Interviewed with an advertising agency 5 times over the course of 4 months. I do not believe they had any parallel candidates and I believe they are invested in hiring me at this point.

I currently make $85k with no benefits. When asked, I was truthful, and the hiring manager said the position was budgeted for $85-95k and I would end up on the high end of that range.

The offer came in at $90k, and after reading through the benefits, I'd have to pay $7200 per year for coverage. Additionally, my current job allows me to work from home and keep my 3 year old with me, whereas the new job requires me on site, which will amount to approx. $15k per year in childcare expenses.

I want to take the new job but it looks like I need $22k more than my current salary before it'd work. Countering a $90k offer with $107k+ seems like something that may drop jaws on the other side.

Any creative ideas on how I could ask for what I need? Should I mention the childcare costs? Should I ask for a signing bonus (Its a company under 100 people I don't know if they even do that).

Any advice is appreciated.

  • 1
    Aside from your personal situation, is this actually a lowball offer? If they have a budget of $85-95 and you happen to need more, that doesn't mean it was a "lowball"? May 3, 2016 at 12:24
  • stay put if you can. the time with your child is irreplaceable. May 3, 2016 at 12:41
  • @WorkerDrone - I believe my experience should put me at the top end of their range at least.
    – Sleepless
    May 3, 2016 at 13:24
  • @Sleepless - makes sense. But that still won't get you to $107k May 3, 2016 at 14:12
  • @WorkerDrone. Yeah I believe I would take it at $102
    – Sleepless
    May 3, 2016 at 16:59

3 Answers 3


Healthcare Costs

The healthcare coverage costs seem like a low blow, and may be negotiable since it wasn't mentioned earlier in the process. However, if every other employee gets the same deal out of them you'll have to decide whether you wish to opt out (you've been without one so far, so maybe you don't really need it), or set up a separate package yourself (if these are valid options).

If they aren't and this setup is compulsory you may argue for the amount to be paid by the company, but if all their employees get the same deal then you may be out of luck.

Signing Bonus

As far as this goes, you never know until you ask. Be polite, and honest:

Once the costs of healthcare and day-care are totaled up I actually end up making less than I am at my current job. Would you consider offering me a one-time signing bonus?

You shouldn't make it conditional, or imply that you won't take the offer unless they do, however don't flat out say so either. Let their imaginations run wild. The worst they can do is refuse. However you may be surprised.

Day-Care Costs

This may seem a little harsh, but I'm just going to be brutally honest:

As far as the cost of day care is concerned I don't think you have a leg to stand on.

An employer offers a salary based on skill, experience, education, and value to the company. You having to take care of your 3 yr old is not their responsibility, it's yours. How you manage to do that - whether you enroll the toddler in day care, ask a relative to baby sit, etc. - is really not their problem, and I personally don't think it constitutes a valid bargaining chip unless you're incredibly valuable to the organization (and even then it's more of a strong-arm tactic than anything else).

If they were to give you a higher salary based on the fact that you have high day-care costs then those employees who don't have a child and make less than you would feel slighted, and maybe even discriminated against. Furthermore, other employees may come forward claiming various costs.

An equivalent question (to my mind) is whether it's reasonable for the company to pay for my commute simply because it's expensive. The answer is no, not really. I'm expected to be at work on time, and how I do so is my business.

That may sound harsh, but it's most likely how their management team is going to view the issue.

Asking them to allow you to work from home is risky since you've mentioned that they are generally against it at the moment. As I've mentioned, you may or may not have an ace up your sleeve depending on how much these people need you, however I would hesitate asking for too many privileges because at one point you're going to be far more trouble than you're worth.


I think you really have to decide which of these jobs offers the better long term prospects for you and make a decision based on that, rather than ask for too much up front and risk losing the offer.

If the new job offers you a better opportunity to gain experience, upwards mobility, or raises further down the line then it might be a better fit than a job which allows you to work from home, but which doesn't challenge you and which doesn't allow you to grow professionally.

I don't know that you're ever going to find the perfect job (great salary, day-care allowance, work from home perks, etc.) - few of us ever do - however I wish you good luck!

