WWYD: Told One Salary Number, and Offered Another

This question is more of a “what should I have done” since it’s already too late, but I wanted to know the answer so I know what I should do next time.

A bit of background: My company has been going through some changes and a whole bunch of people have been made “redundant.” Various positions have disappeared and some have been created. I was verbally offered one of the newly created positions in a different department and was told by the manager of that department that it would be a pay raise of about $30,000.

When the offer came through, it was only a pay raise of $20,000 (I shouldn’t say “only” — it’s still a lot, but it doesn’t seem that way because I was told a different number before). When I brought this up with my manager he informed me that this was the highest he could go as his boss had overridden his decision. I ultimately I signed the contract and accepted this amount without really questioning the decision at all.

Of course, since then everyone has been telling me that I should have pushed harder and demanded more money. But I kind of feel that with our company cutting jobs and with more cutbacks to come to save money that I should be happy with the $20K, which is still a lot of money. I am grateful for it, though I do feel like maybe I should have pressed a little harder and that maybe I cheated myself out of a bit of money.

What do you think? should I have been happy with that I received, or should I have tried to negotiate more? — A.

A., with so many changes happening at your company and with more to come, I’m not surprised that you were originally told one salary number, and then offered another. If I were in your position, the only thing I would have done differently is ask how they arrived at the salary number, whether the number is negotiable, and if there is opportunity for advancement. I would have also made sure that the given salary number is comparable to similar positions on the job market before signing the contract.

And that’s what’s really important — that the salary is fair given the job requirements and what you’d be paid to do at a similar job at another company; that it pays enough for you to pay your bills and save and live comfortably; that it can be justified.

Your company must recognize that you’re valuable and have something to bring to the table — you’ve managed to survive the cutbacks, after all. And during such an unpredictable time period, I don’t blame you for playing it safe.

Photo: Roger Gregory