. So I’ve spent my time finding things that need to be done and doing them as best I can.

I was hoping that at some point during this 30-day notice period, I would get the chance to speak with them in an exit interview, or even a less formal meeting. I want to discuss what has caused my frustration and how they can improve the situation for the next person. I want them to know they need to decide what the actual job duties are for this position and be clear about that, provide actual training and onboarding, and do a better job so the next person doesn’t feel like they are off on their own with no support.

Unfortunately, with only a few days left, neither my boss nor her boss has shown any interest in that sort of discussion – neither have even asked me why I’m leaving. They haven’t shown any interest in learning what I do so that they can train the next person properly – they haven’t even opened the extensive training documents I created, but they did thank me for creating them so that’s something. I do have an “exit interview” with HR, but it is only scheduled for 15 minutes and seems to just be a time for me to turn in my badge and keys.

What do I do? Do I type up a document outlining all the pain points and how I wish things had been handled? Or do I just walk away? I feel bad for the person walking into this, but I also don’t see the point in leaving the document if they aren’t interested in what it says. I wanted this to be a conversation, not a Dear John letter that might only serve in leaving a bad impression on future references.

You just walk away. I’m sorry! I know you want to be able to do something, but they’ve made it clear throughout the last two years, and definitely throughout your notice period, that they’re not interested in feedback. Even if you left behind the sort of document you’re contemplating, it doesn’t sound like it would have much of an impact. In fact, even if they sat down with you for an exit interview, I’m skeptical it would have much impact.

If you haven’t clearly and explicitly said, “I would like to schedule half an hour with you before I wrap up to go over what will help the new person,” you can try that. But if they don’t care to bother, that tells you all you need to know. (I actually think you already know everything needed about their level of investment, based on the last two years … but if you will feel better making one final attempt, go ahead and try.)

But ultimately, this isn’t your responsibility. It’s theirs. It’s not your job to make them care, or to potentially burn your own capital trying to make them see what you see. You can’t make them treat the next person better than they treated you. You want to because you’re a reasonable and probably kind person, but you can’t make them. You can just happily leave this job behind you.

4. How do you know your boss follows through on promises to speak to problem coworkers?

How do you know that management follows through on promises to speak to problem coworkers?

I caught my manager in a lie when he accidentally let slip that he did not speak to the problem coworker yet when he said before that he had. I know so many people have gone to management about ongoing problems at work with nothing being done. How can you tell if management is actually working behind the scenes?

As a default, I’d assume it’s true until and unless you have reason to doubt it. It sounds like you do have that reason.

But also, look at what you know about your manager: Are they generally forthright about addressing problems? Willing to have uncomfortable conversations? Oriented toward action in most things? How high is their tolerance for bullshit? Have you seen them wimp out from hard things before? Do they have a track record of following through on other commitments? Do they seem to favor telling people what they want to hear rather than uncomfortable truths?

And of course, does the problem itself eventually get solved or does nothing change? If nothing changes, it doesn’t really matter whether they spoke to the person or not; ultimately, they’re not willing to do what it takes to resolve the issue.

The bigger question is where that leaves you. If the issue is egregious enough, it can make sense to go over your boss’s head (or to HR with things like harassment or discrimination). Otherwise, though, you might just need to file it away as data about your boss.

{ 238 comments… read them below }

  1. CW*

    #1 – If Alison’s last sentence is the truth, then run away! I have made that mistake before, and it ended very badly. So suppose the job is willing to pay $100,000, and now they are only offering you $49,000? Just the thought of it puts me in disbelief.

    But even if you think it may work out, I wouldn’t take the job. If they are not willing to give you at least the lower end of the range, you will likely end up feeling undervalued, cheated, and upset. I speak from experience.

    1. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

      This is a very good point, also because if someone is willing to underpay for skills, it’s often because they don’t value those skills and so other key elements of support won’t be available….and they may very well be underpaying your colleagues who then might also be resentful or exhausted.

      1. Cold Fish*

        Curious to commenter thoughts: If it’s a matter of OP’s experience vrs what they were originally thinking in the position, would it make sense to accept a low salary with the condition that salary will be revisited in 6 months?

        In writing, with specific metrics in place that show OP’s ability to do job and according increase if met.
        (Sounds like a lot of work when typing that out, but that is a significant pay discrepancy. And OP, you’re right to be worried.)

        1. AthenaC*

          In theory that sounds like a happy medium, but many people here will attest that a company that agrees to that will very likely not hold up their end of the bargain. They’re happy to get a discount on your labor for six months and then just indefinitely “forget” or “reschedule” or “postpone” revisiting the salary on their end.

          The one exception MIGHT be an iron-clad, spelled-out-in-the-contract provision that on XX date, salary WILL BE adjusted to $X provided (insert clear, nonjudgmental and realistic performance objectives here) are met. But I’m guessing that scenario is EXTREMELY rare.

          1. Overit*

            Exactly! I truly do not anyone who ever get a salary increase who was told the amount would be revisited later. Including me at my last job, when they denied ever telling me that and when I showed them it in writing, I got a shrug.

        2. Artemesia*

          This is virtually always a dodge to underpay someone — no way the 6 mos review even if it happens will mean a huge raise. Once you have a salary getting an enormous raise i.e. 20% or more virtually never happens.

          The OP should probably walk away from this one and keep looking. Or if they accept it should keep looking anyway.

        3. Longtime listener, first time groomer*

          I have done this once, and it worked out, but there were some key differences from the description OP gave:

          I told the firm my salary expectations, based on recent advertisements for public-sector positions that stated pay bands. The hiring manager said “ I agree that’s what you’re worth, but the project you would start on has rates written into the contract. I can’t pay you a salary I can’t recoup from the client. In six months we will move to next years rates on this contract and I can add you as a named person at a new rate”

          It was a small business so it was reasonable that they would only have a few contracts at a time, also I had shifted careers while living in another country and desperately needed work experience in my new career in my current country. And, finally, his offer and my request were less than 10k apart

          I took the job, proved my worth and got the salary I had asked for six months in.

        4. tamarack & fireweed*

          Well, yes, but not with such a large gap.

          I was also wondering how this would look like in concrete terms, so I came up with this story to fill in the gaps and numbers.

          Someone, not the OP (call them NotOP) is… let’s say a business analyst and earns 55K. Which is not much, but not unheard of for a business analyst. NotOP is also hard of hearing and wears hearing aids. They have been for many years volunteered in the company’s equity committee and amassed a substantial amount of expertise on accommodating disabilities and medical needs of all kinds, including in assistive technology, insurance and legal matters. The company is overall appreciative of the work of the equity committee and wants to give this kind of development a greater role. So they want to create a position of Director of Inclusion and Workplace Adaptation, paid ~140K. Primary responsibility would be: 1. Animate company-wide workshops on the topic (culture change); 2. Be the corporate point-of-contact for concerns brought forward by various equity committees (remediation); 3. Ensure HR units and managers receive job-specific training in these topics (training). This would be a pretty public, exposed, highly visible role.

          NotOP is up for it, applies, interviews and discusses the role. The agreement is that their volunteering and company knowledge prepares them extraordinarily well for the role, but there is concern that NotOP isn’t quite ready to step into a director role.

          Reasonable solution A: Acknowledge that NotOP will require some intense mentoring at first. Offer to hire as an “Associate director of Inclusion” with an assigned director-level mentor, a senior management class (paid for and on work time), and a salary of 115K, with the timeline that a 9-month review would be expected to confirm NotOP in the role of Director of Inclusion with the full 140K salary.

          Reasonable solution B: Scale down the role to that of an “Equity officer”- reduce point 2 to “meets with equity committees and reports to senior management (or the Director of Inclusion! who doesn’t exist), and take away 3 entirely, or reduce to “advises HR on good trainings to take”. Offer role at 65K. This is a much less exposed role.

          Unreasonable solution: Don’t really scale down role, still present it as a “Director” but without support, and at 65K.

          If the company goes for B, NotOP should still ask to get the job description in writing, and ask pointy questions about how to ensure that there is no mission creep towards a director-level role without the means to act in a director-level capacity. They should also say something like “you originally designed the job to be at the director level – so I presume you need a director ultimately: what would the career path be for me to ultimately step into the role as you originally designed it, including the compensation you set down?” NotOP might also say that at such a small increment to their current job, they would not believe it is worth their while to make the career change.

    2. PollyQ*

      Agreed, and if LW does decide to negotiate, then worrying about “souring the negotiations” should be the last thing on their mind. They employer has already done that by chopping the suggested salary so drastically.

      1. Artemesia*

        The only possibility of a huge increase over the offer is during negotiations — no way it is adjusted later.

    3. Mockingjay*

      OP1, consider the long-term ramifications of taking a drastic salary cut and role reduction. How many years will it take to recoup a salary appropriate for your experience and skills? Will your skills atrophy? Given that many places base salary on what you make at current job, you can get stuck on the lower end of the market.

      Have the conversation that Alison recommends, but don’t settle for a too-low role and offer, even if you are excited about the work. Even if personal circumstances mean you can take such a cut, it still affects you career.

        1. Waffles*

          Just pointing out that LW hasn’t said that it would be a salary cut FOR HER. Just that it’s lower than the original posted role, which she knows she was unqualified for. This might actually still be a raise for LW!

          1. L.H. Puttgrass*

            Right. The LW says, “I am worried that I will be taking on a significant extra load in return for an income increase I could probably beat by simply taking on a role identical to my current one in a more expensive city.” So the salary is an increase from what LW is making now, but less than half what was posted—which means that the posted rate would more than double LW’s current salary?

            If so, then that big of an increase not exactly unheard of, but it is a bit much to expect. So in the spectrum between (1) the employer realizing they can get this candidate much cheaper than what they’d budgeted, and (2) the employer revising the posted role to something more junior to fit this candidate’s skills, I’d say the true answer is probably somewhere in the middle.

            1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

              I am not saying that LW1 should be paid based on their current salary.
              But there is such a gulf between their current salary and the originally advertised salary for the position! It makes me wonder if they are at a completely different stage in their career than the ideal candidate the new employer originally envisioned.

          2. Anonymous4*

            It may not be a salary cut for LW, but it’s LESS THAN HALF of what they originally offered.

            Let’s say I’m currently earning $65,000. If I’m looking at taking a job as a senior manager, which usually has a salary range of $150,000 – $180,000, and the organization offers me $70,000, does *anyone* think that’s a jolly good offer?

            1. Eldritch Office Worker*

              Right. There’s a big difference between “this is a life changing job and I’m willing to take on more work/stress/change industries – whatever – because the salary and other benefits are going to really change my situation” and “this is a modest raise at a company that’s already shown me I can’t trust them”.

            2. Forrest*

              I think there are a ton more questions to ask. Is it still a job for a senior manager? Or have they kept the project management and subject matter expertise, but taken away the line management responsibility for a department or 25? Or something else? Have they taken away the stuff that OP was seeing as v stressful, or the stuff they thought was exciting and that they wanted to develop? Is there still a pathway to the original senior management role from here? What’s the possibility for raises in the short-term? All of this should be in the mix when OP is deciding whether it’s still a good opportunity or not, and what salary would make it worthwhile for them.

