my job offer was rescinded after I asked for more money

A reader writes:

I’m currently in a job where I thought I was going to grow a lot more quickly but I haven’t, so I have started to explore other options. The tricky part about this position is that I am in marketing and my manager is not tracking any results or success (which is a basic expectation for this kind of work). Because of that, I am having a really hard time landing a job. Interviewers are blown away I’m not using basic marketing business practices, but my manager is just very out of the loop.

I’ve had about 40 interviews since December, but no job offers until now. I finally received an offer and, after so much rejection, was so excited that I cried. Once I received the offer letter, I took it to my mentor, who said, “Never take the initial salary offer. HR is always expecting some negotiation.”

So I replied to the offer with a very nice response asking if they were willing to go up by $10,000, expecting that maybe we would meet in the middle at $5,000 over their initial offer. Never once did I say I would quit if I didn’t receive it; I just positioned it as a simple question. I don’t have a lot of experience with offers but I was told by at least five people (including my mentor) that it’s extremely normal to negotiate, so I felt confident about doing this.

The hiring rep quickly replied and said the offer they made was the highest amount they had budgeted, but she would ask the team. I assumed that even if the answer was a no, it would be fine. However, she came back an hour later and rescinded the offer, saying that they didn’t feel the negotiation had gone well. I tried to call and email to tell them I’d be willing to take the initial offer but they never responded to me.

I am devastated. This would have been a $20,000 bump in my salary and a title change. I am at such a low point after so much rejection. I was ready to sign this offer and start the new job and had already started talking to my manager at my current job to get her ready for me moving on. All five people who told me to negotiate say they were astonished.

At this point, I regret my email so much. If I had never negotiated — which I wasn’t intending anyway until everyone told me to – I would still have a new job. I am a mess. Is this normal? Did I do something wrong?

Oh noooooo, I’m so sorry.

Negotiating salary is a very normal thing to do. Candidates do it all the time, employers aren’t typically surprised by it, and it almost never ends in the offer being pulled.

In fact, it’s so rare that I’m nervous about running a letter like this because I don’t want readers to worry that they shouldn’t try to negotiate their salary in the future. Negotiating is nearly always a safe and reasonable thing to do.

When an offer does get yanked because of a negotiation, the explanation is usually one of the following:

1. Most commonly, the problem is on the employer’s side. If they truly pulled the offer because you negotiated and there’s nothing else at play, that’s so outside the realm of normal business expectations that it indicates they don’t play by professional norms in general. A company that rescinds an offer because you wanted to negotiate (rather than simply explaining that their offer is firm) is a company that doesn’t understand that employment is a two-way street. That manager is likely to have a similarly dysfunctional response to employees who ask for raises or better benefits or who otherwise advocate for themselves. Seen through that light, this is a bullet dodged — though I realize it doesn’t feel that way when you’ve been job searching for so long.

2. Other times, there’s more to the situation than what you see on the surface. For example, a stronger candidate emerged at the last minute and they were looking for an excuse to pull the offer, or a higher-up was pressuring them to hire someone else, and when you didn’t accept the offer immediately, that person had more of an opening to push for their preferred candidate. (“Has she accepted? No? Then let’s just hire Candidate B instead.”) This isn’t okay — employers should stand by the job offers they make, not change their minds on a whim — but it can happen.

3. Occasionally there’s something about the way a candidate negotiates that gives the employer pause. This doesn’t sound like the case with you, but if you come across as notably unenthused, that might make them second guess, especially if they already had concerns about your level of interest. (To be clear, I’m not talking here about a neutral response. But if you sound put upon to have to even consider their offer, they may conclude this isn’t a great match for either of you.) Or if you ask for a salary or benefits that are wildly outside the realm of what’s realistic for the market, they might figure that there’s no practical way to move forward, and also maybe that you’re prohibitively out of touch. The same is true if you appear to be operating in bad faith — like if they were up front about the salary during the hiring process and confirmed with you multiple times that it would work for you, and then you ask for more anyway without offering a reason why (like that the responsibilities of the role changed after you last discussed salary).

In your case, my guess is that the explanation is No. 1 or No. 2. It’s certainly worth reviewing the way the conversation went down with your mentor to make sure there’s not something about your approach that might have set off red flags for a reasonable employer. But assuming that’s not the case, it’s pretty safe to conclude that this was an issue on their side, not on your side — and that you did nothing wrong.

As a rule, decent employers do not pull offers because a candidate asked for more money. They might say, “No, the offer is firm,” but at that point it’s generally up to you to decide whether to accept it or not. “Never mind, we won’t offer it to you at all then” is not a normal response, and it’s the mark of an employer that’s highly likely to turn out to be broken in other ways too.

I realize that’s cold comfort when you’re left without an offer for a job you had been excited to accept. But please don’t let it make you gun-shy about negotiating in the future; you’re very unlikely to run into this again, and ultimately you’re better off not working for an employer that reacts harshly to workers who advocate for their own worth.

Originally published at New York Magazine.

{ 229 comments… read them below }

  1. Bookworm*

    I am sorry this happened to you. I’ve never had this happen (it was just no, this is the final offer or some song and dance about how it’s actually a great offer, etc.). If you simply asked the question it sounds like that this is absolutely not the organization is for you. As Alison said in her response, this obviously doesn’t help but totally feel you: I hate the negotiation process too but don’t assume it’ll always be like this and make you not in the future. I’ve never heard of this happening but wouldn’t be surprised to hear other similar examples.

    TL;DR: It’s not you. It’s them. I’m so sorry and wish you the best for the future.

    1. Canterlot*

      I’ve had this happen. Both times when I was looking at making a switch to nonprofits. I don’t think I was at all unreasonable or unprofessional or out of range on my salary expectations, but the mere fact that I didn’t leap at the first (egregiously low – like, SNAP qualifying low) offers got me pulled from consideration – at the offer stage for one, after final-round scheduling for the second. In the years since, I’ve learned to consider it a bullet dodged.

      It’s a very small sample size, but it led me to some bad, possibly unfair, conclusions about the nonprofit sector. I never wound up working at one.

      1. CamJansen*

        I have also had an unsavory experience with a non profit when they wouldn’t budge on salary so I asked for some extra vacation time to make up for what I’d be leaving behind (the PTO was less than half what I had at the job id be leaving). The shame they heaped toward me for even asking the question was so surprising!

        1. kitryan*

          I asked (on advice from my former insurance executive father) about a relocation allowance when moving cross country for a non profit job and received withering scorn. I learned a few things from that.
          1) my dad’s advice had to be put through the lens of my being a woman in the arts before being acted on- he’s not out of touch or anything but he’s coming from a different place and industry, so I couldn’t take it at face value.
          2) the person who was all rude about the question was a terrible person and would cause problems for me later.
          3) The help/accommodation/benefit you might get in the non-profit sector (or small companies) might not look the same as it would in a big corp, but may be just as useful. There was no compensation for moving, but they did have a few apartments for visiting artists and they put me up in one of them for about a month, no cost to me, which was so helpful.
          Especially since I was coming from NYC where you’re basically signing a lease at the apartment open house- things move so quickly, and in the new city you were lucky to find something available by the 1st of the *next* month, if not being put on a wait list for some possible future availability, so I had way more trouble finding something right away than I thought I would and being able to use the visiting artist apartment until the next cycle of availability rolled around was exactly what I ended up needing. I lucked out big time because none of the visiting artists show up until the month after I started work, so the apartment would have been vacant otherwise during that month.

          1. GythaOgden*

            Yup. The original letter is [darned] unfair in what happened to OP, but I have an interview on Tuesday next week, and I’m chatting with my therapist about how to approach it rather than with my retired parents. If it was up to my mother I’d be in 80s power-dress and high heels with a face full of makeup for a job in hospital administration. The therapist is a bit younger (though still older than me, F42) and is more in tune with things at my level. I’m obviously going to really spruce myself up, wear the jacket I keep for funerals and interviews and go in my current NHS corporate shirt that actually fits properly, but I don’t need to go in looking like Margaret Thatcher.

            But my mum really helped me with the personal statement. It was when she said ‘You’re telling them how wonderful they are. Tell them how wonderful YOU are’, that I was finally motivated to apply. I’m looking on and off from the vantage point of having a job already, but that was such a boost in confidence from someone who can be very critical of me otherwise (mums do that but my mum is the quintessential ESTJ Karen, so I have just about learned to calibrate her responses to what I’m doing) that it got that application done.

            Parents are good for some things but not all.

            1. Uranus Wars*

              OMG I love your mom: ‘You’re telling them how wonderful they are. Tell them how wonderful YOU are’

      2. Koalafied*

        Often (but not always) problems that people attribute to the employer being a nonprofit are more about the employer being small, and are the same problems that small businesses have, which are not nearly as commonly found in large nonprofits.

        1. EGG*

          Right — after all, most private hospitals and universities are set up as nonprofits. When people say “nonprofit” I find they typically mean the small ones, when the reality is that there are a lot of big institutional ones…

          1. Clisby*

            Yes, I worked for years for a large nonprofit, where benefits were excellent and pay was solid. Trying to negotiate salary likely wouldn’t have worked a lot of the time, especially in the lower-level jobs, but I can’t imagine them rescinding an offer because of it. It would just be, “No, this is how our pay works,” and a description of the different pay bands.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          Yeah, this. I work for a nonprofit and, while we are far from overpaid, we have good benefits, lots of PTO, and we’re treated very well. We’re about 45 people.

          1. Koalafied*

            Yep, I think right around 30-40 staff is the point where a business or nonprofit has to start behaving like a grown-up organization, particularly in having standardized policies that reflect wider business norms, and at least one in-house compliance lawyer and dedicated HR person to keep them on a sensible course.

            My current org has about 1,000 employees and is as corporate and by-the-books as any other 1,000-employee outfit. And of my previous nonprofit employers, the one that had about 40-45 staff was run much more similarly to this one than it was to the ones that had <10 staff.

      3. Michelle Smith*

        That’s so scary to me. I had a positive experience negotiating with a nonprofit for my upcoming new job. The hiring manager was very candid with me that she understood they weren’t offering a competitive salary and she got me a significant amount more (still not competitive, but not as terrible as the original offer, so I took it).

        It was expected and welcomed that I advocated for myself.

  2. Megan M.*

    Echoing Alison’s “oh noooooo” here. This really sucks! You didn’t do anything wrong! I’m so sorry. I know you feel completely demoralized right now but after you’ve given yourself some time to shake it off, get back out there. You got a job offer! You’ll get another one – and don’t let this scare you into accepting less than you’re worth. Best of luck to you.

  3. Viki*

    That’s very unfortunate, and no, most job negotiations don’t result in the loss of job.

    However, I wonder if it was because it could have been seen by the company as a stretch position due to ” I’m not using basic marketing business practices”, as well as metrics that are not being tracked by your current employee and this was the team going, “there’s potential and growth here”.

    Regardless, negotiating is normal and to be expected. But it sounds like you’re burnt out from the job search and that might be a sign to take a break for the summer.

    1. Jessica*

      And not only that but it sounds like the initial offer was a 10K (or depending on how one reads the letter 15K or 20K) raise for a stretch position … in which case I can see why they might have found negotiating for a 10K bump out of touch.

      1. Dot*

        But how could the hiring company know their offer is 2k above OP’s current salary? OP doesn’t need to disclose (right?)

        1. Viki*

          OP doesn’t.

