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Salary Negotiation for an IT Position? 149

HerculesMO asks: "I am a Windows Systems Administrator and work for a pretty large corporation. I know that I'm underpaid for what I do, and as such, I've been looking for another position. The problem is however, that a lot of potential positions ask for what you are currently making -- and it's a bargaining chip that the company I interview with will (and have) used to negotiate salary." Given that businesses usually base the salaries of new hires on their previous job, how can one arrange a fair salary if they were badly underpaid?
"I'm currently in a series of interviews with a company that I really like, the work environment, people seem young and friendly (like myself), and the business is something I wouldn't hate doing. I'm well qualified for the work, and their director already likes me. I just feel that, if I accept the position, I won't be able to bargain my way up to the market rate for the position, given it's such a leap from what I currently make. In New York, many of the companies require the disclosure of salary so just 'saying no' locks me out of a lot of potential positions."
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Salary Negotiation for an IT Position?

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  • Tell them what you want them to hear. I don't think they can really check up on these types of things.
    • DO NOT LIE! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Knetzar ( 698216 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:37PM (#14747132)
      Companies can call, and sometimes will, call other companies and ask about your employment with them. They will try and get as much information as possible. Some companies will reveal your salary, and if that happens you're screwed.
      • Re:DO NOT LIE! (Score:3, Insightful)


        Maybe it varies by industry, but I can't imagine any company I've ever worked for doing this:

        1) First, the company receiving the call usually won't want to advertise to their competitors how much they're actually paying for labor.

        2) Second, most companies are sensitive to the fact that it could harm their interviewees if the company for which they're currently working knew they were looking.

        3) Third, legal issues have put in place policies at most medium to large companies in the U.S. that prevent doing
      • And if that happened I would:
        • point out that company had a vested interest in saying my salary was different (and any company that contacted my employer without my consent would piss me off in a very big way)
        • point out to my company that they had no authority to disclose my salary to a third party. I went to the bank for a loan. They called my employer to verify my salary. My HR department called me, and asked if I knew anything about this, and only then, released that information. Fuck them, if I'm forbidd
    • I beleive you are right. IANAL(Gee, I say that a lot), but I know there are very few questions a prospective employer can ask of your current/previous one, and I don't think "How much did he make?" is one of them.
      • There may be legal restrictions on what your past employers can disclose, but let's face it, that doesn't stop someone asking and someone else telling. If they do, you may get to hose your previous employer (or not, as the case may be), but for sure if you lied on an application that's instant dismissal and a bad reference from the new job.

    • Re:Umm... lie. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by moochfish ( 822730 )
      That is the single worst advice you could follow. People jump around in the IT industry. The same people all know each other, or are friends of friends with each other. People may have met at previous jobs or even during interviews. If you think there is zero connection between your prospective employer and your current boss, that's a big assumption to make. If you think you can get away with lying, go for it. But if you get caught, you're automatically fired and burning all bridges with that company and it
    • Re:Umm... lie. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by matt.fotter ( 28412 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:42PM (#14747176) Homepage
      Don't do it. They call. Plus if you're looking at work with the federales, they will look.

      I've gotten a lot of mileage out of a line I got from a WSJ Managing Your Career column a while back:

      "I am hoping to receive a fair offer."

      One guy I interviewed with even knew the article I was talking about and got some points for reading the journal.

      But don't fib. It'll bite you in the ass.
      • Re:Umm... lie. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Saanvik ( 155780 )
        I agree, don't lie, but don't tell the truth either.

        Here's the best salary advice anyone has ever given me - make them talk numbers first.

        Yes, you can do this. It's part of the process. If they are talking money, they want to hire you, but they, of course, want to get you as cheaply as they can to make you happy. Don't ever give in first. If you do, you won't get paid as much as they are willing to pay you.

        Worst case scenario is that they won't give a number without you giving a number. That's rar

    • Re:Umm... lie. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nataku564 ( 668188 )
      Some of us have this thing called a conscience. I say, instead of lying, tell them the truth, but also tell them you believe you are being underpaid and should be paid X instead of Y. You dont lie, and you get your message across. If they wont give it to you, then odds are they wouldn't give it to you even if you lied about your previous salary.