            3. tamarack & fireweed*

              Indeed. I think the OP *has* to say something about that. As in “you designed that to be at seniority level X with the commensurate salary – if the salary is reduced to $70,000 it makes it much less interesting for me”.

          3. Nanani*

            That still doesn’t make it okay to pay less than half what the role is worth.
            Salary should reflect the value of the work performed. Not past history, not negotiation, the actual value of the actual work.
            Otherwise you’re basically saying if you have one low paying job, you should be happy with low paying jobs forever cause hey, it’s in line with your history.

            “But it’s more than she made before!” is just another excuse (up there with “but he negotiated” and “they should be lucky to even be here”) to keep certain people perpetually underpaid.

            1. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

              Depending on just how much they re-imagined the role for LW1, it may well be a role that is “worth” much less than what was originally advertised.

              1. tamarack & fireweed*

                Well, it’s unlikely that they can make this work if they actually *need* to have this role filled at a higher seniority level. I hear mission creep, and I hear a mid-level employee being tasked to effect change in ways it requires the authority of someone in a more senior role.

                Also, it’s completely normal not to be interested in a drastic, risky career change – even one in a direction that the OP finds meaningful – for a very modest increase in compensation. And even more so if a much higher compensation was originally on the table.

                If I had had all these discussions – knowing the original salary range – and expected an offer slightly below, and then the offer came in at less than half, I would be tempted to write back and ask if there is a typo in the offer.

          4. The Rules are Made Up*

            Although that’s true, the actual role is apparently a significant step up, so when she leaves that place she’ll have the skills and experience from that higher role but not the salary (since it’s highly unlikely they’d give her a 50% raise at any point) and maybe not even the title. Unless the role has changed a LOT in title and seniority, having her salary not match her actual role will still force her to play catch up for who knows how long.

          5. MCMonkeyBean*

            It does actually say even that it would be a raise, but that this would be a bit more money for a lot more work and she might be able to get a similar raise with a more lateral move.

          6. Reluctant Mezzo*

            However, adjusting pay to meet past payment history is a really good way of making sure women and minorities never get paid the same as the white guys.

    4. M2*

      Agree but also it sounds like they reworked the job description to support the LWs strengths (which many organizations won’t do) so maybe a pay cut for salary was warranted if the role is not as senior as previously reported. This is especially true if they have to create another role (with salary and benefits) to cover these other tasks. That being said they should have explained this to the LW and stated if you don’t want to do XYZ we will have to hire someone else and significantly reduce the salary by X-x %for your role. Take X days to think about it. LW talk to them and get clarity.

      Is there anyone else you can speak with at this organization to get a feel for how their salary works/ if they overwork you/ if they underpay/ raises etc?

      1. Loulou*

        Good point. I’m not sure any of this was explained adequately to OP, but that was also the sense I got from the letter — OP can’t fill the role as originally advertised, but the organization really wants them so they giving them a smaller job (meaning someone else will need to do other parts.of the job). This honestly all sounds super weird to me but maybe it is relatively normal in this world?

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        That was my thought. If the original position was a director reporting to the ED, but now is a manager reporting to a director, that is one reason for the drastic salary cut – this is a workload being added to their new boss, diverted away from the original conception of the role (and is not uncommon). If they have split the original role into two roles, and are going to hire a second person or, less charitably, shift ~50% of the workload onto other employees, that would be another reason. They should be able to articulate something like this to OP, with this level of clarity, otherwise I’d assume they’re not acting in good faith.

      3. quill*

        Yeah, they need to finalize that description right away so OP can actually assess if it matches industry standards for what the role has turned into.

    5. Nanani*

      Occam’s cynical razor suggest the last sentence. If they know what LW1 is currently making, then it sounds extremley likely they are looking to get a “great deal” by paying her the same thing.

      This is yet another example of why salary history has no place in discussion for a new job. Pay what the work is worth!

      1. Artemesia*

        This — they are offering this because they think they can get away with it. It would be different if they were offering 20% less than their advertised rate — some room for negotiation and compromise there — 50% less — Nah — they checked out her current salary and decided they could have her for peanuts.

  2. RitaRelates*

    Letter 2: Wow, go George. I need some of his luck lol. I have questions though, maybe because I’m unfamiliar with co-ops: so when you were going to send the offer right before he asked about salary, was the offer not going to have the salary on it? During interviews, salary for the role never came up? I don’t think you can tell him not to discuss salary with his coworkers, so is there a plan if there is any fallout?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      Thinking back to my experience as a co-op student, the key part was *getting* a co-op placement. Most students weren’t choosing between multiple offers, the pay was fairly consistent across positions, and there wasn’t any room to negotiate what you got.

      The advantage here is that a standard co-op placement is a single four month semester, so they aren’t hiring someone who will be earning way more than other employees indefinitely. But it is a good idea to explain the issue, so he isn’t expecting this from the next job, or telling classmates that this is a standard salary.

      1. Perfectly Particular*

        Yep, I agree! And what they paid kind of didn’t matter…. I made ~3x minimum wage- that was so much more $ than I had ever made before!

      2. Elenna*

        Yeah, I also did co-op as a student (quite possibly at the same university as you and George, since my vague understanding is that most places do one or two longer co-op stints as opposed to six 4-month terms), and I generally didn’t get the salary along with the offer.

        Actually, I don’t think I got anything along with the offer most of the time – all co-op interviews were set in the same 2-3 week time frame, and a couple weeks after that you’d get a notification of “XYZ companies have given you an offer, pick one”. If a company didn’t pick anyone by then, too bad for them, they have to wait till later to send an offer to anyone who didn’t get one in the first round.
        Thank goodness for AAM or I would have been pretty confused when I didn’t have a strict time frame when applying for full time jobs, lol.

        But yeah, any official offer letter/salary generally came after accepting the job through the university’s website.

      3. truesaer*

        I made $22/hr as a sophomore co-op in 2002 at a semiconductor company, with full benefits. We also were overtime eligible. So the amount doesn’t sound like it’s necessarily a shockingly generous amount, depending on the industry. I’d say there is considerable competition for students from top tier universities and salary might be competitive in some cases.

    2. Lch*

      So confused why the director and manager are laughing instead of giving you the salary info when you asked for it.

      1. Insert Clever Name Here*

        That happened after the fact — Fergus gave OP the salary info, OP gave the salary info to George, manager is unaware that George has been given salary info and ask OP to do that, “Fergus told me $30 and I told George,” OP’s manager and director laugh about the situation.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        OP doesn’t sound very experienced to me, and seems a bit cavalier about the process of explaining the salary to the potential co-op student. Even early in my career I would have understood that was an extremely high-stakes communication, and that if I didn’t have a lot of experience with the conversation, it should probably have gone through someone senior to me. OP sounds very lucky the org is laughing this off.

    3. LW2*

      I assumed that if the salary question came up, my manager (who was helping to interview) would answer it (and that they knew the answer)… But none of the students asked. Most of them are very young and very inexperienced – and it reflected in their questions/answers. :)

      1. L.H. Puttgrass*

        Yeah—I get the “Go, George!” sentiment and sort of agree with it, but it does sort of penalize the students who didn’t think to ask about the pay rate. If they’re paid less because they have less relevant experience, fine. But if they’re paid less because they’re less experienced at interviewing…that’s not so fine, IMO.

        Not that you can do anything about that now, except maybe trying to get everyone paid $30/hr, which I’m guessing won’t fly. But it might be worth mentioning the equity issues (especially if those who didn’t ask are women).

        1. Loredena Frisealach*

          It may have changed, but when I was a co-op there were literally industry standards for what co-ops were paid. So no one asked, because what mattered was industry/year in school. Everything was set in stone based on that.

          1. Antilles*

            In my experience hiring co-ops, that’s still the case. Within an industry, it seems like everything is pretty standard with only minor variability – maybe it’s $18 instead of $17 or it’s $19, but all within the same general range.
            Not an official agreement or anything, but unlike permanent employees (where people could be there for years or even decades), co-ops and interns tend to move around enough that everybody knows more or less “competition is paying X” and that’s that.

        2. FromasmalltowninCanada*

          Considering how this was handled the company probably only has one co-op student at a time and it’s probably not an issue. If there is more than one student then maybe it’s worth revisiting but most co-op students don’t ask and there is no negotiation. The uni I went to normally had salary / salary ranges posted on the job adds (or I think they did – it was a long time ago…).

          In Canada a co-op student is often similar to an intern but paid and normally either 4 months or 8 (two terms) and the biggest thing is getting the job – especially the first one, especially if your first position is in the Spring/Summer term.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            Based on how this was handled it doesn’t sound like this organization is very well organized altogether, I’m sorry to say. OP sounds too junior to have been handling what he was asked to handle, and the rest of the cast sounds like they aren’t taking this seriously. Reminds me of my org, sadly (a small nonprofit).

            1. LW2*

              I wish I had the excuse of being junior, but alas, I don’t. I assumed our company had a lot more rigor in place behind the scenes than they do. Lessons have been learned!

              1. OhNo*

                Well, at least you’ve gotten some ideas for what to improve on next time you hire a co-op! It might be best to take this in stride as a learning experience and move on, though you’d be doing George a favor if you gave him a heads’ up about what happened, so he can calibrate his expectations accordingly for his next position.

              2. Tuckerman*

                I actually know someone who experienced this (years ago). As an undergrad co-op student, he was surprised at how high they paid him, then later learned that’s what they were supposed to pay a grad co-op student. They still honored the salary they offered. I wonder how often this happens!

            2. Hillary*

              This feels fairly normal to me unfortunately – I can see exactly the same thing happening in my company. Hiring managers don’t get a lot of information about salary, and in co-op/internship/rotation programs there’s supposed to be no leeway. Everyone in the program gets the same. It works well for internship/rotation programs because they have cohorts and specific HR people manage the programs.

              Co-ops are much looser. We don’t have them at every location every term, it depends both if the managers have capacity and if we get candidates. I can easily see this mistake happening.

        3. Commenter*

          100% agree in the equity issues around asking/advocating for salary discussions, but in this case it sounds like it was coincidental that George asking about salary (he did ask before they actually sent the offer, but it sounds like they had to determine the salary at the offer stage, whether he asked or not (like, they had an offer to extend, but that offer would have to have a salary attached to it, whether the person asked specifically or not, right?)?) I’m not sure I understand that timing – like, an organization goes through an entire round of interviews and would have been unable to answer that question is anyone asked but sounds like the salary determination at the university is a little different than what I’m used to!

    4. argh*

      I’m in an engineering company and we hire co-ops all the time. We usually do 8-month terms, but sometimes do 4-month. The *minimum* wage is set by the program, so many students won’t bother asking, because most companies don’t offer above that – students know what they’re making going in. We usually offer the minimum required by the program, but do holidays & benefits at the employee rate, though.