          But say I’m hiring someone for a mid level position, and we need someone who has experience and has proof to back it up. Stats, campaigns, anything. I also am aware of the general market for my field and am hiring within the expectations (ie 60-80k for a marketing manager)**

          OP is a marketing assistant or other entry level position (which to be fair OP doesn’t say, but I think that is a reasonable assumption) and that is a 40k salary point. OP wows me in the interview, but doesn’t have practise with basic techniques (per own admission) and doesn’t have metrics. I like OP so I’m giving the position, with the experience OP has on paper meriting the lower end of my salary band, 60k. Which is fair.

          I can easily think, “Hmm, you have no experience, and I’m taking a chance on you, and you want my mid level range. No.” I wouldn’t pull the offer, but the company doesn’t have to explicitly know OP’s current salary to know the trend of the position and their area in their field.

          **Just picking out numbers.

          1. m2*

            I agree with this statement. It sounds like based on the letter ( I apologize if I am wrong) that the organization was giving the LW a chance based on LWs own admission they don’t use the marketing skills most organizations want. I would not have pulled the offer. I also think it really depends how this are phrased. A friend of mine had someone negotiate and they felt like it was demands not a negotiation and they pulled the offer. They had initial reservations about this person, but wanted to give them a chance. Not saying this is what happened with LW, but think about the interactions in the interview.

            It sounds like LW may be entry-level or a few years out (apologies if I am incorrect). Asking for $10K more in a negotiation is a lot for many non-manager or technical positions (unless its 6-figures). Do your research and find out the market rate in your area (include benefits) and really think about what you want salary-wise/ benefits / growth potential.

            LW, can you maybe volunteer somewhere to use these skills so you can gain these skills to get another job? Good luck!

            1. Meep*

              This is my thought. OP may not have meant to come off as demanding but pushed too far in that direction trying to be assertive. Add the fact, OP is most likely female-presenting based on the letter’s tone, it could extra unintentionally come off as aggressive instead of assertive.

              I would also want to know why OP hasn’t spent the past six months learning these skills they have been told repeatedly are stopping them from getting a job. The manager being old and out of touch is frankly a lazy excuse. I don’t say that to be necessarily mean, but to say if someone isn’t working on bettering themself to get a job, what hope do I have to get them to better themself when they have one.

              1. AnonToday*

                My impression from the letter is that the COMPANY doesn’t track the same metrics that their peers do in the marketing industry. I’m not sure if it’s possible for OP to be tracking the outcome of the campaigns they work on if their manager isn’t collecting that data. If OP goes around their boss to get data from clients, what is their boss going to think?

          2. Fikly*

            This is such utter nonsense.

            You pay for the work you need done. The work you need done isn’t changing based on who you are hiring. So you hire the best person you can, and pay that person based on the work you need done. If you are taking a chance that they can do it, why aren’t you hiring someone you know that can do it? It’s either because you can’t find someone who will accept, or because you’re trying to take advantage of someone with less experience to get someone for less money. Pay people based on the work they do.

            If the performance doesn’t meet what you need, you then deal with it via management, or fire them and hire someone else.

            1. Calliope*

              No, it’s not a binary of “can do work” vs. “can’t do work.” Often there are gradations where you might be willing to pay $X for someone who can come in and take over certain functions on day 1, so you offer $X-$Y to someone who you know will need significant training on some of those functions, thinking by the time they’re fully trained in a couple of years, you will have raised their salary to $X.

              Do some companies do this exploitatively and never intend to pay fairly? Sure. But it’s not inherently bad.

              1. English Rose*

                This. I’ve just hired someone who has great promise but not the experience we would ideally have wanted, so it will be a sharp climb for them. I therefore put an offer in at the low end of our scale with the proviso that if they meet certain targets by the end of the year we will review pay.
                Another part of the equation is we will have to invest more time and money training this person. I’m so sure it will be worth it though.

                1. GythaOgden*

                  Likewise when I went temp to perm, I expressed grave reservations about taking a pay cut to start at the beginning of my public sector pay band. (£7.50 ph to £7.00 or something like that; bear in mind that that was minimum wage for the UK at the time in 2014 but more like $10 in US money) My boss was a bit grumpy about that at the time — ‘you can just not apply if it doesn’t suit.’ However, bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and all that, and I’d been there 9 months by then, so I applied thinking I could make it work somehow. Public sector recruitment has to be fully open to the public but being able to say in my application statement that I’d been on the job for 9 months already and here’s what I’d achieved already made it clear that I was enthusiastic about it and would stay.

                  I got the job — my boss still wanted me enough that the interview was a formality and mostly consisted of her praising me for what I’d done. It took about 24 hours to hear back from her (while I continued to work on the basis of my agency pay) but when she did call to offer me the job, she said that she’d discussed pay and could put me on the second increment, which would be £7.49 per hour.

                  She didn’t have to do that but it showed she’d taken my comments to heart and wanted to keep me. Public sector pay and conditions aren’t negotiable, but I’d already negotatiated better hours as a temp before, so using the same tactic I often do — express concern with what’s being offered and whether or not I can continue to do that based on my needs, humble as I am that I’m just a receptionist — I was able to get that bump.

                  I often do this accidentally and like many women, I guess, err on the side of not negotiating. My strategy is to prove myself capable before I go in and ask — but honestly my financial situation is somewhat unusual so this may not be applicable to others.

              2. TheAG*

                Exactly. Some people you know are going to walk into the position, do the job with zero direction or training, and get promoted in a year. Those people get the salary that goes along with it. Some are a stretch.
                I could be wrong but the fact that the LW has had 4o interviews and zero offers in this job market indicates that she may be looking at a stretch position, which is fine but if that’s the case they should realize that it is a stretch.

                The other thing is knowing your market and the hiring company. My company pays at the very top of the market and that is well known. I’ve never had more than a half-hearted negotiation for a higher salary, and usually I just say nahh. I know who I’m hiring and what the market is paying for the talent and if our compensation department has come in with a lowball offer, I make them adjust it (or tell them there’s no way this is going to fly, and I’m usually right).

            2. Jane*

              The work you need done may not change, but the dollar value may certainly change based upon experience and skill level.

            3. Karia*

              That’s necessarily true. Sometimes you’re willing to pay $50k for someone who will need more oversight and training vs $70k for someone able to be independent. There was an example of that in a letter the other week.

          3. Michelle Smith*

            All of that sounds reasonable and fair, but even you admit you wouldn’t have pulled the offer. Which is really the problem here.

        2. doreen*

          They couldn’t know how far above the offer was above the OP’ s current salary without the OP disclosing – but the way the OP describes the current job and their difficulty getting interviews, it seems like the current job doesn’t match what is normally expected in that position and maybe it seems more like changing fields to the hiring company than a “stretch”. And that in turn may make asking for $10K over the offer seem out of touch – they don’t have to know that their initial offer was a 10-20K increase to the OP to think that asking for an additional 10K is out of touch.

          1. AnonToday*

            Is being “out of touch” on salary really cause to rescind an offer, though? Why not just respond with “This offer is firm based on your current skills, do you wish to withdraw if we can’t increase it?” and say something about future raises based on performance?

            1. TheAG*

              Depending on how out of touch it is, it could be. There are some details I would need to know if I was going to decide how out of touch. 10K doesn’t tell us what percentage of the salary it was, and we don’t know the position. It’s not that big of a deal if the starting salary is 150K, but if it’s 40K, yeah that’s a jump. If, on top of that, the job was a huge stretch to begin with, I might take both those things into consideration (and knowing my market and what is a good offer) I might think we’re too far apart for the person to be happy and not want to risk it.

      2. Koalafied*

        LW’s current salary is irrelevant to the market value of the role she’s interviewing for. People who are underpaid at one job do not deserve to be paid less forever after, which is what happens if you factor previous salary into an offer that way.

        1. Jane*

          In a perfect world. But in the real world it often doesn’t work that way. OP said they were happy with initial offer.

      3. KRM*

        That was my first thought. They’re making their best offer for someone who they think has potential in the role, but they also feel that there are some red flags (OP–are you not saying “my manager not using these best practices is one reason I’m looking to move into a different role”? That may land very differently with people and help them understand why your resume looks how it does. A cover letter addressing that might help you get more interviews.) So they make their best offer based on that, and then to have the OP just say “can you go $10K higher” WITHOUT addressing why you think you’re worth that? It might have been a bridge too far for them. Negotiation is very normal, but I also feel that if you really just said “how about $10K more” that rubbed them the wrong way. If you said “With my X years of experience in {specifics A&B} I think I could really start strongly in this position, and as such I was hoping maybe we could go up to Y on salary”, they still may have said no, but may also have felt better about keeping the offer because it didn’t just seem like a “give me more money” request.

        1. Charlotte*

          Alison has specifically stated in the past that the best way to negotiate is to keep it simple and say something like “Can you do $x?” and then stop talking. No need to get into all the explanations unless they ask.

      4. Jane*

        Yes. If they knew OPs salary with current job, they may have felt it was greedy. I think if you’re happy with what’s being offered just accept. It doesn’t matter if others tell you to go for more. I do feel bad for OP.

      5. Tiger Snake*

        I don’t negotiate very often and am not good at it, but if the OP was looking for maybe a 5k increase – literally doubling that sounded a bit odd to me. I think I usually see people starting a number in the 7k-ish range if they’re really after 5.

        So I wonder if the pay difference just seemed like too far out of budget for them to even try. What do the better negotiators think?

    2. fleapot*

      OP might not be using basic marketing business practices, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she hasn’t used them in other roles or hasn’t had relevant training/education.

      My read of the letter was that the primary obstacle was a lack of metrics. If other candidates can say “coordinated online campaign with a conversion rate of X”, and all she’s got is “coordinated online campaign,” that’s a definite disadvantage in the competition. But she’s not the one who has decided not to implement the basic practices, and it sounds like she has a good sense of what those practices are. I’m not sure it follows that she’d be a huge “stretch.”

      And even if she were, I’d think that the normal response to salary negotiation would have been what Alison described in her response. It’s really inexcusable for the company to do what it did here.

      (OP, you have my enormous sympathy!)

      1. OP*

        OP Here- Thank you! You hit the nail on the head. I not only have 7 years of relevant experience, but I was operating with marketing metrics at a previous role. This was all disclosed in the interview and I was able to give a few examples of that knowledge from prior roles just not my current. Coming in to the current role I have is exactly that, me working for a very basic marketing team. I was even hoping to move up quickly by being able to share relevant knowledge. My manager and those above just don’t want/ like change and after years of rejecting ideas and suggestions to improve the marketing program I just gave up.

        1. KRM*

          I think if you address that in a cover letter, you may find yourself with more hits right off the bat, as employers do tend to focus on your current position and what it can help you bring to the role. Saying “I have experience in X and Y from [previous job], which [current job] unfortunately does not use, and I’m looking forward to getting back to X and Y and being able to grow into the role”
          Having said that, it was quite aggressive for the company to pull the offer instead of explaining why they wouldn’t go up in salary, even if I could possibly see where they were coming from. It’s harsh w/out an explanation. I hope your search gets better!

        2. English Rose*

          So much sympathy to you OP. I wonder if there’s any way in which you can track your own metrics for a couple of months. I don’t know enough about the job or your sector to be sure, but if there was a way of not leaving it up to your manager to do the tracking that might actually help in your current role as well as when looking elsewhere. Best of luck!

        3. Artemesia*

          You are a woman right? Every person I know who has been treated like this is a woman. I know many men who have negotiated hard and gotten great starting salaries at new job or negotiated benefits without it harming them. I know women who have had offers pulled or who have been reluctantly been given signing bonuses or small raises and then treated badly by the managers on the job who resented their uppityness in asking for more.

