The LLoyd blog: hidden talent.

Negotiating Up on a Low Salary Offer


It’s a hot job market, right?
Good candidates are scarce.
So, why did I just get low balled on salary from my prospective employer?
That’s a good question.

Buzz in the recruitment community shows that while some companies are stretching their pay ranges, other firms don’t want to feel pressured into giving a candidate more than they are accustomed to paying for a position despite the scarcity of appropriate talent.  Price-sensitive companies are staying close to their budgets, but are keeping their wish lists high and leaving some cushion for negotiation and other perks.  They want to hire the qualified candidate who can offer them the best return on their investment without wreaking havoc among their current workforce.   High offers can lead to discontent among existing staff should they learn a new employee is earning the same salary or perhaps an even a bigger paycheck.  Many companies are rethinking both their salary ranges and hiring requirements to determine what are the requisite skill sets and background experience and what is preferred. Firms must get a good handle on competitive pay for a position and the requirements needed to excel in a given role. The post pandemic mindset changed what will entice a candidate into acceptance.

Currently employed or not, many candidates will no longer interview for a role without knowing the compensation bandwidth in advance. Of course, almost every candidate anchors their hopes to the high end of the salary spectrum and believes they possess all the right qualifications to earn the bigger paycheck – whether that’s true or not.

That’s why every job seeker (and employer) should do their due diligence before negotiating a starting salary. An employer wants to make the best hire at a competitive salary and a job seeker needs to know when to accept a number that’s not quite their target.  Both sides should do their due diligence before it gets down to the negotiation.  It’s always smart to know what the competitive pay rate is for a particular job title, industry or region.  While a hiring company doesn’t want to feel they were taken advantage of, neither does the candidate.  There is a world of difference between a ridiculously low offer and one that is competitive.

Do Your Homework!
“The Great Recession”  created widespread discontent with the workforce with issues ranging from salary, work location, benefits, work day/hours flexibility and more.  As our lives were disrupted by Covid19 and its variants, a new attitude toward employment and the definition of career satisfaction emerged.  One common problem was rooted in compensation.  Currently, anyone who has decided to pursue new career opportunities by choice or by life events, should go into this era of the job hunt fully armed with information on occupational earnings by title, job description, region and education.  Similarly, those who are hiring or replacing workers need to know if you are paying people according to accepted salary benchmarks. To determine if earnings and duties commensurate with others in similar roles visit sites such as:

The Salary Range Conundrum
Positions often have a benchmark salary range, plus bonus and benefits.  Unfortunately, the candidates are usually not privy to the job’s compensation so for them it is often like interviewing wearing a blindfold.  You go through several rounds of interviews and then are immediately deflated when the pay offered is nowhere near your earnings goal.

For years, job hunting etiquette dictated the candidate NOT ask what the job paid early in the interviewing process.  They were told that would put an employer off.  Maybe so, but this recruitment marketplace is a “different animal.”  It is not unusual for a candidate to say they are not entertaining the interviewing process without knowing the high and low end of the salary spectrum for the position in question.

He Said NO!
In March 2022, a LinkedIn post by Robynn Storey, CEO of Storeyline Resumes, garnered a lot of conversation and engagement coming in at 44,000 likes and 1,000+ comments.  She shared the experience of a candidate who was open with a prospective employer about his desired earnings in conjunction with his experience.  The individual went through five different interviews for the role and the company still made an offer $15K less than what he disclosed he needed up front.  Ms. Storey told the candidate the firm was expecting him to counteroffer to get to the desired $150K.


But – in this era, this marketplace and this mindset, the candidate simply said NO.
He viewed the negotiation as offensive and disrespectful and said that ultimately he felt that their behavior was indicative as to how he would be treated as an employee and would subsequently impact his mental health at work. He walked away and was happy in his choice. We can only imagine what the employer felt.
The subsequent post engagement showed that many candidates understood that situation and were also not willing to dance that dance anymore.

Changes Ahead
In New York City, the Pay Transparency Law will require that NYC employers with four or more employees include the salary range of the position in job positions. As of April 21, lawmakers were anticipating that it would be effective May 15, 2022, despite a bill that has been introduced to delay the effective date until November.

Many see this law as a gamechanger for both job seekers and current employees.  It uncovers the mystery surrounding a position’s compensation.  Potential hires will know if the range is in their zone and existing staff will know if they are being adequately paid for the same roles as new people coming on board.

If You Are Lowballed
If you are lowballed, but you want the position and the company, you will need to address the salary without jeopardizing your prospective employment.  Almost anyone in a hiring role will expect some discussion about compensation.  Once an offer has been extended, the time period between the offer and your acceptance is the period of greatest leverage. The employer has narrowed the field of candidates and chosen their favorite.  For many it has been an exhaustive sourcing and interviewing process – they want the candidate to accept and are most willing to listen to his or her needs providing they are not completely outrageous according to their work culture and business practices.  As a candidate, if you decide that you want to negotiate, say something like this, “I’m very pleased to be offered this opportunity, but honestly I’m disappointed.   I believe the salary doesn’t take into consideration the value I bring to this position and my expectations were for the high end of your range considering my background – and I believe I deserve it.” Be ready to offer a few key points if you need to substantiate your request. You may want to name a salary that is higher than you expect to receive, but still within reason. Leave room for the company to counter.  Of course, if their offer has no wiggle room then it’s up to you to decide if you can live with this low(er) number or simply walk.  The same goes for the employer.  How badly do you want to make this hire?  Is it worth sacrificing a great candidate if there is room in the hiring budget and it won’t have a negative long-term affect on the rest of your workforce?

Keeping the Salary Discussion Conversational
When discussing salary both parties should keep it conversational, not demanding – or condescending. You want to get off on a good foot with each other without creating a situation that will change the dynamics that allowed you to get to this point in the first place.  Asking for or offering a salary that is too little will make the candidate reluctant to begin and being too greedy or too cheap can damage the halo of goodwill and motivation that accompanies a great hire. If you arrive an impasse, both parties should have some alternative upgrades ready – these might include remote or hybrid work options, professional training opportunities, additional paid vacation day, increased sick days, contributions toward insurance, commutation or childcare costs, bonus plans or more generous performance incentives, a liberal flextime schedule, or frequency of reviews. Once settled, a formal offer should be extended with all the components of the compensation plan in writing.

The best salary negotiations and new starts are about the willingness to compromise, find some balance and believe that the deal you’ve made, is the best one – regardless of which side of the interview desk you sit behind.

Explore some of LLoyd’s current job opportunities and see if you could be earning more.

#lowballoffer #salarynegotiation #compensation

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