an entry-level candidate with no experience wants an above-market salary

A reader writes:

I am hiring someone for an entry-level position. It is meant for someone straight out of college and new to the field who is interested in learning a lot, meeting loads of highly connected people, and launching a potentially awesome career. I’ve set the salary to be a little above what other orgs our size do for this position to make it more competitive and retain staff. This seems to have worked well over the years.

I recently offered the position to a candidate and they came back to me with a counteroffer. I’m glad people are advocating for themselves, but the issue is the way that they asked. First they said that other employers pay significantly more and quoted a salary that is meant for someone with several years of experience. Believe me when I say that I have done the research and the number they were citing is not for entry-level employees. Then they cited their experience as the reason why they would be paid this amount. But they just graduated college and have never held a job before! The only thing I could think of on their resume that they might have been referring to as “experience” was having graduated from a prestigious college. This position does not require a prestigious college degree and they were not hired based on this background.

Now I’m very worried that I’ve made a terrible decision. They haven’t yet accepted the position and I’m wondering what I should do. Advice I have gotten has ranged from this indicating really bad judgement and I should revoke the offer, to they are just getting bad advice from their college’s career center and I should ignore it. In theory this person was following basic rules of engaging with a potential employer: give a counteroffer on salary and cite competing salaries and your experience when you do so. But you actually do need something to back that up, which this person lacked and therein lies my concern. Your thoughts?

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

{ 214 comments… read them below }

  1. UncleFrank*

    I always wonder how these letters worked out! Did the kid have terrible judgment? Or did they just take some bad advice??

    1. witch*

      I have something similar where it ended up actually working out!

      An assistant we hired for a position roughly equivalent to a teapot production assistant (meaning they’d help create and install the teapot designs, and help order and organize teapot materials) had their first review. They were admittedly doing high-level work as far as purchasing and organizing materials, and making sure teapots were produced on-time and up to design standards.

      They absolutely deserved the raise they were asking for, but they emailed their boss, my boss, myself (who is in administration, not production), asking for a job title change to director of operations. A director-level in our company is someone overseeing the entire department. They’d be equivalent to an executive and in essence jump four job titles from being an assistant. LOL, it was a mixture of gumption and not realizing the title they were asking for didn’t at all match the duties they were doing.

      But she ended up actually getting her raise, and a more appropriate job title. And she’s doing great in her expanded role!

      1. Jiminy Cricket*

        I also had a similar experience with a current employee, asking for a “director” title when they had no staff to manage and a salary that I know from long, personal experience corresponds to double their actual experience in the field. It soured our relationship when I said (kindly), “You’ve got bad information. You’re not going to get that here, and you’re not going to get that anywhere else, I’m afraid.”

      2. SF2K01*

        Were they coming from a non-profit or small business background? I’ve noticed they tend to have as many “Directors” as Bank firms have “Vice Presidents,” despite not carrying anywhere near the responsability or pay the title indicates.

    2. Environmental Compliance*

      I had a co-op that 1) tried to force the company to create a (brand new) position for them and then when that didn’t materialize in 3-4 weeks (because they were having significant performance issues, to the point that I had already started documentation with HR and firing was on the table), they 2) kept telling me all about these positions they were applying for, which then turned into 3) complaining that none of the hiring managers were calling them in for interviews and don’t they see how awesome Co-op is???!

      Co-op was applying for jobs that I would have looked at as a stretch role *for me*. With an additional 10 years experience and a relevant graduate degree. No, mid/senior level roles are not going to call back someone who literally graduated from their undergrad 3 months ago, when their only relevant job is the co-op they were currently in.

      This particular co-op refused to listen to any advice, or, to be honest, any instructions they thought were “dumb”. They just had horrible judgement and were bound and determined to take as difficult a route as possible. They ended up leaving after finding a job at a consultant firm, during which they were surprised they would be required to travel to sites. Last I heard, they were refusing travel if their spouse did not drive them to the site. Spouse has a full time job of their own. The job posting (because of course Co-op sent it to me) stated 40% travel and explicitly said “role will require travel to client sites”, as many environmental consulting projects will require. I’m sure this will be another learning experience for them.

      They also still, after over a year, stalk some of my social medias that will tell you who viewed your profile.

  2. KHB*

    I wouldn’t think it’s a red flag *yet*, but I’d be looking very carefully at how this person replies to being told “no.”

    1. Tinkerbell*

      Absolutely. The problem may also solve itself, if the candidate decides not to take the original amount offered!

  3. The Person from the Resume*

    I think that Alison has a very generous and appropriate answer on the site. (People give bad advice, and entry level folks have no experience so they may not have the knowledge to know which bad advice to reject or even how to apply good advice.)

    But I would definately write back and ask the applicant to clarify their “experience” since their resume showed no relevent experience for the job that would qualify them for a salary higher than entry level.

    1. Wilbur*

      Just to play devils advocate, I could see a scenario where the hiring manager assumes that a college grad has no experience because they just graduated college, but the candidate does have relevant experience due to work with a professor, internship, etc. Not great to just cite “experience” though, I always try to connect it to a business need or a key job responsibility.

      “I believe $XXk would be more appropriate considering my experience managing instrument calibration at my universities metallurgy lab”

      1. somehow*

        But wouldn’t that be on the person’s resume’, and therefore, the hiring manager wouldn’t have to guess?

        Also, why apply to an entry-level role only to try to negotiate salary? Entry-level is understood to be…entry-level, as is the pay.

        1. metadata minion*

          It’s clearly not understood to this candidate! I agree that you’re going to have less luck negotiating with an entry level position than anything higher, but I don’t see anything wrong with trying to negotiate higher if you do have some experience. I particularly give candidates a lot of leeway in doing that given how many “entry level” positions still require 1-3 years of experience or a postgraduate degree.

        2. ferrina*

          No, new professionals leave off experience for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they didn’t’ realize it would be relevant, or they didn’t feel like they learned a lot so it “didn’t count”, or someone told them to only include other information (more in the bad advice category).

          One of my standard questions when interviewing early career professionals is “Do you have any experience you didn’t list on your resume? This could be retail, food service, volunteer, coaching…really anything.” Almost everyone has something that they’ve left off (except the guy with the four-page resume, who had gotten the bad advice to leave it all on). Sometimes it’s more relevant than they realize

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Yeah, although if they mistakenly thought it wasn’t relevant enough to put on their resume, are they going to suddenly think it’s relevant enough to use as justification in negotiating? That’s where there’s a clear disconnect.

            1. constant_craving*

              I don’t think it’d happen often, but it could come up in the case of an initially vague job posting where more details were learned during the interview, etc.

            2. Ace in the Hole*

              I’ve had this happen before once or twice. I was new to the field and the job postings didn’t clearly indicate that a particular niche experience would be relevant – like an entry level fundraising job that turns out to have a major contract with The Pelican Conservancy, and I hadn’t thought to include my summer of volunteering in wild pelican rehabilitation on the resume.

              Of course if that is the case, it’s really important to specify what the relevant experience is when you bring it up. They’re not psychic!

        3. Wilbur*

          Managers don’t have a lot of time to read resumes, the applicant could’ve used the wrong keywords, the applicant could’ve thought some aspect of their experience was more relevant or impressive.

          I would recommend people negotiate because as long as you’re not wildly out of bounds, whats the risk? Besides, employers have been listed tons of jobs as “entry level” and asking for 3+ years of experience. Finally, I’d say there’s current ability and potential. If you have two candidates and think one of them has more future potential, why wouldn’t you offer them more money?

      2. metadata minion*

        When hiring for on-campus positions I’ve several times encountered students who listed any paid employment on their resume, but didn’t list volunteer experience *that was directly relevant to the position* and it only came out in the interview. I’m at a library, and while I’d be astonished to find an undergraduate student with previous paid library employment, having volunteered at your public library for two years is actually very useful in giving someone a realistic idea of How Libraries Work. (Pro tip: the front desk of a library is not a quiet, peaceful job, and organizing books for an hour straight turns your brain into a sort of alphanumeric putty.)

        As with your example, it’s on the applicant to spell out what sort of experience they have, and volunteer positions vary widely in what quality of job experience they provide, but it would be a kindness to try to tease out whether there’s some sort of non-paid experience going on.

      3. JB (not in Houston)*

        That could be the case, but the OP said the person had never had a job before. College jobs are still jobs.

        Also, even if they had some “experience,” if they’ve never had a job, they’re almost certainly still going to be entry level. It’s unlikely they’d have the several years of full time experience needed for the level they were asking for.

  4. T.N.H.*

    I get that this candidate is wildly out of touch, but this is also why so many people think they can’t negotiate. It should never be the default to pull the offer when someone attempts to do so, and research says this impacts women and POC way more than white men, who are often given more grace.

    1. Caramel & Cheddar*

      It’s weird advice from the people LW consulted to me too. If someone counters, you can say no (and give reasons, if you want). They might still accept the original salary, so pulling the offer just because they tried to negotiate doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

      1. Sola Lingua Bona Lingua Mortua Est*

        It’s my experience, too.

        You either hear “we can do that” or “thanks anyway; we’re moving on to our next candidate. Good luck in your job hunt.”