          I am sorry you got hosed and hope you have a better experience with the next offer and will negotiate and not be gamed by this into asking for less than you are worth.

        4. Jane*

          Did you in your request for another $10k give them any compelling reason for the additional salary boost, or was it simply can you do another $10k? Maybe they took it the wrong way, and were concerned you’d be too demanding. Good luck in your job search! If this opportunity came up, another will as well. And follow your own heart. If you are happy with the salary offered, accept! It doesn’t matter what others think.

  4. Less Bread More Taxes*

    I have had this happen, and it sucks. At least you know you avoided a company that is beyond unreasonable.

    1. Well...*

      Yes i know someone this happened to for a lab tech position at an ivy league. Bullet dodged.

      1. JSPA*

        Eh, the majority of grants are government, and those have pretty minimal negotiating room (tighter for PI, post docs and grad students, but also capped for support staff overall, and techs fall under that heading.)

        Assuming negotiable salary says you are somewhat clueless about how science funding works. Or worse, that you think the sun shines bright enough out your behind for someone to play games with funding numbers, to keep you. (Nobody’s butt solarization quotient is that high.)

        1. Loulou*

          But for an (entry level?) lab tech, I don’t think “clueless about grant funding” is enough of a deal breaker to justify immediately pulling the offer.

        2. anonymous73*

          If someone asks for more money, it’s okay to just say no. And trying to be cute about it doesn’t make your opinion any less judgmental.

        3. Ann O'Nemity*

          Then the hiring manager/HR can say the salary isn’t negotiable due to funding constraints. They don’t have to pull the offer.

        4. Nesprin*

          Wow is this institutionally dependent. (Am also in science, have negotiated for my postdoc, PI ship and now am negotiating with someone I want to hire).

          If you cannot trust your research supervisors to negotiate with you fairly, and lay out whether something is possible in their budget, you probably do not want to work with them at all. Imagine negotiating for authorship, space, equipment or the 8million other things that happen in science without trusting your PI to negotiate your salary fairly.

          If you are outstanding (i.e. go into grad school with multiple pubs, or go into postdoc with your own funding), you should ask for more money (my stipend went up by 30%). If your stipend is under NIH minimums you should negotiate (been there done that), or unionize and then negotiate. If you bring in money in a grant/fellowship then you have the ability to ask for supplemental funding or money to go to conferences from your PI (lab mate managed this). If you’ve worked before grad school and want to be listed as a research associate 2 instead of 1, you can ask for that (managed this one). If you have 4 R01 grants and want to be paid on clinical scales instead of academic scales, you can ask (have seen this successfully negotiated as well). If you want to move departments and take your staff (~80ppl) and space (literally a building), I know someone who managed this as well.

            1. Nesprin*

              Agreed! Especially now- we’re having a postdoc shortage, and a reckoning on whether PhD stipends are livable in major cities.

          1. Well...*

            She had also worked in industry for a few years, and she had asked in a very nice way, “would it be possible… Etc etc.” When they pulled the offer she reached out asking to talk it over hoping there was no miscommunication, but they responded firmly that she no longer was being considered. Honestly did seem like a bad place to work.

        5. Well...*

          Actually I don’t think that was the funding structure in this case. She would have been hired by the department to assist several different research groups, so I’d guess it was admin money.

        6. Mary Jane*

          > says you are somewhat clueless about how science funding works

          Or don’t have the privilege of informal mentoring or networks to teach you about business norms. I would be very careful about making sweeping generalizations about a candidate’s ability to do the job based on their adherence to professional norms. That way lies old boy networks and homogeneous hiring.

        7. Artemesia*

          I know all sorts of people who have negotiated higher salaries on grant funded projects. And I know people who have not been able to negotiate up because ‘our budget just won’t allow it’ — BUT these people were told that, they didn’t have the job offer pulled. This is a bullying tactic and a red flag that the hiring manager is a jerk.

          I negotiated my first post PhD salary — not a great salary but I did get 3% more than the person hired for the same level job at the same time and that of course made my base higher for every subsequent year/raise.

  5. FashionablyEvil*

    Ooh, LW, that sucks. I, too, am astonished by their response. I do a lot of hiring and it is decidedly normal and expected for candidates to negotiate. Sometimes we do have some wiggle room to go up and sometimes not, but we would never penalize a candidate for asking. I’m sorry this happened to you!

    On another note, are there opportunities for you to get involved in a professional association or other training to compensate for some of the deficiencies in your current role?

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      100% true, here.
      OP, you would have just found out later that they 1) didn’t really want you; or 2) have really bad business practices.

      1. Idunn*

        Agreed. They picked up their ball and went home and that is not a great environment. Better to know before, but still stinks.

  6. Valkyrie*

    I’m so sorry to hear this happened. If it’s any comfort I had something similar happen recently. In my situation the new job would have meant a pay cut, but I saw room for growth. When I attempted to negotiate (to the top of the range they had provided me) they blew a gasket. She sent me a text rant questioning my integrity (apparently it shows a lack of integrity to ask to be paid what you’re worth) and then rescinded the offer. In my case her reaction was so over the top that it was pretty easy to see that I dodged a cannon ball but it still stings to be meanly rejected.

    You sound exhausted. Can you take a break for a bit so you’re not still getting slammed with the bad feelings? Job hunting is super tough.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      Wow. Sympathies. But it was thoughtful of them to show you who they were.

      1. Valkyrie*

        I almost regret deleting the text message so I could show it off, but I’m pretty confident I’m better off without it. It was unhinged.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Just like scraping mud off of your shoes, deleting the text was the right response. If you ever “need” to mention it, you can summarize by saying, “It was so awful, I just deleted it.” You won’t need that text for anything and I’d bet on that.

    2. Sleepless in Cincinnati*

      I’m pretty sure I would’ve responded that I had a lot more integrity than a common thief trying to steal my labor.

  7. learnedthehardway*

    That really sucks and the company behaved VERY unprofessionally. While this is very disappointing to you, however, consider that this is a bullet dodged. Anyone who won’t have a reasonable conversation about salary – even if the news is just that no, they can’t go any higher – when making an offer is going to be unreasonable in other ways, too.

    1. Formeramazonian*

      I’m so sorry that really sucks!

      This happened at my old employer and the reason was headcount reductions were announced during that negotiation period and the manager was looking for an excuse to pull the offer and forfeit the position vs. Having to lay someone off.

    1. Tired of Working*

      A similar thing happened to me, too. I tried to negotiate for a slightly higher salary, only to have the interviewer snap, “That would be giving you a raise before you even start here!” And he immediately rescinded his job offer and said that his company was not interested in hiring someone who wanted a raise before she started working at his company.

      Alison may say that this hardly ever happens, but I’m not so sure.

    2. GythaOgden*

      I wonder if current economic realities are making this harder on everyone. Inflation is a pressure not only on salaries but on companies’ ability to offer those salaries in the first place. I don’t want to excuse direct bad behaviour, and people in the position of power shouldn’t let it show like that. That’s just bad practice and I hope they said it in front of someone who could adjust their attitude at pink-slip point.

      However, inflation is the word for when costs are rising faster than incomes (you can’t just raise income arbitrarily since that money has to come from somewhere; that just makes inflation worse because it would be the corporate equivalent of the government printing money without productivity actually increasing) and puts everyone in a bad situation.

      Having worked in Accounts Receivable for a microbusiness community magazine, I saw firsthand the relationship between income and expenditure. A spreadsheet full of IOUs is disheartening when you know your ability to continue paying people — employees and vendors — relies on Mr Buzz the Baker forking over the actual cash for his advert. When he stops doing that entirely, in our case due to the pandemic, the magazine shuttered. The grants that we got from the parish council were conditional on us being a going concern otherwise but once the advertising dried up, they took the money they were giving us and used it to fund their own pared-back newsletter rather than a full 80-page magazine.

      Employees of large firms are often much better insulated from these direct in/out figures than they realise and hence there’s a huge disconnect between needs and ability to pay. And when that happens, the gap is called inflation. And when inflation happens, all the frustration in the world about pay not keeping pay with living costs won’t fix that. Which is why it’s just a bad situation all round and no wonder tempers are frayed on both sides.

      Our best hope for the moment is if someone gets rid of Vladimir Putin and stabilises the situation in Ukraine. That’s what’s creating the stranglehold, and that’s what it will take to relieve the pressures. The price of a globalised world — which I support! — is that these mega-crises have an impact on ordinary people like us that no-one — employer or employee can put right by themselves.

  8. Elle*

    This is bad on the company’s part for sure. I am wondering g if asking for an additional 10K was too high, considering OP mentioned this job offer would increase their pay $20k. Either way, the company could have just stood firm at their amount, unless the request was outrageous and they were so put off by it.

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Yeah without context another $10k may have been way over the line. But it still isn’t reasonable for them to just pull the offer altogether.

      I don’t like absolutes like “never take the first offer” or “always negotiate”. The offer I got a few weeks ago was higher than my stated range and higher than the number they originally gave. I did not negotiate. Maybe I could have, but I really didn’t have any justification for asking for more. It was a great offer and I took it. If you’re going to negotiate, there needs to be some reason behind whatever number you counter with.

      OP, I hope you get an offer soon that is even better and you come back with an amazing update.

      1. Allornone*

        I didn’t negotiate on my current job either. When I asked their range, it already matched mine exactly. And when they gave me an offer, it was on the high side of that range with very decent benefits. I could’ve asked for more, and I think they might have given it, but honestly, they are paying me what I deserve. So I thought accepting it without negotiation was appropriate.

        But like you said, them pulling the offer was entirely unreasonable. Negotiation is a very reasonable thing. And even if an attempt overshoots, it’s not necessary to penalize the prospective employee for trying. Just say the offer is firm and ask if they are still interested. If they are, great, you got a new hire. If not, move on.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, I didn’t negotiate at my current job because they offered me the top of my range with the same vacation and good benefits – I do feel like I probably could have gotten a bit more, but I was happy with it either way.

          But I definitely agree that offers should not be withdrawn based on negotiation, except in really extreme circumstances — and if the offer is firm, then so be it, but SAY that.

      2. PinkCandyfloss*

        I didn’t negotiate my most recent offer either. It was extremely fair and left room to grow in the role. I would only have negotiated if I had metrics showing it was a lowball or if I felt it was arguably unfair for the job level.

      3. Koalafied*

        I agree. I did wonder if $10k might have been too much of an ask relative to the original offer, but if it was, then it follows that this is a junior role and it’s really crummy not to extend some grace to people early in their careers who don’t realize when their expectations are out of whack. As Alison said, as long as her tone wasn’t really entitled/demanding/insulting, I would have just chalked it up to, “Oh, this sweet summer child, how funny that she thinks we could go up $10k,” and told her the offer was firm, not rescinded it in a huff.

      4. Koli*

        “I don’t like absolutes like “never take the first offer” or “always negotiate”.”

        Agreed. This is very stupid advice. A couple years ago, I desperately needed a job – we were moving to a new town for my husband’s job, whether I had one or not. I got an offer that was ~30% more than what I was making at the time, for a very prestigious company in an interesting role. I did not negotiate, I LEAPT at that opportunity and accepted within one business day. It has been fantastic, and it would have been a huge mistake to put it at risk for any reason.