      I dont see why people have such problems with just saying what they want to say ...
      • > Some of us have this thing called a conscience.

        You appear to be conflating `having a conscience` with `feeling bad about lying`. We're talking about applying for a job - you don't owe them any favours. They're hiring you because they feel that they can make more money with you working for them than if you didn't. It's not like you adding 20% to your current salary is going to bother them - either they're prepared to offer you what you're after or they're not.
        • 1 a : the sense or consciousness of the moral goodness or blameworthiness of one's own conduct, intentions, or character together with a feeling of obligation to do right or be good

          Most people associate telling the truth with moral goodness. Misleading people is bad. If you want a higher salary, you ask for one, instead of using deceit. It like the inverse of being a politician.
    • Okay, thats just dumb. First of all, there is a good chance they can find out. If not from you, from your references, or from your tax returns, or some other method using your SSN and DOB. If like me, you're an employee of the government/university, your pathetic salary is public record.

      Besides the fact that you're starting a position with a new employer on the basis of dishonesty (since when did integrity become a bad thing?), it is almost always grounds for immediate termination (that means you get fi
  • Don't tell them (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:37PM (#14747131)

    Never tell them what you currently earn. Just tell them what sort of range you're looking for. If it's the kind of organisation that's worth working for, they'll understand that this is the relevant piece of information for you to provide anyway and not even question it.

    If they start trying to dig, politely decline to tell them, saying that you don't think it's relevant and/or that you feel it's inappropriate to discuss the specific details of a professional relationship with another employer. (In some places, talking about salaries is bizarrely taboo, and most businesses will respect that the same way they'd respect you if you declined to talk about specifics of previous work because of a confidentiality clause: they'd hope for the same professional conduct if you were leaving them and working for someone else.)

    If they persist even then, then they're the kind of place that pays what it can get away with and not what it should pay on merit, and you probably don't want the job anyway.

    • Re:Don't tell them (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mikael ( 484 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:44PM (#14747179)
      In some places, talking about salaries is bizarrely taboo

      Because when some companies advertise for jobs, they put out a lowball offer first, and gradually ramp up the salary until they start getting bites. Consequently, that type of workplace will have a wide range of salaries - some engineers might be earning more than managers. To avoid any kind of workplace uprising, the discussion of salaries is taboo.
    • Re:Don't tell them (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xero314 ( 722674 )
      I have to agree whole heartedly with the parent poster. There is no reason to tell them and you can not be compelled to do so. Tell them that you don't think that your previous compensations should have any bearing on what you would accept for this position. If you don't want to tell them and they don't hire you because of it then you probably don't want to work there. On the other hand, if it is a big jump from where you were, with out you having a reason for that jump such as finishing a higher level of
    • Also don't look desperate and don't be afraid to tell them no and walk. Is it really worth your suffering another job that isn't paying you what you think you are worth. If they really want you they will offer more, or they will find someone else whos willing to take the lower pay.
  • Just say this... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark_wilkins ( 687537 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:37PM (#14747133)
    "I'm currently making $X, but I believe that's below the market rate for my type of work and I really am looking for more like $Y."

    If $Y is a reasonable number and you stick to your guns, you can probably get them to offer it.

    Alternatively, if you don't particularly care about being honest, you could always just say "I'm currently making $Y" and there will never, ever be any way they'll ever know the difference. However, I think the first approach is more straightforward and just as effective.

    -- Mark
    • Alternatively, if you don't particularly care about being honest, you could always just say "I'm currently making $Y" and there will never, ever be any way they'll ever know the difference. However, I think the first approach is more straightforward and just as effective.

      Actually, some companies will require an old W-2, pay stub, etc. as proof of prior income before starting work. This is particularly true for sales people because it provides a clear picture of the person's success at the last job.