      2. AngryOctopus*

        Yes, I would think the reply would be “that kind of salary is paid to people who have X years of already working the field and several years experience in doing things like Y and Z. We are offering $amount which is at or above the benchmark for a fresh graduate with no working experience. We would be unable to offer you that higher amount for the preceding reasons, so please let us know how you’d like to proceed”.
        A nightmare candidate will likely flounce after that. A good candidate who has gotten bad advice will realize their error and (hopefully) be grateful that you told them of said error in such a nice way. And if there were other red flags or insistence from the candidate, you can feel free to say “as stated, we can’t match that, so good luck in your job hunt”

      3. ferrina*

        Especially for an early career professional who may have never had an opportunity to negotiate and probably has no idea how to compare salary calculators. I suspect they took a boilerplate example language about “I have exceptional experience” without realizing it didn’t apply to them.

        This feels like a basic early career mistake. If the candidate has otherwise been great, I’d write this off as a learning experience and not worth losing a good candidate over. (If the candidate reacts badly to being told no, that’s another story)

    2. C.*

      I hear you completely, and I don’t disagree, but I don’t read this question as though the applicant was trying to negotiate in good faith. I read it as “they are asking for a salary that is simply not in-line with their skills and experience.” There’s a big difference between negotiating for a few thousand more and a few TENS of thousands more.

      1. T.N.H.*

        That’s true, but I think it’s out of touch and not bad faith (based on the age and experience of the applicant). If the hiring manager does pull the offer, they need to be 100% consistent on that and do so for every candidate who shoots for something out of reach. Otherwise, bias could be creeping in as I mentioned above.

        1. somehow*

          “Otherwise, bias could be creeping in as I mentioned above.”

          Why not give the LW credit that it isn’t? Things “could be” at any given time and in any given situation. Assume the LW is treating all candidates alike, and focus on what the LW asked about.

          LW: I’d stick with the original offer and see where that gets you.

      2. Samwise*

        But if it’s their first job, they may not know that.

        Why go nuclear when you can explain per Alison’s suggestion? After all, the position is designed for people with no experience. Shouldn’t freak out when people demonstrate that they have no experience…

        1. AngryOctopus*

          This exactly. An inexperienced candidate may have gotten terrible advice from their career center/parent/uncle’s brother’s business partner that you NEVER accept an offer, and look, I looked up your job title on this salary website, and here’s what you SHOULD get (but they don’t know anything about the nuances of the job, so they just look at numbers and decide that getting a degree or having an internship is ‘experience’). It’s a kindness to come back to a candidate this new and explain why you offer what you offer and why their ask is not in line. Plenty of time to go nuclear if the candidate tries to explain that they Got A Degree and Also I Am Your Future Thought Leader So Please Compensate Me Accordingly. Nightmare candidates will out, I assure you :)

          1. pally*

            About a year or so after I graduated from college, I received a call from a current student who was tasked with soliciting donations from graduates. I explained that as a new grad, there was no money to spare.

            “Nonsense!” I was told. “Our survey data shows that new biochem grads start at $40K a year. I’m sure you can spare some of that for the current students.”

            Holy cow! I asked her for the names of these companies paying $40K. I wanted one of those jobs!

            She said she had no names but was sure this was the case for every biotech company in town.

            I informed her, that, as a new grad, I had started at $11K working at a local biotech company. I had to change jobs to get to $19K. Not even half of what her data indicated.

            This was quite a shock to the caller! Hey, don’t believe everything they tell you. And ask for the raw data when they cite surveys and such to back up what they do tell you.

            1. AngryOctopus*

              I’m guessing those “new graduates” were PhD graduates highered in at a higher level. Most universities do very poor research if all they want is to shake you down for $$. Also if those kids are being told to say “I’m sure you can spare some” that’s such a bad thing for your university to do! You don’t know anyone’s financial situation! Jeez!!!

              1. WantonSeedStitch*

                Actually, most universities do great research if they want to shake you down for a LOT of money. Professional prospect researcher looking into major gift prospects? We will find a whole lot of information and also know when NOT to apply rules of thumb. Student callers at phone banks, calling just about every alum in the database? No research, generally.

                1. AngryOctopus*

                  Obviously if you’re looking for a major donor or someone who will have a building named after them, that’s when you do real research. But that’s not standard “shaking you down for $$”, as you yourself point out.

              2. ferrina*

                Or the “new grads” found a job in X field. During the Great Recession, certain schools would simply exclude students that hadn’t been able to find a job in their field. So the lawyer working at Starbucks because there was a surplus of lawyers on the market didn’t count toward the school’s graduate compensation numbers. My grad school did this- “all of our graduates find a job, unless they choose to take their career in a different direction!” (because there were always open jobs if you were willing to accept below livable wage)

              3. I am Emily's failing memory*

                Right?! Even if their data about average starting salaries was accurate, that means f* all when it comes to any one individual’s salary, and of course, some near-50% of workers are paid below the average, by definition of the word “average.”

                And that’s before you factor in that you have no idea what kind of expenses someone has – what debt they carry, what ongoing medical expenses they shoulder, how many dependents they support, how their salary compares to the cost of living in their area, whether they’re underwater on their mortgage, or any of countless other things that could seriously impact someone’s capacity to donate to charity.

            2. Tinkerbell*

              The year I started at my (mid-size) college, the previous year’s religion majors topped the “recent grad starting salaries” list at an average of $200K. Of course, that’s because there were only a handful of them and one went directly into the NBA :-P

              1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

                OMG. I can just IMAGINE the Religious Studies department meetings after that data came out.

                1. Kit*

                  I’m trying to picture anyone thinking that he was going to use his degree in that job… and then I remembered Tim Tebow, so who the heck knows? /s

            3. Jaydee*

              This is why I sleep just fine after quitting my university fundraising call center job via voicemail with maybe about 30 minutes’ notice. Calling recent grads and trying to wring $$$ out of them when they were still paying off loans and maybe taking out loans (if they were in grad school) made me feel gross.

        2. C.*

          Nah, I think I might’ve misspoken. When I wrote “I don’t read this question as though the applicant was trying to negotiate in good faith,” I meant it more that I didn’t read the question as though the applicant was well-informed and negotiating on good information they received. I don’t at all think they’re a bad actor willfully trying to deceive the letter writer. Sorry for the confusion!

      3. I should really pick a name*

        Anything in particular make you read it as bad faith?

        My assumption is that they looked up the average salaries in the field, and didn’t realize they didn’t apply to an entry level person.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Yes this strikes me as the candidate saw a range for Junior Teapot Associate and didn’t think enough about the concept of ‘average’, or how long the Junior title is likely to go (getting promoted to a JTA II, III, say, before becoming a Senior Teapot Associate I).

        2. C.*

          Nah, I think I might’ve misspoken. When I wrote “I don’t read this question as though the applicant was trying to negotiate in good faith,” I meant it more that I didn’t read the question as though the applicant was well-informed and negotiating on good information they received. I don’t at all think they’re a bad actor willfully trying to deceive the letter writer. Sorry for the confusion!

    3. margarita water*

      If it wasn’t entry level I would agree but an entry level job you likely have 3 – 10 people you are going to tell no, sometimes its just not worth it. For an entry level job this feels like this person is going to be a headache.

      1. Area Woman*

        Yes or they might jump at the chance to get a salary boost. We tend to be wary of folks asking for way out of line salaries because they could end up unhappy when you say no. They then have one foot out the door.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Also with inflation the past few years and especially with inflation in housing being way higher than the official inflation numbers in, well, most of the places people actually live – I’d need to see the numbers. I’ve argued about this with higher ups. People forget that X amount that sounds like a good salary is actually not enough to survive on. As you age, you get grandfathered into a mortgage or even a lease (I know loads of people with way-below-market-rent) and you have a retirement account that is compounding without you doing anything.

      Hard to gauge how much an entry level person with nothing but student loans actually needs to survive/get on the economic treadmill

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        This is complete fanfic territory and completely goes against the rules of the site. The OP couldn’t be any more explicit in saying that the salary was fair and slightly above market and that they’ve had no issues with it in the past.

        1. Nikki*

          With inflation the way it is, I think it’s a fair thing to consider.
          I asked for — and got — a 10% raise in 2022 just so my salary would keep pace with inflation. Even if this salary worked in the past, it might genuinely have gotten less liveable because of the economic conditions, and that’s worth considering.

          It’s hard to answer this question without knowing the specifics of the job title, the job market, etc. I’m trusting OP but I do think they should consider the economic situation.

      2. Left Bower*

        This was my thought, too. Even if the salary LW is offering is at or above market rate, “market rate” can’t be relied upon to account for what people actually need to live on, especially in the last couple years with skyrocketing housing costs. It’s not a magic number that guarantees fairness or livability, and companies routinely try to get away with lowballing entry-level applicants (not saying that’s what LW is doing, just that New Grad may have this impression from their job search so far). I know Alison and others have explained many times over why “I need the money” isn’t a good enough reason to negotiate up/ask for a raise, but it seems like a shared fiction of modern American workplace norms to ignore that people are going to ask for more money because they truly need it.

        However, if the applicant can’t back up their ask with relevant experience, perhaps LW can talk to them about the cadence of promotions/raises (how likely are they to get an $X raise in one year? two years? three? What are the goalposts and how does the company help new employees achieve them? etc). That was really good advice I got going into my new job where the starting salary wasn’t negotiable.

  5. Melicious*

    Unless he responds poorly to the kindly stated logic that he doesn’t have the kind of experience the higher salary requires, I’d chalk it up to bad advice and 22 year olds being new. I’d like to think I didn’t do dumb things like this when I was that age, but I’m looking back through 17 years of life experience. I’m sure I did.

