I was passed up for the first round of interviews because my desired hourly wage was too high (according to the placement service.) They recommend lowering my desired pay rate by -$5.00 /hour, this would be -$2.00 less per hour than I was making from my previous employer. Same position, same industry, different company. I'd be willing to take the cut because I very much want to pursue this particular opportunity. I would also like to get the best deal if hired.

I'd like to know what hiring personnel would think of a applicant who would willingly take a pay cut to work for their company. I can see it as showing dedication to the business even at personal expense. On the other hand it may be viewed as not having confidence in my skills.

What would you think of such an applicant? Would it be better to stick to my guns or offer cheaper labor to score an interview?

Engineers at the company do the actual interviewing and selection. could this just be a ploy by the placement service to pay less?

  • edited to include the temp agency's role. linked question does have valuable insight.
    – RedOculus
    Feb 10, 2017 at 7:37
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    I'd be careful of your temp agency. Remember, they do not have your best interests at heart, only their own.
    – Kaz
    Feb 10, 2017 at 11:30
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    Couldn't you compromise by offering to do it for the same pay (-3$ from your original request, and 0 from your current pay)? This is a negotiation, as I understand.
    – skymningen
    Feb 10, 2017 at 14:12
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    I am going to push for the same pay. I think that would reflect well, being able to compromise and still hold some ground.
    – RedOculus
    Feb 10, 2017 at 20:06
  • "could this just be a ploy by the placement service to pay less?" Absolutely. And what would the hiring personnel think if you accepted less money? "Score!" 'Cause everybody loves a deal. Feb 10, 2017 at 22:57

4 Answers 4


I'd like to know what hiring personnel would think of a applicant who would willingly take a pay cut to work for their company.

I'm assuming this is a temp/contracting job.

Hiring companies wouldn't know or care what your rate was at your last gig.

The hiring manager usually starts with an hourly rate in mind (a budget, basically) for that position. They then contact the agencies, send the job description and details, and indicate how much they are willing to pay for the job.

The agency then goes down their list of qualified candidates trying to find a few that fit the profile at the budgeted cost. It's in their interest to find at least a handful of viable candidates and get their resumes to the hiring manager quickly. Usually a manager fills the position quickly.

A good agent will tell the hiring manager of candidates that are qualified but requesting too much money. The manager can sometimes "bend" their budget and pay more. But often the job requisition would need to be rewritten, several levels of approvals would need to occur, agencies would need to be alerted of the req change and that would all take time. Honestly, it is seldom needed, since there are usually so many viable candidates willing to accept the budgeted rate.

A good agent might then choose to tell a candidate that they are qualified but are asking over the budgeted rate and offer them the chance to accept less and be considered.

So even if you go in to an interview and say "You know, I decided that I would accept less than my usual rate because I'd like to work here." that would seldom impress the hiring manager. For temp jobs, they usually aren't looking for stars, just someone good enough and timely enough at the budgeted rate.

If you strongly feel the need to stick to your desired rate, then go ahead and do so. The hiring manager may match your rate, the agent may accept a bit less in order to help you, or you may just need to move on to a different gig (the last being the most likely outcome).

If you really want to work at this company and are willing to accept the offered rate, then do that. But don't expect that your willingness to compromise on the rate will be a big factor in selecting you. It may very well help you get an interview, but that's about it.

  • Good answer, I didn't consider that it's not the temp agency in which i have to impress. The temp agency is just my foot in the door, I think i should take the hit for the contract duration and in the mean time try to prove my worth on the job to my future bosses.
    – RedOculus
    Feb 12, 2017 at 17:45

It looks like desperation. Or trouble.

  • 1
    Pretty much. I was warned not to do this when I got back into the workforce Feb 10, 2017 at 22:03

I would lower my offer. Reduced pay is ok, if the company has a huge potential, like a start-up and you have a possibility to shares. For a big corporation salary = ~status and you are for some reason willing to lower your status. Reasons to lower status are seldom a good signal.

  • It does have tremendous potential. The pay cut would be temporary until I complete the temp agency's contract.
    – RedOculus
    Feb 10, 2017 at 8:13
  • It has tremendous potential to reduce your earnings for many years to come. Accepting lower payment will be seen as accepting that you are not nearly as good as you think.
    – gnasher729
    Feb 11, 2017 at 11:23
  • @gnasher729 From what point of view? The potential to be an executive or otherwise in high management of a potential company shows entrepreneurial attitude and even if it were to fail, that lowered salary is not the main thing. With shares you can further tie your gains with the success. For a big corporation the salary = ~value of that person. That is the structure of my answer, so what is the point you are trying to make. Feb 11, 2017 at 19:15

The placement company, during your transition period, might be making quite a bit. There is some chance that they are not charging what the customer is being billed, and are just taking more from you during that period. This is where trust comes in, and trust where money and companies are involved, imo, always results in pain.

Commodity is like potato chips. There are thousands of vendors, they can all make equal quality and taste chips. The margins is tiny. A treasure is a different "beastie". There is, of course, a vast wasteland between the two.

If you are in a field where you are a mere commodity (McJob), then price is really the only place you have to negotiate. If you are a treasure, then the question is where you want to be, not whether they want you. The vast majority of employees and employers live in that middle area.

If you accept less now, they will expect it again. If you trade less of one for a fair and equal amount of another then they will deal much more fairly with you. They might not pay more money, but you can have title, office, leadership, better 401k, health, pick your team, 6 month review instead of annual review, and such.

Never be desperate to someone in marketing. If you can't walk away, they you are giving them tacit permission to use you as a mop or doormat.

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