Why does your salary offer stink?

Dear Evil HR Lady,

I recently applied for a job within the same institution where I am currently working. I am an administrative assistant for an academic department, yet I have a master’s degree in sociology, so I applied for a research analyst position. Before applying, I inquired in the HR department about the salary range for the new position. I was quoted a particular range, yet when I received the job offer, the salary was $2,500 below the low end of the range. My question is this: How can an institution have a salary range for a particular position, yet make an offer under the stated range? Given that the advertisement said it would consider candidates who were currently in a master’s program, rather than having a degree in hand, it seems odd that the offer was so low. I have absolutely no knowledge of how ranges are calculated, but it seems to me that if there is a stated range, the offer should fall within the range. Am I missing something?

To read the answer click here: Why does your salary offer stink?

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9 thoughts on “Why does your salary offer stink?

  1. Related to this situation is one in which the HR manager says with false contrition, “Well, the salary range for this position is X.” when he or she knows full well that the range is below market. What happened? The salary ranges haven’t been updated for a few years. This is one way the HR folks hide behind policy and specious data. Better to dance around the truth than be honest and ethical with employees. In my experience, HR professionals are tighter with the company’s money than the CEO or the Finance staff.

    1. I honestly believe most salary ranges are pulled out of hats. I’ve filled out those compensation surveys and it’s always pretty vague/

      But, Finance, in my experience is always tighter with the money than HR.

      1. In the past I’ve used salary survey data published by large HR consulting companies. Unless there are at least 25 salary data points for a particular job code in a particular region (enough to estimate a normal distribution), I don’t put so much faith in the data and must use a more qualitative approach in concert with HR input to determining a salary to offer.

        Regarding tightfisted HR managers, I’ve witnessed all sorts of highly bureaucratic approval procedures for discretionary benefits like educational reimbursement. These procedures have many opportunities for telling an employee no. As a manager, it maddens me when I’m trying to take care of a valued employee – no, I’m not generous with that assessment – and then I have to struggle with the HR gatekeepers. At least with Finance, releasing funds has simpler rules [1] is the company profitable and [2] does the ROI meet minimum requirements? Yes, getting past these wickets can be very complicated, too. The difference with many HR gatekeepers is that their yes or no answer is rarely based on financial figures and is more based on vague principles that often seem to be a moving target and vary by the individual. When I challenge their judgments and want to hear the backup facts and data, I get baffled responses and hear another no.

        1. Unfortunately your experience is not unusual. Many HR people don’t like to think in terms of hard numbers or try to put together an ROI.

  2. Companies do realize that often people will accept offers for less than they initially want or expect. If you don’t like the offer, then counter-offer and stick to your guns on what you know you’re worth in the market. If they see your value, they will pay you. Still, they do want you for as little as they can get you for!

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  3. Sometimes at colleges/universities, you can only get so much of a percentage above what you currently make if you change departments/pay grades/non-exempt to exempt.
    Find out if there is such a policy. Also, there may be a chance for a raise at mid-year/yearly review under such a policy.

    1. This is true. Even when I worked at a major fortune 500 we have a policy that you could only recieve a 10% increase when you switch positions or get a promotion. Which is great if you are making $100,000 and now get a $10,000 raise for not that much more work (maybe). But what about someone going from and administrative role making $30,000 to a analyst role where the incumbents are making $45,000 or more. Only give them a $3,000 raise? I am definately not a fan of this type policies.

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