I chose you over 10% more money.
July 8, 2011 11:37 AM   Subscribe

I applied to Company's A and B. After about two weeks of interviews and talking to employees of each, Company A seemed better in nearly all respects. I received informal offers from both yesterday, but Company A specified a salary (which was well within the range I was looking for). I told company B this salary, but an hour or two later learned some things that ruled out company B pretty decisively. This morning Company B calls and offers me 10% more than Company A, and stock options (all other benefits being, afaik, equal). I realize I blew my chance at negotiation, but is there a way I can tactfully mention this to my now-employer, Company A? Could I expect them to offer a bit more, or to consider a raise more readily?

This is in the software world, if it's relevant.

The options were offered in a very squirrely way (N shares, where N was in the thousands). I asked how many shares had been issued, or if that figure could be put in perspective some other way, and they were evasive.
posted by elektrotechnicus to Work & Money (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I told company B this salary

To clarify, they called asking about a "salary range" and I was honest about the other offer I'd received.

A and B directly compete for a sizable chunk of their business, and are located very close to one another (so cost of living doesn't complicate matters).
posted by elektrotechnicus at 11:40 AM on July 8, 2011

To clarify, you're already employed at Company A (your "now-employer") or you've only received an informal offer?
posted by ODiV at 11:42 AM on July 8, 2011

Why do you think you "blew your chance at negotiation" with Company A? It doesn't sound like you've actually accepted their offer yet, and in the meantime you can certainly call them back and ask for more. Don't get too greedy, but they may well be expecting you to counter.

In general I'd consider those options as being worth exactly zero. They're nice to have but just about equivalent to a lottery ticket.
posted by xil at 11:44 AM on July 8, 2011

Oh, sorry, I omitted the most important sentence in editing.

I had a lengthy conversation with A last night in which the details of employment were laid out, and I verbally accepted their offer.
posted by elektrotechnicus at 11:47 AM on July 8, 2011

If you accepted their offer, you accepted their offer. You can still change your mind and go with company B, I think, but given that you don't want to work there even with the additional offer, I think that means that company A has already offered enough.

Keep it in mind for your peformance review in a year, though.
posted by empath at 12:01 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]

Yes, that was rather an important detail. No, there is no tactful way to ask for more money. Let this be a lesson never to accept an offer without thinking about it first. Hey, look on the bright side, you can ask them to consider a raise in six months or a year once you've proven yourself as an employee.
posted by Dasein at 12:01 PM on July 8, 2011

I don't think it can hurt to mention as an aside that Company B called and made another offer, but you've decided not to take it, because you thought A was a better job for you.
posted by empath at 12:03 PM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

If it's not on paper, it doesn't exist. So, you didn't really "accept" the offer.

This happens all the time - You can call company A, and say:
"I just received an offer from another company of $_____, with _____ additional benefits. It's very tempting, but I like your company, so I'd like to see what you can do to match it."

It may not get you anything, but it's not likely to hurt your prospects with company A. At worst, they'll tell you that they can't go higher, and you can take it anyway. They still want you to work for them. I can't guarantee what their reaction will be. But once you start there, no one will think about, or even know, what the negotiation process was like.

Good luck with the new job! (Everyone should have such problems!)
posted by Citrus at 12:09 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd weigh two things here:

1) You have to assess the risk that the worst plausible outcome from negotiation would occur: that Company A would simply tell you your terms are too high, that they'd rather go with another candidate. I would weigh the possibility of that risk, and how willing you'd be to accept that it might happen, then make your decision from there.

2) I'd consider what your next best option is. It sounds like Company B used to be your next best option, and you don't have it any more. What is now your next best option? Proceed accordingly.

Negotiating would not an unreasonable thing to do - if your skills are super-specialized and you're certain that there really is no other candidate as well-suited, or if you think you'd easily find another job if they went with another candidate, or if they have an extremely pressing need to hire and need you to take the job now, or if you would prefer not to live with the question of what might have been if you didn't take this risk, then maybe it's worth it.
posted by noonday at 12:12 PM on July 8, 2011

I think the question in mentioning company B to company A is that it wouldn't necessarily be clear what your goal was is mentioning it.

Because it doesn't sound like you really do think company A is a better match for you, so it might seem a little jinky to say that you thought it was, when what you really seem to mean is you're a hot commodity.

Which you might be. But they probably know that, and like you for their own reasons, which is why they offered you the job. Which you took. I don't think you need to 'score points', by reminding them that a specific company wanted you. It can just as easily elevate you in someone's eyes, as diminish you, as if you're playing games, but it isn't clear what the game is.

So determine the values of the company first, and see if that tactic works in your favor. In some it does, in others, not so much.

.....and as for the part about the verbal offer not really 'accepting' the offer, I ask you only to consider how you would respond if company A called you back after you accepting the offer and telling you that someone else offered to do it for 5% less, so, how would you like to respond to that - any flexibility in your starting salary offer? If not, that's okay, they'll still take you, but it didn't hurt to ask.