  6. Elle by the sea*

    I have asked for an above market level salary once as an entry level candidate and got it. (I never got this “terrible” advice, it’s just that I am a risk taker.) I had a PhD while others didn’t – here in this blog the consensus seems to be that it isn’t experience, but I was able to successfully use it in the negotiation. So why not try? The maximum that can happen is that the candidate will be rejected.

    As for whether it’s red flag, tell the candidate that you can’t pay what they are trying to negotiate for and see how they react to it.

    1. Crocodilasaurus*

      Consensus outside this blog is that graduate degrees count as work experience for the purpose of determining salary. Determining the exact equivalence is a bit of an art, but they definitely count.

      1. MassMatt*

        This really depends on the industry, but in my experience they definitely do NOT count as much as most degree holders think they should/hope they will.

        In many cases an advanced degree is a resume enhancer, but not the equivalent of job experience in the field, because it isn’t. Someone spending three or four years getting a degree is not likely to have a leg up on someone who has three or four years of actual job experience in the field.

      2. Fluffy Fish*

        I’d say it’s dependent on field. In my field having a Phd means…nothing. Nor does a Masters. They’re simply not required nor of tangible use. If you apply for a job and cite your advanced degree as a reason for a higher salary, we will nicely tell you no dice.

        But for many other fields this is the case and generally its known if you are in one of those fields. STEM fields jump to mind immediately.

      3. The New Wanderer*

        I agree that it’s industry specific. In my field, it’s common to see Master’s or PhD as desired and it does give the candidate an edge. The other thing that’s common in our job postings is to equate specific experience levels to the PhD (as in “PhD or 5 years’ relevant work experience”).

        However, if the job requires at most a Bachelor’s and does not mention higher degrees, it’s probably unlikely that a higher degree will matter and (as some letters here indicate) might count against you if you’re seen as overqualified and likely to leave.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          This. It’s becoming more common in biotech, when looking for leadership roles at least, to say things like “PhD with 5+ years experience or Master’s with 8+ years”. It acknowledges that the PhD training might give someone a leg up in their first years, but also that someone with a Masters, no matter how they got it (reading vs lab-based thesis work) who has been working has the same relevant experience. A PhD can even degree out of a job, if they’re looking for a long term lab based position and not someone who might want to move into a management or director position after a few years. So it’s not an automatic ride to higher salary town. It’s very very context dependent.

          1. amoeba*

            Yup, Chemist here and the experience I gained during my PhD (and postdoc) is very definitely very, very relevant, as research in industry is certainly different from academia, but it’s still research! And doing research independently is pretty much the definition of a PhD here, so it’s a huge, huge difference in experience.

      4. delazeur*

        Anecdata, from personal experience (white collar): private sector jobs will require a certain level of education, and any education above that level won’t count for anything (and may actually hurt you if the hiring manager is concerned you are overqualified). For equivalent government jobs, each degree beyond the minimum education counts as one year of experience (so, yes, your seven-year PhD counts as one year of experience).

        People are often shocked how little their graduate education has actually done to bolster their resume.

      5. JHunz*

        In a lot of software dev positions graduate degrees mean absolutely nothing at all. I have to assume there are other industries for which that is true as well.

    2. Elle by the sea*

      I was over 30 and – apart from the field-related PhD – had tons of unrelated work experience in a different industry. It was my first job in this industry.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same for me. The job paid based on location and the salary for where I was was pretty generous even with that in mind, but throwing in a move to a high-COL area meant I absolutely had a minimum.

    3. PollyQ*

      The maximum that can happen is that the candidate will be rejected.

      That’s a pretty big maximum for many job-hunters, though.

        1. PollyQ*

          Right, and it’s a serious negative that shouldn’t be minimized with a glib, “Oh, what’s the worst that can happen?”

          1. Elle by the sea*

            I wasn’t trying to minimise – I spent long periods jobless and on job search, and that attitude help me not get depressed and keep trying.

      1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        But there are so many people who seem to think that there is a “permanent record” somewhere (like school systems have). So no, a job rejection doesn’t get recorded anywhere except in that company’s records, it doesn’t affect your credit rating, none of that stuff. It’s just a job rejection.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      In my field, advanced degrees definitely count for more, in part because it looks good to our client base. It’s a bit of a sales tactic on our part in that regard. But we definitely expect more from people with those degrees.

    5. NeedRain47*

      Agree very much with your last sentence. Their reaction to being told no is quite possibly going to give you some valuable information about their ability to be rational, especially if you point out that you will not be offering them a higher salary based on experience they don’t have.

    6. Critical Rolls*

      Education isn’t experience, but certain kinds of education and experience can have interchangeable desirability. Hence listings looking for “Bachelor’s degree in Llama Wrangling OR two years of Llama Wrangling experience.” It sounds like, rather than a substitution, your PhD was something that you had *in addition* to comparable qualifications to other candidates (plus an established work history, no small thing for entry level). This candidate, on the other hand, does not seem to have any additional qualifications beyond the prestigious name on their diploma.

      1. Baron*

        I love how you put that.

        For me, this candidate needs to do a better job of explaining why they think their education equates to experience. I’ve taken a bit of a strange career path, wherein I have a lot of education, a lot of high-level volunteer experience, and have spent very little of my life working a 9-to-5. So I’m certainly empathetic to the notion that certain types of education are just as good as certain types of paid employment experience. But I also know firsthand that some employers don’t see it that way; that the onus is on the candidate to sell their skills; and that “education, which I consider equivalent to experience” is not the same thing as experience. That said, I sympathize with the candidate, because I’m also not 22 and I’ve had a lot of time to figure some of this stuff out.

    7. bamcheeks*

      I did the same (job was working with PhD students and running training on how to design and carry out research projects, so I reasoned my PhD was pretty relevant!) and got slapped down as if I’d committed a major, unbelievable faux pas. It was *horrible*. Completely unnecessary.

      1. Elle by the sea*

        In the US, a PhD is officially a job, even though it’s called “school” – you work in your area, you pay tax. I don’t quite understand why many people find it unread to count it as work experience. In other countries, no one refers to it as school, by the way.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          Depends on what you’re getting your degree in. In STEM, you’re earning your degree by doing research and working for the university, publishing (hopefully) that research for them and contributing to getting grants and funding. In a field like English, it’s less clear. My friend took 9 years to get her degree because she had to fund her research time by teaching classes basically as an adjunct. Her teaching funded her living expenses so she could continue to research and write her thesis, but she was NOT working for the university (unless they separately hired her to cover classes). When she graduated the PhD became a “nice to have” for her employer, but it was all the teaching experience she gained separately which got her her first couple of jobs when she was done.

        2. Baron*

          I think it depends on field, too. I’m a PhD student in Canada, in the social sciences. It’s absolutely school – I’m not working in a lab, I’m attending classes at a school.

          1. amoeba*

            Huh, interesting, but are you doing your own research as well? Maybe it’s because the system is different, but (independent of the field), here in Europe attending classes is at most a small part of your PhD – you teach and you do and publish research, either in a lab or at your desk/the library/whatever. Lectures and exams typically stop at Master’s level, although it’s of course fine to attend one because you’re interested in the topic.

        3. ceiswyn*

          In the UK, we don’t call it ‘school’ – but we don’t call ANY further education ‘school’. Everything after secondary education is university, college, an apprenticeship, etc. What it isn’t, however, is ‘work’.

          1. bamcheeks*

            That’s not actually true with PhDs. There are plenty of PhD programmes which run as employment, and many others which are classified as study but mainly because it has financial advantages for the university rather than because the nature of the work is intrinsically different from employment.

      2. Anon for this*

        I had something similar (though not as extreme as yours) in an interview — I dropped out of a PhD program in social science and completely switched fields, to accounting. When I was close to finishing my accounting degree and started going on interviews, I developed a narrative about how my previous experience was a positive: I’d developed skills in writing and communication, and I was confident that my previous scientific training and the critical thinking skills I’d developed would be useful for audit/assurance work. When I tried it at an interview, though, the interviewer’s response was basically “yeah, right…is [field] even a real science?”

        1. Critical Rolls*

          “At least as much of a science as accounting!” is definitely not the right thing to say if you want the job. Ugh.

  7. Managing to get by*

    I’ve run into this with entry level people. The problem we have is that there are a couple of very large employers in our area that actually do pay about $10k more for people right out of college than we do. We’ve used this information to leverage a salary review and were able to increase our starting salary, but we still face stiff competition from local tech firms.

    Last year I hired 5 people right out of school. Two of them tried to negotiate salary, the asked for about 10% more than we were offering. I explained to both of them that their offer was consistent with all the offers we were making. I told them that over time stronger employees could distinquish themselves and get higher annual raises and be promoted faster than people who were not as accomplished, but that for people right out of college, this was our starting salary.

    They both accepted. And, maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe not, they both ended up being the strongest of that “class” of new hires. They’re both on the fast track for a promotion that will put them well above their initial ask, and got strong merit raises after about 6 months.

    I haven’t seen it to be a red flag if someone tries to negotiate. Honestly, if I could have paid them all more I would have. The salary we pay is pretty decent but the cost of living is so high in this area I worry about young people being able to make ends meet. Our starting salary is about twice what it was 20 – 25 years ago, but apartments rent for about 4 times as much and the cost of their education was probably 10 times as much as it was a generation ago.

    1. Shoes*

      I’m glad you haven’t seen it to be a red flag if someone tries to negotiate. I don’t think it is.

      The idea that one shouldn’t negotiate is one many pathways to being underpaid for one’s ENTIRE career.