    5. Orange You Glad*

      The co-op program I hire students from (and once was a student there myself) specifically prohibits us from discussing/negotiating salary. The salary is revealed through a student portal with the offer information. They believe the students should be choosing positions based on the experience they will receive and not just be motivated by salary. The reality is you may have some strong candidates you are talking to who end up choosing a position with GiantCorp down the street with less responsibility but higher pay.

      I think it’s good to let George know the pay difference eventually so he doesn’t always expect that level in the future, but I would probably wait until he’s been there a while or his exit interview. OP says the pay difference is for a 4th-year student instead of a 1st year. While he doesn’t have the experience, he may end up performing at a high level and he may reach that pay level by the time he’s ready for another co-op position.

  3. Honey Bear*

    #3, can you post a review to Glassdoor? Do you have an exit interview with HR?

    #4, oof, I’m sorry. Alison has some good advice

    1. Batgirl*

      Yeah OP3’s situation is insanely common, and exactly what Glassdoor was invented for. After they have sent a message into the ether, they need to move on. They can’t care more about the business they’re leaving than the people in charge there.

      1. Smithy*

        Sometimes just the act of writing it out alone can be cathartic.

        Those long term, frustrating jobs can create a lot of angsty energy looking to escape. So whether it’s writing it all out and posting to Glassdoor or an AAM open Friday to just share or to not share anywhere – just letting it all out can be good. Because whether the OP’s bosses are wonderful people but a little clueless, or wonderful people but stuck in a system that won’t let them behave differently, or less than wonderful people who don’t care….the end results are pretty clear when it’s been two years.

      2. Anon…*

        Agreed. I know I check Glassdoor for reviews, and while a single review won’t raise a red flag (unless it’s something really horrendous), multiple reviews that seem comment on the same sorts of things are helpful. Plus, I know in the past when I’ve left a review I’ve been sure to read the other reviews to see if my experience was similar so that I could highlight a few things that the others noted, so that potential future candidates can note those items. At least I feel a single review is easy to dismiss as being from someone who is bitter, multiple reviews is more difficult to dismiss.

    2. Kim*

      Came here to say the same to LW 3.
      Even if you tell your boss what they’re doing wront, they won’t tell your successor. But if you post on Glassdoor you might help the next person decide that job is not for them.

      1. Momma Bear*

        This. There is nothing that OP is going to say that will magically create a change of heart for the people who need to hear it. I once quit a job and left some of the reasons very vague. It’s a small world. Worked out for me in the end because I didn’t burn that bridge and was able to continue to use the less toxic people in that network later in my career. Sometimes it is just not worth the effort. If you need to get if off your chest, do the anonymous review.

    3. anonymous73*

      Anything OP3 does is really pointless. Management has shown they just don’t care, and I doubt any letter, review or personal conversation will change their minds. You can’t make people care, and if OP tried, it would just lead to more frustration. They just need to move on and let it go because it’s not their problem to solve.

    4. theletter*

      seconding Glassdoor. Also adding Pull up a karaoke track of Let it Go. Grab your indulgent drink of choice and sing your heart out.

    5. Lady Catherine de Bourgh*

      For #3, yep, been there. They don’t care. They probably never will care. My former employer based his whole business model around underpaying people and making empty promises, and then just replacing them when they left (which they always did – rarely did anyone last more than a year or so). It was also his philosophy towards clients and honestly, I have no idea how he has managed to stay in business this long. Probably because he has exactly one favorite employee who is a rockstar and who he treats well (and can afford to since this employee lives in a developing country and mediocre US wages are luxurious ones there).

      He also frequently posts fake positive reviews on Glassdoor to try to counterbalance all the negative ones posted by actual former employees. And also committed PPP fraud but that’s another story!

      1. Meep*

        My soon-to-be-former employer is like this. It is frustrating to say the least. We hire college students and people straight out of college and she has a chip on her shoulder (she never went to college for one reason or another & is bitter?). So it often includes just making assumptions that their parents paid for their education and that they had life handed to them. Therefore, she has no problem delaying full-time offers to contractors* to get as much free or underpaid work out of them and often encourages them to not report their full hours as it will make them “look more appealing.” It is gross. And she largely gets away with it because her boss is flakey and trusts her to give them the contract. Both are always surprised when these kids find other jobs elsewhere that actually want to give them benefits and pay the employment tax.

        This isn’t even the worse thing she does to treat people, but it is certainly the most jarring as like you, I cannot fathom how the company manages to stay alive between screwing over people who desperately want to work for us AND p*ssing off clients left and right by being massive flakes.

        *we hire “interns” as contractors to avoid paying employment taxes and then rarely want to hire people full-time. In my five years of being here, out of 20+ people, only five have received full-time employment offers.

    6. The Original K.*

      In addition to Glassdoor, if a candidate for your role reaches out to you (maybe via LinkedIn), you can set up a quick chat to speak with them and be honest about your reasons for leaving. You can’t make the company care but you can make sure a candidate makes an informed decision, if the opportunity presents itself.

      1. Librarian of SHIELD*

        I did this.

        I recently left a job I had been in for nearly a decade, and before I left I tried to make our second in command understand some of the problems my colleagues and I regularly complained to each other about. They decided none of those things were actually problems worth the effort of fixing, so I left.

        One of my former coworkers from a previous job reached out to me when they saw I was moving jobs and asked if it would be worth applying. So I explained some of the more difficult things that I knew weren’t likely to change and said that only she could decide if those things were deal breakers for her. They were. She didn’t apply.

    7. Spero*

      I do think #3 could mention, in the exit interview with HR, that they don’t think the role should be re-filled. They can note that there weren’t clear goals or objectives throughout the two years they were in it and that making up work for themselves didn’t seem critical enough to hire someone else in the role. Ideally that would prompt some questions – who wants to keep paying someone they don’t have to because it’s not a full job?

  4. Bee Eye Ill*

    #3 I had the same issue at my last job and the exit interview was just a form with some check boxes. They don’t care. Walk away with your head held high and forget about them.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      Not only do they not care, but you can’t make them care, and it also isn’t doing you any good to care this much more than they do. It’s not your business anymore. You need to let it go.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        They don’t care, and realistically, they probably know exactly what they’re doing that’s causing issues.

        1. EPLawyer*

          They know its causing issues they don’t care. 2 people lasted less than 2 years. They know.

          OP there are no magic words you can use that will make them suddenly go “Oh wait, we’ve been doing this all wrong all along. We will change right away. Thank you.”

          You are leaving so it very much is Not Your Circus, Not Your Monkeys anymore.

      2. Meep*

        I had to find out the hard way on this one. I pointed out that I had a very valid sexual harassment complaint against my former manager, but because both of us were female, nothing was done. Well, except for retaliation on her part. When I filed a harassment complaint about the retaliation I was brushed off. Both times I pointed out that she was a walking powder keg of lawsuits (discrimination, wage theft, fraud, and breaches of contracts also checker her character) and that I was coming from a place of concern for the company. I could’ve (and should’ve) left years ago.

        I don’t know what I expected when last year she also had three rapid-fire client complaints about her unprofessionalism (discussing hot firemen with clients) and lack of ethics (she was trying to get clients to pay for work that they didn’t agree to). Looking back, wasn’t worth it.

    2. John Smith*

      Totally agree. Why feed their ego or give them power by showing them they’ve affected you? My management is very similar to yours and I’ve given up on providing feedback as they revel in arguing back (with logically absurd arguments or worse, lies). I’m not inhumane enough to say I wouldn’t pee on them if they were on fire, but I’d certainly charge them the cost of the beverages I peed out.

      Focus on yourself and your own worth. These people are not tour concern but if you really feel so strongly, would it help if you wrote down on paper what you want to say to them and then burn it?

      1. GammaGirl1908*

        Unladylike snortlaugh @ “I’m not inhumane enough to say I wouldn’t pee on them if they were on fire, but I’d certainly charge them the cost of the beverages I peed out.”

        Reminiscent of when an objectionable-to-me public figure passed away, and I said to a friend, “I’m not saying I wished him dead, because I don’t want that on my karma, but when he has alive, I might have unplugged his life-support machine to charge my phone.” Friend: “I quibble with your use of ‘might.’”

      2. Meep*

        I am a female engineer who was literally being treated like a secretary while my male coworkers were actually doing engineering. (For context, I once suggested that we all be responsible for our own trash after being expected to clean up these boys’ desks and I was told that “they have better things to do.”) I sent an email asking to stop being expected to type out my boss’s emails for her while she dictated. She turned around and blamed HER boss I had met maybe 5 times up to this point for treating me abysmally before announcing that out of the goodness of her heart that she wasn’t going to tell him I tried to resign because he would hate me for my disloyalty. Baffled was the first feeling I had as nowhere did I threaten to resign. I just asked for respect. The second feeling was to realize that any critique would result in gaslighting so it wasn’t worth it.

    3. alienor*

      My last job used to have exit interviews, but when I left it was just a form to provide your forwarding address and confirm that you’d been informed about COBRA. On my final day, I handed my laptop and badge through a window to a guy I’d never met before, and that was that. It was really weird and anticlimactic because I’d worked there for quite a while.

    4. RC Rascal*

      They sound disinterested in both you AND your role.

      It’s possible they have entirely different plans for the position and don’t need to transition work you want to provide. It’s also possible the poor treatment you received was their way of managing you out.

    5. GlitsyGus*

      Agreed. I was in a similar situation and the Exit Interview was such a useless formality that the HR person and I (we were already friendly) just spent the 15 minutes chatting about where I was going and what I was going to do in my time off. We both knew it was pointless to actually try to change anything with the job.

      That said, OP, if you want to you could say something about the lack of JD clarity to HR. Something along the lines of, “Hey, HR person, I know you’ll be looking for someone to fill this position. Just so you know, the JD for this job really isn’t very clear or defined. To make your job easier you may want to review it with Boss 1 & Boss 2 before you post the ad to help you find someone who would really be a good match.” It probably won’t change anything, but it will put a bug in HR’s ear and phrasing it as a possible hiring issue may trigger a basic review on that level. It’s not much, and I wouldn’t invest a lot of effort into it, but at least you can leave knowing you said something to someone. I know for me that can help put the issue to rest in my head.

  5. A non*

    #2 – your boss shouldn’t have extended someone an offer and only then remembered to figure out the salary! Maybe you can kindly advise George that in the rest of his career, he should ask the salary before he accepts so he doesn’t get screwed over. (It shouldn’t be on him to do that, but in practice…)

    1. anonymous73*

      That’s exactly what George did though…

      What OP needs to do though is explain what happened (miscommunication) and if he stays for multiple years, what the salary expectations will continue to be.

      1. LW2*

        George’s contract is only for 4 months, so thankfully it won’t be an ongoing issue. Lessons have been learned!

    2. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

      Co-op placements are different. In my experience, they are partially paid for by the org placing the student and the org getting the placement, sometimes with the placing org dictating the salary levels. Usually the candidate has been given a range for their job based on their year in school, prior co-op experience, and degree. George probably had a range given to him by his org as $17-$25 so he called to find out where he landed, was told $30 because there was a mix up and he was given the level for a more experienced student by the LW’s higher ups, and thought, “SCORE!”. I saw this happen once when my boss read off the wrong line and gave a 2nd year student in a BS program the salary for a 3rd year BA student. We honored the higher rate, but let the student know that if they got placed again it would probably be a lower rate because we messed up.