Note: in the future I would not reveal what you currently make, but rather what you're interested in making if you were to accept the job (plus $5000, because they will always low-ball you anyway). That's what I do in my negotiations, and it's worked well enough for me (although different people take different approaches).

  • 2
    Solid answer, I agree with the childcare part, I couldn't think of a nice way to say it.
    – Kilisi
    May 3, 2016 at 2:17
  • 1
    @Kilisi - what can I say, I had quite a few edits.
    – AndreiROM
    May 3, 2016 at 2:37
  • 1
    In most companies the other employees aren't going to know you make more let alone the reasons for it.
    – user8365
    May 3, 2016 at 2:46
  • @JeffO - in my experience word gets around sooner or later. An innocent comment around the water cooler, a manager giving a hint to a favorite employee, etc. Companies will - again, this is in my experience - not risk creating a precedent and opening themselves to various employees asking for special dispensations.
    – AndreiROM
    May 3, 2016 at 2:56
  • 1
    I agree with all of this, except your take on the signing bonus. That wording basically screams "if I take this job I'll feel underpaid" and a one-time bonus won't change that. It basically signals to the hiring manager that this won't be a long-term position for you and I'd instantly retract an offer if I heard that.
    – Lilienthal
    May 3, 2016 at 6:53

You should indicate that you gave a salary figure contingent on other benefits being similar. Now you know that is not the case. Be open and honest about the discrepancies in the healthcare costs.

I don't know if you were under the impression you would be able to work from home. The company may not be aware of the advantages of this and could use you as a test subject. This could be an area for negotiation. There could be a lot of training or "getting up to speed" on things, so early on, they want you in the office. You could set an intro period, but that in order to do this continuously, you need additional salary to make up for the expenses this is going to create. Disclosing the reason for childcare is up to you.

The general goal is not to take a pay cut which would be the case with this offer. This seems like a reasonable request, but there could be some flexible solutions as well.

  • Thanks for the feedback Jeff. I will definitely mention that the heathcare costs alone would require me to be at $92k. The new job does not want me to work from home, they've made that clear. So there really is no way to do it without losing money unless they can bump things up another $15k. Even then I would basically be breaking even with what I make now. I only wondered if mentioning childcare would be a no-no in salary negotiation.
    – Sleepless
    May 3, 2016 at 1:07
  • I think taking extra costs into consideration should be part of the negotiation. I've found that going through the interview, offer and counter-offer phases that many companies don't give you all the information up front. There could be commuting or the high price of parking in a major city. You just want to avoid giving the impression you're just asking for more money for no reason after you've already given them a number.
    – user8365
    May 3, 2016 at 2:36

There are two possibilities: They would be willing to pay you a salary for which you would start working there, or they would not. If they would not, then the fact is that you are not going to start there. Which means nothing you could do would be right or wrong, since it can't make a difference. You are not starting there. So logic dictates that we assume they would be willing to pay you.

The salary is of much higher importance to you than to them. Every £1,000 is £1,000 in your pocket while in the worst case it is a slight difference in the bonus of the person hiring you. You have much more to gain than they have to lose. That gives you a much stronger position.

You need to communicate what you want, and you need to communicate that you won't start for less. It's also good if you communicate that this isn't out of greed but out of the secure knowledge that you are worth it.

So you reply that you received the offer, that unfortunately it includes much worse health cover than your current job, which would cost you $7,200 a year, so their offer while being the same number is actually worth much less. And that without being able to work from home, you would have a significant added expense for child care. And that you would be very interested in an offer that takes these two things into account (and then you add why you are worth that kind of offer).

I also assume the childcare situation is something that can be solved without actually paying out money, by allowing you the flexibility that you had in your current position, so that would make it potentially easier for them to handle.

If the amount you ask for seems steep, well, they either accept it or they don't. Since you do not want to work for their current offer, if getting a better offer is not possible, then there is nothing you can do. Now if you would be willing to work for their current offer, grudgingly, then the strategy is different.

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