Received a job offer.. sort of. Not sure how to approach this. Help!
November 20, 2016 11:00 AM   Subscribe

Long story short, I went through the complete interview process for a job. The recruiter said they wanted to give me an offer, but that I needed to give them a compensation package I thought was fair before they extended an official offer. Thing is, recruiter and I already had discussed salary expectations up front -- twice. Both times, I gave the same range. Both times, he said we were aligned. So why ask me this again instead of giving me an official offer, first?

As I wrapped up my first round interview with the recruiter, he asked what my salary expectations were. I said $X - $Y and he said that was within range and we were aligned. Great. He also mentioned how there is an annual bonus % and equity grant of $Z amount. Awesome.

Fast forward, go through final round interviews on-site. At the end, I met with the recruiter again to discuss how everything went, etc. And again, he asked what I was expecting for compensation. Internally, I was thinking "huh? We already talked about this," but I didn't give it much more thought than that. So, again, I mentioned the same $X - $Y range. Again, he said we were aligned. Great. We end with my saying how they are my top choice company despite the fact I am interviewing with other companies. He was very happy to hear that.

Then I finally get the call from him the day after. The entire delivery of this "offer" was somewhat off-putting, if I'm being honest. All the offer calls I've ever received have been the standard "Hey, we're so excited to tell you that we want to extend you an offer, yadda yadda. We're offering this amount as salary. I will send you an official offer letter. Please take some time to think about it and get back to us."

It's a very feel-good moment. The recruiter's tone is upbeat. You feel ecstatic, happy. You think things through, negotiate a little bit over the next couple days, and then you sign.

For this call though? It felt like they were lukewarm at wanting me. He started off by saying how they had an "intense" discussion regarding my candidacy. I have a propensity to overanalyze everything, so keep that in mind.. but my read on the wording he used and the tone (less excited, gleeful; more sober, though not necessarily somber) was that maybe some folks I met were not as enthusiastic for me as others. I did feel like I hit it off very well with most of the people, though there were two folks where it was okay.

Anyway, he drove home the point that they think of me as a high potential candidate, not necessarily someone who's coming in with a decade of experience. But the job posting asked for 4+ years; I have 2.5 years in direct experience and 3 in highly applicable experience. So I think he was throwing out that decade experience remark to illustrate the point that basically I might not be worth the original $X - $Y range we originally discussed.

He also said how I still had a lot to learn and train on, etc. Anyway, we wrapped up the call and I later emailed him asking how the bonus and equity programs work in detail, wherein I mentioned that $Z amount he told me during the first interview. He replied with answers, and also said that he doesn't think we ever discussed $Z being an actual amount. Weird. We definitely did. Bad memory? I just don't know.

In terms of that $X - $Y range we were aligned on, it's within the range of reported salary figures for this role at this company on and other websites like Paysa. But they're at the top end. That said, the median amount on those sites is about 10% lower than the $X figure. So while I am coming in a little higher for this specific company, it's not at all out of line with other companies in the same city. In fact, the median amount they pay is somewhat lower than the industry average.

So, with all this said, here's my guess for what happened. The committee agreed they wanted me. But not to the extent where everyone was like, "WE HAVE TO HAVE HIM." I think a couple maybe dissented. And then they asked the recruiter if we had discussed comp. He said yes and gave $X - $Y range. Then they might have said that's a bit too high for him. Try to get him down somehow. Hence, the way he gave me my "offer" over the phone.

My current plan is to ask for the same $X - $Y amount and back it up with my past job performances, how I'm confident in my skills, etc. and see what they come back with.

What I'm deathly afraid of is if they decide to rescind the offer because I'm coming in too hot. But then again, if they do that because I asked for an amount that we explicitly agreed upon TWICE, then that's not really a company I'd want to work for and I'd be very turned off.

How do I approach this? What should I be thinking about? How do I frame my conversation with the recruiter?

Thank you for making it this far!
posted by 6spd to Work & Money (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
First, the recruiter's interest at this point is in you accepting the offer. That's how he gets paid. His decisions are going to be based in how best to get you to accept.

At the same time, I would expect a certain amount of honesty and transparency from a recruiter, simply because that is what a recruiter is good for-- being able to be up front with things with the recruiter that you wouldn't be able to be up front with directly to the employer.