      LW, lesson learned here is to get the salary thresholds for your co-op placements before you interview

      1. LW2*

        I’ll definitely make sure I confirm salary thresholds in the future. LOL

        For context, my company pays the entire salary. There’s no other org getting paid or paying the student’s salary. Their university conducts surveys of their students to get an idea of how much students in different faculties and levels of experience earn, but it’s up to the companies themselves to determine pay rate… We just skewed their data for first year Arts students forever.

  6. Omnivalent*

    OP #2, “don’t go telling other employees here your salary” is not something you should say to George at all, because there’s a good chance doing so would be illegal. Explaining the mistake and telling him he’s lucky are fine. Ordering him to keep his pay secret, not so much.

    1. Just J.*

      And this is why you tell George on day one the screw up in his pay. That way if it does leak, he knows it’s a happy accident. And then management can explain to others that honoring commitments is important and that overpaying an intern for a four month internship will not break the company.

    2. LW2*

      For the record, I’m totally in favor of people sharing their salary info. I definitely can’t/won’t tell him NOT to. It’s more of a general caution that people might be resentful towards him.

      My “you’re damned lucky” comment was me being glib. He’s lucky, but I don’t want him to experience blow back from possibly resentful employees (all of whom definitely now earn more than him) or have unreasonable expectations in the future.

      1. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        My boss did something similar once and just explained to the co-op student that she was being paid the rate for a 3rd year placement rather than a 2nd year because of a clerical error and that her pay probably wouldn’t be higher when she got a 3rd year placement. This was mostly done so we didn’t launch our co-op student out into the world with unreasonable salary expectations that might have hurt her when she tried to get future placements.

      2. Eleanor Shellstrop*

        I had a similar situation with an employer who paid me a big bonus that I wasn’t supposed to get until I had been there for more than a year (and it had only been 8 months, or something like that). They explained to me that it was their mistake, but that of course I could keep the money, they just asked that I not mention it to anyone. I was the newest person there by far, so there was no concern about treating new employees unequally. Honestly, it’s likely he’ll be more than happy to be discreet about it (i sure was!), but I agree with Alison that it does present issues if other employees at his level (esp if different gender or race) are making less. I’m not sure what the solution would be.

  7. anone*

    Letter #2 is an excellent argument for always including the salary range in the job posting. If nothing else, it forces you to be organized as the hiring organization. (Not LW2’s fault, of course!)

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      That didn’t work out so well for LW1 though.

      Very interesting to see those two letters together.

      1. Shahiri*

        I think it did work out for LW#1 actually. If they hadn’t known the amount the company was originally willing to pay then they wouldn’t necessarily know they need to investigate/question the amount they’ve been offered. As it stands, they know that either they are being offered insultingly low pay or the job has changed substantially from what they thought it was and both will likely affect whether or not they want to accept the offer.

        1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

          That’s a good point. I intended to point out that an advertised salary may not represent what a particular applicant may expect (which is why we see those ridiculous “50-150k dependent on experience” listings).

          On the other hand, I’m currently considering an application, but without a salary listing I can’t tell whether the position is likely to be suitable – the job description is so broad it could be what I was doing ten years ago or what I’m still not qualified for. If they put 30k/50k/75k on the listing at least I’d have a *clue*.

    2. So they all cheap ass rolled over and one fell out*

      Wouldn’t the $30 rate have been included regardless? If I am reading right, the range is anywhere from $17 to $30. $30 for interns in their last year of their college education, $17-25 for those in George’s year.

      1. anone*

        But since George is not in his last year and LW2 knew that (they were asking about the rate for first year students when they got the bad info from Fergus), it would have clued them into $30 being the high end, not the low end. It also would have communicated what students can generally expect from roles like these, which is helpful to know for all sorts of reasons. Remember that LW2 now needs to clear up with George what his actual salary should have been so he doesn’t go into future placements with the wrong impression. Sharing the salary range isn’t a panacea for all ills and foibles of hiring, but none of these are examples of why zero information is better than some information.

  8. birch*

    #2, this is tough but would also be a good time to openly discuss some perspectives on academic jobs in general, and kind of contextualize the situation. Academic salaries are more fluid than a lot of fields’ “market rate” and differ based on where the funding is coming from–the same job for the same person could pay differently depending on how generous the funder is and thus how much salary is actually available to hire people. So it’s not unusual to have the same role being paid differently at different times or by different groups. This was a mistake, but it could just as well have happened that a certain project got better funding than another, and so the student working on the better-funded project gets paid better because the money has to be used once it’s allocated. It sounds like there is a usual rate and cap for students in this co-op program, so that’s not the case here, but it could just be helpful to point out that there are a lot of reasons why salaries vary, and that could help the student not feel too guilty about the situation (along with a light, kind tone when telling him, and asking him not to project the image that this is normal for this group). And the discussion should also be had of whether there are other students in this same group getting paid less.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Now I’m confused. Is this just for student jobs re budgeting positions? What about staff salary bands?

      For example, let’s say the listed salary classification for a Large Rodent Cuddler job in the Capybara Studies department at Animal University is 080 and that range is $40K-$65K. What would you expect in that range if you had mid-level experience? Would you be able to get $55K? Or do they just allocate FROM that range and the pay is whatever they say it is?

      I’m just wondering how to negotiate this if it ever comes up, or if it’s even negotiable.

      1. birch*

        In research we’re hired by universities but we’re not really paid by the university, we’re paid from project funds won by the leader of the project (which is usually ourselves, as we progress in our careers), and the salary bands, while determined in part by the university, are capped by the funders. Depending on the funding model, some of the overhead can come from the university itself, and different funders have different caps on what portion you can use for different things, e.g. salary, hiring assistants, materials, publishing, etc. It’s a complicated system. It’s generally not possible to negotiate very far upwards because of the limits on funding allocations–those limits are lower than we’d like already, so we hit the ceiling and there’s just no money left, nor are we allowed to use any more for salaries. And the allocations just entirely depend on the funder and the scheme. In your example, say $40K-$65K is the salary band for a Grade 6 position (the bands determined by experience level, and are actually likely to be narrower since there is a clear hierarchy in academia) *at that university* but the job would be listed as a National Institute of Science funded project which has approved a maximum budget of $50K for the advertised position. So in that case even though the university has said that Grade 6 can be paid up to $65K, and even if you’re the absolute best person in your field, you’re not going to get that because the funding isn’t there for this specific project. The same is true for students and research assistants who are paid through project funds–it depends on how much money is budgeted for projects, and I can tell you that a lot of project leaders will pay people the least they absolutely can, so that they can divide up the budget amongst more lab members and pad their own CVs. If students are paid through a general scheme, they should always get the same salary, but it varies a lot by programme. A lot of smaller project funds and/or universities also cap the amount of funding you can use at one time for salaries, so e.g. I have some funding waiting for me that is 100% of a salary but a pay cut from my current position, but it also allows me to work an additional 25% on a different project, and if I want any money for equipment I need to apply for a different grant that isn’t intended for salaries. None of that comes from the university, it’s my own personal funding and I could go to another university and use it there–but the university has agreed to let me use office space, essentially, in return for me doing research under their affiliation, which is how universities get reputation and more money. It’s honestly a lot of work to figure out the logistics and possibilities, and we end up managing most of it ourselves. I can’t say specifically about lecturer/teaching-only positions, I think those bands are more straightforward and may or may not have more room for negotiation. In research the advice is to usually just ask if there is any room for negotiation in the salary and be prepared to make a case for yourself, but if you’re being hired into a group that cares about people at all, you’re likely to already be getting as much as they can offer.

  9. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

    I will be taking on a significant extra load in return for an income increase I could probably beat by simply taking on a role identical to my current one in a more expensive city.

    I absolutely stand by Alison’s advice and think you should make sure you’re not being underpaid by this new company. That said, I would be wary of making this comparsion. All-too-often, the income increase you would get by taking a role in a more expensive city is in practice a decrease, since the cost of living is so much higher.

    For comparision purposes, I would focus instead on what sort of salary increases you could expect if you were promoted upwards within your current career track.

    1. Bluesboy*

      I was thinking the same thing! It’s kind of a weird comparison. I could make a significant pay rise by doing the same job in New York; I would still have far less disposable income than I have now and live in a much smaller apartment.

      Honestly, I think it’s a really difficult question to ask without more info. We’re looking for a new colleague for me at work and we would be happy to pay them up to, say €80k if they come in with experience and a good contact list. Let’s say a salary range of €60-80k probably. The job title would be something like ‘Sales Associate’.

      Let’s say instead we find a really sharp young’un, that we think has potential. We’re not paying them even close to that. In reality, we’re looking for a senior, but we’d take a promising junior, but they would be paid as a junior – say €25-30k. The job title would still be the same. The job description would be essentially the same (contact these people, sell these products, keep investors informed). And they could write exactly the letter above to Alison, but realistically we wouldn’t be cheating them in any way – that’s just what a junior makes in this sector in this city. The difference is in the performance expectations we have from the senior.

      So I can totally see the company’s perspective here. As Alison says “The only way this is reasonable is if they’ve significantly reworked the job and perhaps taken it from very senior to more junior” – that seems really feasible to me. OP needs to really look at what they were originally looking for, and how different their new expectations are before assessing the salary.

      1. Anonymous4*

        Yes, but there’s also the issue of a number of non-profits badly underpaying their personnel just because they can. People are *passionate* about the non-profit’s cause, and they’ll put up with a lot in order to do work that helps advance something they feel is important.

        This means that some non-profits badly underpay their personnel. Because they can.
        And I can totally see someone shrugging and saying, “Offer her half. She may take it!”

        And if OP does take it, she will NEVER reach the standard salary at that organization. Say that the normal salary range is $150k-$180k. She starts at less than half — say $70k. In 10 years, with 2% raises, she’ll be at $85k. With 3% raises, she’ll be at $94k.

        Why just 2-3% raises? “We’re dedicated to our cause, and we must be wise stewards of our funds — and donations, by the way, are down this year due to XYZ. We’ll see if we can do better next year, which we would love to do, because we value you so highly and don’t know what we’d do without you!”

        Her salary should increase as her skills and knowledge increase? Yes, they SHOULD . . . see “We’re dedicated to our cause,” above.

    2. BRR*

      Yeah I don’t quite get what point the lw was trying to make. A lot of that increase would be eaten up by a higher cost of living and why a similar position and not a higher position?

    3. BethDH*

      I think that’s the OP’s point! That even the low end of the role they’re envisioning is a significant jump from their current role, but the salary is so close to their current one that it’s the equivalent of a cost of living adjustment.
      I’m wondering if the company/org has a salary tier classification where they already know the salary range for the new role even if they don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like in practice. For example, if the position was originally going to manage staff and budgets or regulatory components and now it’s going to be more of a subject matter specialist role. At my org, those sorts of changes could end up dropping them several tiers on the pay scale, not just one, but the org would still benefit by hiring someone with that unique experience and promoting or hiring someone for the management elements.

