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Creative ways to pump up the compensation?
Old 03-20-2012, 10:50 PM   #1
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Creative ways to pump up the compensation?

Somewhat related to the active thread about taking a job for less....

I'm an engineer, mid 30s. Was approached by a former colleague (previously worked at my current employer with me, and also knew him in the industry a few years prior). Long story short, after having lunch 2 weeks ago, and then a formal interview (today), he hinted at what the salary range would be for my position with their company (62k-68k), and that he guessed what he would peg me at (65k).

After he said that, my fears were realized, as I had to tell him that my current salary is 85k, and on top of that was just given a 4% raise (effective 4/1) last week.

He paused for a second, then started to hem and haw, and mentioned something about changing my position title (to involve some supervision of another person, which presumably would involve a higher salary), and also threw out a reference to possibly going hourly.

Benefits are fairly 'standard': company pays for portion of health insurance, has a 4% 401k match, 2 weeks vacation.

My question to all of you is: apart from the obvious things like more vacation time (which would only be able to make up so much ground), are there any 'creative' things you were able to strike a deal with an employer to make up for some compensation ground?


If I were still working for my father, it would be easier to do some unsual things like a company car, company-paid gas, etc....but this is not a relative, and it's a slightly larger organization (150 people, several offices), so I'll be limited to relatively 'conventional' ideas.

This company that's courting me obviously has put me in the driver's seat, since I'm relatively ok where I'm at now...but the company courting me definitely has a much greater appeal for their technical competency on how they execute some things, like 3D design, so I would be interested in joining their team - but not at such a significant salary cut (there would be room for growth with different classifications as I obtain various certifications, but it wouldn't be significant enough to erase that gap).

I interviewed with another firm almost 5 years ago in the DC area (before arriving at my current employer), and they were going to start me at $75k plus a $5k relocation, and a salary review after 6 months...at that same time (5 years ago) I also had talked to a recruiter who said he could find me a position with another firm for my $85k-$90k range I was looking for, so I know that there are some firms out there willing to pay at that level for my experience....just trying to figure out how much of the feedback from today's interview is just posturing to pay as little as possible or how much is truly sticker shock.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:13 PM   #2
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I'd get some data from glassdoor.com and make sure your expectations of what the job entails match up with your salary expectations, then have the same conversation with the new firm.

In the past I have successfully negotiated an offer to cover a similar gap (they offered 70K, I bluffed and told them I was used to 95K, we settled on 85). In retrospect, the job they needed me for was only worth 70 and I got bored quickly and left. Sometimes a prospective employer will not be aware of the market values. Other times, the expectations gap is on the candidate's side.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:51 PM   #3
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That seems like too big of difference to be able to negotiate. I'm not sure what type of engineer you are and I realize salaries are lower in the middle of the country but 65K for an engineer with 10+ year experience is just too low.

Even if you split the difference and end up at $75K with a company car, a golf gym membership, and extra 2 weeks salary, the nightmare scenario is you start working there and find you are unhappy and they are back to $75K which you may never be able to make up.
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Old 03-21-2012, 05:36 AM   #4
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That seems like too big of difference to be able to negotiate. I'm not sure what type of engineer you are and I realize salaries are lower in the middle of the country but 65K for an engineer with 10+ year experience is just too low.

Even if you split the difference and end up at $75K with a company car, a golf gym membership, and extra 2 weeks salary, the nightmare scenario is you start working there and find you are unhappy and they are back to $75K which you may never be able to make up.
My advice would be to stay focused on the salary. A starting salary less than or equal to what you are making now doesn't make much sense. The perks could go away or never materialize at all (and personally to me are usually uninteresting anyways).

In the software/engineering biz , it's been my experience is that you have to negotiate what you are worth when you hire on.

it's unlikely you will get to a level you feel you are worth later on. ever. (without moving on). they aren't going to "make it up to you later" no matter what they might say. In a 10 engineer start up maybe. In a 150 person shop it's not going to happen.

If it was me. I'd just simply state what your salary requirements are (>90k?). If they can't meet that, then I would wait for something else better to come along. Even then i'd wonder , as you do, why the lowball offer. None of the possible reasons is very good unfortunately.
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:05 AM   #5
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The difference is pretty big. One risk is that any effort to make up for that by adding non cash items may lead the employer to hold down future salary increases to offset. If the prospective employer does not value your services as highly as your current one does it really should be up to them to figure out why that is.
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Old 03-21-2012, 07:10 AM   #6
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It's not just the current reduced salary you are looking at. Whatever the possible final number is, it is likely to be the max, or above their usual max they tend to pay. In turn, that means future salary increases will be hard to come by.
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:41 AM   #7
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I agree it's too low. It's hard to think of a good company that would be fun to work for and technically advanced that paid so little including benefits. Eventually, or sooner, I would think their best people would be leaving and it wouldn't look so appealing.
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:51 AM   #8
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Push them on salary. the willingness to upgrade your title probably means that tehy will come up considerably. Aside from more vaca time, company car, etc. I would ask them for a fat signing bonus (20k?) if there is still a material gap after they come up. Yeah, its a one-time hit, but typically you would only have to stay a year and then you walk out teh door with the lump sum in your pocket.
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:58 AM   #9
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Seems like quite a gap to me. One way to bridge it woud be to negotiate for a signing bonus and/or guaranteed annual bonus to make up the difference.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:21 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by MooreBonds

I would be interested in joining their team - but not at such a significant salary cut (there would be room for growth with different classifications as I obtain various certifications, but it wouldn't be significant enough to erase that gap).
Sounds like you answered your own question. . Offer them a counter and see if they'll meet it.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:41 AM   #11
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I would push for salary. At least get them to match what you are getting now (all other benefits being equal). The move may make sense for professional development and as a resume builder, but you'll be negotiating your salary for your job after this new one from a lower starting point if you accept something 15-20k less than what you are getting now.

