Posted: 06 Jan 2017 09:00 AM PST
A reader writes:
I wonder if there is some critical flaw in my negotiation strategy that’s making employers not take me seriously. With the last two jobs I’ve been offered (both in the last year), I have tried to negotiate on flexible scheduling and/or salary. For the first, I had a great interview and a near immediate offer for a job I was highly qualified for. They offered me a certain salary and I asked if they could come up from that number. I presented the (publicly available) salary information for the other employees at the same level and asked that my salary offer match the higher of the range. It was a difference of only $5k, but the hiring manager still refused and stuck with the initial offer. She said she appreciated that I was negotiating and that she knew that skill would serve me well in the position. I was annoyed, but accepted the job anyway.
In my current job negotiation, I was very clearly told I was the favored candidate and offered a certain salary. I expressed enthusiasm for the position and offer and asked for a flexible schedule, as that was the most important factor to me over salary. I was denied ostensibly on account of other employees having been denied the same. In response I asked for them to come up on the salary since the flexible schedule has real economic value to me, but was again denied and told that the offer was the highest in the range for the position. The hiring manager said that he appreciated my negotiation and that it would serve me well in the position.
What is up? Is it common now for an employer’s first offer to be final offer? Is “appreciating the negotiation that will serve well in the position” a throw-away line from managers stonewalling applicants on negotiation? If they think it is a valuable skill, why aren’t they persuaded to respond to it? Are they not taking me seriously for some reason? For what it’s worth, I am a young-looking mid-30s woman with excellent credentials in a highly skilled field.
Just because you can try to negotiate salary doesn't mean that you will always succeed.
I think you're thinking of this as "if I ask for more money, I'll always get at least something," but that's not how it works.
If you ask for more money, sometimes you will get it.
But not getting it in two cases (while still getting an overall positive response) isn't about employers not taking you seriously or trying to stonewall you. It just means that in those two cases, those two employers weren't persuaded that it made sense to offer you more. They made you their best offer the first time. Some employers do that. I wouldn’t conclude anything more than that based on two instances.
You might think, "But surely if they think I'm the best candidate, throwing another few thousand dollars my way shouldn't be a deal-breaker." But when an employer has a clear, set salary range for a position, it can be legitimate for them to want to keep you in the part of that range that your skills and experience match up with. For one thing, if they don't do that, they risk creating salary equity issues with other employees (current or future ones). For another, if they start you at the top of their range, they may not have room to raise your salary in the future.
Or frankly, they may just be more willing to walk away than you are. One person in a negotiation usually is, and sometimes that'll be you and sometimes that'll be the employer. If they have other good candidates who they're excited about, they may not have incentive to cave on stuff they'd rather not cave on. (It’s also possible that if you’d walked, they would have raised the offer. Or not, which is why bluffing can be very risky.)
And when you're talking about negotiating something like a flexible schedule, there can be all sorts of reasons it doesn't make sense for them to say yes to that. The reason they gave you — that they'd denied it to other employees — can be a good one. Yes, employers in general should try to be as flexible as possible but there are plenty of roles where that doesn't make sense or where they could do it for one or two people but not for everyone (and in that case, doing it for the newest person when others have wanted it is unlikely to go over well).
Keep trying to negotiate with future offers. But go into it being okay with the idea that asking for something more doesn't mean you'll necessarily get it (just like they won't necessarily get a yes from you if they ask you to consider something unpalatable as part of the offer). That doesn't mean you're doing something wrong; that's just how these things go sometimes.
And when an employer won’t budge, you still get to evaluate the offer you have … and you can walk away if you don’t believe the pay is fair or in line with the market or if the offer otherwise isn’t what you want.
employers say they appreciate that I tried to negotiate salary, but they won’t budge was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.
Posted: 06 Jan 2017 08:00 AM PST
It's the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about. If you want an answer from me, emailing me is still your best bet*, but this is a chance to talk to other readers.
* If you submitted a question to me recently, please don’t repost it here, as it may be in the to-be-answered queue :)
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