      If you
    • I work for a public university. My salary is a public record. Lying about it would be a very bad idea, methinks, once I start looking for another job. However, I'd need quite a bit more money to leave -- right now I get full tuition (and most fees) waived for any classes I take, a traditional pension from the state, and a fairly loose schedule. If I was trading that for money, that's quite a chunk of change.
      • Really? I also work for a public university, and my salary is most definately private. All payroll information at my university is closely guarded, and you have to sign all kinds of papers and take all sorts of oaths to even THINK about accessing that data.
    • That's incorrect. HR references can tell them what "range" within 10k you were making while employed there. They can't tell them the exact number, but they can say what range you fall within.

      I would just not tell them what you make, and tell them what you're seeking. If you're diplomatic in the dialog, you can DDE (Dodge, Duck, Evade), the question and leave them feeling like you answered it - with the salary you're seeking to make.

  • Oh gods... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:37PM (#14747137)
    I am a Windows Systems Administrator and work for a pretty large corporation....

    I am so very sorry for you...


    • I am so very sorry for you...

      Me too, Windows Admins are a dime a dozen, like McDonalds. If he/she wants a great pay cheque it comes with getting skills to a level above commodity. That is, can they do more than click'n'call help! And do something better, faster and not so common and efficiently. Have they gone the extra distance?

      Senior admin (ANY OS) almost always means my brain has gone from gray to green so you should pay me more. However a real senior admin knows at least 3 OSes, at least 3 progr

      • gee, when i grow up can i be just like you?
        sysadmins aren't wizards anymore: they administer the IT systems. by your reckoning, a hospital sysadmin could do brain surgery and i don't mean BOFH-style brain surgery.
  • The answer is quite simple. It's none of their business what you currently make. Tell them what salary it will take to get you to come to work there, and negotiate as needed. That way you get a raise, and they get a good cheap employee.
  • Just tell them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:39PM (#14747145)
    Tell them what you're making, and make it clear that the reason why you're looking for a new job is because you're aware that you're severely underpaid. Make it very clear that you will not accept a salary below whatever the standard is, or whatever it is that you want. You're in an advantagous position here, you already have a job and are currently well established so you can afford to be picky.
    • This may be a dumb question, but why do you have to tell them? Just because they ask you nicely? As you point out, the original poster has a job while the company doing the interviewing doesn't have someone filling the job, so the job seeker is in a position of power here. Therefore, the person should just refrain from answering that question.

      I think a better route would be for the person to find out what the average salary is for a person with his particular skills, experience, education, etc. Obviousl
  • by shodson ( 179450 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:39PM (#14747147) Homepage
    Tell them how much you think you should earn. If they don't agree then go see what the marketplace will pay you by getting another job offer somewhere else. If you're seriously open to working at a new job then tell your employer you'll leave them and take the other job unless you get paid what you're worth, assuming you still want to work at your current employer.
    • If they don't agree then go see what the marketplace will pay you by getting another job offer somewhere else.

      I'd argue that prospective employers who are asking about your current salary are doing so because they are clueless or cheap, neither of which is good for a prospective candidate. If they're clueless then they're probably hiring because someone told them they needed an administrator, but they won't value your contributions because they don't know what it is that you really do. If they're cheap

      • I asusme it has to do with value and your compentance. Many IT folks who did not have their jobs outsourced to India kept making 75k a year while those who did took jobs for 25k.

        many who stayed at 75k are now promoted as managers and do the hiring.

        Who would you hire the one making 35k or 65k? I would assume the one making 65k was better at his or her job otherwise he or she would leave right? Of course this is not true but those who have not been outsourced it may be viewed differently.
        • Who would you hire the one making 35k or 65k? I would assume the one making 65k was better at his or her job otherwise he or she would leave right?