I didn't used to think like this, but I have asked for the unthinkable salary and been offered it twice now. The worst they can do is say no and you can keep working where you are.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:55 AM   #12
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DW took a job at a lower pay level. From that point on, all raises were given at percentage, with any additional raises capped. It took many years of maximum raises to finally get to paid what a new-hire would get. It delayed our retirement plans. Now that she is finally getting decently paid, she is loathe to give it up.
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Old 03-21-2012, 01:01 PM   #13
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DW took a job at a lower pay level. From that point on, all raises were given at percentage, with any additional raises capped. It took many years of maximum raises to finally get to paid what a new-hire would get. It delayed our retirement plans. Now that she is finally getting decently paid, she is loathe to give it up.
+1 I would focus on getting as much salary as possible since that is what will grow annually over time. One-timers are nice but don't really help. perks are ok as long as they are things you would take advantage of, but remember it is much easier for an employer to decide to discontinue a perk than to reduce salaries.

Tell them that you believe you worth what you are currently paid and are interested but that is the going rate.
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Old 03-21-2012, 01:39 PM   #14
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Your post did not tell me if your friend is in a position to make offers or amend it. A friend of mine was in a similar situation but he was dealing with the CEO directly who did not need to consult with others. The CEO was restricted by the salary range for the original position offered but he changed it to a different title that would meet my friend's required minimum salary (best the CEO can do with the salary). To stay competitive with my friend's other offer, he also offered a great compensation package which includes a large stay on bonus, 2 weeks bonus PTO/vacation, stock options and a lot of other perks including a golden parachute if they ever got taken over.
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:32 AM   #15
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Thanks for the replies!

The head of their local office (the guy I've worked with in the past) said during the interview that the person that would be sending me the offer letter and 'approving' the offer is out on vacation this week, so a formal offer wouldn't be coming until next Tuesday, probably.

I'd be happy if he could roughly match what I'm making now salary-wise, since I do value their apparent market strength and competency over my current employer. However, as many have noted, the initial range he mentioned was waaaay too low. I was a bit miffed that he didn't mention what the next higher salary range was for a higher position (both one with managerial duties, as well as a range for having my PE, which I haven't attained yet as I was hoping to be FIREd without it).

Also, he made clear that he took a salary cut when he left my employer to return to a company he worked for in the past, and then took another cut to come to the employer he's at now (big difference is that he was basically on borrowed time at each employer, so he was sort of in a bind to find a new job and didn't have the luxury of turning down an offer he didn't like).

I'm tempted to factor in things like their 4% 401k match (current employer froze their measly 1.5% match in 2008 and haven't restated it yet), but know that their 4% could change as well. The guy also mentioned that their bonuses averaged about $5k company-wide, but that's also loosely based on your overtime worked (and I typically can handle a huge amount of work with my productivity without needing to work extra hours).

The ER factor is also hanging out there, whispering in my ear "but...but...but in 10 years time, you'll likely be FIREd, so as long as they can get close, it's good enough"...but I also hear the logical thoughts of my fellow ER forum members.

Will drop by a thank-you for the interview and a short note about my skillsets being a huge attribute above and beyond the number of years of experience on my resume, and see if I can sell myself a bit more.

Thanks again for your insights. Had found an old e-mail I received from EngineerSalary.com - sent another request for an updated report for my area, and will let you know how things turn out next week.
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Old 03-22-2012, 05:28 AM   #16
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Do not underestimate the negative impact on your motivation once you have accepted the lower pay and find
- that some anticipated non-financial advantages of the new job will not happen or
- that they take on another guy and pay him what they denied to you
- or simply that you got used to the new job and its advantages but can't get the pay cut out of your brain.
(Done that, been there).
Good luck for your decision.
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:39 PM   #17
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Your friend made his choice of taking the pay cuts based on his situation. You should determine what is your minimum salary to continue negotiation and if any of their other compensations offered would make up for that difference. The CEO first needed to meet my friend's minimum salary requirement then he sweeten the pot with a huge stay on bonus, paid in full within 3 months, additional vacation and pay increase of new title is retroactive to their original negotiation date. Stock options, larger bonus, golden parachute, etc. are just icing.
Best of luck to you.
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Old 03-23-2012, 09:33 PM   #18
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It does not make sense to even think about a new job with a pay cut when you have a job that pays well and is secure and is giving you a raise. They should have presented you with their Best offer originally.

Sounds like they are on a fishing trip to see what you will settle for. I would head for the hills.
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Old 03-23-2012, 11:54 PM   #19
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No. I have never asked for an increase in any benefit.
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Originally Posted by MooreBonds View Post
My question to all of you is: apart from the obvious things like more vacation time (which would only be able to make up so much ground), are there any 'creative' things you were able to strike a deal with an employer to make up for some compensation ground?
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Old 03-24-2012, 12:52 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by pb4uski

+1 I would focus on getting as much salary as possible since that is what will grow annually over time. One-timers are nice but don't really help. perks are ok as long as they are things you would take advantage of, but remember it is much easier for an employer to decide to discontinue a perk than to reduce salaries.

Tell them that you believe you worth what you are currently paid and are interested but that is the going rate.
+1
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