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Long story short is that I've been looking to advance my career where I have almost 9 years of professional experience and was in interviews with a company to move into what seemed like that "next" role.

Everything seemed to be going well as we talked about that position with several higher-ups at that company. However when I received an offer from the company it was for a different position with much less required experience and skill. But the confusing part was that the salary offered is significantly higher than my current salary. Much more than I've ever seen switching companies and WAY more than I'd expect to just keep doing basically the same stuff. The attached job description for the position they offered only required 2 years experience while what I was going for was asking 5+.

So with the really low requirements of that job compared to the salary they offered I'm really confused if they intended those documents or if the wrong position was accidentally attached.

But what if I'm grossly overestimating my own competence? The interviews for the position seemed to be very positive without any hint of them wondering if I'd be able to do that job.

I want to email either the recruiter or the HR person who sent the email and ask, but I don't want to come off like I'm arrogant and asking how dare they offer me the position that is so obviously beneath me.

Am I overthinking this and it's perfectly alright to send a simple email asking "Hey, I just got this offer for X but I thought we had been talking about Y? Did you really mean to offer X when it's so much less senior than Y?"

What's a good way for me to approach clarifying this? If it really is the less senior position I probably wouldn't take the offer since it would come with the same career dissatisfaction, but how do I do that politely without sounding like a jerk who first didn't think they were serious about their offer then went "Oh...ok. Uh...no thanks." when they said they were? Am I overthinking that as well?

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    If this is a "long story short", I wonder what the long story long would look like. – Masked Man Jun 5 '15 at 16:43
  • The recruiter you mention.. is this an employee of the company? Or someone from a recruitment firm that lined up the interview for you? – Carson63000 Jun 6 '15 at 2:35
  • @carson63000 the recruiter is external from a firm – Sloloem Jun 6 '15 at 2:38
  • @Sloloem thanks - see my comment on Joe's answer. You don't need to worry about how an external recruiter takes your question, it's their job to answer questions like this and make you want the job as much as it is to make the employer want to hire you. – Carson63000 Jun 7 '15 at 5:10
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It's perfectly reasonable to ask someone for clarification. If you are interviewing for what you think is position X, and you get sent an offer that seems to refer to position Y without explanation, it's reasonable to ask what's going on. I'd ask without much judgement though, as in saying something like:

I have received your offer, thank you. I have a question though - the included job description of the position seems to be different than the one we discussed previously. Is this an error, or am I being offered a different position?

It's possible that you are indeed being offered the position you expected, and either were sent the wrong description or just a general/lower description - or the same title of position previously had a lower requested bar in the job posting and it was changed to better suit what the company wanted, but the description you were sent just wasn't updated.

Job postings, official job descriptions, internal offer blurbs, and automated or copy-pasted emails are generally maintained separately or even by different people at many companies, and often change at one stage without the change being communicated to everyone involved.

So yes, you can just ask them without fear, though I would leave the judgement out of the communication and see what they have to say for themselves. If they explain, "Oh yes, we filled that position but want to work with you and can offer you this", then you don't have an answer so much as you have a new conversation to have about just what you are offered and what the expectations are.

It's also very common that a position that asks for "2+ years of experience" is in fact exactly the same as one that asks for "5+ years of experience", because no one really knows exactly what that means and a difference in a few years of vaguely defined experience has little to do with what job you'll be expected to perform.

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    "It's also very common that a position that asks for "2+ years of experience" is in fact exactly the same as one that asks for "5+ years of experience", because no one really knows exactly what that means and a difference in a few years of vaguely defined experience has little to do with what job you'll be expected to perform." - Additionally that's why the compensation would be higher for a more seasoned person. – Brian Dishaw Jun 5 '15 at 19:17
  • @BrianDishaw That's true - it could just be the same position with the salary differing based upon previous experience! The 2+ years part could just be the minimum for that job title. – BrianH Jun 5 '15 at 19:29
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What's a good way for me to approach clarifying this?

A quick phone call should resolve this quickly.

Call whoever made the offer.

Say something along the lines of: "I just received the offer letter. Thank you so much! But I am a bit confused about the attached job description. Is this the formal job description for the position I'd be filling?"

Then, you may have to go into a bit of detail about what confuses you.

It may very well be a mistake in the attachment. Or it may be a mistake in understanding.

Either way, the solution in situations like this is simple - talk with the person who can clear things up for you.

  • At first, I thought this was the right answer. Then I read the OP's comment that he was dealing with an external recruiter, at which point I really thought it was the right answer. You do not need to worry about an external recruiter thinking that your question is arrogant or disrespectful to the employer - it is their job to sort things like this out. – Carson63000 Jun 7 '15 at 5:09

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