          Me personally? I'd hire the right person for the job, regardless of the cost. But that's not always how it works. I once worked for a company where we got to interview prospective bosses. Candidate #1 was voluntarily leaving her company after many years of service and was highly qualified for the job. Candidate #2 was laid off in a company restructuring an

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "MORE!!!" ... and then my manager proceeded to whip me with a CAT5 cable.
  • by Evro ( 18923 ) <evandhoffman&gmail,com> on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:47PM (#14747196) Homepage Journal
    If you're looking for a new job because your old one isn't paying you enough, what's the problem with telling prospective employers that? When they ask why you're leaving, tell them you're looking for more opportunities to advance and don't feel you're getting that at your current position - that's code for "they aren't paying me enough." The question of how much it is will inevitably come up, as you say, so just tell them. If you think a company may screw you based on your previous salary, that's probably not a good company to join. What you want is a company that will pay you what you're "worth," and they probably have a figure in mind for your position before you even apply.

    As an aside, whatever they offer you, get it in writing, and be wary of things like "Starting at 40,000, increasing up to $10,000 after 3 month review," I've gotten screwed by that type of language before. "Yeah, It's only a $2000 raise, but we did say 'up to' $10,000! (wink, wink)." I started looking for a new job that very day.

  • by ILikeRed ( 141848 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:48PM (#14747197) Journal
    But after 2 years with the company. What helped me was I did a lot of homework, and I was honest. Told them I liked my work, and wanted to stay with the company, but these are my personal goals.... The one that made it for me was housing - I told them one of my goals was to own my home, in the city. Gave them a realestate map with the areas of the city I liked, and the median home price in each of those areas, and then the median income I would need to get a home in each area. They decided to invest in me and my goals. I don't have a home in the historical district I really like, but I have a very nice place with a shorter commute than many of my co-workers and one of the best school districts in the area.
    • Just don't expect any more big payrises... they've got you over a barrel... :-(
    • Interesting. I'm not saying you didn't achieve something, but it's rare that an employer takes interest in an employee's personal goals and spends corporate resources helping the employee achieve them simply because the employee laid them out.

      What I'm getting at is, I tend to reserve my negotiations for solely the impact I'm having on the company's bottom line. Whether I want to own a home or a Ferrarri shouldn't matter to my employers, or change how they feel I should be compensated.

      Saving $50,000 a

      • Read this [amazon.com] book. What he did falls right into one of the topics discussed in the about pursuading people. When you give someone a reason to do something you want them to do, it dramatically increases the chance that they will comply. Just saying "Give me money" or "Can I use the copier first" doesn't cut it. But something like "Give me a raise, because I want to buy a house in a better neighborhood" or "Can I use the copier first because I'm in a hurry" is much more effectual.
      • You've missed the point though. If he's a productive worker, then the company is more likely to want to keep him.

        He's:

        a) got a family to feed (i.e. he's likely to be dependable worker.)

        b) buying a house in the area (i.e. he's likely to not need to move due for housing/schooling reasons)

        c) they don't need to increase his salary any more (his mortgage will be decreasing over time, and he probably can't afford to move or it's less likely that he will be able to, so the company would be in a good bargai

  • by Steepe ( 114037 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:52PM (#14747224) Homepage
    A companies first offer is their lowball, god what if this sucker goes for it offer. If you are currently employed, you have no pressure, so hit them back with a counter equally far above what you want. work your way to what you want, or as close as you can get them.

    I have worked with folks who took the first offer, and made WELL below me for the same work.

    BTW, I'm a UNIX system administrator, who does windoze only when absolutely required.
  • by moochfish ( 822730 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:53PM (#14747225)
    A common misunderstanding is that NOT telling them your salary helps you. I believe that is wrong. First of all, many companies will immediately shut you out for not disclosing that. It can also leave a sour taste in the interviewers mouth if you continue to resist the question. Also, it might make the employer think you got paid an embarassingly low salary, which doesn't help your cause either. I mean if you were getting paid like a champ, you'd mention your salary to make sure you can get paid even more.

    You make it clear - very clear - that your current salary is too low and that is a big factor in why you are looking for a new job. Sure, you might be able to fight for a raise and get it, but it's still too low. That means their offer has to be even more than what one raise might net you. You're telling them that if they low ball you, you aren't taking their offer.

