Negotiating a salary for my old job
January 26, 2012 8:41 AM   Subscribe

How do I negotiate salary for a previous position I quit?

I was working at a job straight out of college and ended up being naïve and not negotiating my salary properly. It burnt me because the company had a limit on raise percentages. Eventually I decided to move on to my own wanderlust endeavors. Now i'm coming back from being away. I've got a master's in an unrelated field but my field isn't too hot and I don't have experience or connections in any related fields. I rather go back with a job in hand than wait around living with my parents. Will my previous salary hinder me? How can I spin my new experiences for this job? One detail is that the position has changed since I quit and added additional responsibilities due to consolidation.

Is it possible to even negotiate as they know my history? I've got a good relationship and left on good terms and they know I handled my work properly.

Here's my throwaway for any questions.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would handle it just as if it was a totally new company (i.e. as if you had never been employed by them before). Assuming you've already been offered the job, I don't think your past salary should inform your current salary negotiations. This is particularly true in light of the fact that the position has additional responsibilities now.

You were naïve in the past about salary and they managed to get good work out of you for less than they should have been paying. Good for them; bad for you. Don't let that hinder you getting a fair salary this time.

In fact, since you're a known quantity and you have a good relationship with them, they should be more willing to give you a larger salary.

All of this assumes that you already have been offered the job, of course, and that you're just in the salary negotiation phase now.
posted by Betelgeuse at 8:50 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that you should act as if this is your first negotiation.

Have a number in mind, and say a number perhaps a little larger than you expect.

"Considering my experience, the cost of living here, and what I can get at other places, I'm looking for a salary in the range of [the range]." Then sit quietly for about 4 minutes.
posted by jander03 at 9:14 AM on January 26, 2012

Dear grod, don't buy into the theory that salary history means anything as far as what you should get paid. Even if it didn't fly in the face of basic economic theory you will never in the world find a place that is going to let salary history cause them to pay someone more than they would have to pay a comparable candidate. So why should you accept a lower salary just because of what you have made in the past?

If this employer is that wrapped up in history then you don't want to work there unless you have to. Their inane percentage increase policy certainly leans me towards that conclusion.

A proper salary for a position is what it costs to keep someone in a position; ie, the amount a different employer will pay that same person to do that same job. You should be looking at what people in comparable positions are getting paid. There are more salary surveys in the world than you can shake a stick at; hit google if there's no professional organizations you can consult or other people in the industry in that area.

Obvious we don't like in a perfect economy and employees are not widgets that are able to be perfectly swapped like legos. But general ranges exist and you should not let them pay you notably less than they will have to pay an alternative candidate.

Now, some places are insane. You could very well be dealing with a place so attached to their procedures that they will shoot themselves in the foot and refuse to pay you X even if it means they have to pay someone else 1.5X. It happens.

You need to decide if you want this gig that bad. I've been fortunate to be able to choose not to accept that nonsense. Sometimes it's cost me, but I have had the option for much of my career. If you don't, you don't. But don't presume they'll be insane - at least make an effort at a competitive salary.
posted by phearlez at 9:49 AM on January 26, 2012

I used to give away the truth of the last salary I made. I moved only $5k with each job. I later found out that due to my lack of market knowledge and my worth, I was underpaid by 50%. Don't do this to yourself by relying on them to look at your past history. My current job left behind all their HR notes in my drawer. They balked at my salary and tried to lower me by $15k.

I stuck by my guns and won.
posted by stormpooper at 1:19 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]

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