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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Salary Requests

I live in a major metropolitan city and am currently drastically underpaid, so much so that over the past year I have worked up to 4 jobs at a time. Clearly, this is no way to live a life and short changes my career which I love. I've been able to cut expenses and negotiate raises enough that I merely work 2 jobs now. My combined income over the past year has been $48,000 but I am not living an extravagent lifestye by any means. Housing is very expensive in my city but it's where my career is focused.

After a year at my primary job, I started looking for a new job (for many reasons aside from the salary). I recently interviewed at a great company but their initial salary offer was $40,000. Because of the job's location I wouldn't be able to work enough hours at my part time job to earn that extra $8,000 a year. Their offer is a 4% increase on what I'm currently earning at my primary job but still below industry average (my current salary is 10% below industry average). I've made a counter offer for $45,000K but haven't heard back from them.

I'm wondering if and how I should deal with questions about my current income. Do I need or should I tell them that I've been running myself ragged over the past year to make ends meet? Or is it sufficient to say I need 45,000 to maintain my current standard of living?

Your input is greatly appreciated

Job searching is always unpleasant at best and unfortunately, I have some more unpleasant info to pass on.

First, on the positive side: Everything is negotiable and you did the correct thing in counter offering. From your name on your e-mail I am assuming you are female and women tend to not counter on salary offers as much as men. One of the results of this is lower starting salaries. So, good job!

Now, for the negative. How do you know you are underpaid by 10% in your current job? I ask this because you have job 1 (current) where you state you are underpaid and job 2 (new offer) which is an increase but "still below industry average." If it is then why didn't job 2 offer you a higher amount?

I'm not saying that you aren't correct in your assumptions, I'm just suggesting that what the true market value of the job is the point at which the employee and the employer come together and agree on the salary. If the employer can get someone else with equal skills for the amount they are offering, they aren't underpaying.

As for why you need the money? Unfortunately, companies don't care why. In job searches, it's not about you, it's about them. So, if you tell me you need $45,000 or you can't pay your rent, I'm might cry right along with you, but if that's not in my budget I can't play along.

Are you bound to the city you live in? Lots of jobs are available in cheaper locations. If your chosen career doesn't provide enough income to meet your financial needs you have three choices--1. What you are currently doing, which is supplementing your income, 2. Switching to a higher paying career and 3. Adjusting your standard of living.

I hope they accepted your counter and you get rapid increases and bonuses so you can quit your other jobs and follow the career you love.

Good luck!

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