      5. Dona Florinda*

        Same here: I didn’t negotiate the salary my current company offered me because it’s aligned with my range, the market’s rate, and the job duties.
        I wonder if OP negotiated only because other people told them to, and not because they actually believe they should earn more for whatever reason, and company saw through it. (They shouldn’t have rescinded the offer, though)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is good advice that has helped me in several situations. If you think the terms of an agreement (any agreement) are reasonable, then don’t let others convince you to aim for something more.

          If you can, OP, go back to your mentor and discuss what happened. It would be interesting to see what your mentor says. I’d be interested in hearing what your mentor tells you.

          At any rate the woman handled this so poorly that it’s a game changer. What you thought would be a nice company no longer appears to be a nice company. I remember applying at a company where I wanted x per hour. The woman put her pen down, paused and said, “We just can’t meet that here.” In interesting turnaround, she added, “But on a personal note, I wish I was you. I wish I could say, ‘I want x dollars.’ I think you will get this amount somewhere and soon. I think you should just keep applying and interviewing, because some lucky employer is going to be able to hire you.”

          Ya know, there are all kinds of ways of rejecting people. This woman had a knack. I walked out of there and felt great about myself and where things were at for me. And yeah, I did move on and find that job that paid x dollars. She will never know how long I carried her words with me.

        2. Coffee Bean Counter*

          I’ve never seriously negotiated salary. When I brought up if it was the best offer on salary to a recruiter once, they were very upfront that it was the best on salary but other benefits were open for negotiating. I’ve so far been offered fair if not above average salaries for my region and job but I have taken that advice to negotiate vacation time since the first place I worked had a great policy and I haven’t wanted to get less than 3 weeks after that. I’m not going to rock the boat to negotiate just because as long as the offer to begin with is in line with my research of what is normal.

    2. T. Boone Pickens*

      Yep, this is what I was thinking as well. Taking OP at their word that there wasn’t any other negotiating this seems like a pretty rash decision by the company. They could’ve just as easily came back and said, “We feel good about our offer and are not open to a counteroffer.” At that point, OP could decide to either accept the offer or move on. I’m sorry to hear about this OP.

      1. SchuylerSeestra*

        I wonder if the company felt her counter wasn’t made in good faith? I’ve seen offers pulled when the hiring manager assumed it was being used as leverage for a higher offer else where.

    3. Decidedly Me*

      This was my question, too – how much more (%) was $10k over the original offer? Not that their response was ok, but how outrageous their response was differs if you’re going asking for a 10% increase vs a 90% one.

      Overall, OP – I think you dodged a bullet, even though it does really suck.

      1. m2*

        If the salary is say $60-$80K asking for $10K more is a lot in my opinion and shows someone being out-of-touch. But I wouldn’t have pulled the offer unless there were other flags in the interview. Even then maybe say firm offer and give a longer probationary period.

        LW, please do your research and find out good market rate pay in your area for the roles you want.

        1. AD*

          Yeah, I think some of the comments here reflexively slamming the company are a little premature. My heart goes out to OP but we don’t know specifically how these conversations went down. In my large org (a very reasonable workplace, imo), I have seen one or two offers be pulled when the candidate negotiated for something beyond the salary range *after* having been in multiple conversations where the top of the salary range was made quite clear.

          I’m also a little wary of advice that says you try to negotiate for the sake of negotiating. If a candidate can say, at the offer stage, something like “I am really enthused about this role and the organization, and I truly look forward to accepting this role, but I do think that the market rate in the area for this type of role is generally $5k to $10k higher than what you are proposing. Is there any way we can make the salary a bit closer to that rate?”. $10k might have been a lot for OP to ask depending on what the offer was, and they don’t seem to have tried to make a case for why they deserved it. Which is fine! But if you just throw out a dollar amount without making a case for it, it’s not a strong negotiating position.

          1. AD*

            Just to be clear, I don’t think rescinding an offer in these circumstances is a reasonable position. But there might be better and more tactful ways of negotiating at the offer stage than what appears to have happened here.

            1. Elle*

              Honestly, if I’m hiring someone and they give an outrageous number to negotiate, I could see pulling the offer. If it’s wildly out of touch, I’m going to wonder what expectations they’ll have in general, and when it comes to raises or bonuses overtime. I’m going to find their judgment questionable. But they would have to be really out of touch. I feel like that would be a signal of major problems to come. ‍♀️

              1. Jane*

                Yes. I can see this. And once there’s a bad taste over an applicant, it’s very hard to reverse. They may have had a few candidates who made the cut and just moved on to the next one.

            2. HoundMom*

              I appreciate your comments. I am sympathetic to the OP and hope that she finds a good spot soon. The hard part is that the hiring manager had been impacted from a past experience. A few years ago, I was hiring for a role. The candidate and I discussed the salary range at length. He gave me a number that I had to use political capital to get to with HR and my (very senior) manager. When I offered him the role, he came back and said he would like to make $5,000 more than I was offering. I had zero political capital to get any additional funds and was blindsided as I had worked so hard to get to the requested number. I did not pull the offer, but left the door open for him to decline. He accepted the offered number. It was a disaster from day one. Thankfully, he voluntarily left within nine months (as I was negotiating a severance package for him). If something similar happened again, I hope that I would be able to think clearly and react calmly, but it would echo in my head.

              1. AD*

                Yes, not to suggest that this is what OP did, but one of the examples I had in my mind was when a colleague (who I respect and admire greatly) went to bat with HR to negotiate a higher-than-expected starting salary for a particularly good candidate, who then turned around and requested thousands more after the offer had officially been made. I think there are cases when people absorb the “you must negotiate no matter what you’re offered” advice in ways that are then acted on in unproductive and unhelpful ways.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I see what m2 is driving at and there is merit to their point.

          However, I did get an increase of 25% on an offer. I had countered with “But I also bring X and Y to the table.” Here’s the background: X and Y were actually in my resume/cover letter. But X and Y got lost in the shuffle, so I had to restate the obvious. The HM then said, “Oh, I forgot about that. I have a board that must approve pay rates. But I know because you have X and Y that I can get that approval.”

          Lesson learned: In making a counter, make sure that the reasons are strong AND don’t be afraid to state something obvious because it might not be obvious to them atm.

    4. Cat Lady in the Mountains*

      Yeah, the fact that they ghosted the LW after she responded would signal to me that it’s on the company.

      I can see exactly one scenario in which I’d pull an offer over something like this, if all of these things were true:
      – The candidate asked for something unreasonable (for most roles I hire for, we’d never be able to do a $10k increase, and $5k would be a huge stretch – we can usually go up $2-3k for midlevel positions)
      – We posted the range and verbally confirmed it with the candidate multiple times in the interview process, and they confirmed they were comfortable with it.
      – Their ask was well outside the range
      – I had an extremely strong second choice that I’m about to lose if I don’t make them an offer today.

      But even then, I’d explain my decision to the candidate.

    5. Presley*

      If the company knew OP’s current pay, the request would have been off-putting. I would have balked at that request knowing you don’t use current mktg strategies so you’ve not proven your abilities, inexperience, etc.. They handled it horribly though. They state their offer is firm, do you want the job. Simple as that.

      1. Allornone*

        Yes, but we want updates now.

        Powers that be- give OP a well-paying, fulfilling job with an environment/culture where they can thrive in. And do it NOW.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Nope, it’s brand new. I think you’re looking at the letter about a different rescinded offer in the “you may also like” section, but that’s a different letter entirely.

    1. Tired of Working*

      I don’t know what kind of update you’re expecting. As I posted elsewhere, a very similar thing happened to me, when the interviewer got angry and accused me of wanting a raise before I started working at his company. The only update I could provide is that I never heard from that company again, and I eventually started working at another company.

      1. Meh*

        That’s the kind of update we want. One where the LW lands an awesome job that pays her what she’s worth.

  9. Just an employee*

    Oh no! This has happened to me too. I was sent an offer and negotiated; the internal recruiter let me know that the negotiated amount I had proposed would be considered and that he’d get back to me within a week. A week and a half later, I reached out to him to touch base. He stated that the company had decided that they were no longer hiring for the position. Very odd, and my proposed amount was not out of touch of the average range for this type of position/was less than 10% more than what was offered.

  10. ccnumber4*

    This is so far out of the norm, I agree that you most likely dodged a bullet. As a recruiter, my goal is to not make more work for myself. I like to come in above a candidate’s ask when possible, both to avoid the hassle of a back and forth and also to make it easy to accept so we can get someone locked down and on board quickly, which is absolutely essential in this market. No, HR is not “always expecting a counter.” It does sometimes go over poorly when we have offered considerably above a candidate’s ask. However, the answer is a firm response of no with some explanation of why, not flat out pulling the offer.

    The biggest thing I would take from this experience is to trust your gut. Your mentor may sometimes be right but she may also sometimes be wrong. If your gut it telling you “this is a fantastic offer, I would be happy here”, that’s at least as valuable as what anyone else is telling you.

    1. Dona Florinda*

      “If your gut is telling you “this is a fantastic offer, I would be happy here”, that’s at least as valuable as what anyone else is telling you.”
      +1. OP, if the offer is good, don’t negotiate “just because”. Obviously you should do it if there’s room/ reason for it, but not as a hard rule.

  11. Former Retail Lifer*

    I once had an offer rescinded because I tried to negotiate the original pay they stated in the interview. The actual job offer was less than what they told me it would be and all I asked for was the original hourly rate they gave me (which was only $1 different, but at that low hourly rate, a dollar was a big deal). My sister had a job offer rescinded when she tried to negotiate more vacation time. I don’t see how anyone accomplishes this due to most companies having standard vacation accrual policies, but there was no reason to pull the entire job offer. Why not just say no?

    Both petty examples are why I’ll probably never try to negotiate ever again unless I really don’t need a new job.

    1. irene adler*

      My thought is they view negotiating as a sign of potentially difficult employee (“what are they gonna ask for next??”).
      They want only compliant workers.
      So they rescind the offer and don’t even wait to find out if this is indeed the case. Move on to the next candidate.

    2. Antilles*

      I once had an offer rescinded because I tried to negotiate the original pay they stated in the interview. The actual job offer was less than what they told me it would be and all I asked for was the original hourly rate they gave me.
      If I’m reading this right, they effectively lied to you about the hourly rate, then got mad and pulled the offer when you politely asked them to merely match their already-promised rate. The takeaway here shouldn’t be “don’t negotiate”, the lesson instead is “wow, this was the company on their best behavior; how miserable would they have been to actually work there”.

    3. Lysine*

      IDK if “never negotiate” is the real lesson here. I think something like “don’t work for companies that lie about their salary” or something to that effect is the far more useful takeaway. The former is pretty self-defeating.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      I’ve tried to negotiate vacation (in addition to salary) several times and it has never worked (salary yes, vacation no), but has also never impacted the offer. Companies that rescind offers like that are probably not great to work for but better to know that up front, because you’d never know what other totally normal business practices they’d punish you for.

      1. Antilles*

        If you have a good reason for a one-off in your first year (e.g., pre-scheduled vacation or you’re joining late in the year and therefore ‘giving up’ some existing PTO), that can often be handled as a one-off.
        But in terms of actually getting extra days on an annual basis, it seems to only happen if you’re being actively recruited to leave a company where you’ve been for a while, are therefore in lots of demand, and can then safely argue “my current company gives me 20 days of vacation so I don’t want to start over at only 10 days” or whatever.

    5. anonymous73*

      You’ve had one bad experience and it’s taught that you should never negotiate again? That’s a bit over the top, and if a company is going to rescind an offer for a candidate trying to negotiate, it’s not a place you’d want to work for anyway.