      People are allowed to counteroffer even if their logic isn’t sound or or perfect. Some of the responses here strike me as overwrought. Say no and move on.

    2. Spearmint*

      I’ve heard this is common in tech, where FAAMNG companies will pay fresh grads substantially more than other employers, even many other large tech companies.

  8. C.*

    I recognize this isn’t the main point of the question, but I think this is also a good example of why employers should post the salary or salary range from the jump so that everyone is on the same page early on and can avoid these kinds of conversations at the 11th hour.

    1. SnowyRose*

      My experience has been that posting the range hasn’t really stop these conversations. We post the hiring range, reiterate it during the phone screen, and we still regularly get people countering with numbers that are tens of thousands more.

      1. Lydia*

        But by posting the pay range, you have something to go back to during those conversations. Just because some people still ask for more doesn’t mean it’s not better to include salary ranges in your postings.

        1. Tmi*

          Employers also sometimes allow negotiations that end up with salaries well outside of the range. That happened in my case, and I’d mere accepted the higher end range vs negoatitiong. Now I feel like a chump, as I could have made 25% more.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        That’s been my experience as well. We don’t allow any negotiation for entry-level roles as an equity policy, and we make that clear. Doesn’t matter. They think they’re supposed to.

    2. All Research, All the Time*

      Posted not only the salary range for my last posting, but specifically the hiring range and still had applications with expected salaries higher than my budget.

      1. OftenNotSetInStone*

        I’ve been encouraged to apply outside (above) initial ranges several times when I’ve been a particularly good fit or had other experience they found desirable. If I compared favorably/outshone the other candidates sufficiently to justify it they tried to get me the money. If not, they hired someone else.

        I have been hired at my minimum acceptable, higher than they originally wanted to pay a couple of times. I compromised and split the difference once when I was particularly interested in a job, and other times they decided they couldn’t go higher and we parted ways. In my experience it’s rarely a cut and dried “we will be hiring in this range”. Also I care a lot about the benefits and have taken lower salaries for better benefits a few times. So the salary range may be okay or not okay depending on other factors. At the beginning of the process I will usually tell folks I don’t know enough about the job to know what salary I’d find acceptable and also that I will consider the full compensation package.

  9. ENFP in Texas*

    I can’t access the article, so I’m not sure what the advice given was. but a lot of people submit a counteroffer with the rationale of ” why not ask – the worst they can do is say no”.

    So in this case, say no, explain why, and go from there. If the candidate is offended or argumentative, then pulling the offer is still an option, because it demonstrates that the candidate would likely not be a good employee for the organization.

    But if the candidate is reasonable and accepts the initial terms that you have researched and explained, then maybe it’s a learning experience for them.

    1. NeedRain47*

      The candidate said they wanted a higher salary based on experience, but they don’t have experience. LW doesn’t know if they’re lying, confused, or what.

      “why not ask” is because if you’re a woman or POC, it’s entirely possible they’ll withdraw the offer simply b/c you asked. Even if what you asked is very reasonable. Even if they could have just said “sorry that’s the best we can do”.

      1. M*

        I know that there’s data on women and people of color being less likely to negotiate salary. I’m not aware of employers being statistically more likely to pull offers if a woman/POC negotiates salary. I think it’s more helpful to frame salary negotiation as a normal thing that a job seeker can be prepared to do, rather than suggest that the consequences are so dire for doing it that marginalized people shouldn’t try: I think that fearful view probably accounts for some of the difference in women/POC trying to negotiate or not.

        Not that individual gumption is going to solve all inequalities, but if the choice is between “never negotiate because they could reject you” and “try negotiating”, well, as a woman who has done it before, I’ll try negotiating.

        1. F as in Frank*

          There is research that shows there is potential for significant negative consequences for women/BIPOC when they negotiate salary. This isn’t necessarily a reason to not negotiate, but it does support the fact that they are accurately reading social cues. I’ll put a link in the reply.

  10. Nesprin*

    I dunno- the OP seems to want to both acknowledge that asking for things in hiring is good and also to criticize the applicant for asking for things. Especially when the major critique is how the applicant asked for money with lack of connection between experience and deserving a higher salary, and not the quantity of extra money they’ve requested, or that the applicant was marginal in the first place.

    I’d err on the side of the applicant is asking out of good faith for more money. Its well established that people of privileged backgrounds typically ask for more, and other less privileged people do not. Inflation has also been running rampant for the past few years, so while I believe that OP’s salary surveys were complete and accurate when performed, they may not be as up to date as the OP thinks.

    1. I edit everything*

      The problem was that the ask wasn’t justified. Their information used to support the ask was simply wrong. They might have been looked on more favorably if they’d asked for a modest increase or a couple extra days of PTO, rather than citing salaries for experienced employees and experience they don’t have. It makes the applicant seem either not very thoughtful or deliberately stretching the facts.

      1. lost academic*

        But that’s the kind of mistake you can expect from a new college grad/first job person. To me, that’s not some sort of massive foreshadowing about What Kind Of Person This Is – it is a little, but just to the extent that there are a range of behaviors you don’t expect to be calibrated and polished with entry level staff. They’ll learn by doing. Maybe with more information this could be indicative of the kind of person this would be to work with but on its face it just looks like naivete.

      2. Artemesia*

        Traditionally men ask and women don’t and thus men start at a higher salary and that widens over time with % raises. Asking for a high starting salary is admirable although the ‘experience things’ is laughable. I know people who have done this and gotten signing bonuses or higher salaries. In fact when I started my first major professional job 60+ years ago I asked for a higher salary and my male peer got 16K and I got 16.5 as a result of my ask. IN today’s dollars that meant my salary was about $2600 more than my similarly qualified peer. He didn’t bargain; I did.

        Explain you can’t do better and the process for advancement, but don’t punish someone for asking.

      3. Michelle Smith*

        It’s actually not that easy for me, even as an “experienced” worker to find out what other comparable companies/organizations pay for the kind of work that I do. Rather than assuming the candidate is not thoughtful or is deliberately stretching the facts, I’d rather assume (given the demonstrated positive attributes that earned them an offer) that they just got misled by an obtuse salary website and/or a career services counselor.

        I’ve had many people tell me my salary is not market rate. The salary websites, which have more data from for-profit corporations and are likely skewed upwards, tell me that I’m underpaid. Even a mentor of mine who works for my organization advised me during my salary negotiations to ask for and accept nothing less than six figures. That was never going to happen. The posted salary for the role was in the mid 70s! I had great experience so I negotiated up, but nowhere near what I was making in my previous job (over six figures). Instead, I got the best salary I could negotiate (upper 80s) and I took it. I’ve gotten multiple salary increases over the past year to bring me into the low 90s. It’s not amazing money for someone in NYC with over a decade of work experience, but there are a lot of factors (nonprofit, new role for me, etc.) that made it make sense.

        I still negotiated though and I let the hiring manager at the time know my salary and asked if she could do anything to help minimize the cut I’d have to take to make it economically feasible for me to come on board. She didn’t shame me or act like I was doing something nefarious by explaining that I wanted to make a certain number that wasn’t possible with that position. And I knew from applications to other places that there was a good chance she’d come back with “mid 70s is the best we can do, take it or leave it.” I think we should give the candidate in this story the benefit of the doubt.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I don’t think the inflation situation was the same in 2019 when the letter first ran.

    3. zuzu*

      The issue isn’t asking for more money, it’s asking for more money “based on experience” when that particular candidate *has* no experience. Hasn’t even had a job at all before.

      So where is the line between bad judgment and bad advice?

      1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

        OP will have to ask the candidate.
        “Why do you feel your experience justifies this?”
        If the answer is, “I did research and other places pay entry level candidates $X+Y”
        OP can say that they really don’t and “we definitely don’t.”
        If the answer is, “I was told to negotiate and use research and this is what I found.”
        OP again can say those are good things to do, but they don’t fit here.
        If the answer is, “I have experience doing this work that I never was able to flesh out because I didn’t know how to put it into the interview when you were asking questions and I thought the post interview note was supposed to be Thank You, not , oh by the way.”
        OP can make a decision.
        If the candidate is worth an offer, s/he’s worth one more conversation.

        1. Hannah Lee*


          As long as the candidate countered professionally or at least respectfully in a more casual situation even if outside of the “professional” norms for white collar more experienced workers, it’s not a red flag.

          There’s really no need to treat the ask itself like “game over” or to try to shame the candidate for asking. Just ask them for more info on the basis for the counter offer.

          Either they will come back with info that justifies some increase in starting salary, or they won’t and LW can explain the offer stands as is because of xyz reasons.

          And then the candidate, presumably someone the company wants as an employee, will either accept the offer or they won’t.

          Personally if I ran into a recruiter or hiring manager who used my negotiating as an opportunity for a slap down or to pull an offer, I’d consider it a bullet dodged that I wound up not working for them. Because both of those things would be disrespectful and unprofessional (And even if I wouldn’t have had that awareness as a new college grad, it still would have been a bullet dodged)

          The language I’ve used in LW’s situation, where the application, role doesn’t justify a higher pay, is to reiterate they are a strong candidate, the starting offer is the best it can be … but that I’m happy to review their performance in x months and might increase then if their performance, contribution justifies it and business conditions allow (And when possible I’ll revise the offer letter to spell that out, so that everyone is on the same page … and make it less likely someone in the food chain will try to wiggle out of it)

  11. EngineeringFun*

    I am a former engineering professor at a prestigious college and I’ve hired engineers in industry. This is not new. A decade ago I interviewed a recent grad insisted that research in a school lab & class projects were industry experience because his school was so good. He did not get a job. I had a student crying in my office because he didn’t get a job at big tech company and what was he supposed to do with his life??? I had a recent grad get offered a job more than my current salary (20+ years & PhD), but there were several Red flags. She took it for the money. This is my long way of saying it’s super confusing for recent grads. There is so much peer pressure and misinformation. Plus they are so in debt.

