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Question: I've been thinking lately about the advantages and disadvantages of telling to the employer that I really don't care about the salary.

I already tried this on my first job and the result is I was instantly hired, and they are encouraging me to work as soon as possible. Actually they are thinking that they hit a jackpot, given that I am fine when it comes to my job. But unfortunately the company itself is very poor when it comes to employee benefits and employee management, and my salary is very low compare to the job that I am doing.

You can see below the advantages and disadvantages based on my experience.

Advantages:

  1. Tremendous increase of the chances of being hired.
  2. You can start early as possible.
  3. The employer sees you as a person that is not occupied by money, and are really sincere in your work.

Disadvantages:

  1. The employer expects that you are really having a hard time finding a job, so giving you a small salary is sufficient and can benefits them a lot.
  2. Because they look at you as a person that is not occupied by money they don't want to promote you even though you are already qualified.

So, now I am confused. Overall, does telling to the employer and interviewer that I really don't care for the salary can really benefit me in my career and future in the long run? My story is only short run, so I don't know in the long run.

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    You say you don't care about your salary. You also say "But unfortunately [...] my salary is very low compare to the job that I am doing." That is a contradiction. – prockel Sep 19 '14 at 8:40
  • Yeah, during the time of being interviewed I don't care, but after a few months of being hired. Even after probationary period my salary is the same, that's what I'm talking about unfortunate. :) – Cary Bondoc Sep 19 '14 at 8:42
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    That means you only pretend to be not interested in salary. This strategy is lousy and won't get you a well paid job... (sorry) – prockel Sep 19 '14 at 8:55
  • Saying that I don't care about the salary during interview doesn't exempt me in salary increase during regularization. That's a crystal clear 2 different things. – Cary Bondoc Sep 19 '14 at 8:58
  • I don't think so. If I was your employer and knew you said you didn't care for the salary, why should I give you a raise? – prockel Sep 19 '14 at 9:04
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It's one thing to say that I don't care about salary and another to state that I am not worried about salary.

  1. Saying that you don't care about salary may make you especially attractive to employers who are the bottom, marginal feeding type. It's like selling something and attracting the most labor intensive, parsimonious customers around. Depending upon your personal preferences, these may be neither the prospective employers nor the prospective customers you want to attract. Let's face it, when you are looking for a job, you are selling your services. I would definitely be uncomfortable about selling my services this way. It's like saying "Pay me what you feel like paying", I could be setting myself up for getting myself exploited - I wouldn't set my stall in an open air market in Saigon and tell the buyers that I don't care what my selling price for my goods is: I'd be both out of stock and out of business within a matter of minutes :)

  2. I usually say "I am not worried about salary" and then I put my position in context for the benefit of the listener:

    • I expect a (more or less) fair salary
    • I am looking a salary/performance review after 6 months or after 12 months
    • One reason that I am not obsessed about salary is that if I had $5 in my pocket and I were to die in the next five minutes, I'd have $5 more than I need considering where I am going - you just can't take it with you :)

    My unstated reason as to why I am not worried about salary is that I do my own personal salary review as a follow up of their salary review. If I decide after I do my own personal salary review that I am seriously underpaid, I'll start looking. Many if not most others will negotiate a salary increase, I don't. Mainly because it's not my personal style and I am really not comfortable negotiating salaries. If I am satisfied. I stay. If I am not satisfied, I look. But my personal style is that I don't negotiate salaries.

  • This is indeed a perfect answer that I was looking for! Very practical, true to life and applicable! Thanks again Vietnhi, you are an awesome answerer! :) – Cary Bondoc Sep 19 '14 at 23:59
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I think that from your points it already shows fairly well, that it is most likely not going to do you a service to continue this in the long run.

Tremendous increase of the chances of being hired.

Yes, in the short run it may help you get your first job, or to get back to the job market after a long break... but what after?

First of all, the effects of having a low salary and no or low raises are cumulative. If your colleague starts out with the exact same salary but gets only 1% higher raises each year, the net effect of it over 25 years is that he will have over 27% higher salary. Now if he already started out with significantly higher wage, the difference is going to be even bigger.

Even if you feel you don't care about the money now, it may - and probably will - change in the long run. You are going to have different phases in your life. You may become a family man, at which point your salary is going to become significantly more important to you and your beloved. Also at some point you will need to start thinking about - and maybe saving for - your pension years. If not thinking ahead, at that point you will have already lost many years of cumulative growth potential.

The employer sees you as a person that is not occupied by money, and are really sincere in your work.

That may or may not be the case, as you yourself list other possibilities among the disadvantages. Moreover, not being occupied by money does not necessarily mean that one really cares about his work and is good at it. So if you want to give the impression of someone who is so passionate about his/her job as to not think about anything else, I believe a positive approach is better: tell them about what you do feel important in your profession and how that shows, instead of stating what else you do not feel important.

My personal feeling is that if you tell you don't care about money, employees in general are more likely to see you in a disadvantageous light. Or both, at best: they may acknowledge you are so passionate about your craft, and at the same time be happy to exploit you via cheap wages, as long as you are willing to take it.

I think it is important for you to realize that in the long run, you owe your own personal and professional reputation to ask for a decent salary for your good work. If you do a great service to your employer, solving their problems, you are actually earning / saving them hard money, so it is only fair to get a decent pay in exchange. No need to go overboard of course, but if you yourself don't represent your own interests, noone else will.

Not caring about the money, or even working for free, may work though if done for a relatively short and concrete time interval, and as part of a longer term plan. So if you want to get your first job as a newbie, to get experience and build reputation (with which after a couple of years you will be able to get a more decent job with a better salary), it's fine. Or if you desperately want to get your dream job at a dream company, you may decide to offer them your services cheaply or even for free for a well defined trial period, let's say 3 months. That should be enough for you to demonstrate them your real value, and then negotiate a full employee position with proper salary. Or get quickly fired after being exploited, if they don't actually want to treat you fairly... there is always the risk. By limiting the length of such an experiment in advance, you limit your potential losses too.

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1.Tremendous increase of the chances of being hired.

Actually, it's more chances of being hired as cheap workforce.

2.You can start early as possible.

Not necessarily. This depends on the company and their needs (not on your salary).

In a large corporation for example, your start date will depend on them making available whatever resources you need for your job (desktop, design table, etc).

3.The employer sees you as a person that is not occupied by money, and are really sincere in your work.

... or someone who doesn't know what they want / with little ambition. They could also see you as someone who doesn't care about money and skip you on promotions, bonuses and so on (and give those to those who do care about money).

Overall, does telling to the employer and interviewer that I really don't care for the salary can really benefit me in my career and future in the long run?

No, it doesn't benefit you (in the short run or long run).

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