I think once again, this is company specific - some people would take that tactic in stride, others might question your values. They might not see the verbal offer as 'not counting' , so it might help to at least front load the statement with some statement that makes it clear that paper, not your word, is bond for you, and that you'd like to negotiate one more round, only because it might be out of order from their negotiation understanding: negotiate until agreement, rather than negotiate until signing.
posted by anitanita at 12:20 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh, whoopsie, I should have said I was responding to Empath's suggestion in the first part and Citrus' in the second.
posted by anitanita at 12:21 PM on July 8, 2011

If it's not on paper, it doesn't exist. So, you didn't really "accept" the offer.

I have to disagree with this. The OP verbally accepted the offer. Either his word means something or it doesn't.

Please spare me the "corporations behave unethically all the time" lecture. The unethical behavior of others does not excuse my unethical behavior.
posted by DWRoelands at 12:22 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Please spare me the "corporations behave unethically all the time" lecture.

I have said this frequently. But I agree with you, it's not a relevant argument here. There is a fairly significant chance Company A will take it the wrong way and pull the offer altogether.

I'm not a very good negotiator but I do have one simple rule I live by: if I really want an offer or can't afford to lose it, I take it. Don't take a chance asking A for more unless you are genuinely prepared to walk to Company B (or elsewhere) when A says no.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:26 PM on July 8, 2011

In my experience, if you reject a verbal offer, you're reneging on the offer.
posted by blucevalo at 1:10 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

(That is, if you reject it having first indicated or offered acceptance.)
posted by blucevalo at 1:10 PM on July 8, 2011

Citrus and noonday hit it pretty spot on. If you haven't cemented anything then it doesn't hurt to ask, but your definition of "cement" may differ from A or B's definition, as DWRoelands and drjimmy11 say. You verbally accepted an offer, if you back off now then you might go into their HR books with a red X next to your name and a "thanks, but no thanks" phone conversation.

Also, don't make the mistake of talking money right after being hired. If I hired you and you immediately asked for more money I might think about firing you. I don't like to deal with that crap right away after getting an individual on board.
posted by zombieApoc at 1:22 PM on July 8, 2011

The job offers weren't {A} vs {A with more money}. The job offers were {A} vs {B with more money}. You chose to take a 10% pay cut in exchange for avoiding "things that ruled out company B pretty decisively". Sounds like the right choice.

Don't go out of your way to brag about it, but in a few weeks or months casually mention to your boss that you passed up a higher salary because you wanted to work at A. What you get out of this is brownie points and maybe a quicker raise if they get nervous about losing you.

If it's not on paper, it doesn't exist. So, you didn't really "accept" the offer.

Depending on the statute of frauds in your jurisdiction, this assertion is very very likely false. I imagine you wouldn't be sued for breach of contract, but in any case is this really the foot on which you want to start off with your new employer A?
posted by foursentences at 1:50 PM on July 8, 2011

IANYL, TINLA. There isn't enough information to know whether there is a legally binding contract yet between you and A. Only a lawyer in your jurisdiction could say for sure. In particular, it would be relevant whether there is supposed to be a formal written agreement and whether your jurisdiction is an "at will" employment relationship state. (In "at will" states, an employer and an employee may terminate the relationship at any time, for any reason (or no reason), unless the reason is unlawful (e.g., discriminatory, etc.). Perhaps your deal is not quite done yet?

But it's also bad form to renege on an agreement and may make company A's management feel as though you may not be relied on. You must weigh the risks.

Perhaps, after weighing the potential risks to your offer from A and to your long term reputation, you might present B's offer to A, and ask "how close" they can come to matching it. You're hinting that they could offer you more than you have now, but maybe less than B. Put forward how much you like A on the intangibles, but that B's offer makes it up with cash. Is A in a position to help with this? If they can't, how long would it take before you're eligible to earn that rate? Does the current economic environment make that realistic?
posted by Hylas at 1:57 PM on July 8, 2011

A couple of interesting discussions about a similar subject I read the other day over there
posted by growabrain at 4:29 PM on July 8, 2011

Perhaps, after weighing the potential risks to your offer from A and to your long term reputation, you might present B's offer to A, and ask "how close" they can come to matching it. You're hinting that they could offer you more than you have now, but maybe less than B.

You shouldn't do this.

You want to be, and be understood to be, honest and straightforward. When you verbally accepted the offer, you set in motion a bunch of stuff. Other candidates are being released, colleagues are being informed, announcements are being drafted. If you've verbally accepted A, and then do anything other than show up for work on the terms you've agreed to, you're being a jerk. And if A's first interaction with you suggests that you're manipulative and self-interested, your time there will suck.
posted by Susan PG at 8:44 PM on July 8, 2011

For me, happiness is worth more than money. What A offered was enough for you the first time around, and you prefer the company - don't sour your experience with them with bitterness over what might have been.
What you can do, is at your 3-month review (or whenever they do it), mention casually the "other comany offered me 10% more but I preferred to go with you guys because you were better in x ways", and that will likely, in a good company, lead to a raise if your performance has shown your value.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:20 AM on July 9, 2011

Oh, and stock options in software companies are usually of no value, unless they're a big name or have consistently shown a profit over the years.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 9:24 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

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