    1. lost academic*

      It’s so confusing and the worst part is that at the end of the day, career higher education mentors are so often the worst people to get advice on venturing outside of that narrow track! And the landscape changes quickly in many fields.

      We teach students early on that they can rely on their project and course experience before they have work experience so they can get those initial opportunities, particularly for summer jobs and internships, and I’ve noticed we never make it clear early on that there’s a point you need to GET experience and STOP counting what happens in college as relevant.

      1. Artemesia*

        There are programs where significant experience is acquired. I managed an undergraduate program which had a semester long internship with concomitant instruction and many of our students did rather impressive work in those settings. There were also classes that included field work and sometimes that provided career relevant experience. The engineering school also required projects where students had hands on experience (maybe they all do). And there are students who work or intern in summer during college who may have relevant experience to bring to the table.

        So this guy may have been gilding the lily, but he may also have what he considers experience. In any case, the OP needs to tell him ‘this is the best we can do for an entry level hire’ and see how he responds. Asking is the right things to do, if perhaps the experience line was shaky.

        1. Cj*

          but if they had internships like that, they would be listed as work experience, outside of their education, and the letter writer would know about it.

          1. lost academic*

            This. And while what you said is useful, it’s still experience that’s based around a course and not an actual job (unless of course it’s an internship/job/coop and then people are typically very clear about what those are. Yes, I’ve seen (and done) impressive work as part of my coursework, and research, but it does not compare to work done for a job. It is useful experience to mention much like relevant courses or publications might be, and I don’t think OP was suggesting it wasn’t, but it is not the same as having actual work experience. Honestly, in my own experience students who are doing the exact same general work in lab environments for money vs credit got something very different out of it and left very different impressions. Same goes for fieldwork.

          2. Kitry*

            Maybe the applicant doesn’t realize that not all colleges require those types of internships, and thinks it’s implied by listing his degree?

    2. NeedRain47*

      It’s actually a running joke among alumni from my alma mater that people would give us lucrative jobs due to our critical thinking skills acquired at Highly Ranked Private College. Just doesn’t happen like that.

    3. Grits McGee*

      There was a letter here years ago where the OP didn’t have work experience, but wanted to explain in her cover letter how undergrad had similar tasks and responsibilities as a job. Alison and the commenters pointed out that school and a job are not equivalent, and the OP took the feedback gracefully.
      I have to wonder if something similar is happening here: the applicant is thinking that the level of education provided by Prestigious University is the type of experience that would qualify them for a higher starting salary than an entry-level graduate of Average College. So many schools market themselves this way, I could see a naïve new grad making this argument in good faith.
      Ultimately, I think the reaction to “no” will be the distinguishing factor between someone who is clueless but well-intentioned vs someone who is indicating that they are going to be problematic.

    4. Prospect Gone Bad*

      Load of misinformation. Way too many people online acting like it’s completely normal to hit six figures in your mid-20s. I am all for entry level people making more but in a “70K instead of 50K” way, not the Reddit-esque way of acting like the status quo of two hours of work a day for 170K

  12. Irish Teacher*

    Until I got to the part about their “experience,” I assumed it was just naivety and unfamiliarity with the working world, that they googled “what are llama groomers paid?” saw a figure far higher than you were offering and either didn’t realise that was a figure for experienced and not entry-level people or didn’t realise how much experience can add to your salary. I’m pretty sure when I was starting out, I might have assumed that if the average pay for a llama groomer is say €50,000 a year, that the entry-level pay would be €45,000 or even more. I think I assumed you got a small bonus for experience, but I wouldn’t have realised it could be significant.

    However, the reference to their experience is weird. Maybe they think that they have a qualification more prestigious than what you need so they should get extra for that?

    Given this is an older letter, I do wonder how this employee worked out and if it was just a naive mistake or if they were somewhat out of touch and entitled.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      That was my take as well – it’s not so much the offer as it is the several years of experience bit. I’d probably answer back asking them to clarify their experience, because they’ll either be out of touch, or it might turn out that they did actually have relevant experience in a college job that they didn’t clarify sufficiently on their resume. Or they’re just BS’ing.

  13. Olive*

    Being worried about making a “terrible decision” because a new graduate made a too-high counteroffer feels like conflict aversion turning a molehill into a mountain.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      Yeah, I hope the LW made a decision to mentally reframe as “Oh, I should explain to them who makes that salary and how they get there” vs. “Oh no I am making a huge mistake because they asked for a lot of money!!”. This is a good chance to explain to an entry level inexperienced person, in a very gentle way, that their ask is unreasonable and likely to be so for most job opportunities out there.

    2. Pink Candyfloss*

      I agree – there’s a simple answer with which to counter the counter, (we can’t do Y, here’s why, let me know if you would still like to accept at X) and the LW may just not see that this is not a complicated situation either because of inexperience themselves or maybe conflict aversion (seeing potential conflict arising instead of a mature back and forth).

    3. Gondorff*

      Yeah the seemingly-immediate reaction of “should I pull the offer” really threw me, since people make too-high counteroffers literally all the time, for all kinds of reasons (and that includes folks who have the experience to know better!). It’s a normal part of the negotiating process, and I can’t imagine treating it as a red flag, especially since there’s absolutely no reason from the information presented that the LW couldn’t just reply saying that they’re firm in their initial offer if they really want to avoid having a follow-up conversation, and leave it in the new hire’s court to accept the offer as-is or decline. The only additional consideration that it being from a new graduate brings is the opportunity to have that conversation and let them know this isn’t how to approach this. But again, that’s entirely optional.

    4. Parakeet*

      Yep. The counteroffer was unreasonable, whether that was because of misinformation (which I think is very plausible) or some other issue, so just refuse it and gently explain why.

  14. GeographyMatters*

    One thing you’re not told early on – or sometimes unless you experience it – is the vast geographic difference in salaries.

    I am from the east coast and have lived most of my life in major cities with extremely high cost of living and fairy high salaries (not commensurate with the cost of living difference, but still significantly higher than average). I moved to a major metro area in the southwest after grad school because the whole northeast was in a recession and there were jobs there. I adjusted my salary expectations down a bit, but not nearly enough (I was still at least 10k too high, sometimes more than that). No one told me! Meanwhile the people I knew getting entry level jobs in other parts of the country were getting a lot more money than I was asking for.

    I currently live in Boston which rotates with NY and SF as the highest cost of living cities in the US. When I moved here I was still very early in my career and I undersold myself by ~15-25k/year because I’d had just enough time to internalize the salaries in the southwest. I asked for more than I made, but not enough more. My first employer here gave me 8k/year more than I asked for (still under market rate) and I caught up quickly, but I’ve never forgotten. I see others here post about salaries they’re requesting and they are so low (tens and tens of thousands of dollars low, how can you survive on that low) to my eye that I have to ignore the figure to digest the point of the post (seriously, you couldn’t rent a closet for anything close to that salary, let alone pay taxes or other expenses).

    So long story short (too late), but I’d also consider if the person is local or if they went to a local college. If not, they may be used to higher salaries and/or seeing their fellow graduates getting much higher salaries than the norm in your area.

    1. Not Tom, Just Petty*

      This is a great point. Is OP from a high COL city? My friend’s family came in from another state. She said she’d have them to dinner. They said they’d take everyone out. “Food is so cheap here!”

    2. Anon in Canada*

      Believe it or not, my previous company paid the same salaries Canada wide. Whether you were in downtown Vancouver or rural Saskatchewan, the same position would pay the same thing, even though housing costs vary by basically 10 to 1. It was a companywide policy and could not be negotiated.

      They paid reasonably by Saskatchewan standards. But in the expensive provinces (ON and BC), these salaries were miserable. You’d think such a big company would realize how crazy that is, but no!

    3. Expert Paper Pusher*

      This is surprisingly easy to overlook. I went to college in an area that viewed itself as inexpensive (relative to places like New York) and moved somewhere with a lower cost of living where people thought the cost of living was “high” (because the city’s cost of living had been increasing faster than inflation). The latter paid much less for entry-level jobs, but the money went much further making ends meet.

      My college career center offered information on starting salaries to expect for certain types of work. Not only were the numbers laughably inaccurate (they were average salaries in a field, NOT entry level), they didn’t account for cost of living at all. It can be a challenge to get reliable salary data even from something that feels like a reliable source.

  15. learnedthehardway*

    OP, you know what the role and this candidate’s experience are worth at your company, and in the market generally. You also know how easy/difficult it is to find someone with the experience you need.

    If you are convinced that the offer you made was fair, commensurate with the person’s experience & education, company compensation policy/bands, and market conditions – then stick with what you originally offered. The person will either accept or reject the offer.

    Just because someone asks / tries to negotiate, it doesn’t mean you have to agree.

    Similarly, just because someone tries to negotiate, it doesn’t mean they are out of line to do so. I wouldn’t necessarily withdraw the offer – not unless the person was being objectionable and unreasonable. The candidate has done some market research, and obviously is wrong, but if they are being respectful and thoughtful / reasonable, then just explain to them that what they are asking for is reserved for people at your company who have X years of work experience, and a history of performance in the role.