    Whoever throws a number out first sets the tone. If, for example, you make $55k, but want $60k, but you make them say a number first, there are scenarios where you can end up fighting an uphill battle. What if they offer you $50k? What, suddenly you're willing to disclose your old salary and tell them their offer is too low? Then all that talk about it not being "relevant" goes out the window and you look like a fool. And now you are stuck fighting your way *up* to your goal. Instead, had you made it explicitly clear your currently salary is FAR too low, told them what it is, and asked for $65k, then you place them in the position to have to fight their way down to $60k.

    If you don't tell them what your salary was up front, they won't know where you are coming from and your salary request will seem like some phantom number you got from salary.com. You want credibility? If you can't justify why you should get paid what you are worth, you don't deserve the salary anyway. Tell them what you make and make them respect what you feel you should be getting.
    • Sorry, but I just can't see the benefits for the job seeker in your advice.

      First of all, many companies will immediately shut you out for not disclosing that.

      Do you want to work for such a company anyway? That's certainly never been the norm where I work, only the practice of predatory large corporations that don't pay well.

      If, for example, you make $55k, but want $60k, but you make them say a number first, there are scenarios where you can end up fighting an uphill battle. What if they offer you $

  • Value yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZekeSMZ ( 874386 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:58PM (#14747243)
    A wise man once told me "if you don't value yourself, how can anyone else value you?" I've found those words to be very true on my past job searches.

    Most company HR departments will validate current salary level requests. Large corporations often have hotlines dedicated to this, as the information is often required when applying for a mortgage or other financing.

    It's a tough spot to be in when you are asked this question. When answering, make sure that you give a figure that represents your entire package (salary, bonus, options, perks, etc) - and let them know that you're talking about an entire package. Since bonuses are often based on variable factors, it's fair for you to factor in the upper limit of your bonus potential. The message here is be honest, but also be thorough in how you detail things. Above all, be fair to yourself.

    If you're good enough and an employer really wants to hire you - they'll pay what they feel you're worth to them, as opposed to just giving you a standard "raise" from where you are.

    Good luck - stay confident, negotiate tough and get what you deserve!

  • Just say "I will consider any Resonable and Professional offer."

    Remember they (their HR department) has researched the going rates for the position in your area so they know what Resonable and Professional is. And they should be offering you what you are worth to them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Given that you did not mention asking your current employer for a raise, we can conclude that either (A) you didn't ask for a raise yet, or (B) you have been denied a raise. Let's examine these options more closely.

    In the first option, we assume you have not asked for a raise. This is either (A) because you are afraid of your boss, and/or (B) you're afraid of rejection, and/or (C) because you're not confident in your abilities, and/or (D) you know you don't deserve a raise. If you deserve a raise, ask. If
    • In conclusion, if you haven't asked for a raise yet, do it first thing Monday.

      He'd be better off discussing compensation with an outside offer letter in hand. I think that'd be worth a delay of a few weeks to hear back from some of the places he's interviewed.

    • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @03:40AM (#14748326) Homepage
      If you have asked for a raise and you've been turned down, inform your boss that you cannot continue at the current salary and that you would like to continue working there, but you will be forced to start looking for a new job if you do not get a substantial rase.

      Be careful!!! I've been FUCKED OVER playing that song and dance. Last time I asked my boss for a raise, I got declined. Two weeks later he hired another employee as my replacement (a n00b) and then laid me off a week later for some lame excuse.

      Point is, if you ask for a raise be prepared to rock the boat. Chances are, you might get thrown overboard for your stupid attempt at a course correction in your career.
      • Last time I asked my boss for a raise, I got declined. Two weeks later he hired another employee as my replacement (a n00b) and then laid me off a week later for some lame excuse.

        Frankly that doesn't sound like the type of boss I would want to work for anyway. I assure you he'll just screw over the next guy, and when that person leaves he'll find someone else to screw over. (Depending on where you are now, if I were you I'd probably be looking back thinking "gosh it was for the best after all that I left

      • And if he replaced you that quick, he didnt think much of you at all. Doesnt sound like it was that great of a job to start off with.
        • Very true.

