A Reader Writes

The HR Digest - - Q&A With Jane -

Re­cently, I was re­jected by an em­ployer even when I was one of their top can­di­dates just be­cause my cur­rent salary was much higher than what they were of­fer­ing.

I re­vealed my cur­rent salary in a phone in­ter­view, af­ter which I went for an in-per­son in­ter­view, which went quite well. They men­tioned that my salary is too high and that was the only con­cern that came in the way of hir­ing me right away. I was okay with the salary and I emailed thank-you notes to let them know that I am in­ter­ested in the po­si­tion.

Af­ter a few days, the HR man­ager in­formed me that the com­pany was re­ally im­pressed with me. And then there was no re­sponse from their side, so I sent a fol­low-up email. Later, I was told that the com­pany has hired an­other can­di­date for this po­si­tion, but they also men­tioned that I was the per­fect can­di­date for the job and that the com­pany tried to work some­thing out. And some­how I feel that they tried to in­crease the salary, but it didn’t work out.

I am not sure why this hap­pened. I was okay with a lower pay as the com­pany was pro­vid­ing many other perks along the pay, such as flex­i­ble work hours, travel, and an op­tion to work from home. What can be the rea­son that the com­pany didn’t even bother to of­fer me the job? Is it just be­cause they thought the pay they of­fered was com­par­a­tively low? They could have of­fered me the job, and could have moved to the next can­di­date if I de­clined the of­fer. Why did they skip di­rectly to the next can­di­date? Should I have been clear that I was ready to ac­cept a lower pay? I didn’t do that be­cause I wanted to take my chances and didn’t want to “shut in” that salary if there was a room for ne­go­ti­a­tion.

Would it be bet­ter if I ex­plic­itly told them that I was ready to take a pay cut? What can I do bet­ter if such sit­u­a­tion arises again?



Such sit­u­a­tion arises to many of the job seek­ers and this is the rea­son why job seek­ers hate to dis­cuss salary mat­ters. Many job seek­ers miss the chance of get­ting hired just by giv­ing a high num­ber for their ex­pected salary and end up seem­ing over­priced. Even if they are will­ing to take a pay cut, they do not men­tion it be­fore­hand, as they do not want to miss the chance to ne­go­ti­ate.

In your case, the em­ploy­ers would have thought that you earn much more than what they are of­fer­ing so even if of­fered the job, you would re­ject it. You didn’t clar­ify that you are ready to work for a lower pay, as­sum­ing that they would get the hint from your thank-you notes and fol­low-up emails. How­ever, many can­di­dates do that in the hope of ne­go­ti­at­ing the salary, once the job is of­fered. Prob­a­bly the em­ploy­ers should have of­fered you the job if you were their first choice. But why would you rely on em­ploy­ers to de­cide if the salary would be enough to keep you sat­is­fied? It can be tricky for em­ploy­ers too, as they don’t want to hire a can­di­date who is not happy with the salary and keeps look­ing for other op­por­tu­ni­ties even af­ter joining the com­pany.

It is re­ally fid­dly to han­dle such sit­u­a­tion be­cause on one hand you need to make sure that they know that you are will­ing to take a pay cut while on the other hand, you don’t want to leave any money on the table if they would in­crease the pay if you ne­go­ti­ate.

This is the rea­son why job seek­ers find salary dis­cus­sions as nerve-wrack­ing and con­fus­ing.

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