    4. BethDH*

      I think the point was that the new role is a significant jump in expertise and stress over their current role, but the pay is such a small increase that it might as well be a COL adjustment.
      That said, if they already know what parts of the anticipated role OP can’t do, that might be enough to make the offer difference even if they haven’t worked out the details of what they will do.
      I’m imagining a scenario where they set the salary figuring the new person would be managing people and budgets, and OP won’t do that, but still brings subject matter expertise/skills that mean they will reassign the management elements to someone. At my org that might drop someone two salary tiers, and also leave room for the kind of growth that would get them to that range again in a few years.
      It would still be worth OP negotiating, because presumably that specialty is important to them.

      1. Willis*

        Right, the OP really needs to find out how the role has changed compared to what was in the job ad and then get an idea of what a fair pay for that job would be. If they’ve taken a lot of the management responsibilities out or split the role in two, that’s a pretty big difference. And her current salary regardless of city is a poor comparison if she’s switching industries and occupations. Sure, it makes sense for her to consider if she wants to move from a job with more stress and not much more pay, but it’s not really a strong negotiating tactic if what they’re offering would be considered competitive for the new role.

    5. Just Your Everyday Crone*

      I was thinking this as well. The added buying power of that other-city-higher-salary is zero. The house you can buy where I live (DC area) costs multiples of what the same house would cost in a small city.

    6. Kimmy Schmidt*

      I read it that the OP views both as an effective decrease, hence the comparison. The bigger city job would be a lower value in terms of take-home pay, and this half-salary job would be a lower value in terms of time, stress, responsibility, and an hourly pay breakdown.

  10. Virginia Plain*

    Can someone help me out and explain what a co-op is in this context – it’s a term with quite a few different meanings* so google isn’t much help!
    *in England it’s usually a supermarket haha

    1. DrWho*

      A professional formation program that includes both traditional school time and work experience, a sort of school+internship thing (I am no expert, do if anybody has a better description, feel free to correct me).

      1. londonedit*

        Ah, sounds like it might be a bit like the ‘placement year’ some degree courses have – in England undergraduate degrees are usually three years, but with some subjects you’ll have a year out in the middle where you’ll undertake a work placement as part of your degree course. I had a few friends who did that – a couple in the computing/engineering sort of field of study and a couple who did languages and had a year abroad.

        (If my manager said ‘Hey, we’re getting a co-op’ to me, I’d say ‘Oh, that’s nice, whereabouts? They actually have a decent range of vegan ready meals these days’)

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          When I was working in the US, I never came across this term and if I heard it, I would think of the supermarket too!
          At my last job in the US, we did have a series of volunteers from a high school who worked with us one day a week for their academic year. They were all great, and I appreciated having them around.

        2. Anonymous4*

          We have a farming co-op not far from where I live, and they buy and sell animal feed, hay, straw, bedding plants, seeds, fertilizers, and so on. AND I grew up with “co-op” meaning grocery store as well, and specifically the IGA. Takes me a moment to adjust to the meaning du jour when I hear the term.

    2. Terrysg*

      I had co-op (co-operative education) as part of my degree course in Ireland (many years ago, based on a US system, I think). This was a 9 month work placement in the middle of a 4 year degree course. It seems to be called different things in different institutions, intra work placement or just work placement / work experience.

      TBH, a work placement every year over a four year course sounds closer to an apprenticeship (except apprenticeships usually have a much larger work component) than a degree coue, which just goes to show that there are many variations on course configurations and nomenclature.

      1. londonedit*

        The ones I’ve seen (as mentioned above) just had one year (or probably 9 months, as you say, because of the summer holidays) of the course where you’d do a work placement instead of being at uni – it wasn’t a placement every year. So you’d be at uni for two years, have a year’s work placement, then go back to uni for a final year.

      2. Minerva*

        My Canadian university has a well known program where students alternate 4 month terms in school and working for the duration of the program (it includes summers, the year is divided into 4 month terms and the entire program takes an extra year)

        It is a standard bachelors degree program in engineering, science, arts, math…with a variety of work placements. Students can choose not to participate, with the exception of engineering, I believe.

        1. Elenna*

          I went there too! I’ve been vaguely assuming that’s George’s university, since OP mentions students with 4+ co-op terms.

          1. Minerva*

            I vaguely think there is a similar program but smaller at a school in BC, but yeah, it’s a very specific situation, and lots about getting a placement isn’t like typical job searches.

            I have a B. Math, which is the other specific of the school

    3. FashionablyEvil*

      Yes, it’s a work experience position—usually more time and professional experience than in an internship. In my experience a co-op is more common in technical fields like engineering.

      1. Terrysg*

        Yeah, someone above suggested that I was every year for a four year course though, and that’s a structure I haven’t come across.

        1. Harper the Other One*

          This structure seems common where I live for technical fields – usually the co-op role is either part time over a single semester and the student is also taking courses, or full time over the four months of summer break. Students are encouraged to take as many co-op placements as they can manage because it gives them such good practical experience, and it’s also a good way to start learning about work norms, etc.

          Other fields will have something like you describe, with an 8 or 9 month work placement in the middle of the degree. My husband actually did this as part of his education to become a church minister!

            1. Hanani*

              It might work out to be closer to 3.5, but yeah, early/mid—May through late Aug/early Sept is the typical university summer break. Doesn’t account for May term if the institution has it, summer courses if the institution has them, etc., plenty of students aren’t actually “off” the full time.

              1. Hanani*

                I should have specified – typical university summer break in the States. Can’t speak to anywhere else.

                1. londonedit*

                  Yeah we (in the UK) would finish in May and go back in mid/late September. We also had three weeks off at Christmas, three weeks off at Easter, and a ‘reading week’ in October and February. In fact in my second and third years I had essays to write instead of exams, so I effectively finished lectures before the Easter break and then just had to come to uni to hand in my essays (in the days of hard copies, ha) for the deadline on the first Wednesday of May.

            2. argh*

              In Canada, yes. The three terms are: Spet-Dec;Jan-Apr;May-Aug.
              The May-Aug one can be a bit funny- some uni’s do it as a standard 4-month term, some do it as two intense 6-week terms.

        2. ecnaseener*

          It was the letter writer who first mentioned it – the $30 rate is for 4th year students with at least 4 other co-ops under their belt.

    4. Jen*

      My husband did co-op in college (we met in college so I observed this) though but sounds like the program OP is describing might be different from what my husband did.

      Basically my spouse is an engineer and he did about a year and a half of full time engineering work for pay but broken up into summers and non consecutive semesters. The school helped a little with placement but what would typically happen is companies would show up at job fairs looking for students. You didn’t get school credit, you were supposed to be paid and you were not supposed to be taking classes during a placement. At my school you commonly did it with one company, though my spouse had to do it with two because the recession hit and the first place canceled all new hires and the Co-op program. You graduate in 5 years instead of 4 because you’ve done this full year+ of work. At least in my school it was a common to end up working for your co op company permanently.

      OP’s program sounds slightly different because it sounds like they’re not keeping this student for more than one semester.

    5. I should really pick a name*

      I’m going to guess the LW is Canadian.
      Co-op refers to cooperative education. Part of your degree requirement is working in your field (for pay).
      It can take various forms, such as a year long internship between your third and fourth years, alternating four months of school with 4 months of work, that sort of thing.

      1. Snowball*

        There’s some schools in the US that have a co-op program, such as Northeastern University in Boston

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I think it’s pretty common in engineering. My husband did coop (in the US) in the 80s, so it’s been around for quite a while.

          1. Lisanthus*

            Drexel University also has a long-standing co-op program, not just for its engineering students.

            Co-op isn’t as common in the US as it might be (I want to say there are under 50 schools total offering it in the US, but I may be adding “work colleges” like Berea College to the total so don’t quote me) but it’s there.

          2. Clisby*

            So did my brother (also engineering). I think his program had the students alternate between school and the co-op job (so, one semester in school, the next at the job, the next in school, the next on the job.)

        2. I should really pick a name*

          There are some details in the letter that make me suspect I know the exact school that they’re recruiting from.

    6. J.B.*

      Co-op programs are common in engineering in the states. A student spends a semester working for a nearby firm.

    7. Chairman of the Bored*

      Co-op is like an internship, except it is longer-duration or recurring, involves higher-level work, and is often integrated with the student’s studies in some way.

      The US engineering-focused college I attended required all students to do co-op terms starting Freshman year; we switched from school to work every 3 months. As a student it was pretty good, everybody had money and real-world experience all throughout undergrad.

      By my Senior year I had done 6+ co-op terms with the same company, and was doing work consistent with an entry-level engineer. The pay-range described here is not inconsistent with my expectations for high-level technical co-ops.

    8. Virginia Plain*

      Thanks all! It sounds a bit similar to what used to be called a sandwich course (caveat – I have not been in education for 20+ years) where you did a year at university or college then a year placement in the relevant industry the another year or two depending on the qualification.

    9. Cat named Brian*

      I did a co-op as an engineering student. It was a “year” but broken up. 1 semester working, 1 semester school, summer working, back to school, last semester working. You get alot of experience and money to help pay for your studies but it can be challenging getting back into school mode. Internships at our university were just in the summers.

    10. Super Duper Anon*

      It is a Canadian term mostly, and based on the structure of the 4 month placements mentioned, I think I can guess which university it is. At this university (and probably others), for a lot of the technical programs and even some non-technical ones, you alternate a four month school semester with a four month work placement. My company hires these co-ops to work with existing project teams, so they get a substantial amount of work experience by the time they finish their degree.

      1. I should really pick a name*

        That was my thought, especially when they mentioned the pay rate was for someone with at least 4+ co-op work terms under their belt.

    11. LW2*

      As others have said, it’s a work placement for university students (though in my country, high schoolers also do co-ops, but those are usually not paid).

      The university we work with usually have job placements between 4-8 months (longer if both parties agree). The students will go to school for 4 months, then a 4 month work term, then back to school for 4 months, then to a different company for 4 months. It drags out their degree, but they get paid, contribute to actual work projects, and get real life experience to put on a resume. The university also requires that they write 4 reports about their various placements and they get university credit for it.

      1. Minerva*

        Yep, co-op term, B. Math or a major in Combinatorics…not 100% guarantees but make it a good guess it’s my undergrad school. Having a pay scale for work term number and major is pretty specific too.

      2. Anonymous4*

        A coworker did that to finance his education. He got a job with an engineering firm and did the study-work alternation until he got his degree, and then worked for the firm for two or three years longer. He came to work with us because of his wife’s job required the family to move, but he had nothing but good things to say about the work-study program and the original company.

      3. Elenna*

        Oh, yep, it’s definitely the university I went to. :)

        And I’d forgotten about those work reports… eww, very much do NOT miss those and I was so glad I didn’t have to do them my last two terms.