          It was a good job (in regards to my function). It's just that my boss was very short sighted. The way he treated clients led me to believe he could fart and shit all over this world, but what added up in his bank account is what mattered the most.

          Clearly, I found out the hard way what he thought of his employees as well.

          It's for the best though. Working for such a scumbag isn't in my future. He would have "traded up" to someone cheaper anyways at one point.
      • Yeah, we had a real tight spot once - not enough devs. One of our mediocre devs thought he could capitalize, and demanded a much bigger raise than the paltry one we gave him. We refused, and he quit. We accepted it and said good-bye. 3 days later he changed his mind - wanted his job back. We refused.

        Perfect!

  • by Blasphemy ( 78348 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @10:51PM (#14747412)
    Most companies I have worked at provide bonuses, RRSP matching (think 401k, only up here, where it's colder) and other compensation. I also do some work on the side.

    By the time I add all that stuff up and tell them that is what I am currently making, I've pretty much reached the base salary I am looking for.

    The key is in how you word it. Obviously you can't say "my current base pay is", you have to say "I am currently making about ...".

    Another key is to be somewhat vague. If you are making $65k/year, say "in the high sixties, looking for something in the low seventies".

    If you are very underpaid, don't be afraid to mention this to your new employers as a reason you are looking for a new job. This will ensure they offer something above what you are currently making.

    Also remember that when they offer you a job, it's an offer and it's probably not final. I've never accepted the first offer and always received a better offer.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "I am a Windows Systems Administrator and work for a pretty large corporation. I know that I'm underpaid for what I do, and as such, I've been looking for another position."

    So, do you work for LMIT? I am just curious as it is a small world. Lockheed Martin is the largest defense contractor, has the most money, yet low balls its workers and pays the fat cats the big salaries. LMIT had some of the best co-workers skill set wise, however, the management absolutely sucked. They got their positions and huge s
  • be firm.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tont0r ( 868535 )
    When I got my programming job, I remained firm the entire interview. By firm, I mean I gave direct answers. Sounded confident (HA! FOOLED THEM!), but there were no 'uhhhh. ummmm. well.... err...'s at all. When it came to it, he asked how much I want and I stated my figure with confidence. When I was hired, I actually got more than I asked for.

    Also, if you dont want to give out your current salary (which you shouldnt), you could always state "I would like give you that information upon negotiating my salary"
  • The 5-Step Program (Score:2, Insightful)

    by databank ( 165049 )
    If you are asked about what your salary is and you're worried about whether or not they might lowball you. Do two things:

    1.) Make sure that the requirements in the job description are in fact everything that it says it is...(ie.- No additional stuff that wasn't included in the job description, such as managing additional employees, expecting to deal with issues outside of the scope of your work, etc)

    2.) State what you assume the average position salary range for the job that you're applying for is. In add
  • As a programmer fresh out of college, I took a position for a fairly low offer, because I thought the company had potential. That didn't pan out, and by the time I had 2 years experience, in spite of having received high % raises, I was roughly 20k/year underpaid given the market. So I told my employer I was underpaid, and what would they be willing to do about it. They offered 5k increase. I told them I would think about it. Next day 10k increase offered. I took a couple of interviews, and when asked
    • Well, this is the balancing act that any employer has to do. They need to get the work done at the lowest possible cost, taking into account the cost of attrition if anyone leaves. Where business continuity is critical, they have to pay more. Where the job is easy enough to train a new guy to do it in short time, they can go lower. Don't take it personally.

      FWIW, when I worked at KPMG, we told our clients to budget 1 1/2 times the annual salary for any position as the cost of attrition: even if they w
      • The thing that bothered me about the situation was: I had explained to them just how much underpaid I was: 20k. They lowballed me at 5k, then 10k, apparently in spite of:

        a) being able to offer 30k
        b) feeling it would be worth 30k to keep me
        c) knowing it would cost at least 20k in salary and presumably more in time and training to replace me

        Bottom line was that their behavior showed a lack of respect for me and my contribution to the company. I would have been able to forgive their first offer as hasty had
        • Really, I wouldn't take it personally. What they were able to offer really is beside the point. They had a responsibility to try to save money, and they didn't play their hand very well.

          their prior offers were attempts to steal from me.

