I Love This Place! …Wait, I Got Screwed!?!?

John Whitaker Compensation/Cash Money, John Whitaker

You found a new gig and you’re excited about it. During the interview process, you developed immediate chemistry with the hiring manager/now boss, so much so that you decided to take a bit of a risk. You would have liked to receive a bigger offer, but you’ll make this work.

Okay, so maybe it was a little disappointing that it required a slight pay cut from your current company, but if you’ve learned anything it’s this: it’s not all about money. Besides, it was made clear that there was “no room” for negotiation. Truth is you needed this job, and with a new boss whom you respect, a new company, a new work environment, and new colleagues – this is gonna be great!

Two months into the new gig, your boss realizes he needs another someone just like you! You’re killing it in your new role, so much so that you are included in the interview and selection process. That’s when you become aware of the compensation range for the addition. *Facepalm*…And it is almost $15K more than what they offered you. What…the…hell. (It should be noted at this time, both people were white males, so there is no gender/race bias in play.)

So, five minutes prior to realizing this information, you were happy in your role, happy with your new company, and happy with your new boss. But now? Now you’re pissed off and more than a bit disillusioned. The whole thing is soured.

This exact situation happened to a good friend. His question to me was, “Should I go renegotiate?” All things considered, this is a fair question. His perfect new job now had a much different vibe – he felt cheated or, at the very least, misled. He also felt woefully underpaid now, whereas previously he made the conscious decision to accept this pay level in exchange for the opportunity and change in environment. Ignorance is bliss, yes?

This happens more often than you think; someone in Payroll sees a request for an off-cycle raise and makes a personal judgment; someone in Recruiting looks at an offer letter and immediately compares their own contribution to “the newbie,” almost always unfavorably. People talk, (SH)it happens. So what do you do? Or maybe it’s more accurate to ask, “What do you not do?”

  • DON’T let emotion get the best of you. If you’re in a company without established salary bands, there will be a wide discrepancy in pay. It’s not personal.
  • DON’T move too quickly. Immediately setting up a meeting to discuss compensation with your boss is probably not going to bear fruit. This ties directly into bullet point #1. Collect your thoughts, wits, and sensibilities before having a conversation.
  • DO some role-reversal and play out any number of scenarios that may have played into the discrepancy. It may be that you hear some validity in the opposing argument, or at the very least hear where your own narration may be flawed.
  • DO consider having a conversation with your supervisor*. You can’t let this eat away at your insides; resentment won’t help you, your boss, or your future at the company. *One caveat – only have this conversation if you legitimately came by the information, i.e. you didn’t abuse your access to confidential information. No need to get fired, bub.
  • DO make a determination about what you want to accomplish. Are you prepared to walk? Are you going to make demands? Maybe another way to go about it is to tell your boss to expect a conversation at your annual review because your performance will make the decision to give you a raise an “easy one.”

Keep in mind (again) that you had your opportunity to negotiate or to refuse the offer. You accepted the terms of your agreement and you were happy about it for reasons that have nothing to do with compensation. Maybe, just maybe, the person you’re upset with is you. 

John Whitaker
John Whitaker (“Whit”) is Vice President of Talent Acquisition for DentalOne Partners and the founder of HRHardball.com (2008). He specializes in building and developing strong recruiting teams who are unafraid of “kicking the ant pile.” Like most Texans, he loves to tell a story (especially those that include an armadillo or a poker game) and cutting through the chaff…don’t take it personal.