        1. FloralWraith*

          I went to that university as well and eventually befriended the designer of the work report and PD programmes. Employers requested it, because many students, especially in the engineering and math faculties had atrocious writing and professional soft skills.

          1. I should really pick a name*

            From what I understand, the introduction of the PD program was a bit of a debacle.

            *resists the urge to derail further*

    12. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

      American here, and I’m wondering, too. That terminology was not used when I was a university student, at least not at my school.

    13. Husky in the House!*

      I graduated from Northeastern University with a business degree and they have a co-op program. Timing has shifted slightly since I attended, but at the time, standard degrees took 5 years to complete. Freshman year was “typical” straight schooling, and after that each calendar year was 4 quarters. 2 quarters in a row working, and then 2 quarters in school. I had 3 6-month co-op jobs completed when I graduated. (I studied abroad which messed up my timing for one more co-op).

    14. A Simple Narwhal*

      Essentially a co-op is an intern who is still in school, and the internship is typically coordinated through the school. We partner with a nearby university (we’re in the US) that requires all of their students do at least 2 co-op programs in order to graduate – it’s a five year program and they replace two semesters of classes with two semesters of working jobs that (presumably) give them real-world experience in their desired field. I don’t know if it’s standard (I hope it is!) but we pay our co-ops.

  11. Alice*

    LW3, are you working at my old job? I was quite candid with HR in my exit interview, they seemed to understand my reasons for leaving, but it’s been almost a year and nothing has changed. Ultimately you need to move on, for your own peace of mind.
    There is no point caring about a business more than the people in charge.

    1. Insert Clever Name Here*

      I was really candid in my exit interview when I left my previous job (and similar to the OP, it was a manager and director issue). I knew it was unlikely to result in any change, but it felt good to have something on the record — I was an exemplary employee and my manager was shocked when I put in my notice. The company definitely didn’t do anything about it, but about two years later I found out the director had been found to be Not Honest in some government audits (the company was a government contractor) and was fired…and man did that feel good!

  12. Turingtested*

    OP 3: A few years ago I left a job solely because of one person’s behavior. I witnessed this person do many destructive things over the years to staff and customers. I am 90% sure she had a drinking problem (I frequently smelled alcohol on her breath); she bullied high performers; and frequently put down other managers.

    I really wanted to unload on my way out. But I realized that the owners had to know what was going on and they did not care. All it would have done was sour the relationship.

  13. Chriama*

    #1 – the fact that they reduced the offered salary by HALF without talking to you about it would make me very, very, alarmed. The fact that they did this before even confirming the job description makes me want to run away screaming. This doesn’t feel like people who are acting in good faith. It feels like people who see an opportunity to take advantage of someone’s interest, passion, inexperience, and goodwill.

    The fact that they’re a nonprofit doesn’t justify this blatant attempt to underpay for the role. Using round numbers, let’s say the original salary was 100k. They need 100k worth of work done in their organization. If they’re paying you 49k, who’s taking on the other 51k worth of work? Even if they modify the details of your 49k share, I can’t imagine that the need for the other 51k has just disappeared. So who’s doing that work? Unless they decided to split the role into 2 positions, it sounds to me like they’re trying to get 70-80k worth of work from you for only 49k. Great deal for them, but pure exploitation for you.

    1. Anonymous4*

      Yes. And then they’ll drag out any raises and increases in pay, and OP will never end up anywhere near the lower end of the payscale originally cited.

    2. DJ Abbott*

      I noticed it years ago when I was young and interviewing, and from what I hear and see it still goes on today – nonprofits often use their status as an excuse to underpay. I soon stopped applying to nonprofits.
      OP1, don’t let them use your passion and enthusiasm to take advantage of you. Get the job description and try to determine what the market rate for that job is and whether you will be better off financially with that job or your current one.

  14. Chriama*

    #2 – 2 very interesting questions about pay today! (Those are often my favourite questions). I like Alison’s answer. I think it’s important to let him know that you made a mistake but wanted to act in good faith with him, both so he knows what a decent employer looks like and so he can calibrate his expectations for future jobs. I sure wish I had George’s kind of luck!

    1. HannahS*

      Yeah, I agree! I once had a similar situation turn out the other way–I quit my job after being emailed an offer at a different organization for more money, only to get a breezy email from my new boss to the effect of, “Oh, sorry, I wasn’t authorized to offer you that. Instead, we can only give less than what you made at your last job.” I didn’t stay there long. On top of being scummy, it was also contract violation.

      1. HannahS*

        All that to say, I never forgot the name of the organization and boss who did that, and you can bet that I will never, ever send them clients.

      2. JustaTech*

        I had something similar happen at my academic job: I was promised I could “name [my] salary” and that it would be “around $40k”.
        Three months later when the offer letter finally arrived it was not $40k, but I was so desperate to leave my temp job that I did not care.

        I’ve been digging out of that hole ever since.

  15. münchner kindl*

    #2 – I don’t know what a co-op student is, but if it’s similar to the intern, the company has some serious problems with communications and structure – though apparently LW isn’t high enough to change it.

    There needs to be 1 manager responsible for interns, co-ops etc. – not to personally manage them all day, but as central point for all questions, including figuring out salary.

    That LW had to call different people because nobody was responsible or knew who was responsible is a big problem, that will continue as long as George is there – who can George ask questions once he arrives?

    1. Cat named Brian*

      Co-ops are more like an entry level employee. At my university I did an engineering one; was a year long, 1 semester working 1 semester school, alternating. Internships were just the summer. I had friends in mechanical engineering working for the same large oilfield company and they had different pay and organizers…

      1. LW2*

        Definitely this. I wasn’t 100% sure if George would report to me, or my own manager, but just got confirmation that I’ll be his manager. He’ll be treated like a very inexperienced entry-level employee, and will be held to the same standards as other employees.

  16. Trout 'Waver*

    OP#3, I recently went through exactly this, except my boss didn’t respond in anyway to to notice and actively ducked me during that time.

    Be prepared for him to trashtalk you after you leave and can’t correct the narrative. I’m sorry. It’s really unsatisfying. But it’s totally a “them” problem. Glad you’re free of that place.

    1. MissBaudelaire*

      Yeah, people like that are never going to go “They left because of XYZ faults that are mostly mine.” They’re going to say things like “They couldn’t hack it!” or “They’re a great big cry baby!”

  17. NYWeasel*

    OP3: I would second Alison’s advice but with an extra point that will serve you well throughout your career. Really consider why you feel so passionate about giving them this feedback on your way out the door. If you follow Alison’s advice in general, you’ve already made attempts to try and influence the system prior to leaving, so there are two likely situations you’re in now: First, your boss may just be a jerk who has zero interest in changing. This type of person almost always refuses to take responsibility for problems, so even if you show up with the receipts, it’s easier for them to say you were the problem, not them, which is unnecessary blowback to take on as you leave. (Ie even if everyone knows your old boss is an ass, do you really want to hand a person like that any reasons to badmouth you after you leave?)

    You obviously don’t have a good boss because that type of manager would be talking with you frequently as you transition out, so the next most likely scenario is that you have a boss who is incapable of making the changes you want. In this type of scenario, perhaps again you shared feedback along the way, but never were able to “make them see” what’s wrong, and you may be hoping that your departure is the kick in the pants they need to spur them to action. (If you didn’t share your thoughts along the way, then that’s a different problem, but best addressed moving forward than worrying about a job you’re leaving)

    So you have a boss that you want to influence now, but you couldn’t influence before. If that’s the case, and the only change is you leaving, then again there’s little value in taking on the dialogue again. You’ve shared your thoughts previously and if your boss can’t connect “Jane’s frustrated bc there’s no opportunities for managers to advance internally” with “Jane’s leaving to take a higher role at a new company” by now, then there’s really no point in wasting more energy on the situation.

    But also, ask yourself what information you haven’t wanted to hear from your managers. We had a manager who was constantly frustrated at leadership. Some of his frustrations were justifiable, but others were idealistic. For example, the company was struggling to find the right candidate for a key position, and the hole caused many issues. So he was right to be frustrated. But he couldn’t accept that there was no incompetence involved in the lengthy search for a replacement. None of us were in a position to know either way whether he was right or wrong, but ultimately the fact that he couldn’t recognize that he didn’t have all the facts on hand and that his feedback was not only misdirected but potentially wrong was a bigger issue for the team than any value that might be gained from him sharing it again. This was an extreme example, but ask yourself to consider what your managers have shared back when you’ve brought up your complaints before and really assess if you may be missing information or dismissing factors too quickly on your end.

    I don’t mean to imply that you’re wrong in this particular situation, but rather to point out that if you ARE right, the odds of the dialogue achieving your goals are slim to none, and that there’s a potential that you may be partially incorrect in the challenges you want to raise. All of that is why the advice not to pursue it farther is the wisest choice in this situation. In any case, you are leaving for greener pastures, so good luck with the new role!

    1. Smithy*

      Your second point about the risk of being partially wrong due to not seeing all the pieces on the board is incredibly common – as I think it’s far more a feature than a bug of problematic workplaces. If more junior staff don’t actually see the whole board or much beyond their scope of work, then a lot of their feedback/pushback/complaints does seem professionally immature because it’s not taking into account significant business pieces that they are unaware of.

      It’s just another feature of hoarding work, and I think happens intentionally or unintentionally when managers feel that if their direct reports know more their own places are less secure. Ultimately, all of the advice ends up being the same (leave a review on Glassdoor if you feel you have to say something, otherwise journal, share with friends/family/therapist and work to move on) but I think it’s worth be mindful of why people see far more risk than neutral/reward in speaking up.

      1. Another health care worker*

        I agree with this, but management equally can’t see many “pieces on the board” that are visible to the rank and file–typically because they are no longer actually working as individual contributors (often or at all). The problem is that management may not know about or care about their own gaps in knowledge, but be all too ready to tell underling staff that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

        And sometimes they’ll even be deliberately opaque or evasive about why they can’t do what staff are demanding…in which case you can’t blame staff for suspecting there’s no real reason.

  18. Chairman of the Bored*

    So what would the move be if due to this error George *is* making significantly more than other co-ops who are a different race or gender?

    Are the only viable options to either reduce his offer or increase the other co-ops pay to match this erroneous value?

    1. Loredena Frisealach*

      I think it’s honestly a leave it alone (and I say this as a white woman). Co-op pay is standardized based on year in school, and it’s typically a 4 to 9 months placement. It’s not because he asked and they didn’t, it’s because the company seriously messed up! Odds are they only have a handful of co-op students, if that (because if they were a company that regularly had a large cohort, as I saw when I was one at IBM, this wouldn’t have happened due to the huge structure around the program).

      BTW, for any students/parents reading this. My experience with co-oping is in computer science and engineering fields, but more companies have programs than schools. My brother and I both were summer co-ops at IBM through applying directly, our university didn’t have a program so we didn’t have any school involvement. Both pay and experience were significantly better than our minimum wage grocery store jobs!

    2. Nanani*

      The correct answer is to increase the others’ pay to match.

