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I was recently offered a job in which I was sought out as a candidate and I hadn't originally applied for the position. At this time I was made aware of a salary I was not interested in, and in the interest of everyone's time I expressed that I made a salary of $X and would not be interested in leaving unless the salary was noticeably higher.

I realize this is not how these things are typically done (first time for me).

Anyhow I was asked to come in for the interview after having expressed this request and was subsequently offered a salary of exactly $X. While on the phone with HR I expressed that the salary requirements I had put on my application ($x + 20) reflected what I was hoping to get given the difference in benefits however I would be willing to negotiate for additional vacation time etc.

They came back to me stating flat out they are "unable to be flexible on salary or vacation time".

Does this mean my offer is a final offer and I should make my decision accordingly or should I write a formal counter offer?

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    Don't agree that's "not how things are typically done". That's exactly how to respond to a salary that's too low to be of interest. Stop wasting time on a company that's (a) not listening or (b) trying to lowball you. – TheMathemagician Jan 20 '16 at 13:24
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    "I expressed that I made a salary of $X and would not be interested in leaving unless the salary was noticeably higher" - Rather than saying this, how about saying (this time or in the future), that you need an offer of at least $Y in order to consider it, where $Y is whatever you consider to be "noticeably higher" than $X. – Brandin Jan 20 '16 at 14:12
  • I agree this part could have been worded better on my part however I would have expected something higher no matter how "noticeably" could be interpreted. Lesson learned. – BlueBird Jan 20 '16 at 14:19
  • In the future, never reveal your current salary. It's actually none of their business (and could possibly violate a confidentiality clause in your current work contract). When salary is brought up, only tell them your new desired salary. – Voxwoman Jan 20 '16 at 15:05
  • @Voxwoman - YUP! I used to comply to recruiter's demands and tell them my salary. Now I hold my ground and respond like this: "My current salary is a private matter, and makes sense based on my current responsibilities, incentives, and other factors. I can tell you that I'm looking for a position offering between $X and $Y." Many recruiters are very taken aback and will push the point of my having to tell them (which is complete BS), but at that point I'll say: "Ok then, I make $Z." (which is between x and y) Eventually they shut up about it. – AndreiROM Jan 20 '16 at 16:53
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Does this mean my offer is a final offer and I should make my decision accordingly or should I write a formal counter offer?

That's their final offer. They have flat out told you that they can't budge on salary or PTO and you should believe what they tell you. Job candidates the world over are fond of divining deeper meanings and guessing at subconscious intent when they should just take what people say at face value.

Now, assuming that you communicated your salary requirements to the recruiter as clearly as you did in your post, the company was at fault here for wasting everyone's time. They should not have gone ahead with interviews if they were unable to meet your requested salary. They should have either dropped your candidacy or responded with something like:

Our upper limit for salary is X$, but we believe this might still be a good opportunity for you because of [reasons]. Are you still interested in an interview or would you prefer to withdraw your candidacy?

The reasons could be benefits not included in the base salary, opportunity for growth, generous PTO, etc.

To avoid this in future, make sure you are crystal clear about your salary expectations. It sounds like you were and HR just dropped the ball by not discussing that before inviting you to an interview. If you get the idea that you're dealing with an unprofessional or inexperienced recruiter you could bring it up yourself and ask about the salary range for the position.


Just for future reference, this is exactly how you should handle a cold call from a recruiter (whether external or internal). If they contacted you it's perfectly fine to ask them to give you the salary range for the position. That should be fine even when it's the other way around but employers are fond of the power disparity inherent in the dynamic between hiring manager and candidate.

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    employers are fond of the power disparity inherent in the dynamic between hiring manager and candidate - oh, yes. I refuse to state my current salary these days, and instead simply state the range that i'm interested in. Many recruiters don't take it well, and are basically outraged that I would withhold such a person piece of information (which gives them great power over me) from them. Go figure. – AndreiROM Jan 20 '16 at 16:55
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Saying something along the lines of:

Sorry but salary and vacation as offered are a deal breaker for me. Since those are inflexible regretfully we are at an impasse. Thanks for your consideration and best of luck filling this role.

This lets them know that you are walking away from the negotiation and exactly why. If they are sincere in their inflexibility this closes the matter, if they are playing games this leaves enough of an opening for them to attempt to break the impasse.

  • This is the best response. This company is clearly out-of-touch with the current marketplace. In 2009, they could behave this way. Not today. – Wesley Long Jan 20 '16 at 17:49
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    I would say that but drop the middle sentence Since those are inflexible regretfully we are at an impasse. That is a bit negatively worded and is putting words in their mouth and implying that we cant move forward. A simple thank you but no (with an explanation of your requirements) leaves them with a better opportunity to update their offer. – Martin York Jan 20 '16 at 18:17
  • @LokiAstari I think that comes down to personal style of communication. They used the phrase "unable to be flexible" so I don't see it as negative or puting words into their mouth by stating their position as inflexible. – Myles Jan 20 '16 at 19:56
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They came back to me stating flat out they are "unable to be flexible on salary or vacation time".

Does this mean my offer is a final offer and I should make my decision accordingly or should I write a formal counter offer?

You could ask them, but it sounds like they have made their final offer.

Now it is up to you to decide if their offer is sufficient or not, then act accordingly. First, make sure that you really do want the job, if your salary needs are met. If not, then just say "No" and walk away now.

It certainly couldn't hurt to make a counter-offer - at worst they can only say "No". If you do, make sure you ask for whatever you need so that you can immediately accept if they match your offer.

It's possible that you sent the wrong vibes during prior discussions. You told them you made $X but wanted a "noticeably higher salary". Perhaps it wasn't clear what "noticeable" meant in this case. You wrote on the application that you wanted $X + 20, but then indicated that maybe you would settle for $X if you got more vacation. So it's possible that they misinterpreted you as being amenable to accepting $X.

If you make a counter, this time make it clear exactly what salary you are willing to accept. Saying something like "I'd like to work for you if we can get together on the salary. If you can offer me $Y then I will accept." could work. Then be ready to walk away if they still won't meet it.

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Does this mean my offer is a final offer

Nothing is final until they say so.

I should make my decision accordingly

Don't make a decision that limits you. By saying no you are basically reducing your available options.

should I write a formal counter offer?

A counter offer seems a bit of a formal way of saying. But you have really two options.

  1. Accept the current offer.
  2. Decline in a way that leaves it open for them to make an updated offer.
    Note there are some dangers in this option in that they may withdraw the offer. But they may hold to their position and keep the offer open.

Personally. I see little point in making a lateral move for the same package. If you are going to move there has to be a reason (better money/ better work/different experience) but it has to be something you can quantify.

You know all the problems at your current company. Moving to a new company is always a risk that it will not be as good a match. So personally I would stick to my guns and take option 2.

I would thank them for the opportunity and explain that you would love to work for them but must reject their current offer based on salary (and tell them explicitly what you want). If they can't meat it they well let you know and you can both move on.

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