      1. bamcheeks*

        That’s a great attitude if you’ve got options, but sometimes you just need a job and don’t have that luxury.

      2. Well...*

        That seemed like two bad experiences to me. Also, I wonder if negotiating goes better for white collar/salaried jobs vs hourly work. It might be better not to negotiate in certain industries.

        1. Former Retail Lifer*

          Both were hourly jobs. They were above entry-level and required some skills and experience, but they were far from a salaried white-collar job.

          1. Well...*

            Yes, that’s my point. That might be why it wasn’t a good strategy, and the commenters that say these pulled offers our outliers might be drawing on their white collar backgrounds

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Retail is a great one for not dealing with negotiations and for bait and switch. This blog is more about office jobs. So a lot of what a person reads here is not going to work out in the retail arena.

              I wouldn’t negotiate much for a retail job either. It’s very much take the offer or leave it. There are also other things that come up that go under the heading of “know your arena”.

              @Former Retail Lifer, I hope time is kind to you and you reconsider this in the future. I take it that you are out of retail, if you can make that jump then you can make other jumps also. Let time help here.

            2. Lysine*

              Except according to them it wasn’t even really negotiating? All they asked was that they honor the hourly pay that the company themselves advertised. That hardly seems like some kind of hardball negotiation there. I don’t think that one company lying about their wages means that someone should never negotiate ever (even for hourly jobs).

  12. RJ*

    OP, I’m so very sorry. This happened to me back in 2020 when I was interviewing right after the start of the pandemic and I remember the pain and guilt I felt. Don’t feel that. You dodged the bullet, not them and you will get another job offer.

  13. irene adler*

    My first job offer after college, my pop coached me to negotiate (“ask for more $!”).
    Well, I broached the topic.

    The HR person responded, “First offer, best offer.” Meaning that the offer is not going to get any better that what was on the table. Take it or leave it.

    So I took the offer.

    There were plenty of other candidates -HR made sure I understood this. So HR didn’t need to entertain any negotiating from job candidates.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      How was the job overall? HR didn’t play games with you, or pull the offer. They just stood by their original offer.

      1. irene adler*

        It was a decent first job at a major (house-hold name) pharmaceutics company.
        They had something like 60-70% annual turnover.

        The company was both good and bad:

        -Strict policies on promotions. One had to work the new position for 6 months before the salary was raised to the level it should be for the position. Often folks left at during this 6 months.
        -Some of the managers played ‘politics’/favorites and were not good at managing people. That could make things miserable for those ostracized.
        -pay was low.

        Good: They seem to understand things like employee retention:
        -when the federal minimum wage increased, all wages were increased the same amount-the same day. Pay was a couple of dollars above minimum wage to begin with. So they didn’t have to do this.
        -sick time: generous in the hopes you’ll not come to work and “share” (in fact, calling in sick for 3 days in a row counted as only 1 day to encourage people to stay home).
        -$$ incentives to maintain good attendance, safety
        -ability to purchase household items made by this company at very low cost

        1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

          So, I’m confused. You say they understood things like employee retention, but you also say they had 60-70% annual turnover. That seems high to me? But I’m truly ignorant on this topic.

          1. irene adler*

            They felt this job wasn’t something people would work long-term so they were good with the turnover rate. The job was meant as a second income “for the wife”. So the things they did offer were things ‘the wife’ would appreciate. (yeah, the 1980’s).

            They attributed the turnover to being periodically ‘raided’ by other biotech companies (“We train people so well and then they leave. Whatcha gonna do?”). So, they felt there was no need to look into the turnover rate. Had they done so, they might have discovered folks left because of the 6 month delay in promotion wage and the poor management.

  14. Zach*

    You definitely dodged a bullet. This company would have nickel-and-dimed you at every chance at best and may be a completely dysfunctional nightmare at worst. You’d be job searching in a couple months again if you took it.

  15. BurnOutCandidate*

    “The tricky part about this position is that I am in marketing and my manager is not tracking any results or success (which is a basic expectation for this kind of work). Because of that, I am having a really hard time landing a job. Interviewers are blown away I’m not using basic marketing business practices, but my manager is just very out of the loop.”

    I so feel this. I’ve been in my marketing position for fifteen years, and I can’t point to a single win in that time. I can point to the 120,000 of marketing copy I work on each month, I can point to 180 months of deadlines met, I can point to my work output, but I can’t point to anything I’ve done that actually makes the company money in a direct way. No one on my team can. We don’t have any data.

    I’ve been job hunting since 2014, and I have had one interview in that time. (I’ve had a couple of nice rejection emails from where I didn’t make the interview cut, which feels like a moral victory, I guess.) It’s demoralizing as all heck. I fear dying in my job. (I have a colleague who says his dream is to die at his desk on a Friday evening and be found Monday morning. He’s proud of that dream.) I regret being convinced to stay in 2012 more and more as time goes on, even though I don’t know what I’d have done had I left then. But I wouldn’t feel so much like I’ve wasted the last decade of my life.

    1. pancakes*

      Hold on a moment, though – even places with very sophisticated metrics tracking capabilities don’t know exactly how many viewers or readers, etc., will translate into revenue, or when. Technicians can combine many metrics in an effort to get as close to predicting those things as possible, but it’s not an exact science. Persuading people is not an exact science. No?

      Can you point to how many people are seeing your work? And how routinely? How much autonomy you have over it and at what stages? Those things seem more important than how many deadlines you meet or how long it all takes.

      Your colleague’s dream seems like an indicator that there’s maybe more going on at this workplace in terms of poor morale than not having metrics, though! I mean, often that sort of talk is just dark humor, but still.

      1. GythaOgden*

        You’d be surprised. Having worked/volunteered in politics with surveying techniques, the results were matched against normal marketing results (3% return rate…send out 1000 surveys, get thirty back. We got 33 back). While out canvassing, I watched a demographically-similar (upper-middle class, professional, tbh mostly white :/) street full of people one after the other get their kids to bed and at each house it was the same deal, just a minute or two further along in the process. It was eerie. We knew we were doing well in the campaign because the informal polling we were doing outstripped the predictions set by the marketing expert on the campaign. We got in locally but not nationally, but it was just much more predictable than you’d expect.

        I’m not in marketing myself but have a bit of theoretical knowledge based on failing at microbusiness (like ebay shops, that kind of thing). I offered a service with a different style of advert, because I thought the normal ads for that service were twee and too sickly sweet sparkly for me to put together in all honesty. People contacted me in the expectation that they were ordering the physical product I was using to perform the service. I got annoyed and upset, and so did my ‘customers’.

        It dawned on me that the imagery and style and other marketing ‘fluff’ that I so disliked about everyone else’s ads was the very thing that drew people in and made them sign up for the service. I couldn’t make the leap to that image, so I went back to trying to sell product. As a writer who dabbled in self-publishing, a similar thing happened — I was OK at selling print books in person where I could talk up a sale and provide an immediate, tangible item. But I was hopelessly lost when trying to indirectly drive sales to ebooks on Amazon which make up the vast majority of sales for self-publishers.

        So I know the theory, but can’t put it into practice. Story of my life :(.

        Another example of something uncanny about the way people work: I’ve recently learned the MBTI system and while I know it’s a blunt instrument at best (as any typography is), the way it describes me, my family (four TJs, all different permutations, makes for a crowd of conflicting value judgements but little real physical connection to other people and understanding of how people actually /feel/ about things) is actually amazingly precise and makes it clearer how I need to moderate the TJ impulses that have become so embedded in me through my upbringing. My parents raised Little Lenin (me) and Little Stalin (my sister…), but missed out on Little Zelensky to moderate that oppressive TJ influence (I wasn’t surprised to find out my mother was the same type as Margaret Thatcher — she is the opposite political persuasion but has the same steamroller of a personality). We married out, so to speak, but it explained SO much about my psychological starting position and where I go from here as a person and as a worker.

        I also enjoy reading MBTI humour and continually shake my head at how accurate it is. That one friend who always says ‘It is what it is’? There’s an MBTI type for that.

        Humans are herd animals. They may behave in individual ways, but once you zoom out a bit and observe them as a species, the pack instinct becomes stronger and it’s definitely possible in many circumstances to quantify that. It’s probably why the social sciences work as they do and why studies of race, gender and sexuality and the effects of the kyriarchy are also important, because those are group studies and provide an understanding of general social dynamics that can be changed and improved upon. That is what marketing /is/ when applied to selling a product — but it has broader implications particular for the social justice landscape.

  16. Ann O'Nemity*

    I’ve had it happen to me too. The offer was lower than I’d hoped, but within the range I was willing to accept. I tried to negotiate for a little more and HR (not the hiring manager who had been my primary point of contact through the application process) sent a email rescinding the offer.

    In retrospect, I don’t think it was my fault but the experience did make me more careful in my next salary negotiation.

    1. anonymous73*

      No it was not your fault.

      The only way I could justify this happening is if someone asked for an out of touch, crazy high salary.

    2. Mary Jane*

      At that point do you tingle it would have been worth reaching out to the hiring manager to discuss? Or was HR’s email passing on what the HM had said?

  17. objection! withdrawn...*

    I got an offer for a 1-year term position right out of grad school and the offer was for less than the minimum that was listed on the job listing. I sent a nice, polite email trying to negotiate to the minimum (already thinking that this was a red flag). The hiring manager responded on a Friday night saying “the fact that you even tried to negotiate makes me question your judgment and moral integrity. If you really think you deserve this position, come in first thing on Monday and be prepared to show me examples of why you deserve this position, because we have 50 other candidates that would clamor to accept this offer.”

    I’m so happy he sent me that email because otherwise I would’ve quit the part-time job I had and loved, and I would’ve found out the hard way that this was a cruel, unreasonable person.

    1. Loulou*

      This is absolutely insane! Especially because it barely sounds like you were negotiating, just…asking for the amount in the ad. Sorry this happened to you.

      1. objection! withdrawn...*

        It was absolutely insane. It was a giant multinational corporation (household name) and it has gone though very public layoffs over the last few years. This guy ended up being let go about 6 months after this all happened so it felt sweet. I’m so glad I didn’t work there. It did hit at my confidence a bit talking about my “moral integrity” like that, though.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The statement was crafted in an intentional manner. He wanted to say something hurtful and this is what he found to say. I had a doc pull the moral integrity one on me. (I did not visit my father long enough each day while my father was hospitalized. This angered the doc. ) I informed the doc that he was not qualified to judge my moral worth as a human being and he needed to limit his comments to his field of study (cardiology).

          Just for the record no one can judge anyone’s moral worth.

        1. Batgirl*

          It’s a shame you didn’t see his shocked Pickachu face at the idea of your turning down an opportunity to grovel.

    2. Lysine*

      I’m amazed at the gall of people to lie about the salary range in their own want ad and how scandalized they act if you just ask for what they offered. smh

      1. GythaOgden*

        Or between advert and offer the brown stuff hit the fan and they had to revise downwards. Say you owned a cafe in Kyiv and were interviewing on 20 February. Then on 24 Feb the Russians invade…

        That’s an extreme example but I’ve been in Accounts Receivable for a magazine and one moment in 2020, we were OK, but the next moment lockdown happened and the bottom fell out of the market. We weren’t hiring, but a year before that I’d been putting together a request for a small raise to keep it worth my while alongside my day job.

