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During an interview, I was asked what salary range I would expect. I indicated a range between X - 5 k$ and X + 5 k$. The interview turned out to be very positive, both from the company's point of view and from mine. I then received an offer for the position at X k$.

After getting the description of the full package, I realized that this offer was OK but not great, even though the base salary is in the range I indicated initially.

Then, I was surprised to find an online advertisement for the job I was applying for, which indicated a salary range between X+25% and X+70% !

I am not sure how to interpret this situation, but I feel like I cannot accept the initial offer anymore. I want to make a counter-offer to around X+25%, even if that means them refusing and me not getting the job. Still, I would like to handle the situation as tactfully as possible.

  1. Should I directly reply with a counter offer to the new figure (which seems like a steep increase..) ? Or should I candidely expose the situation and ask why the advertised salary range is so much higher than the offer?
  2. Should I mention the online advertisement at all in my reply ?
  • Have you been introduced to them through a third party recruiter? Are you on an H1 visa? What does glassdoor say? If not introduced through a third party recruiter, I would mention the online ad if I were you. And even if the final salary amount has been decided, may be there is room to negotiate on some of the benefits. – Stephan Branczyk Aug 28 '16 at 20:14
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    You don't know it is the exact same job. It really could be 2 positions with the same description. What if they say no and you don't find another offer at X + 25%. They may not think you are worth the X + 25%. They did not even offer you the X + 5 k$. – paparazzo Aug 28 '16 at 20:43
  • "After getting the description of the full package..." - what do you mean by this part? Are there specific benefits you were expecting but which are not in the package? Keep in mind from their perspective, they have already given you an initial offer that is 5k higher than your baseline. – Brandin Aug 29 '16 at 11:34
  • It depends on how easy it is to hire for your position (only you can tell and maybe do some research). I have hired for a position where the negotiation keep going higher and higher for one candidate and the company still accepted, because they spent 6 months looking for someone to fill that position (though, every company has a limit). If you only just "saw" an ad with that number, it may not be good enough. However, if you got an offer with a totally different number, you definitely have all the negotiating power. – CleverNode Aug 29 '16 at 19:21
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    Next time you indicate an acceptable range during a negotiation, stop looking around for things that will make you unhappy - like online job advertisements. Just think, if you had never seen this ad you would have been happy with the offer. – WorkerDrone Aug 29 '16 at 20:16
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After getting the description of the full package, I realized that this offer was OK but not great, even though the base salary is in the range I indicated initially.

One option is, in your counteroffer, to focus on the aspects of the full package that would make you OK with this base salary — the things that you were, apparently, initially expecting. You can then mention that you'd be willing to compromise on those aspects in exchange for a higher base salary — and that may be the end result, because hiring managers often have much more flexibility to affect base salary than other aspects of a package — but you don't need to focus on the fact that this implies a higher base salary than you'd originally asked for.

  • Concentrating on the disappointment over the benefits package seems like the right approach here, especially if you can put a monetary value on those benefits. I can see a remuneration package which expected you to buy your own health insurance for instance might be be worth far less than the base salary would indicate in the States. – Mark Booth Aug 31 '16 at 16:08
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I think you might kind of be screwed on this one. Once you give a number you're establishing a base line for negotiation. It would be somewhat.... uncouth to come back after giving a base line and ask for X + 70%. They might outright rescind the offer entirely.

I mean, it's kind of a life lesson here. Always always always know the appropriate salary range for the job that you're applying before. If someone asks you what you want in terms of compensation, it's always better to ask if you can get back to them than to super lowball yourself.

Keep in mind that it's in the company's best interest to spend as little money on you as possible, so if you're going to ask for less, that's what you're going to get.

The only other thing that I could think of is if you could somehow get a competitive offer from another company in the salary range of the ad that you saw. You might be able to leverage one offer against the other in that way, but I don't know if you could get that done within an appropriate time frame to accept the offer or negotiate.

tl;dr - 1. If you come back asking for 70% more, it's a bad look. A good rule of thumb is that when setting aside budget for a job, a company will provision for being able to pay 20% more than what is initially offered. Here they were obviously planning for more than that, but if you come back asking for that much more they're probably going to have some serious sticker shock. 2. Don't mention the ad.

  • Thanks, I think your last suggestion is the best way to approach this situation. – BConic Aug 29 '16 at 4:33
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You messed up, so fix it.

Tell them about the online and say you want that salary range. If you're not worried about them rescinding the offer, then you have nothing to lose. Your start off salary sets the tone for your whole time at a company.

"I just saw this job advertised online for $xxx to $yyy (link) I would be willing to accept an offer within this range." Then move forwards from the reply.

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You need to be open and honest about your benefits expectations. Are they lower than what you have now or what you assumed were industry standard? Were you expecting more potential for a bonus?

Everything is negotiable. If they insist that you stick to your initial salary range, then ask them to increase the benefits to fit what you want. You may think you're working for a company in a particular industry that is known for good benefits packages only to find out you're working for some contractor that does not.

In the future, preface your salary expectations based on acceptable benefits and job expectations.

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