    If you can and would be willing to offer a bit more, that’s fine to do. If the person tries to negotiate further – eg. on bonus, vacation, benefits – and you can be flexible, that’s fine too. You don’t have to, though.

    The person either will or will not accept the offer – and that’s okay.

  16. Marna Nightingale*

    I feel like ideally LW wants to try to thread the needle a bit here:

    Negotiating salary is fine. Negotiating salary when you almost certainly aren’t going to get what you want it fine, to a fairly generous point, is fine. 100% of the shots you don’t take and all that.

    Negotiating salary on the basis of something you don’t have (experience) is the kind of thing that if nobody says anything gives people new to the labour market the idea that everyone bends the truth a little, it’s no big deal.

    It seems pretty obvious that they didn’t mean it that way — they didn’t lie, they didn’t shade their resume. They just wrote a cheque they couldn’t cash.

    But it would be a good idea to gently but firmly point out to them that it could reasonably be taken that way and that that, not the negotiation, might easily have lost them the opportunity.

  17. lost academic*

    You decided they were your chosen candidate and you made the offer. They countered. You don’t need to convince them that their counter is wrong, and you’ve determined that the offer was fair for the candidate’s experience and the responsibilities of the role as well as the location. You don’t have to make this complicated – you can say as much and stick to the existing number.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      Or, you can revise the offer to be just SLIGHTLY higher, but not as high as they asked for.
      Sometimes, it’s a give and take, and that’s negotiation.

      1. lost academic*

        That’s useful to consider for sure if you don’t have anyone else that would work on your list.

  18. CommanderBanana*

    I’m confused – does <they haven’t yet accepted the position and I’m wondering what I should do. Advice I have gotten has ranged from this indicating really bad judgement and I should revoke the offer mean that you gave them a higher offer and are now considering revoking it? Because if they did come back with a counteroffer and you accepted, and you decide to revoke it, that’s pretty underhanded.

    If you mean that you aren’t going to offer them the higher salary they want, then they can accept the position or not.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      The way I read the letter, what has happened so far is this:

      Letter writer: we are offering you the [job title] position for a salary of $X per year.
      Candidate: I deserve a salary of $Y per year because I have experience.

      The LW’s friends are saying the next step should be:

      Letter writer: I am rescinding the offer.

      I think the “I should ignore it” option in the letter is:

      Letter writer: We can’t offer $Y for this position. Do you accept the offer at $X per year?

  19. tiny*

    Just popping in to say that I’ve been in my role in my industry for like 8 years and I have no idea what the going market rate is, because there’s no standardized title, and people with and without phds perform this role. In my area the “market” rate probably has a nearly 100k range. I would never hold it against someone for making an effort to find out the market rate and failing.

    Also, not knowing that education doesn’t count as experience is really not a red flag for a recent graduate. Lots of people use lots of words wrong.

    1. Sally Rhubarb*

      Agreed. I’ve tried looking for the salary range for my job title but then the description doesn’t actually match what I do (because my title is sort of made up). Also the industry I work in is so niche but I don’t get any opportunities to network or meet anyone in it so I have no idea if I’m getting paid fairly or not.

      (Probably not but I’m a born cynic trapped in an area with a stupid high COL)

    2. Nikki*

      I keep seeing a job posting pop up at a FAANG company where the salary range is listed as 80-500k. It makes me chuckle every time I see it. Figuring out “market rate” for a lot of jobs, especially unusual jobs, is a whole skillset of its own.

  20. bamcheeks*

    It’s fascinating to me that this turns into a whole drama about Judgment and Red Flags and Bad Advice when according to economics it should be a straightforward transaction of Do You Want To Hire This Person At This Salary Or Not. It’s really, really unnecessary for an employer to be so touchy about this stuff IMO. All the power is on your side: you do not have to act like the candidate personally offended you.

    1. NeedRain47*

      did you read the article? the LW is trying to decide if this person is trying to negotiate in bad faith, or just confused about what counts as experience and should be given the benefit of the doubt.

      1. Czhorat*

        There’s no reason to infer bad faith; they didn’t pad their resume. They didn’t invent experience or qualifications they didn’t have.

        In saying “experience” they could have meant something particular from their schooling which they think would apply. The OP could ask for clarification on that if it could possibly make a difference or simply tell them that they would need X years in a similar position to get more.

        1. Not sure how to say it....*

          “in bad faith” – the applicant actively knows they aren’t worth the salary they’re asking for more money thus if the employer meets the salary demand the employer was cheated by paying the employee more than employee is worth

          1. ina*

            “the applicant actively knows they aren’t worth the salary they’re asking for”

            This isn’t the definition of “bad faith” – bad faith is the intent to deceive. I’m not deceiving anyone by thinking I should be paid enough to afford trip to Bermuda during peak season with new Hermes luggage every year. Delusional? Absolutely. Out of touch? Totally. Naive? 1000%. But not bad faith. You’re putting so much malicious intent on this applicant’s desire to negotiate without even knowing in LW is telling the truth about the competitiveness of the salary or if the applicant does have volunteer experience or an internship that makes them think they’re worth more. Not really the point here, but since there is a lot of intentionality in the use of the word ‘bad faith’ it’s worth considering all angles except the worst ones.

            “the employer meets the salary demand the employer was cheated by paying the employee more than employee is worth”

            I can ask, they can say ‘no.’ If they agree to pay me, I didn’t do anything — they freely choose to meet those demands. No one was cheated…also, again, the worth of the employee is completely subjective and you have no way of knowing what they’re worth. I feel strange using the phrase “more than employee is worth” – it would be better to phrase it, and less personal, to say ‘what their skill set and experience are worth,’ which is how it’s being presented.

          2. bamcheeks*

            It isn’t actually an applicant’s job to limit what they’re asking for to what they “know they’re worth”! The whole structure of our labour market is supposed to be rational individuals negotiating to get the maximum amount they can from an employer.

            It’s not possible for an employee to “cheat” an employer by asking for too much money. The employer always has the option to say no and employ someone else instead.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      Right? If a company rescinded an offer to me because I tried to negotiate, you can bet I would be all over Glassdoor and my professional network making sure everyone knew about it. That is a quick way to get a bad reputation.

    3. When to Hold 'Em and When to Fold 'Em*

      +1. All you are doing by yanking the offer in response to negotiating is ensuring that you’ll never hire someone who is a crack negotiator. Which means that if this position involves selecting suppliers, you’re optimizing for the person who will never negotiate with a supplier. Genius, that.

    4. ina*

      +100. You can say ‘no.’ They can say ‘oop, I tried – I’ll take the original offer, fine. When can I start?’ Or they can say ‘no’ back. And you can think ‘I spent all this time search & interviewing, I am not wasting my time doing that again – my time is valuable’ and say, ‘I’m not giving you 10k more, but will 1k get you to accept the offer faster?’ It doesn’t take months. That person needs a job and you need someone to start – it’s a few emails back and forth until you put your foot down and go, once again, ‘My time is valuable and it’s not worth it to waste my time on someone who doesn’t get it.’

      What is the candidate worth to you? That’s it.

    1. NeedRain47*

      Offers get pulled all the time for less reason. (merely attempting to negotiate, with zero confusion over experience)

      1. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

        Withdrawing an offer for attempting to negotiate is also ludicrous. The fact that it happens doesn’t make it reasonable.

        1. Czhorat*

          I could not possibly agree more.

          If the offer is withdrawn, the lesson becomes “don’t advocate for yourself”.

          You also risk hiring timid “yes-man” types who may not be the best employees long-term.

          1. CommanderBanana*

            Also, if a company pulled an offer to me because I tried to negotiate, I’d consider that a bullet dodged.

            1. Michelle Smith*

              I would too, but I still have to pay my bills and having an offer withdrawn would impact that. It would also absolutely impact my confidence in future negotiations, despite logically knowing that a place that conducts business that way is not a good fit.

    2. Daisy*

      I agree, but employers do it all the time. This is part of the reason people in more vulnerable situations are reluctant to negotiate.
      Thinking back to a job offer with a laughable hourly rate when I was very desperate for a job I agonized over negotiating . I settled on a very timid ‘is there any wiggle room in the salary’ and was given a very firm no. If I hadn’t been so desperate I probably would have passed.

  21. Khatul Madame*

    “Thank you for your response. We would be thrilled for you to join our team. Our offer of X $K per year for the position of Junior Llama Stable Cleaner remains unchanged. We would appreciate your response by this Friday 8/18. Kthxbye.”
    I would be very interested in reading an update to the original letter.

    1. Michelle Smith*

      I’m not a huge fan of this response (I know the kthxbye part is a tongue-in-cheek joke and not part of the actual suggested email). “We would be thrilled for you to join our team” doesn’t seem genuine here and more like a deflection from the “remains unchanged” sentence. And I don’t understand why the candidate shouldn’t hear the reasons why it remains unchanged. If I got a response like this from a hiring manager and I had any other options, I’d decline the offer. Even if I’d been willing to accept the original salary in a worst-case scenario.

      1. metadata minion*

        To me, the “we’re thrilled” bit reads as very standard boilerplate Welcome To The Exciting World of Paperwork! communication. I do agree that giving some sort of reason for holding firm on the salary would be better, especially since this person is new to the work world and might really benefit from a little more explanation.

