Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT - Amy Gallo is a con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor at Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view.

Keith was mov­ing to New York City with his part­ner and wanted to find a new job.

The f irst of­fer he re­ceived was with a New York City de­part­ment. He was ex­cited but dis­ap­pointed with the ini­tial salary of­fered. “It was a clas­sic case of mis­aligned ex­pec­ta­tions,” he says. He had ap­plied for the job through a friend rather than in re­sponse to a for­mal post­ing with a stated salary band.

Through­out the in­ter­view process, he had been look­ing at other city jobs with sim­i­lar ti­tles and job de­scrip­tions and as­sumed the com­pen­sa­tion would be com­pa­ra­ble. It turns out there wasn’t a cor­re­la­tion.

Keith de­cided to ask for a higher salary. “I didn’t have for­mal of­fers, but I knew I was one of two top can­di­dates for two other op­por­tu­ni­ties, and I knew the salary ranges,” he says. He ex­plained to the chief of staff who had been run­ning the process that he ex­pected to have other, more lu­cra­tive of­fers. “I had to be care­ful about what I said. I didn’t want to lie,” he says.

He was clear and up­front. “I told them I’m really ex­cited about the sub­stance of the work. All things be­ing equal I would pre­fer to join the team, but be­cause there is such a dis­crep­ancy in salary, it’s a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion,” Keith says. He then pro­posed a salary that was 15% more than the ini­tial of­fer. If the de­part­ment would meet him at t hat amount, he would ac­cept. The chief of staff agreed to take the re­quest to hu­man re­sources.

He soon came back and said that HR could meet his pro­posal. “In ret­ro­spect, I could’ve pos­si­bly got­ten a higher of­fer had I had that ini­tial con­ver­sa­tion about salary in the ear­lier stages of the in­ter­views, but I was happy with the out­come,” Keith says.

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