What Should You Do when a Salary Offer Is Low?

Paul Levy; Author/Blogger; Former President and CEO, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

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Learning Objectives: At the end of this activity, you will be able to:
  • Discuss potential responses when receiving a job offer.
  • Recognize hiring managers’ motivations when they extend a job offer.
  • Practice how to approach a salary negotiation.
Description: What do you say when you get a salary offer you think is low? Is it OK to ask for more money? How will the hiring manager react? What if the answer is “no”?

Author Paul Levy, former President and CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and his wife, Farzana S. Mohamed, wrote How to Negotiate Your First Job to help answer these types of questions. In this IHI Open School short, Levy shares practical guidance on how to best approach a potentially difficult conversation about salary.
Discussion Questions:
  1. Why do you think the topic of salary leads to difficult conversations?
  2. Have you ever received a salary offer that was lower than you expected? How did you react? Is there anything you would do differently now?
  3. Have you ever extended a salary offer that didn’t meet a potential hire’s expectations? How did the conversation play out?
  4. Paul suggests asking a potential employer, “What’s your policy on signing bonuses?” as a way to get information and hint at what you want without asking outright. Can you think of other ways to communicate subtly during a negotiation, to help walk the line between being bold and being polite?
  5. If possible, practice a salary conversation with a partner, with one person playing the role of the hiring manager who makes an offer and the other playing the role of a candidate who thinks the offer is low. When you’re done, switch roles. Then discuss what you learned from the exercise.
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