          Ok, you're way off in the weeds here. If someone's negotiating a price with you, they have no obligation to give you anythingin the first place. Paying you less than the max they possibly could have afforded isn't stealing from you, it's fulfilling their obligation to t
          • No, the owner of the business has a (moral) responsibility to pay me fairly for my work. This was a matter of morals, not expediency for the business. Offering me less than they thought I was worth is stealing from me. Offering me less than they can possibly afford is not. Business does obey a certain set of rules, which is known as ethics, but what I'm describing is the difference between ethical and moral behavior. Their actions may have been fully ethical, but I don't think ethics is at all worth ca
            • I do not quite understand it when you say that an employer has a MORAL RESPONSIBILITY to pay you fairly for your work. The only thing the employer has an obligation to do is to pay you what you and he have negotiated. If you didn't negotiate a proper wage for yourself, then the fault is YOURS, and not the business owner, and you need to accept the responsibility for this error, rather than pushing off the responsibility on someone else.

              Also, your statement assumes that there is some higher power that sets
              • I do not quite understand it when you say that an employer has a MORAL RESPONSIBILITY to pay you fairly for your work. The only thing the employer has an obligation to do is to pay you what you and he have negotiated. If you didn't negotiate a proper wage for yourself, then the fault is YOURS, and not the business owner, and you need to accept the responsibility for this error, rather than pushing off the responsibility on someone else.

                To be clear: I told the employer what I thought the fair wage was. The

            • No, the owner of the business has a (moral) responsibility to pay me fairly for my work

              No, he has a responsibility to pay what he's agreed to pay. If you don't agree on a price, then you don't make the deal.

              -jcr
              • He has a legal responsibility to pay what he's agreed to pay. The responsibility to pay fairly is a moral one, not a legal or ethical one.

                In the past, it was legal to pay a man nothing for his work. It was called slavery. I claim this wasn't moral on the part of the slaveholders, though it was perfectly valid within their legal and ethical frameworks.

                Paying someone less than fairly is just a different position on the sliding scale toward slavery. If you choose not to pay a man fairly, that's a moral cho
  • by Mysteray ( 713473 ) on Saturday February 18, 2006 @12:21AM (#14747693) Homepage
    Given that businesses usually base the salaries of new hires on their previous job, how can one arrange a fair salary if they were badly underpaid?

    Tell them your whole employment history up-front. Since you're currently under-market, you hardly have a position to negotiate from anyway. And they've certainly had plenty of their time wasted before by applicants who interviewed well but who's references didn't check out in the end.

    You've stayed at that current position for several years because of the great learning environment, right? But now you're open to moving because your current employer doesn't have a path for you to grow much beyond it, or so I figure.

    A business has two types of positions: those for which basic requirements or certifications are considered sufficient (you mentioned Windows System Administrator), and those for which the superior candidate will bring to the company strategic advantages (usually just sales, upper management, and sometimes development). The first get based on pay grades and local market conditions, whereas the latter are much more flexibly based mostly on how the company feels about it's profitability. I theorize that these correspond to Maslow's homeostatic and higher needs [emotionall...cation.com], respectively.

    Get them to say the first number. You currently have stable employment, and they're probably not hoping for someone who jumps ship anytime 10% comes along either. Since you're currently under market, any offer you get may be on the low end of their grade for the position. Take it without hesitation, if it gets you into the usual market range for your skills (you already mentioned that you liked the company).

    Work hard, prove yourself valuable, and you can expect to be at correspondingly competitive compensation within a couple of years.

    • Get them to say the first number.

      I prefer to do this before I even go in for the interview. I've found that I've been able to close many deals in my career by being the higher-priced alternative. When the headhunter first calls, I tell them "Look, I've got more experience in this field than most people will ever get, and I'd really only be interested if they're able to pay X dollars."

      -jcr
      • "Look, I've got more experience in this field than most people will ever get, and I'd really only be interested if they're able to pay X dollars."