      The actual answer will probably be to keep it a secret until he graduates :/

  19. MissBaudelaire*

    OP4, Alison has some great advice. Crappy boss at ExJob always said he’d ‘have a talk’ with problematic people. Guess what? He never did. And if you approached him again because the problematic behavior was still happening or had gotten worse, or you just wanted to know what the conclusion of all that was… he’d either hide in another room, tell you he was much too busy for that conversation, or tell you that it wasn’t your business. Or, my favorite, have a great big explosion about how everybody who worked there was a walking disaster and we should quit worrying about each other and worry about ourselves.

    There is some merit to the last point. Brick in my eye before I worry about the speck in yours and all that.

    Still, though, it let us all know he was a wimp and didn’t like doing difficult things. He was more than happy to let us struggle and suffer if it meant he didn’t have to do things that made him uncomfortable. He was not good leadership material.

    1. irene adler*

      My now-retired boss would deflect complaints about problematic people back onto the complainer.

      Example: My work was seriously delayed due to Employee X who arrived to work 2-3 hours late each day. I was holding up production lines because of this. I needed boss to remedy this. He pointed out that Employee Y and Employee Z were not complaining about Employee X. So there was no issue here (except in my head).

      Note that: Employee Y and Z worked in R&D, had no interaction with Employee X and were not ever effected by her tardiness.

      Sure, this cost the company money with making bad product at times, but hey, my boss was not about to tackle the issue.

      1. MissBaudelaire*

        Ah, I see you’ve met my old boss!

        We also had a problem with coworkers being down right nasty. One of them went off on me one day. My supervisor went to the boss about it, reiterated that I was just doing my job and hadn’t caused trouble. Boss responded; “They just need to learn to get along.”

        ….So….You mean I should just tolerate people being nasty to me for no reason?

        I also had my workload increased significantly so that nasty coworkers workload could be decreased. I pointed out the problems here. He refused to change it. All right then. He was baffled when I quit.

  20. Water Dragon*

    LW #1: They have shown you they are scumbags. They lowball you by half, and then they balk when you ask them about the job description. They are *starting* the relationship by lying and being exploitative. It’s too bad that this hasn’t worked out, but they have shown you who they are. Believe it. Things will get worse from here. Walk away now.

    1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

      I agree.

      The only thing I would add is that there are other opportunities out there that are just exciting.

    2. M2*

      I think calling them scumbags is a bit much.

      As I read it they are reworking the job description to what the LW wants and LWs strengths (many jobs don’t do that). If they are cutting the job by a lot and have to hire another person to do another role then yes that warrants a pay cut! You’ll have to pay someone else a salary and benefits so paying two people to do one persons job is a lot more costly. They should be clear with the LW if they are doing this and who will be doing the tasks they are no long requiring for this role.

      Also, have you ever written a job description and had HR and your manager sign off on it? That takes time especially if it is being rewritten and it sounds like regraded. Where I work depending on your grade depends on your salary and certain tasks bring you up or down a grade or two. I don’t think calling them scumbags without having the LW getting clarity first is right. Maybe they aren’t great and this is not the right next step for LW but just assuming things without getting clarity is not great either. It also sounds like even with the cut it is a bump in pay from where the LW is currently.

      I don’t think it’s great they are cutting the pay by 50% but if someone else has to be hired for the remaining tasks to be done (with salary and benefits) etc that may make sense. But they should explain that! And maybe they can’t yet because HR or another manager has to sign off on all these changes. I don’t think it is great how it has been handled but usually when you write a new job description and it gets regraded it can take forever to sign off on it.

      I think it’s best not to make the LW go in thinking these people are “scumbags” but ask for clarity including a timeline on the new job description, asking who will take on the tasks from the old job description that were taken away, ask if there is a way to get closer to the old salary, etc. Try to get it all in writing (so you have something to go back to or if you have a call you can also send a memo email after regarding your call). Usually managers also have to get the okay from HR or their manager before discussing things like the above so that may also be a reason for the stalling. I have worked in non-profits and they are notoriously slow for things like this especially when a job is being regarded and reworked!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Fully agree. There are scenarios where this is reasonable (where the job really is significantly different) and scenarios where it’s not. It’s premature to characterize it that way when we don’t know which of those two it is.

  21. BRR*

    #1 I would think VERY carefully about accepting this role. I work in nonprofits and have seen so many people burned by awful jobs doing work they have a personal passion for (see Alison’s posts on having “passion” for your work). And this job sounds incredibly stressful. I have yet to see personal fulfillment for one’s work beat burnout from their job.

    Also, I tried running different numbers in my head and there is no scenario where offering half the posted salary seems reasonable. I have a STONG gut feeling they won’t be adjusting the responsibilities of the position down that much (and in reality the day to day might not actually change at all). This reeks of “paying you in experience.” But they’re not doing you a favor by giving you experience. You’re still doing (high-pressure) work for them. This might be a new field for you but you have a decade of work experience and have been volunteering at this new type of work. It’s not like you’re bringing nothing to the table.

    Don’t worry about “souring” things. THEY soured things.

    1. Gingerbread Gnome*

      Yeah, I saw “passion” and immediately thought this is an area where they are used to folks taking less in exchange for the good feels of doing something important.

  22. Trawna*

    LW3… 30 days notice is not leaving abruptly. May I gently suggest adding boundaries and some devil may care to your work mindset. That might make any future bad employers simply resemble the paychecks that they are.

    1. Generic Name*

      Yeah, that stuck out to me too. I’ve noticed that some people who care passionately about doing the right thing/doing things the right way end up feeling frustrated when things aren’t done the way they think should be of if they feel people don’t care as much as they do. It’s very frustrating to see clear issues that aren’t being addressed. But the reality is, unless you are an officer of a company (meaning you are empowered to make decisions for the whole company at the executive level), it’s really not your job to worry about those things. I assume you aren’t getting paid executive-level compensation either. You do get to decide if the issues are so bad that you need to leave. Often they are. But often the issues are really just annoyances, and you can decide to care less about them. So what if there is a process that’s old an inefficient and could easily be improved. It’s fine to suggest something, but if the answer is no, it can really help your mental state to mentally move on with the attitude that you still get paid the same doing it the inefficient way, and it’s the company’s choice.

  23. Letter Writer 3*

    LW#3 here – thank you all for your feedback.
    I think I am just one of those people who give a bit too much of myself to the place I work. I have the mentality of wanting to leave a place better than I found it, but I may have to admit that I’ve done as much as I can to that end and I just have to wash my hands and let it go.
    I really needed to hear from others that it was okay to do that. That it really isn’t my problem and that I’ve done what I could. Thank you!
    And yes, I am on to greener (better paying) pastures and I’m very excited for this change – so thank you, again, for helping me not let the past spoil the future.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Wanting to leave a place better than you found it is a good desire to have, and it’s also good to admit when you have done the best you can and cannot do any more. Based on these sentences from you letter, you definitely put in a good effort to make changes during your time at this company:

      I have asked on numerous occasions for guidance on what is/isn’t “my job,” what my goals should be, how I should be spending my time – I get incredibly vague answers if I get any feedback at all. So I’ve spent my time finding things that need to be done and doing them as best I can.

      Best of luck at your next job!

    2. Generic Name*

      Best wishes! It’s great to care, but, as I alluded in my post above, it’s basically impossible to make those kinds of improvements from the bottom up. They need executive support. I don’t mean to sound flippant, it it’s really helped my mental health to simply care less. My company recently went through a “re-org” that I think is basically meaningless, but the attitude I’m taking is as long as I still have the tools to do my job and reasonably enjoy it, I’m not going to worry that I think the re-org is dumb and won’t solve problems.

      1. Anon…*

        I’ve worked in two organizations now that have done massive reorganizations, In my limit experience they rarely address the underlying issues. They just shift them and create new ones.

    3. Anon…*

      Congratulations on the new position. What I have found is that often, especially organizations with dysfunctional systems and poor management, tend to twist the facts presented to confirm their own perspective. I suspect in your case there will be claims that they just haven’t found the right person for the job and that is why there is high turnover, or that it’s a job that naturally has high turnover, or that they’ve just had a string of bad luck.

      So generally, it won’t matter what you say. The act of leaving sends a clear enough message as it is to anyone who is paying attention. And, generally, with the exception of very small organization that has a single CEO for decades and/or run by a family, I find that usually at some point someone notices and tries to do something about it.

    4. lazuli*

      I’m a therapist, and I’ve often counseled clients through divorces or breakups. They often have this same impulse, of wanting to have one last conversation where they can just make the other person see why what they’re doing didn’t work, take in that information, and change for the better going forward.

      I try to remind them that if their soon-to-be-ex were capable of having this conversation with them, and learning from it in this way, they likely wouldn’t be at the point of breaking up.

      Sometimes you just gotta accept that you tried your best and it didn’t work, for whatever reason. Congrats on the new job!

  24. Nea*

    LW 1 – No. Just no. It doesn’t matter what the job description is. It doesn’t matter what the learning experiences might be. NEVER take that much of a pay cut. It’s going to damage your prospects for YEARS. I took a “mere” 10% paycut and will never get back to where I was.

    Furthermore, it’s not just employers who look at that, not if you’re in the US. That’ll affect your credit rating, which in turn affects your ability to buy a house, buy a new car, get a loan…

    Just tell them right up front “I’m sorry, I can’t live on a salary that low” and if they don’t adjust upwards to at least what you’re making now, move on.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      The letter’s wording is odd, but it sounds like the pay is half of what was offered, but still more than what the LW is currently making.

      I am worried that I will be taking on a significant extra load in return for an income increase I could probably beat by simply taking on a role identical to my current one in a more expensive city

      1. Anonymous4*

        Let’s say LW’s currently making $65k, and the salary range was originally $150k-$180k, and the offer is for $70k.

        LW will never reach even the lower range of that salary range. An organization that lowballs THAT badly, and hems and haws about the “new” job description, isn’t going to raise her salary as she gains experience and skills — they’re going to hand her 2-3% a year. If that much.

        1. M2*

          It’s not a pay cut and honestly if they have to take away so many tasks and rework and regrade the job they may have to hire another person for another role to fill in for the gaps and they may be why the salary is cut so much. Maybe they are reworking the department to fit a new role for LW who knows. But LW needs to get clarity and answers on this! If they aren’t hiring a new person for the other tasks and expecting everyone to take on more that is not good.

          Is there a reason they are reworking the job for you, LW? Do you not want to do certain tasks or do they think the other job is too high level? Such as you are currently a coordinator and this job is a Director level job. Maybe they like the LW so much they are creating a role for them but going from a director to say a manager yes you could be getting paid 50% less.

          Everyone on here seems to think this organization is bad and I just feel there is another explanation.

      2. Nanani*

        That doesn’t make it okay, and if they know what LW1 was making before, makes it extremely likely they are trying to save themselves money on salary by lowballing them.