    2. ina*

      If I got this email in reply, I’d refuse the offer to be honest. It blatantly dismisses the applicant and comes off as, frankly, disrespectful/rude. I’d worry on the other end how working there would be like. The applicant didn’t do anything except make a rookie mistake and seemingly based off a misunderstanding. Coaching can start now.

      “Thank you for your response. We would be thrilled for you to join our team but we will not be able to increase our offer. We based our offer on your experience in relation to XYZ skills and while we acknowledge your volunteer experience and internship experience, these were already factored into our initial offer. The salary you quoted is for someone with years of experience in the field (potentially adding: ‘and a figure that we hope to be able to pay you as you grow in this position.’)

      Again, we would be happy for you to join our team and our offer of X $K per year for the position of Junior Llama Stable Cleaner remains unchanged. We would like to start on-boarding by the week of the 28th and this would require a response by 8/18. Please let us know if you have any further questions. Look forward to working with you!”

      How they respond to a ‘no’ is more important to me.

  22. the cat ears*

    so I did a code bootcamp to get into tech and one thing that happens is that you’ll get a TON of advice and very little guidance on how to sort out what’s good and bad, or what does or doesn’t apply to you as an entry level candidate. I DEFINITELY got told “you need to negotiate salary or you’re leaving money on the table,” often with some implied shaming around the idea that the gender salary gap exists in part because of women being too shy to negotiate. You get told to negotiate no matter what.

    I will say that a lack of salary transparency contributes to this a lot, but in the most immediate sense it’s a problem with entry level people getting bad advice (or advice more appropriate to higher level people) and no guidance on how to interpret it.

    1. When to Hold 'Em and When to Fold 'Em*

      …around the idea that the gender salary gap exists in part because of women being too shy to negotiate.

      But it does exist in part for that reason.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Respectfully, this is victim-blaming, in my opinion. Employers know how much they pay men and are uniquely equipped to achieve salary parity across genders for the same type of work. How do I know this? Because I’ve worked at places where it was done! Everyone who came in with X years of experience made Y. There were specific metrics that had to be met to get more than that base number. Then when it came time to calculate raises and bonuses, those were based on months/years with the organization.

        None of this is women’s fault. It’s employer’s fault for blaming women’s negotiating or lack thereof and reluctance to set salary bands and concrete, objective metrics for determining increases. There are obvious problems with the metrics I described above – the most obvious being that no one was incentivized to go above and beyond for a merit raise since none was available (so motivation had to come from somewhere else). But it does demonstrate that this is a solvable problem in a way that doesn’t require to make anyone negotiate literally at all.

      2. Don't Call Me Shirley*

        I have always asked, and I have never got more. I’ve had better raises within a company than changing jobs. I’ve made it to “staff engineer” level entirely by internal promotions once they see me in action.

      3. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        Right! But the idea here is “you should correct this societal imbalance entirely alone, by negotiating your salary”. And with no acknowledgment that asking doesn’t always lead to getting, or that people have inherent biases that lead them to have unreasonable reactions to reasonable actions.

        1. the cat ears*

          yes, thank you. There are a lot of things companies can do to mitigate pay imbalances, and some options for more senior workers; entry level workers should not consider themselves responsible for this problem at all.

      4. Boof*

        But women also tend to be punished for negotiating more often then men: so it’s really the women understanding that negotiation might backfire

        1. When to Hold 'Em and When to Fold 'Em**

          You are 100% certain not to get a better salary if you fail to ask.

          Perhaps there is a chance that negotiating would backfire, but there is also a non-zero chance it would succeed.

          Your argument seems to be “women are 100% damned if they don’t negotiate, but 50% damned if they do.” I choose to be damned if I do, both philosophically and by expected value. Plus, if a company is going to penalize what it views as uppity women, I’d rather self-select out ahead of time.

          1. Boof*

            I am not arguing anything, I’m stating facts, and that the answer is not as simple as “women just need to negotiate more”. It’s not even clear that the gap exists /in any part/ because women don’t negotiate enough; how do you know that? How do you know that it’s not because a chunk of the women who tried to negotiate for equal pay got fired, or got a bunch of secretarial worked dumped on them and then put on a PIP plan, so the rest decided they’d rather not go there, etc etc. There’s a lot of nuance in how women can be most likely to successfully negotiate and many probably don’t because they recognize that they will be worse off than if they try. (I say that, but I will fully agree I’d rather try to negotiate and leave a place that punishes me for it than not try, but I’m also super hardheaded and my calculus might be different if, say, I was supporting a family [I am but I got this attitude before then and it’s mostly worked for me to so far] with no safety net [thankfully I have one; it’d be pretty daunting if I had nothing to easily fall back on tho]) And yes I have successfully negotiated things even if unwittingly it’s been along the lines of the advice in the article (actually probably not bad advice for men either but basically try to really play up how we’re a team and it’s in all our interests etc etc)

  23. Czhorat*

    I agree with the consensus that pulling the offer is needlessly punitive; you could try to ask what experience they have which would make a difference (as noted) or you can tell them it’s a firm number and leave it there.

    Question for you – how did you tell them the salary? Was it advertised with the job? Did you tell him during the first interview? Did you ask first what he expected? The more up front and transparent you are the better the chance of having a fair, respectful negotiation process in which all sides feel heard and nobody thinks they’re being taken advantage of.

    The kid may be doing it wrong this time, but negotiating and standing up for yourself is, in the bigger picture, the right thing to do.

  24. with all due respect*

    Is the candidate clueless or is the salary you’re offering not actually livable so they decided to shoot for the moon?

    1. ina*

      Yeah, at my first job ever ever, I had to decline because it just wasn’t enough to live on. Being a baby out of college, I outright said it wasn’t enough to pay rent and eat (lol). They came back with a cost of living increase, which was helpful & I accepted, but still quite low (which I learned when I went onto a job in an adjacent but closely related field that gave me 20k more a year).

      Years down the line and with my state having pay transparency laws…well, the same job title still pays pennies, but at least I got bumped to top of the penny stack if I’m converting cost of living rises right. Yeesh.

    2. Boof*

      I realize this is an old letter, but if that was the reason the candidate wanted more, they should have stated it. “I realize this job is a springboard to a lot of great things, but regretfully I cannot afford to only earn $X for the next year, as cost of living alone is $Y. Any room to come up to $Y?” rather than citing experience not in evidence (good call to clarify what the candidate meant by that first, though) or average salaries for much higher level positions.

  25. Gary Patterson's Cat*

    I guess it depends how much more they asked for before I’d say it was out of bounds, or clueless or whatever. As an example, if your range was $30k-$35k and you made an offer of $32k, and they asked for $2k more, that seems pretty reasonable and you might counter with $34k to start. But if they were asking for $50k then there is a real sense of not understanding employment norms if they are going for an entry-level position.

    Deciding whether or not to negotiate is always hard. Just going through this myself, and I only asked for $3k more than the offer because I had been making $6k more at my previous job and the extra $3k sort of splits the difference.

    1. Czhorat*

      This I agree on.

      I’m MUCH farther in my career than that, but I had an offer (for a remote job in a lower-cost state) at about 30K less than my ask. I didn’t attempt to negotiate, but politely declined the offer with my thanks and regrets.

      If they try to negotiate from 30 to 50 that’s a sign they don’t know what they’re doing; it still can read more as “naive” than “entitled” for a first-time job. I believe in giving benefit of the doubt when possible.

    2. E*

      absolutely everyone needs roughly 50k to live in any city these days, so if the offer is under 50k people should nope out of there.
      why even go to university if you can’t get 50k base.

  26. Jiminy Cricket*

    It’s not a red flag for me. The candidate is straight out of college and made a classic straight-out-of-college error in judgment. College grads have been told to position all the clubs and volunteering and research projects and such they’ve done prior to the working world as “experience.” So it’s a bucket of cold water when they have to learn that it’s not really, but they all learn.

  27. Kermit's Bookkeepers*

    I tend to agree with OP that the applicant was probably referring to his prestigious college degree when he mentioned his experience and, although those are not equivalent, I can understand why a new grad would do that. Our parents, high school guidance counselors, professors and pop culture tend to sell college educations (especially elite ones) as a one-way ticket to success when it’s much more akin to a networking tool. I don’t mean to devalue higher education at all — I think it’s incredibly important for us all to pursue the highest level of education that we can — but I think it’s probably very common for new graduates to expect their degree to get them much further ahead than it does.

  28. Nom*

    This doesn’t seem to be the case with this letter, but it’s worth mentioning that many companies actually are very out of touch about what is *actually* market salary.

  29. Fikly*

    See, my first question is if competitive = living wage. How many times do companies think that just because they are offering pay similar to other companies like them, it means it’s a salary/wage that someone can live off of, and that’s simply not the case?

    Yes, the candidate sounds like they made a poor case in their counteroffer, but that doesn’t mean they could afford the salary offered, or that the salary offered was reasonable for the current economy or area.

    TL:DR – if all companies offer a terrible salary for a similar role, that doesn’t make it unreasonable to counter.

  30. Indolent Libertine*

    Older letter and water over the dam, but I agree with those who are saying that pulling the offer over just this would not make sense. Go back to the candidate and say “What we offered is a slightly above market rate salary for this entry level position, and is what we’d offer to anyone with a resume similar to yours. The salary you’ve asked for is in the middle of the range for someone Y titles higher, with Z years on the job. Our offer remains as originally structured; please let us know whether you accept or decline by close of business this coming Friday.” If they respond obnoxiously to that, then pull it.

