By Judi Perkins
Money. Who doesn't love it? But when job offers dip below past salaries; it often erroneously determines the decision of whether or not to accept the offer.
Myths and Mistakes
Some claim that if the money is right, it doesn't matter if they don't like the job. It may be three weeks or three months, but without exception, if it isn't the right situation, you'll eventually realize the fallacy of what you initially rationalized as "practical thinking."
Then what? How long before your performance and stability suffer, and life becomes one negative statement after another? Stress builds, your relationships suffer, and your health is compromised.
Another common mistake is deciding on a figure before the job search begins. This obscures your judgment, especially when an offer is made. For example, Bob wants $85k but the offer is $75K, and he's negotiated all he can. Although he likes the company, he's turning it down. Do the math. Bob's saying, "No," because he wants $145 more per week, that's $29 more per day before taxes. Is it worth it?
What Affects Salary?
Company size matters. So does your title. And compensation is directly related to experience, so if you change your function, you're stepping out of your experience, and correspondingly, your salary will decrease. If you remain in the same function but move to a different industry, salary may translate more easily, depending on the learning curve.
Salary increases usually result from staying in the same function and industry, but moving to a bigger company or, alternatively, staying in the same size company but adding responsibility. And then there's the market range, which varies by geography.
Low Risk Wins
Consider this from the company's point of view. First, the more risk for them, the less likely they are to hire you, and if they do, the less they're going to pay you for experience that you don't have. If they make you an offer, you've sold them on your ability to learn, your genuine interest in that field or function and your interest in their company. You've also convinced them you intend to remain there in integrity for a reasonable period of time.
Second, the higher your offer is out of the accepted range, and the better it looks to you, the happier the company is. While some companies with high turnover and bad reputations pay poorly, others dangle an attractive carrot knowing they can find someone to blindside with an impossible working situation. The irony here is that perhaps the better company is the one offering the lower salary. High salaries, out of context, are a red flag that the ego can miss, and companies who practice this ploy count on that.
Stay in Balance
No matter where you work or what you do, money is never a straightforward factor and shouldn't be your only consideration. It can be, or might not be, influenced by power, ego, experience validation, a bribe, a tool, a reward, or just sufficient. What it should always be, however, is balanced with your reason for why you're doing what you're doing at whatever company you're doing it.