        Hey, nothing wrong with that if you can back it up, but somehow I just don't get the sense that it's the best strategy for this guy writing in to "Dear Slashdot".

  • by jcr ( 53032 )
    I am a Windows Systems Administrator and work for a pretty large corporation. I know that I'm underpaid for what I do

    Nobody could pay me enough to do that.

    -jcr
  • by dudeX ( 78272 )
    When the interviewer asks you what you would like to be paid, tell him/her : what is the typical range they pay someone in that position at the company.

    They will typically give you a range.

    You should also value yourself. If you think you're worth 60k, ask for 65k.

    Also don't ever settle for something low. There are always jobs to be found somewhere.
  • I just feel that, if I accept the position, I won't be able to bargain my way up to the market rate for the position, given it's such a leap from what I currently make.

    A feeling? You're basing business decisions on a fear?

    Be honest. Decide for yourself whether you release information about a business relationship you had/have with another company. Then go into your interviews knowing what you will share and how you will share it.

    Don't sit around and wonder what they'll do, or what they'll think.

    You are developing business relationship. Be professional. Don't go in there hoping you do everything right, and in the process spend more time worrying about doing the right thing than about presenting yourself and your skills.

    I have made a few largish jumps in the past (12%, 25%, 63%). Each time I went in and told them what I liked about their company, how I believed I fit in, and the range I expected to be paid for the position. Each time I was honest without telling them my current sallary. This last time several companies turned me down primarily, I assume, because I was asking for what I was worth. Eventually I found a position that was perfect for me, and apparently perfect for them.

    But then, I don't bargain. I don't do counter-offers, and I let them know up front that I'm not interested in doing so. If they don't feel like paying what I'm worth, then I'll not waste any more of my time or their time.

    Your mileage may vary, and unless you have the personality that I have these tips may not work for you. But I would suggest at minimum that you treat this as a two way business relationship. They are trying to sell you on the position as much as you are trying to sell them on your skills. Don't make yourself out to be the party with less power.

    "We have hundreds of applicants, what makes you so special?"
    "There are hundreds of campanies I could work for. I want to work for yours. Can you say that of your other applicants?"

    -Adam
  • When an employer asks you about your current salary, don't lie. Then again, you don't have to reveal it, either. Simply saying "I would require $X to accept this position" is fine. If they keep pressing you, I think it's completely valid to state that you are not comfortable talking about your current employment situation. I find this is particularly true when you are interviewing at a company that is in the same industry your current company is.

    However, there is a big difference between stating somethi
  • a lot of potential positions ask for what you are currently making

    And at least as many existing positions require you not to divulge that to anyone. So use that as a bargaining chip.
  • Tell them what you want. Then impress them with your skill set. If you can prove to them that you deserve what you want and, most importantly, no one with a similar or better skill set happens to be available for a lower price, you'll get it.

    Any mid-to-large sized company isn't going to be broken by an IT salary. If you state politely and firmly that this is what you want and you won't accept any less, than the decision lies with them. If you don't state that up front, they'll assume there's some flex

  • Just lie a little bit. In reality, they have no business asking, and they can't verify what you tell them. If you're honest with them, expect a salary that is not much more than what you are getting now. Salaries for what I do have been going up quite a bit over the past few years, and once you're at a place, you usually don't get big raises. So, the only way to get a big increase is leave, and tell the new employer what you are looking for, or to lie a little bit on what you are making now. If they wa
  • I have a friend who is a professional recruiter. Several years ago he told me NEVER to answer the question of how much I currently make. Instead, ask the interviewer "How much is someone with my skills worth to your company?" If they interviewer continues to pressure you to reveal your current salary, politely bid him a good day and leave.

    You are under no obligation to reveal your current salary. It's even against the law for your current employer to disclose that information. The only information they
  • If anybody is still paying attention or searching archives...

    Without revealing my salary (I used the line "It's not allowed by my current company to discuss compensation with anybody.").

    I got a 47.5% raise now over my current job.

    Thanks for all your advice folks, it worked out brilliantly :)

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