In an initial interview, I told the company, which is a non-profit, that their salary range was OK. Non-profits typically offer lower salaries than for-profit, so this is not unusual. But trying to negotiate for a higher salary simply wouldn't be possible. I thought I could live with a lower salary, but I realized I could not. It would require a long-term change in lifestyle in order to make ends meet. On the one hand, I really need a job. But, on the other, accepting this job, as-is, will have long-term consequences.

Now I'm a few interviews in, and I am afraid they will eventually want to hire me at this low salary. I am actually losing sleep over this.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – enderland
    May 8, 2017 at 18:20
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    @gnat I believe the non-profit context makes this question slightly but significantly different.
    – yo'
    May 8, 2017 at 22:13
  • "I am sorry, I realised I will have no living conditions with the salary involved." How difficult should it be? They are also people that have bills to pay. You are overthinking this. May 9, 2017 at 2:45

4 Answers 4


Like most questions on Workplace.SE, the correct answer seems to be:

Tell the truth, and do it now.

As long as you're willing to give the job a pass if they don't up their salary offer, call or write an email and explain the situation.

Nobody is going to end up happy if you try to take a job you can't afford.

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    To add to this, if you do accept the offer knowing it's low in hopes of a quick raise, you'll find yourself in a bad negotiating position when it comes to future salary increases.
    – Anoplexian
    May 8, 2017 at 14:13
  • @Anoplexian Yes, that's true, too.
    – user70848
    May 8, 2017 at 14:14
  • @Anoplexian Although, I'm not the kind of person to accept an offer in the hopes of a quick raise.
    – user70848
    May 8, 2017 at 15:05
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    This is the right answer, but it passes over a bit of the rub in this problem. OP has already told them once that OP would consider a salary in this range. So keeping this in mind, I recommend also offering a sincere apology and explaining that it was additional budget calculations that led you to change your stance! May I humbly suggest: "I know I previously said this salary range was acceptable; I'm sorry to say that after further opportunity to review my finances it would not be feasible for me at this time."
    – Segfault
    May 8, 2017 at 21:39
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    I would even say: non-profit is in general more understanding of you postponing your decision than "low-cost". At "low-cost", they are often convinced they are not "low-cost". At non-profit, they know what they are, which makes things much easier.
    – yo'
    May 8, 2017 at 22:12

If you don't want the salary, then look elsewhere. Nonprofits rarely pay the high salaries for budget reasons, so there may be very little room to negotiate.

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    As an addendum, most non-profits count on the people who work for them working for the cause as much as for the money. If you either can't or don't want to make the changes necessary, there's no shame in saying as much, and looking elsewhere.
    – anon
    May 8, 2017 at 22:04

You'll have to figure out what you can live with and tell them that you need that. You told them the range was okay, apparently it isn't, and you should rectify that reasonably soon.

Waiting for an offer and asking for significantly more money might be a negotiating strategy but it might also piss them off royally, and chances are they don't have the ability to offer much more.

Don't be overly surprised if this is a deal breaker, but you've lost nothing if you couldn't live with what they can pay.

  • No, I wouldn't try to negotiate a higher salary after telling them it was OK. I simply thought taking a smaller salary, because they were a non-profit, was something I could live with. I've come to realize that I cannot.
    – user70848
    May 8, 2017 at 14:30
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    I have been in a similar situation - I had to counter offer because I hadn't really factored in just how much higher the rent was going to be. I told them (with some apologies on my part) when I realised, and they were happy with that. It broadly worked out. But it's best to tell them as soon as you know, because if it's simply never going to work out, it's wasting everyone's time.
    – Sobrique
    May 8, 2017 at 15:51

You will have to tell them the truth sooner or later, and unless you think they're simply trying to get away with giving you less, earlier is better for both parties. Before going in to a job search, I would recommend having an idea of your expected salary, and the absolute minimum you're going to accept. With that in mind, you'll have a easier time handling that question in the future.

As for what to do now that you're in this situation, only you can know how much you need this job. For exemple, if this is your only option, you may have to settle for less. Otherwise, there may be plenty of other jobs to look at. Once you know, you can let them know as well.

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