        Especially in small businesses, or businesses like retail where takings are suddenly down, an employee won’t be as insulated from situations like that when the chips are suddenly down. It’s not good, and the poster was completely within their rights to walk away, but having been on the other side of the table and lost my shirt, I can say it’s most likely not malicious.

        Makes no difference to anything involved, it’s just that not all firms are insulated from sudden market shocks.

      1. objection! withdrawn...*

        absolutely!! I ended up staying at my job that I liked for 4 more years and got tons of great experience there. And didn’t have an abusive manager (until the last 6 months of that job, when my direct supervisor left, so his boss became my direct boss and she was the worst, which is why I left).

  18. Peridot*

    Sympathies, OP. I was just told about my company pulling an offer from someone, but the reasoning is that he was told the salary range many times, agreed to it many times throughout several interviews, and then when he got the offer he pretty firmly demanded a number above that range.

    1. Justin*

      I bet this specific scenario happens fairly often (where the candidate is clearly showing hubris and leading the employer on with regards to pay) and then it leads people to say “Careful with negotiating, my friend Bill got an offer pulled once!”

    2. TheSockMonkey*

      While I wouldn’t do what this guy did, I have been told not to negotiate salary until after getting the offer. I wonder if he was misunderstanding this advice?

      For the record, I have ignored this advice multiple times when the situation calls for it.

    3. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

      I was wondering if something similar had happened with the OP. They said that they asked for an additional $10k hoping to get $5k. If that means that they were hoping to get a salary at the top of the range by asking for around $5k above the high end of the range, I can see how this could go badly.

  19. Justin*

    It sucks I’m sure but that response suggests it would have been a terrible place to work. I tried to negotiate at my new job, only got a few grand out of them and I was so nervous this would happen. Sometimes negotiating is to see if the place handles it well and I guess now we know they didn’t.

  20. Jora Malli*

    I agree with Alison that this company did not respond normally to OP’s negotiation request.

    But I do want to push back slightly on the “never take the first offer” advice. If you get an offer where the pay or leave package or whatever else is not quite what you were hoping for, then you should absolutely enter into a negotiation. But you don’t need to negotiate for every single job offer every single time. If the pay and benefits they’re offering you are in line with the market for your field and meet your expectations, you don’t have to negotiate just for the sake of negotiating. Do your research so you really know what salary would be appropriate, but know that it’s okay to look at an offer and think “this ticks all the boxes for what I was looking for, I think I’ll accept.”

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I agree. My job expects everyone to negotiate to some extent, which in light of letters like this I realize is good, but I really didn’t. They offered me the top of the range, the benefits are great, I asked for minor short term accommodations as I was finishing my master’s…but I didn’t see much point in pushing it, I was happy!

      It’s not a bad thing but it’s also not *zero* risk so I would also not do it for the sake of doing it.

    2. Sometimes supervisor*

      I’ll admit the “never take the first offer” advice set some alarm bells off for me too and I sort of wonder if OP has tried to push the boundaries a bit too far on a very fair offer on a slightly misguided principle. Surely the point of negotiating salary is to get what’s fair for you based on what you know about your past experience and the market and so. If the offer already ticks all the right boxes, then it doesn’t feel much need to negotiate.

      I still think pulling the offer entirely was a bit harsh on the employer’s side and coming back with a firm “no” would have been more reasonable (and the fact the rescinded the offer instead probably does tell you something about them). But, that being said, I can also think of job offers I’ve had in the past where asking for an extra $10k – because of a combination of that extra money putting it wildly outside market rates, that I knew I was being taken a chance on, and that salary and benefits had already been discussed to a certain degree earlier on in the process and I’d already indicated to an extent I was happy with the offer – may well have been enough for somebody to go “this person seems very out of touch – perhaps this isn’t such a good hiring decision after all”.

    3. Heidi*

      I also wanted to mention this. The mentor was right in saying that negotiation is normal, but they’re clearly wrong in going so far to say that “HR is always expecting some negotiation.” This company wasn’t expecting negotiation, and apparently there are numerous others like them. This is not a good hiring practice, of course, but the whole “never do this – always do that” was probably an oversimplification.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A good piece of life advice I got was to watch out for statements that include the words, “never” or “always”.
        Let that be a warning bell that the statement could be wrong in some way. There are very, very few absolutes in life.

    4. SnappinTerrapin*

      I’ve known a lot of salesmen (and a few customers) who made themselves miserable second-guessing a sale that was “too easy” – wondering how much money was “left on the table” by not haggling a little longer.

      The “never take the first offer” mantra would resonate with them.

  21. Small companies suck sometimes*

    Uggh I had this happen and it sucked.
    I had applied with a local company and believe they had asked me for my current salary at the time (was younger and didn’t think as much about that). When I was called for an interview, the person made some comment about the pay being substantially higher than what I was making, so I was excited. I also knew they were urgently hiring and they were moving pretty quick through the process, so they really wanted someone in there. The offer I got ended up only being about $5k more than the paltry sum I was making at the time, plus I think two weeks or less of paid vacation time (can’t quite remember). But even after ten years it would have only gone up to like two and a half weeks.

    I happened to get an offer from my current company the same day, which was $20k!!! more than I was making with three weeks of vacation. I took that back to the first company as a negotiation, asking for a minimum of more vacation time, and more salary, and they rescinded the offer. Worst part was they told me they’d think it over, then called me to come in in person the next morning, which is where they told me they were pulling the offer back. So I went in thinking it would be good news, and left super mad that they’d wasted my time. To the interviewer’s credit, it sounded like it was the company owner that made the decision, and the interview himself sounded really disappointed in it. And he flat out told me I needed to take the offer from current company because I wouldn’t find anything else that good in the area, hahaha.

    But it was a super frustrating experience, and I still doubt myself about trying to negotiate in the first place, even though I know I wasn’t out of place asking. I wasn’t asking them to completely match the other offer, but just seeing if they would come up at all. But I’ve been with my current company for three years and have received numerous pay raises and a promotion, so it all worked out.

    1. Purple Cat*

      then called me to come in in person the next morning, which is where they told me they were pulling the offer back.

      Holy smokes.

  22. Sal*

    This is terrible and I’m so sorry it happened. My only suggestion (which, please feel free to take it or leave it) is, if you ever somehow work up the courage to try to negotiate on an offer in the future, especially if you think there is any reason the org might feel some type of way about it (e.g. if they already know it would be a big jump in salary for you, if they’ve previously shared info about their pay scale and this would be outside of that, if you’re just catching a vibe, whatever), you can (instead of proposing a number) just ask whether there is any wiggle room on the offer. (I honestly use this exact phrasing rather than asking if the offer is “firm”; most people like the connotation of “firm” and will say yes, which does not benefit you, but most people also like the idea of things having “wiggle room” (or, fine, for the less informal, “flexibility”), and will be more inclined not to answer with a hard “nope.” Or at least, that’s my Cog Sci/Psych 101 take on it.)

    1. maggie moo*

      Yes always speak voice to voice and ask if there is room to negotiate! Tha way you are not putting out a number on a firm offer but you establish that there is flexibility!

      I did have a job offer rescinded in 2019 over trying to negotiate, the org was very unprofessional had asked my current salary (illegal in CA) and had said I could work partially remotely. After asking to clarify remote 2 days a week they rescinded the offer because “I didn’t want to be in the office enough” I was making 66k, and they offered 78k; within 2 weeks I had offerers for 85k 2 days remote, and 93k full remote, guess what I took! Now I make 165k fully remote.

    2. Forkeater*

      I think this is good advice – ask if the offer is negotiable before you put out any specific asks.

      I’ve also heard the advice about always negotiating, but ignored it in 3 of my past 4 jobs. In 2 of them, the initial offer was substantially higher than the range I’d been told in the interviews. In the 3rd case I was making an internal move from manager to individual contributor and they were matching the manager salary, so that seemed very fair. In the 4th case I got a couple extra grand by asking nicely if they could increase their offer.

  23. Ken*

    I’m sorry you lost out on the offer. I’ve seen this happen twice. Both times the person who had the offer pulled went back to them and was extremely apologetic/basically begged for the original offer to be restored and blamed advice from mentors/etc saying negotiation was normal.

    Both people got the offer back in its original form, and both jobs turned out to be exceptionally toxic, and my friends left in under a year. Both regretted taking the offer vs. continuing to search (one left before having anything lined up). Even dodging a bullet isn’t great if you’re stuck with a job you hate, but even if it feels impossible, you can find something better!

    1. PinkCandyfloss*

      Pulling an offer upon negotiation is a serious power play, and a hiring manager who did that is likely to be a hyper control freak or domineering in some other way. Not at all surprised to hear what happened to your friends! Thank you so much for sharing this with OP as an excellent reason to leave this experience behind and move on!

    2. Jora Malli*

      This is a really good point. Even if you could talk them into reinstating the offer on their original terms, the fact that they responded so poorly to a really normal and standard part of the offer process is a really bad sign.

  24. Another Marketeer*

    I’m so sorry, OP. If you still expect to be stuck in your current job for a while, I’d advise you to start tracking these results and statistics for yourself wherever possible. There are plenty of online guides, templates and free tools and it sounds like you might already have knowledge of what you *should* be doing as a department. Regardless of whether you or your manager decides to do anything with them internally, you’ll be able to use them to develop your analytical skills. It will also demonstrate to future interviewers that you’re proactive as you can say that you set up the processes within your current job. In a previous job, I was given no targets and someone advised me to set my own – I found this helped give me more purpose in a job where I otherwise didn’t feel like I had room to grow, but had little experience to go for another job with.

    1. skrep*

      Seriously. Track anything you can, OP. You have a mentor too. Have you asked them for help on this? Because it sounds like you need to take the initiative to show that you’re a valuable employee even if your boss doesn’t care about doing that.

    2. Batgirl*

      I think this is fantastic advice if OP wants to avoid a toxic power dynamic. A healthy employer who is okay with negotiation, is also going to be a meritocracy looking to hire the best people who have hit measurable goals. Without them, OP is going to be more likely to get an offer from a company who doesn’t know how to track performance, and makes up for it by being high handed, and placing too much emphasis on unquestioning gratitude for a job offer.

    3. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      Yesss. Go back on projects and see what data you can pull out of those. You don’t have to do even mention that it wasn’t officially tracked in interviews either.

  25. Lisa*

    UGH I am so sorry this happened. I’ve been in HR and hiring for 20+ years and the only time I ever rescinded an offer due to a candidate trying to negotiate was when someone responded to the offer with a laundry list of demands that made the candidate look like they’d be extremely high maintenance to deal with. It was basically a list of bullet points asking for all sorts of things including a much higher salary, a private office when the 99% of the office worked in cubicles, having us pay a higher percentage of their benefits costs and include his girlfriend on the insurance when we only covered spouses or legit domestic partners, reporting directly to the VP when his peers reported to the local Director, and of course a super fluffed up title when we had standard titles that were normal for that kind of role in our organization (think Customer Service Manager vs Senior Director of Client Expectations)… anyway, and I could go on an on… there were probably 20 things on the list. Anyway, I just cannot fathom someone pulling an offer because of a simply question on negotiating salary. It is a totally normal thing that happens with a lot of offers.

    1. Dr. Doll*

      Oh man, soooo sorry. Like Lisa, this is reminding me of the thing some years ago where a job offer was rescinded for a tenure-line faculty member who asked in a not-very-tactful way for several high-cost concessions. Teh adecamic internetz went bonkers, while the industry internet said “We’re sorry for you, but it *was* kinda you, young prof.”

      Simply saying “Could you bump the salary some reasonable amount” should not have been at all problematic.