        Pay is about what the work is worth. Equal pay for equal work, not “pay the lowest figure you can get them to accept” and not “low pay forever if you had one low paying job at any point in your history”

  25. bosben*

    #1 – I have always found that it is nearly impossible to get significant raises within a job and without switching companies. Obviously there are exceptions, but I would be concerned about how you logistically can work back toward that salary range that was posted. If you learn everything and meet those requirements, how are they going to get you back to the posted range? Everywhere I’ve worked has caps on raises per year so if you start low, you’ll always be way out of line for this position. I can bet the money they’d save on your salary would quickly be taken up by something else, so when you’re ready and deserving of the significant raise, there wouldn’t be any money available. If you’re really interested, I would get (in writing), what steps need to be met and when your salary would be re-evaluated to that range.

    1. cmcinnyc*

      Very much this. They aren’t going to be giving you a 50% raise next year. Probably not even a 10% raise. You will forever chase that original number and never, never get there. Don’t.

      1. Commenter*

        Also with how percentages work, it would take a 100% pay increase to get to the original quote. If the original range was $100K, but now they’re offering $50K, you would need them to double that $50K salary (a 100% increase) to make up for the original $50K cut.

        To be fair, I’m on team “I don’t know, this seems like it’s a little more complicated than it sounds & I don’t assume they’re trying to screw LW” but do think that getting to the original range would (likely) be a long way off (without knowing which skills she’s lacking! Maybe it’s familiarity with a specific platform or program that can be solved with training or something?)

  26. Dr. Tea Blender, PhD*

    Potentially unpopular opinion: I absolutely understand pay differences between years of co-op due to experience. The whole point of doing multiple is that it builds to more work experience, etc. However, this reads as if there is a difference in pay based on discipline, too, and that seems unfair. Look, engineers will have their whole career to make more than the average BA-holder, can we just have a flat rate for co-op based on level of experience?

    1. I should really pick a name*

      A co-op position is typically doing actual work in their field, so it makes sense to me that the pay is consistent with the field.

    2. Loulou*

      How is this unfair? It’s not like an engineering company is hiring an engineering co-op student AND a co-op student from [less compensated field] and paying them differently.

    3. FloralWraith*

      To be fair, it might be a different role for the BA students versus the engineering student. If you were an architecture firm and you employed architectural engineering co-ops normally, and then one year, decided to bring an English major co-op into your marketing department, you’d pay based on the role.

  27. Sue*

    About the last letter: we are actually not allowed in our organization to ever let one of our staff members know that we are handling a problem that they’ve reported. I basically was told I can say something along the lines of “thank you“, or something as noncommittal as that. I’m not allowed to say I’m looking into it, I’m not allowed to say I’ll take care of it, Or that I’m handling it, or that I’m looking into it. So my staff never know if I have looked into a problem or done anything about it. It really makes them reluctant to report anything to me at all because they will never know whether something was dealt with. I find this very frustrating.

    1. Loulou*

      I’m not getting you. So like….if a staff member tells you about a problem in their office space, and you’ve already submitted a report to facilities and are waiting for someone to fix it, you can’t say so? You just have to let them submit their own report and wait? I think you can’t possibly mean this, but this is what I’m imagining based on your comment.

      1. Antilles*

        It seems like it’s basically the human version of an Outlook “Read Receipt” – you acknowledge receipt of the message but nothing else.
        I’d bet this is implemented by Legal/HR, because this seems like they’re trying to avoid committing to anything whatsoever so they have freedom of action. I mean, “we got a report and didn’t even bother to look into it” isn’t great, so idk why you can’t even promise “we’ll look into this”, but it definitely seems like it’s a legal thing.

      2. Starbuck*

        It sounds like it’s more about not sharing personnel issues than when/if the printer is going to be fixed. Like, “I can neither confirm nor deny that I’ve ever talked to Bob about his lateness” etc.

    2. Lady_Lessa*

      That is just horrible. I can understand not being able to share the details, but not to be able to even say, “I’m looking into it”.

      In this new social group, the moderators had to institute a policy that said roughly about looking into it, but no details to the average user. I don’t remember if the reporter gets more info, or not.

    3. nnn*

      Are you allowed to tell your staff members that you aren’t allowed to tell them you’re handling a problem?

  28. tessa*

    LW3: It’s lovely and kind of you to care about what happens to the next person who is hired, but it seems the only way to get your bosses to wake up is for them to manage the consequences of their actions. Let them go through 6 people in the next 4 years, and maybe they’ll take the hint (and maybe higher ups will, too). As time goes on, and future candidates discover the high turnover, it’ll spell even more trouble.

    Some problems just need to cave inward by their own sheer weight.

    Good luck in your new job!

  29. Wandering*

    What I did in a similar situation was take full advantage of my exit interview with HR. I described the patterns, pointed out where the red flags were hoisted, & asked why this wasn’t on HR’s radar as a problem. That got HR’s attention, & some good came out of it.

    Enjoy your new job!

  30. fhqwhgads*

    I think the biggest problem with #2 is the director who wanted to decide what to pay George afterGeorge had accepted the offer. Like…the offer should have always already had pay in it? What the hell was that director thinking?

  31. Hippo-nony-potomus*

    LW1: I think this is really dependent on the industry. If you are, for example, a 2018 law grad who applied for a General Counsel position, they would pay you a lot less precisely because they would expect that you would rely more on outside counsel than someone with 15 years of experience. Those extra costs are substantial and your salary would reflect that.

    However, if they are just underpaying you because they can, do not accept the offer. Figure out how to get those skills and apply for jobs that will pay you in line with what they pay other professionals.

  32. Girasol*

    #3 When you’ve cared about a job so much for so long, it’s hard to turn it off, isn’t it? You want try just one more time to fix what’s wrong even though you know nobody ever listened or cared before. My employer helped me over that hump with a cold “So you’re retiring. You’d darn well better turn in these things before you go” memo. I got a clueless “exit survey” which asked only about the quality of my on-boarding, which had been ten years before and everyone who had been there was long gone. Then they said, “If you feel you want to talk to someone you can schedule a meeting with an HR rep.” If I wanted?? The message was clear that they’d let me vent but they didn’t care what I had to say. That helped me to get to the point of thinking “They’re a real mess but it’s not my job to fix them.” I gave them nothing and I’m sure they were happy about it. OP 3, that’s the best thing you could do.

  33. learnedthehardway*

    LW#3 – I wouldn’t push to provide feedback to your manager and 2nd line manager, if they don’t seem ready/willing to have the discussion. You need to take care of yourself, here, and part of that is making sure these people are willing to give you a reference in future. You don’t owe your feedback to anyone, and honestly, even if you gave it, it doesn’t sound like it would be acted upon, anyway. So, don’t spend capital on something that might harm you and probably won’t help anyone else.

  34. Monkey Fracas Jr.*

    I actually disagree with the advice to #1.

    First: LW1 should run away. This organization is sketchy just for suggesting this massive pay cut.

    Second–and here is where I disagree–LW1 should not be paid less than the advertised salary just because their experience makes this position a “stretch.” If the organization knows that LW1 would be a stretch and still wants to hire them, then LW1 should get the full salary. They would presumably be doing the same job functions while learning along the way. They need to be paid the full amount for that. If the organization truly thinks that LW1 is not the right person for the role, then they should not hire them. It really is an either-or situation, and disenfranchising LW1 by paying them less is not the answer.

    1. Commenter*

      I read the letter as they actually were reworking the role to compensate for a lack of experience or knowledge – it sounds like they’re not being clear on that in sharing the updated role description, but I think that’s what the explanation was. Not like ‘this is going to be harder for you so we’ll pay you less’ and more ‘we’ll have to get someone else to do the stuff you can’t do, so we’re reducing the salary.’

      1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

        I do see both sides to this. However, I guess it depends on just how much of a “stretch” it really is for the OP. Maybe we’re not clear what skills are lacking? Granted there should be some room to grow into the role, but I would think that might be more like 20-30% less than top pay, not 50%.
        When parties are this far apart, taking the job usually does not make sense for either one. If OP accepts it at the lower pay scale, and in a year or so is up to speed, they will feel resentful if they do not get a raise up to that original advertised level. And in my mind, very large raises rarely come about in this sector once you are in the role.

  35. Bookworm*

    #3: Been in similar situations where it was very clear the problems were beyond me and upper management didn’t want to hear it. In my two separate cases neither wanted exit interviews and it was clear that they saw nothing wrong with what they were doing, this was either me/just how things ended, etc. All you can do is walk away. You can even go ahead and type up that memo, but it is unlikely it will make a difference.

    One thing that I have noticed that seemed to have helped? Leaving a review (as edited/vague as you like) on a place like Glassdoor. Whoops, the dirty laundry just became public! :)

    This, however, is not a path for everyone and still may not be a thing for you (some places simply don’t care or are unaware of Glassdoor).

    Trust me, I do empathize but it’s not worth it. Alison is right. If they don’t see any problem, there’s no point in putting more effort into a place that couldn’t see your value and listen to your feedback in the first place.

  36. Ollie*

    LW3 – This sounds like my husband’s last job. In the beginning there were some safety issues that didn’t really affect him such as other employees not wearing the proper safety gear. He informed his boss and nothing changed. He just refused to work with those people unless they were wearing the proper gear. then it got worse. They started remodeling work on a very old building without checking for asbestos and lead paint. And then they started storing propane inside a closed building (one little leak, one little spark, big kaboom. He talked to his boss, he talked to his boss’ boss, then HR. Nothing got done. The simple fact is they didn’t care. They knew why he quit, they didn’t care. Your company may not care either. They just figure they’re going to have a hire a new person every couple years.

  37. Candi*

    #2 -I don’t know if “they’re so generous!” will make the rounds.

    What I do know is your ethical conduct will.

    Being known as ethical is more important than ever. It attracts customers and new workers, and will make it easier to weather the current storm.

  38. Pobody’s Nerfect*

    OP2: I highly commend you for being honest and ethical in sticking to giving the pay rate you actually offered. I once accepted a job that offered me a rate I was very happy with, only to find they paid me significantly less once I started and got my first paycheck. They admitted they made a mistake when setting the actual pay rate but then said they couldn’t change it. It created immediate resentment and set the tone for everything to follow. Take the ethical high road whenever possible, it isn’t steer you wrong.

  39. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    OP #1 – Run. RUN! Save yourself! You are being disrespectfully LOWBALLED. Go, go, they lured you in with one range and are now trying to pull a fast one on you.

    Get away. Quick.

    (I hope I’m not being too obtuse.)

  40. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    #1 I really think you need to let this one go. There are a couple of red flags in your letter that really concern me, aside from the 1/2 salary offer.
    >significant increase in stress and personal responsibility
    >lot of pressure riding on this new role
    >they have altered the job description around my own assessment of the role
    >half the advertised salary

    I get you’re excited and that this would be a different role from what you do currently, and in a different industry. Sure, I might be reasonable to take, say a 20%-30% decrease based on this, but half? Sorry, but it sounds like this is just a way to underpay someone who meets most of the requirements (but not all). By all means give Allison’s advice a try, you never know, and perhaps you can meet in the middle somewhere. But emotionally disengage yourself from the negotiations and be prepared to walk. I know you want to be in that industry, but you’ve got to really ask yourself if it’s worth it? Good luck!

Comments are closed.