You should put some serious thought into how much you really want this job and whether you should keep working with this recruiter.
posted by deanc at 11:09 AM on November 20, 2016

Thanks -- to be clear, this is an internal recruiter employed by the firm I interviewed with. So I'm not sure if he has the same incentives as an external recruiter.
posted by 6spd at 11:12 AM on November 20, 2016

I don't know if you're looking for a script, but my general sense of a reply would be to engage with the recruiter a bit. "The offer is usually the employer's job, and I've never heard of anybody going through something like this. Is this a red flag about the company?" To me, it is, but pump them for rationale. Like, your low end is too high? Every other company would just make the lowball offer without the back and forth.
posted by rhizome at 11:22 AM on November 20, 2016 [8 favorites]

As a point of reference a couple of jobs back I dealt with a recruiter who I thought was incompetent. For my interview with the hiring manager they gave me the wrong address to the interview and sent me to an open soccer field. I had to go to the main building and ask around and find the place myself.

Anyway, the point is that it's entirely possible that your recruiter is an idiot. Take control of the situation and speak to them (preferably with by email so you have a paper trail), tell them you're interested in the position and ask very unambiguously whether they are offering you the position and for the salaray, bonuses etc to be put in writing.

If you want this job, you don't want this person, who by the way you will never speak to or hear from again once you start working, messing this opportunity for you because they may be bad at doing their job.

It's posisble this is indicative of the the company as a whole but also more likely that this is not a reflection of the hiring manager or department.

Good luck.
posted by eatcake at 11:35 AM on November 20, 2016 [8 favorites]

You've given them the same range twice, give them the same range again.

Don't negotiate against yourself. If they want you, he will give you an offer even if it's below that range, and try to explain it. It is extremely unlikely that they won't give you an offer based on your repeated giving of a salary range.
posted by ch1x0r at 11:46 AM on November 20, 2016 [20 favorites]

You may or may not be overthinking this. But even if not, give them your requirements if you still want the job and see what happens.

You are probably not the weird one here. This is a bit off, but it could simply be poor communication rather than something more sinister.

Good Luck.
posted by jclarkin at 1:12 PM on November 20, 2016

Yeah, I wouldn't negotiate against yourself. I would say, here's a range that seems reasonable to me, please let me know if this works on your end or if not what you had in mind - I'm excited about working with you.

My guess is your number is too high and they're just being weird in how they're handling this. It's not unfair to decide now your number is too high after evaluating your candidacy. But it's not reasonable to make you negotiate against yourself either. Just indicate that you're willing to negotiate and leave it there.
posted by J. Wilson at 1:13 PM on November 20, 2016

I would say something like this...

Dear Recruiter,

Thank you so much for all you have done to manage and shepard the interview process; I have enjoyed getting to know the company and the people who work here. I am genuinely excited to join the team.

As we discussed in our previous conversations about compensation I am looking for a package that includes something in the range of $X - $Y salary, a Z annual bonus and A benefits. These expectations are based on my salary history, experience, and education.

I am absolutely willing to consider an offer that is outside the range we discussed, but I would need to see something in writing before I could respond.

posted by brookeb at 1:49 PM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm confused - so in your latest offer call, they did not give a salary range or they want you to start the bidding officially? Did he explicitly say $X-$Y is too much? This is best discussed over voice. Call the recruiter, and say you are looking for $X-$Y as you had both discussed this range and agreed that you were "aligned."
posted by pravit at 1:52 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

So, with all this said, here's my guess for what happened. The committee agreed they wanted me. But not to the extent where everyone was like, "WE HAVE TO HAVE HIM." I think a couple maybe dissented.... What I'm deathly afraid of is if they decide to rescind the offer because I'm coming in too hot.

This is exactly what the recruiter wants you to think. You are being (for lack of a bettrer word) played, even negged. If they weren't sure they wanted you, they wouldn't give you an offer, because have you seen the job market these days? Every job opening has dozens of applicants. They can pick the perfect one. They picked you. They know that you are going to do a great job for them, but they don't want to pay you any more than they have to, because that's how companies make money.

Stand firm.
posted by Etrigan at 3:55 PM on November 20, 2016 [20 favorites]

"If I have to make their hiring decisions for them, I'm going to need to be paid more than I previously stated, and possibly a title change."

And yeah, the recruiter was definitely negging you. I'd let it slide unless they push back on your pushback. "I'm having some trouble figuring out what your role is here, because from the way you told me x, y and z that maybe you don't think this is a good fit. Should we move on to other possible positions you think would be a good match over and above this one?"

These are glib and somewhat aggressive, but they're just a sketch of the way I see your position here. Be strong and advocate for yourself.
posted by rhizome at 4:32 PM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

Please let us know what you decide to do and how it goes!
posted by J. Wilson at 11:28 AM on November 25, 2016

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