    2. SomebodyElse*

      Wait… so basically he was trying to negotiate what job you hired him for? Yeah, that would have been a hard no from me too.

      I mean good on him if he found a place that this worked, but I can’t imagine offering a position of paperclip sorter to someone and they countered with a Director of Paper Retainment Collation position with pay, perks, and benefits to match (I’m also guessing he wanted all of that with the original job description and responsibilities).

  26. hugs for OP*

    OP, it’s not normal for them to pull an offer like that. A normal response would have been to reply that they had offered as much as they could, and if you were open to continuing, so were they. The fact that they pulled it shows that something there is rotten, as Allison deftly points out. Please take some comfort in knowing you likely dodged a bad situation through sheer rotten luck, and this has prevented you from writing in your next letter to AAM beginning with, “I just got a new job – and I’m miserable!”

  27. Jam Today*

    I wonder if I know what company this is…

    I used to work for someone who judged people who had salary expectations, or who asked for more money as part of an offer, and threatened not to hire me when I said I was looking for a certain amount, which came out to be a $5K bump from where I was (which was already — as it turned out — $20K *under* market*). He eventually relented but when he left the company randomly gave me another $10K increase to at least bring me up to the bottom of the normal range.

  28. Not Today Josephine*

    You should consider yourself lucky that you dodged this bullet. This was a tremendous red flag, a parade of red flags.

  29. Richard Hershberger*

    That they took offense at your negotiating is telling. What it is saying is that you dodged a bullet. A few years back I pitched a book idea to a small indie publisher. He (I use the singular pronoun because the outfit really is that small) was interested, and sent me his standard contract. It was an utter disaster: amateur hour gibberish. I couldn’t sign that, because I literally would not know what I was agreeing to. So I rewrote it, keeping it as substantially the same as I could but in an intelligible form, and sent that back along with an email explaining my concerns (without using “amateur hour”). He blustered back that this was a standard contract that lots of publishers use and that his wife is a high-powered lawyer and had signed off on it. I am quite sure that he was lying, though I don’t know exactly which statements were which. In any case we have not communicated since. I put this solidly in the “bullet dodged” category. Someone who is unwilling to discuss contractual terms like an adult is not someone I can work with.

    The two situations–the job candidate and the author submitting a proposal–are alike in that some persons on the other side regard this as a supplicant begging patronage, not as two parties negotiating a business relationship. They are offended that we aren’t grateful for whatever crumbs they offer.

    1. A Kate*

      Oh man, I can confirm that publishing contracts are a hot mess. They were pretty wacky even before Random House and Penguin merged into one, but right around then the big firms started putting together “boilerplate” contracts (that conveniently added a bunch of language in their favor) and making legacy authors’ new contracts adhere to the boilerplate. Usually the info we (the agents) negotiated was present, but in the form of pages and pages of appendices contradicting the boilerplate, making everything that much harder to parse and nearly impossible for the authors themselves to read easily. Add to that the “gentlemen’s handshake” culture of the business that thrived on keeping actual lawyers out of things (how gauche, to want a lawyer to read your legal document, really! /s), and it was a LOT. I really felt for the authors as well as myself (an English major literary assistant forced to fine-tooth comb complex and badly designed contracts just to ensure that the terms my boss had negotiated for actually made it into the darn final contract).

      1. GythaOgden*

        In US and UK publishing, the standard advice is to get an agent. They’re your advocate and can get you deals that pay their 15% a few times over better than approaching a big publisher directly.

        Richard should also look up his publisher on Absolute Write. There are many people out there who just don’t know what they’re doing or how to sell books to readers, and tbh the author in this position is a vendor rather than the employee, so it’s awkward to discuss these kind of contracts in the same breath as employment offers or contracts (which happen in the UK).

  30. Hills to Die on*

    My company is hiring a ton of people in Marketing. If you are in the Denver area, lmk.

  31. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    The number 1 answer to this is =

    You can’t tell what the reaction for a counter will be. But if they’re making a lowball offer – then it’s best to decline and counter, because you likely wouldn’t go to work for what they’re offering.

    Conversely – you CAN end up blowing up a situation by rejecting what is a fair offer.

    1. Justin*

      Right, if the candidate told them a range and there was some discussion about what the salary would be before the actual formal offer, then that is essentially part of the negotiation and I can see an employer being miffed that the candidate then tried to squeeze a little more out with a counteroffer, especially if the initial offer is fair (or better).

    2. Purple Cat*

      Sorry, I have to disagree. It’s still completely bonkers for a company to rescind the offer, simply because OP asked for more. A simple “this is offer is firm” is fine. Possibly it would have left a slightly sour taste in the hiring manager’s mouth, but to rescind the offer entirely is an extreme reaction.

  32. PlainJane*

    There definitely are jobs you can’t negotiate on–working in the public in my city, the salary is what it is, and the only way to get a raise is to interview for a higher level job. But most private companies aren’t like that, so I suspect Allison’s right about them looking for an excuse for reasons of their own.

    As far as tracking results or successes, since your employer doesn’t (?), I’d recommend doing it yourself. Ask around and find out what they’re looking for when they ask for that information (how many items sold, how much improvement in sales after a campaign, whatever… I’m not in marketing, obv, so I have no idea what it is they’re supposed to be tracking, but I’d assume you do if it’s an industry norm). Then keep track of it on your own, and have that information ready, along with an explanation like, “I’m sorry, but Tempestuous Teapots is a bit quirky about what statistics they track for employees, but I’ve kept track of the campaigns I worked on for the Stoutwhistle model and the Smartsteep, and this is how our campaigns worked out” (then give sales numbers, etc… again, whatever the stats actually are supposed to tell the company. “Quirky” or “unusual” would be a good way to describe the company’s record keeping, since it doesn’t sound judgmental about your current job, just kind of fondly amused at their utterly bizarre practices.

    1. m2*

      THIS. Or look at local non-profits that may need freelance or volunteer marketing help and use the skills you need for your new job there. A dear friend of mine volunteered at an organization while working full time because they wanted to switch fields and they did! It took about 6 months, but they gained the skills and knowledge they needed and someone on the Board noticed and got a hiring manager to look at their resume. Doesn’t always happen, but if you need those skills to move and grow then find way to do it! GL

  33. Not Tom, Just Petty*

    You negotiated because your mentor told you to. But ultimately, you decided to do it.
    So 1) you weren’t absolutely, positively in the “this is my DREAM JOB! I AM SO HAPPY!” so don’t feel too bad about not getting correction, not taking it.
    2) you spoke up and started a negotiation. Next time will be way easier. Now you know that the worst thing that can happen is not really even the worst thing (like you could end up working in a terrible place!) it will be easier. You will be surprised. But you will see, you spoke up and you are still standing. Well done.

  34. Ray Gillette*

    I had a candidate ask for more money in a somewhat tone-deaf way and decline when I told him the offer was firm, but that was still his decision. I can’t imagine rescinding an offer solely because someone asked.

  35. anonymous73*

    I’m sorry this happened to you, but consider it a bullet dodged. Pulling an offer because you simply asked if they were willing to go higher on salary is some shady stuff. Regardless of the reason, I can’t think of any that justify them rescinding the offer and I honestly think you would have just gone to a different place with new problems. Keep going OP. Do not let this sway you from fighting for what you deserve and while I realize you ae very unhappy with your job, be picky with your choices. Don’t jump to a new job simply because it will remove you from your current situation.

  36. NoLongerFencer*

    Had this happen a long time ago, they named numbers, I asked for $5k more post-interview (everything was all smiles), then silence. Crickets. Job offer rescinded, and I was really upset. But it tells more about their organization than you. A company that truly valued and appreciated you would respond reasonably. That said, when I switched jobs, I made an agreement that the new company would at least match my then-current salary (the benefits were infinitely better at new company) and they said they rewarded performance. True to form, new company did so and I received merit bonuses plus performance bonuses within the year.

  37. Justin*

    I really wonder if they had been discussing salary all along or had some back and forth and the employer got the impression that their actual formal offer would be at or above the market and at or above what the LW was expecting. That would explain it a little better. Especially since they said “the negotiation didn’t go well.”

  38. Peppercat53*

    I have had a version of this happen to me. They made me an offer and when I attempted to negotiate (really just start a conversation about the compensation) they ghosted me. A month or two later I got the standard email of “we went with someone else”. They wanted my experience (to be the leader of their laboratory) but didn’t want to pay for my experience.

    1. Green Goose*

      That is like so many coordinator jobs (title and pay) I see now that require director level experience.

  39. Two Chairs, One to Go*

    Could this have anything to do with trying to negotiate over email? Or is that okay to do now?

    1. anonymous73*

      If the offer was made via email, I see nothing wrong with asking for a higher salary via email. But I’m in the “job offer requires a phone call” camp.

    2. Jenny F. Scientist*

      I literally just, five days ago, negotiated $10K up from what the company initially offered me, over email. They emailed to check on salary, I asked for more politely, they called me with an offer. I think it’s totally normal now.

  40. sassafras*

    Oof, as someone who was supposed to hear back yesterday whether my ask for an increase over an initial offer was approved, this is not the letter I wanted to read! Glad to hear from the commentariat that this seems out of the norm, but I’ll report back if things go south… Hope OP lands on their feet.

  41. Ann O'Nemity*

    If an employer doesn’t have any flexibility in negotiating (budget is fixed, offer is already at top of range, etc) then they should just say that! Or, if they would get offended if applicants try to negotiate then they should say the first offer is the final offer.

  42. Green Goose*

    Hugs, OP! You didn’t do anything wrong. I had this happen to me once with a former boss of mine and it really stung. I had worked as a Business English teacher for him for years and then I moved to another country so I could no longer teach. I had reached out about writing a weekly newsletter to the students based on topics he wanted and he was super enthusiastic about it. I was happy because it was something I could do remotely and I could have some small spending money while in grad school.

    I offered to do it for $15 a newsletter which seemed really low and fair and I was shocked when he curtly responded that he was not interested and I should check out the site fivr. He wouldn’t even discuss it further with me, and then I saw a newsletter pop up in my email a few weeks later written by one of this other teachers. At the time I was crestfallen because I had worked for him for years and it was so dismissive but now looking back I see I dodged a bullet and he was the one in the wrong and who burned the bridge.

  43. Anon For Reasons*

    I once worked at a small law firm that needed to hire a paralegal. A young man applied, and he seemed really great. this would have been his first real job out of college. During the interview it came out that his parents were also (at one point) both paralegals, but with different, much larger firms in town. Apparently he met with Big Boss about an offer. Big Boss offered a certain salary, and Applicant countered with some higher number. Big Boss legit told him to get out of his office and never come back. I believe the difference was of about $5000.

    Big Boss then revealed to me and some others that he won’t negotiate on salary, and that he wanted to only hire “kids fresh out of school” because they will “work for close to nothing because they’re desperate for work.” I wanted to vomit when he said all this. I subsequently ran into Applicant who told me he didn’t really know how much he ought to get paid but he knew a) the federal poverty line, b) that he just graduated from college, which ought to be worth something and c) that paralegals in big firms with lots of experience made twice that amount (because his parents who had that job told him so) so he thought he was being reasonable in his attempt at good-faith negotiation.

    I quit a few weeks later but for other reasons that were also insane.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      “I quit a few weeks later but for other reasons that were also insane.”

      I suspect that the other reasons had a root cause with how Applicant was treated.