  31. Spearmint*

    It’s also important to keep in mind that negotiating business transactions (which is what employment is) is something most young people, and many not-so-young people, have little to no experience doing. So I think it’s to be expected that they might not be sure what to say to justify the ask and simply blurt out something about experience.

    Many people also don’t realize that you don’t always have to cite a reason to ask for more. You can simply say “after learning more about the position, I was hoping for $X, is that possible?”, assuming X is only 5%-10% more than the offer.

  32. Falling Diphthong*

    The thing with chatbots lying to you is that they know the format:
    • Make assertion.
    • Provide logical support for assertion to convey that your position is well-reasoned.

    And chatbots will just flat out make something up for the second part. I’ve come to think that’s uncomfortably close to a lot of human reasoning–my assertion might be right, here’s a claim that I think should work to convince any reasonable person. And a lack of appreciation for people who are like “But Portland is not the capitol of Ohio, that is wrong.”

    The applicant is trying to follow a script they believe will get them to what they want. Whether the lines make sense is something they are too young and inexperienced to understand.

    (I would just come back to the young person with the facts: This salary is high for entry level; the salary they quote is for several years of experience; their resume showed zero experience.)

  33. Orange You Glad*

    I was dealing with this exact situation for the past year while hiring for 3 new entry-level positions. We made it clear the highest we could go, some people accepted that and others passed and that is fine. I cannot even ask my HR to approve a salary so high above the approved budget that it would be even higher than their manager’s current salary.

    We are budgeted 55-60k, usually offer 57-58k depending on other experience, and can negotiate up to 60k. We have great benefits which I try to mention when discussing the compensation package. I had one person who had no job experience and nothing on his resume for the past year since he graduated ask for 95k. He wasn’t all that strong of a candidate either but he was one of the only that met min qualifications at the time. I was happy to keep looking.

    I gotta give the recent batch of grads credit for advocating for themselves. I was hired during the great recession so there was no wiggle room on salary negotiations and I was lucky just to get a job.

    1. LowballSalaries*

      Funny you mentioned manager salary. At my first job I was asked what was the minimum salary I would accept. I gave them a freakishly low number as I really wanted the job (it was so low I’ve subsequently had bonuses for the same amount – good bonuses, but still). I got it and after I started I discovered I was making more than my boss. In fact, I was the third highest paid employee at the company of 20 something people. Everyone but the big bosses was getting lowballed because they were uncomfortable about naming a number and we were just coming out of a recession.

    2. Kingsway*

      Someone earning more than their manager is not unusual in many industries, especially in cases where the manager does not possess the specialist skills their team members have.

  34. Dido*

    Citing “experience” as a justification for a higher salary when you have no experience is certainly an indicator of a lack of common sense and critical thinking skills, regardless of what advice this candidate got from their career center

    1. ina*

      The part that I’d try to tease out is what experience is there. If they needed 1 yr of Python coding experience for the job and we see that that 1 ‘qualifying’ year is = to their academic coursework as a whole, then I don’t see how that is additional experience to negotiate again (it being a 4 yr degree doesn’t matter since you aren’t really employing it in a real world setting) – it was already factored into the base offer.

      But if they had an internship where they did a big, complex project for their internship that they can speak to as being beyond what we factored in and considered, I might be more inclined to consider. I am curious to see what the LW did hire them on if the only thing on their resume is supposedly their schooling — are they discounting the experiences gained through non-paid work? Which is the stuff a lot of colleges encourage students to do for experience.

  35. Akcipitrokulo*

    Aw, poor kid! I’m definitely thinking they have been given too much Gumption! advice.

  36. Raida*

    I mean, you’ve made an offer at th enormal salary rate – they don’t have to accept it.

    If they take the role, I’m assuming your business has a standard probation period? If they suck, get rid of them. If they don’t, don’t.

    Either way, you can find out where they learnt that negotiation technique, and show them that it doesn’t work without *accurate* information IE the correct job comparisons and an understanding of what ‘my experience’ actually means. Can’t just parrot “my experience” to get the higher salary!

  37. Retired Vulcan Raises 1 Grey Eyebrow*

    I don’t understand the OP’s indignation reaching a level of considering pulling the job offer:
    The kid goofed, but it’s the kind of goof caused by not yet having experienced their first “grown-up” job and hence probably reading or listening to bad advice. They didn’t lie on their resume, didn’t fake credentials, weren’t rude to the OP or the admin staff.

    Take out the emotion. This is just business, noone is being insulted.
    The OP should reply politely that the salary & benefits are fixed at a level the company has assessed to be appropriate & competitive and request the candidate to reply by date xx if they accept the offer under the terms as previously stated.

  38. SB*

    It sounds like they have been watching the literally hundreds of tik tokers posting advice on how to negotiate better pay but not understanding that you need to be in a position to negotiate in the first place in order for these tactics to work.

  39. Kingsway*

    Why would you revoke an offer to a candidate who was your choice for the role, all because they are brave enough to request higher remuneration? Especially as they are new to the workforce and are yet to experience the power imbalance that is never in their favour as a worker.

    I understand that this is an older letter, but this line is very telling:

    I’ve set the salary to be a little above what other orgs our size do for this position to make it more competitive and retain staff. This seems to have worked well over the years.

    People work because they need to earn the money required to live in this society, not for fun. Just because paying “a little above” what the supposed market rate is has worked for however long does not mean it will continue to work in the long run.

    1. Prosecco*

      If it’s not working well anymore, because employees are leaving and they can’t fill empty positions then they’re going to realise that pretty quickly.

  40. Anecdata*

    I hate that this is true, but I’ve had a company tell me they have that policy for those reasons… and then figure out a few years in that it wasn’t true. They just figured “oh, we never negotiate because equity!” was a pretty good starting bid and saved them a chunk of money, since some people /did/ so negotiating when given that line. Your company might mean it for real, but some of your applicants might have reason to try asking for more anyway

  41. Evan*

    I have noticed that, when responding to posts like this, you rarely if ever address the systemic hiring and compensation issues practiced by the organization and take their site as writ.

    Taking the idea of “Market Salary,” is a metric used be employers to regularly under compensate their staff. Market rate is a process in which organizations suppress compensation based off of other organizations practices and priorities as opposed to their own unique needs. Just because the organization is paying a “market salary” does not mean that number is justifiable.

    You also ignore the dichotomy between cost of living and compensation packages. Market rate may dictate a 45K salary, but if that organization is operating in an area where 45K does not meet basic standards of living, then market rate on serves to make companies and workforces less diverse, equitable and inclusive.

    Could this all be irrelevant to the discussion, sure. But we are in an environment of record corporate profits, record inequity and a working class with little to no growth opportunity. It’s become increasing concerning that you, in your position of influence, rarely push back against these systems without advocating for ANY change.

    1. Billy Preston*

      So what is your suggestion on how she should push back in her posts? This is an advice blog and your comment is derailing what is meant to be practical advice for people’s everyday lives.

    2. tinyhipsterboy*

      This website is a blog for practical advice, though. Not to mention that Alison *does* push back pretty often; she makes it a point to include asides about how employers need to pay fairly, how they should actually respond to applicants instead of ghosting them, how “don’t talk about salary” is used to get away with pay disparities, and so on. I see her mention things like that pretty regularly despite it not actually being a focus of the blog.

      She even purposefully does a salary questionnaire (it’s a result on the first page under the “salary” topic!) to help readers get an idea of salaries and look out for pay disparities. Along with featuring guests from marginalized communities to help give advice and advocate for change.

      Like, nobody’s perfect, don’t get me wrong – Alison can make mistakes just as easily as anyone else. But this feels like a really weird comment on a post that’s specifically about addressing the realities of the situation rather than what should be. I think she’s trying to give advice that balances making important changes while also keeping people employed – pushing for radical change is absolutely crucial in general, but the reality is, doing so can often put your livelihood at risk. With the context of this being an advice blog on how to navigate what work culture is like in the US, it wouldn’t be at all helpful if her advice endangers someone’s ability to make money to live.

  42. Left Bower*

    I agree with other commenters bringing up the issue of pay and the problems with market rate. Even if the salary LW is offering is at or above market rate, “market rate” doesn’t guarantee fairness or livability. A lot of companies use this as cover to lowball entry-level positions (not saying LW is doing this, but New Grad may have encountered it in their job search so far). I know Alison and others have written about why you can’t negotiate/ask for a raise just because you need the money, but I think it’s a shared fiction of the modern American workplace to ignore that people often ask for raises because they genuinely need the money.

    If the applicant can’t provide relevant experience to back up their ask, LW could possibly talk to them about the cadence of promotions/raises: How likely are they to get a $X raise in one year? two? three? What are the goalposts and how is the employee supported in reaching them? That was great advice I received when applying for a job where the starting salary was non-negotiable.

  43. James*

    Does this job involve negotiating on behalf of your organisation – eg with vendors, partners, external clients? If not then this isnt really giving you new information on how this applicant would perform in the role, and a reply along the lines of “i’m sorry, we wouldnt be able to match that, let us know if you’re still interested at $X/hour” seems appropriate.

  44. Lacey*

    #4 Unless you have a great logo and/or a popular brand – no one wants branded merch.
    But, if you put the logo on something very nice, people will tolerate branded merch.

    For example, my company bought us very expensive, insulated water bottles. I’d rather have one without the logo, but since I’d never spend this kind of money for the bottle myself, I will tolerate owning one with the logo.

    But I also might cover it up with a sticker.

Comments are closed.