  44. Purple Cat*

    Ugh, sorry OP. I totally get why this has rattled your confidence, but you did nothing wrong. (assuming of course you weren’t like some of the commenter’s stories of truly outrageous requests).
    Managers absolutely need to be good stewards of their company’s money, but at the same time, it’s not coming out of their own pockets, so no need to be so dramatic like this. My husband switched from a sole prop where asking for a raise was equal to stealing food out of the owners mouth, to a much larger firm with things like “compensation committees” that review raises and bonuses – in an impartial manner. Such a refreshing change.

  45. Fluffy Fish*

    Just adding to the chorus OP. That is a them problem not a you problem.

    And while it’s probably hard to feel like it, especially when you are in a job you’re trying to get out of and you feel like you lost an opportunity, but you dodged a HUGE bullet.

    Rescinding a job offer because you merely asked about negotiating is such a giant red flag for what this company’s culture is, how much they value their employees, and what they do to employees who make so much as a ripple.

    Something better will come a long with a company that isn’t full of bees.

  46. Just Me*

    I’m so sorry this happened to you, OP. Just know that another position will come along soon. My partner is also in marketing and it’s taken him a few months to find a new position outside of his current agency. There were a few months of rejections, but recently he received several offers and one that is a perfect fit for him and that he’s very excited about. Hang in there, it will be okay!

  47. LaLa762*

    LW – Just came here to second everyone who said that this is NOT normal and not your fault.
    I’ve been working for over 20 years and have only once had an offer rescinded over money – 5K at that.
    They offered 50K and I asked for 55K and they dropped the offer.
    I too was DEVASTATED. I wanted and needed that job, but even then I Had an inkling this would not have been a good fit.
    I mean, why not just say ‘no’? They said, in effect, get bent. I knew, even then, I wouldn’t want to work at a place like that.

  48. Eirishis*

    Oooooh man, this happened to me about three years ago. I was excited to find a role that would be lateral but a new substantive challenge and with an experienced HR leader to learn from, only to have the offer pulled when I asked a few follow up questions (not even negotiating!)

    In the end it worked out; within a month, I was offered a more senior position elsewhere and, it turned out, that HR leader I was excited to learn from (before they showed their stripes) left within four months anyway, AND that employer ended up embroiled in public controversy. Complete bullet dodged.

    Don’t lose hope!

  49. kitryan*

    We were looking for a new person on a team of 2.
    We had a candidate who we weren’t thrilled with but they seemed ok and my boss made an offer. They accepted – possibly after a bit of a negotiation, I don’t remember, but they did accept. Then, after a few days, they said they wanted more money.
    It’s hard to find out what the market rate is for this work, but I think the offered pay rate was fair. And the candidate would need training- they hadn’t been doing the same sort of work previously-as it’s pretty niche. The benefits/PTO are all equal to or better than most similar companies. So, their new salary request was, in context, unreasonably high. They’d have been making about the same or more than the team lead who’d been there 7 years (me).
    The fact that they’d accepted and then tried to reopen salary negotiations, and were requesting a large bump from what’d been previously agreed on left a bad taste in my boss’s mouth.
    He withdrew the offer.
    If the candidate had came up with the too-high request as part of an initial negotiation, we would have told them that we weren’t going to match it and they could take a lower number or we’d keep looking and it’d be fine, no hard feelings either way – but doing it after accepting made it seem like they thought they’d now had some sort of advantage.

    So, tl/dr, I agree w/Alison in that most of the time, negotiation during the negotiation phase of the process should be fine, and if a company has an issue with reasonable negotiation, that’s a bad sign about them, not you. But once you accept an offer, (presuming there’s no issues with the overall package, like insurance/PTO that you didn’t know about before or the company changing the terms first), it can definitely sour things to try to reopen negotiations.

  50. Radical Edward*

    Oof, that’s an awful situation. I agree that it’s also a bullet dodged, though. No matter what kind of work you’re applying for, it’s not a bad thing for someone to simply *ask* for more money. (How they react when it’s denied, now, that of course makes a difference, just as much as the way the employer conveys said refusal.)

    One of my previous jobs where I was involved in hiring dealt mostly with contractors, and they were all over the map re: negotiating pay. On our side, it really depended on the project – sometimes there was a range depending on the person’s qualifications, sometimes it was set in stone (even if it sucked), sometimes we were willing to go to bat on behalf of the applicant if we knew they would be a super perfect fit. Most of the time the initial rate was fixed but raises were on the table if the project was extended (and most candidates who were familiar with our industry expected this).

    While we never penalized an applicant for trying to negotiate in good faith, I saw plenty of applicants with an… inflated sense of self-worth, shall we say, who would repeatedly confirm acceptance of the posted hourly rate and then demand more after being offered the job. They always expected us to cave because they assumed at that point we had turned everyone else down or something – as if they were being clever! Nope, no offer for you. Shocked Pikachus all the way down.

  51. TG*

    I am so sorry – honestly I know it’s hard but I’d see it as red flags all around about that job.
    Everyone negotiates – as Alison noted it is part of the normal process.
    Keep at it and keep gaining skills to show off your abilities and I hope we get a phenomenal update from you!

  52. Anna*

    I’m writing from the UK and I don’t work in HR so I could be completely wrong with this one and there are a few unknowns. However I do recruit and in my shoes if I advertised a salary and offered a job to someone and then they asked for what seems to be such a significant pay hike I would be concerned. If I could not match it I would feel like the candidate would be dissatisfied by what I could offer and therefore would not stay. I would always have that conversation and not blank the candidate which is bad practice however it would raise concerns to me.

  53. Cpt Morgan*

    I have to wonder what they offered, because asking for $10K on top of what was already a $20K raise was quite intense of LW. I mean, maybe if the posting was more than $200K or something could I see asking for that kind of additional money, which is only 5% at that time. There’s a difference between “it’s normal to negotiate” and “it’s normal to ask for an extra 20%.”

    1. Cpt Morgan*

      Also feel like it should have been touched on: it was a bad idea to start talking transition plan with your current manager when you didn’t have a signed contract.

      We all make mistakes when we’re young, but tbh, this points even more to me about LW’s request being so out of touch with the position that the company probably felt like they were too far apart on salary to come to an agreement.

  54. Lolo*

    There was a situation maybe 10 years ago, where a candidate accepted an offer and THEN was like « oh I didn’t read that you don’t have a cell phone allowance I want 5k more ». Shame on us for caving because he was an absolute PITA and left after 6 months (much to our happiness). Not to say this is what happened at all here, because the circumstances were different, but I can see why an employer may not have an appetite to deal with late stage negotiations if expectations were clear throughout the interview (which, again, weren’t clear based on this letter).

  55. Marketing hiring manager*

    I agree with a lot of the comments here but will offer a slightly different viewpoint. I regularly hire and oversee marketers with 3-7 years of experience. Before a candidate gets to an interview, we ask for examples of campaigns they’ve worked on, the process they took, and the results. Even if it’s a small email campaign, this example is critical in showing that the person can be strategic, thorough, and follow through. Your manager may not be doing what they need to do, but you need to be compiling results for your own sake. You also get more wiggle room negotiating when you have metrics to prove out that you bring that additional value.

    Was it right that the company pulled the offer? No, but asking for a significant amount more than the role pays is a huge red flag that you don’t have a realistic view of the role and your value. They weren’t right, but I do think you may need to do some legwork to make yourself a competitive candidate going forward.

  56. Agile Phalanges*

    I had an offer rescinded once because I dared to negotiate the AMOUNT OF PTO! Not even the salary. I’ve noticed that the same company keeps posting the same position every few months, so unless they’re expanding that quickly, it sounds like I dodged a bullet.

  57. SnappinTerrapin*

    If they turned cold on you for asking a reasonable question in a polite way, would $10K have been near enough compensation for dealing with them down the road? It’s probably better just to assume you avoided a lot of headaches.

  58. Yellow*

    LW that is so unfortunate and I completely understand this would be devastating for you. A normal company reaction would be to say we’re unable to negotiate / we’ve checked and we think this is a fair value based on your experience.

    To address the issue of would you negotiate more broadly. I’m not in favour of always negotiate (although that might be stupid). I think you need to consider the specifics of what you’ve been offered. If you’re applying for a stretch position, the bottom of their salary band might be the right place for you! Or maybe you really are in the middle. That’s a lot easier to evaluate in industries that are open about salary.

    When negotiating you also need to consider how much you’re looking to move the price. You’d need to be earning a rather high wage for $10k to be a small percentage. Think about the negotiation value in terms of dollars as well as percentage. If they offered you $40k you’d likely sound quite out of touch. If they offered you $140 not so much.

    Good luck with the job search. It’s small comfort now but you’ve probably dodged a disaster here in terms of long term growth.

    1. blood orange*

      +1 on all of this. These were very much my thoughts as well.

      I’m in HR so negotiating is something I’m used to and expect. Out of the last two moves I made, I negotiated one and I didn’t with the other. I chose not to with the latter because they offered me exactly the number I wanted, and were offering bonus incentive on top. With that said, if you feel that the offer is fair and right in line with what you’re looking for, it generally shouldn’t hurt to ask for another 5-10% if you believe in always negotiating. It should be the worst for them to just say the offer is firm, and rescinding altogether more than likely says more about them than the candidate.

      I have to say, if my hiring manager or leadership, etc. were to tell me to RECIND AN OFFER I would fight really freaking hard against that. For all of the reasons Alison has stated, that is a horrible thing to do. I can’t think of every circumstance, but a candidate would have to really *really* flip the script for me to be in favor of going from a job offer to “oh, never mind!”.

  59. Funken Groovin*

    If you think the place you work now is bad, just think if you had worked at THAT place. I have negotiated EVERY job offer I ever received for more money. EVERY. ONE.
    This new company will just be a major pain to work for.

  60. Bill and Heather's Excellent Adventure*

    As much as this hurts, I think you dodged a bullet, OP. A functional company wouldn’t rescind the offer for just trying to negotiate. Take some time to recover and try again.

  61. Res Admin*

    First of all, (((((((((hugs))))))))))))) for OP. That stinks! I hope you manage to find something even better very soon.

    For a different perspective, though, when we were hiring for a vacant HR position last year, we had to rescind an offer due to pay negotiation. The candidate was told up front what the pay range was for the position and that it was firm. It was a pretty broad band consistent with, if not higher, what was being paid for similar roles across the entire campus. The position was offered a the very top of the band (so, higher than most similar positions across campus–and a 20% increase from their current salary). Their request for an additional 15% was startling, but it was discussed with our Dept Head. In the end though, the offer was rescinded. The ask itself made the candidate seem very out of touch (they were an internal candidate from the main HR office so not unfamiliar with all the hoops that would have to be jumped through to exceed the pay band) and it was not worth the hassle for a candidate that now seemed questionable.

  62. Eric S*

    My perspective comes from over twenty years as a CEO/President in companies ranging in size from $75mm to over $1B in annual revenue. There are two sides to every story but your reader most likely dodged the proverbial bullet by not getting the position. What she experienced is not a common practice and seemed like the hiring manager’s way of getting out of the offer. It is a clue as to how other things are likely handled in the company so although it may have been a $20k raise, money always wears off quickly if the atmosphere is not pleasant. My advice would be to focus on what she can control which could include how she comes across in an interview or handles negotiations. Even a bad experience has lessons learned that can be applied to the next one. Don’t be discouraged and keep at it!

  63. A*

    Sure you could negotiate but if you’re not doing it from a position of power then you’re gambling on the result. In the future I recommend only negotiating when you have another offer of greater value to fall back on.

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