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Waiting for a Job Offer - Should I Accept Less Due to Age?

  1. Oct 14, 2011 #1

    FlexGunship

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    So, here's the back story:

    I got a call from a recruiter trying to fill a position. Long story short, I nailed the interview and they called me back today saying: "we were so impressed that we'd really like to redefine the position we're offering you." It's a small company, and I was applying to be the technical sales manager for the mid-west; basically selling engineering solutions to customers such that the application engineers can carry out the task in a profitable manner. The position would also carry engineering responsibility since I'd be the first and last contact with the customer. As is common with small companies an employee is expected to wear many hats. I informed them that I had plenty of room left on the hat-rack.

    Anyway, they asked if I'd be interested in doing that job internationally and carrying the company's presence into brand new markets. I told them I'm always receptive to a new challenge. They went on to give even greater emphasis to the engineering portion saying that I would be trained as a full-fledged application engineer as well.

    The problem is that they're fixated on my current compensation. I'm the technical lead for a group of engineers, but I'm not compensated anywhere near the level of an international technical sales director! Also, I'm young (26) and I don't want to that count against me.

    I keep stressing to them that the important thing is that the compensation match the responsibilities. I also told the president, directly, that I understand he's expecting to get a good deal because of the tough economic climate, but warned him that he shouldn't expect to pay Ford Focus prices for a Porsche 911. He seemed very receptive to the analogy.

    So... folks of the forum... what do you think? Is it silly to want to be paid for what I do as opposed to being paid for how old I am or how much I make now?
     
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  3. Oct 14, 2011 #2

    BobG

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    Are they actually offering you the international technical sales job or is that a job that one of their domestic technical sales directors will move into? There's a difference. Being willing to work overseas increases the pool they have to choose from when they need an international sales director and being in that prospective pool may be a requirement even if your current duties will just be midwest technical sales director.

    The rest is always a guess. They know who else is seeking the job and you don't. They also have a lot of flexibility in what they'll pay, based on what they think their profit margin is and based on what they think you'll actually be worth. This makes it tougher for you to estimate what exactly they'll pay.

    But knowing what you currently make does tend to affect what some companies are willing to offer. In fact, knowing you have some outside income can also affect what they initially offer (a military retiree must not need as high of a salary since they're already receiving a monthly military pension, for example, although that one would probably be used mainly on someone getting their first civilian job in over 20 years that might be a little more uncertain about things).

    Do they want you long term or do they want someone that will only use them as a stepping stone to a better job in the future? And just what are the chances of you getting that international technical sales job if your initial job is the domestic one? I might not turn down a job that's paying me more than I currently earn, but the fact that I'm unlikely to stick around long enough for my 401k to fully vest is still going to push that threshhold up even if I just want either the experience or a chance at the international job.
     
  4. Oct 14, 2011 #3

    FlexGunship

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    They currently have a "national sales manager." The position I applied for was "regional sales manager." In their description, I was originally reporting to him, now I will report directly to the president of the company.

    In the call today, they told me they had one more person to interview (today) but that they weren't expecting to find anyone as qualified. I encouraged them to give this other person a fair chance and the HR woman (I was on a conference call) said "please, you know he won't be as good." I simply said "I'm glad I made a good impression."

    I suppose. I'm living off of something, roughly, in the exact middle of $50,000 and $100,000 each year with bonuses and such. I don't want that to be an excuse for them to offer me less than they might offer a less qualified candidate who is making more than $100,000 right now.

    They have explicitly said "we want to make sure we offer you enough to keep you here long term." I think they wanted me to give away more information about my requested salary, but I didn't. I told them I expected a competitive salary that is in-line with the responsibilities of the position.
     
  5. Oct 14, 2011 #4

    S_Happens

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    Well, it certainly... depends.

    I would say that your best bet is to have plenty of information with you that you are basing your intended salary on.

    Sometimes you can have a rational discussion about this and sometimes you can't. It depends on the people on both sides, how it is approached, etc. Playing salary chicken can backfire on you. I'll be dealing with it when I get back into the industry as I have a lot of experience, while the ink will still be drying on my degree. Not exactly the same, I know.

    Basically it's a crapshoot when dealing with HR. Even people and companies that are typically very progressive and supportive can act completely different than past history suggests. I got a little taste of that recently.

    I've never been a fan of being paid based on experience or age. I constantly outperformed people with 20-30 years of experience over me, although I was very well compensated. Up until the last two weeks of my 4.5 years at my last job, I was paid less than everyone else simply because they gave raises based on years of service. In that sense alone I didn't like it, but the actual money I was making was far more than I felt I was doing, so it didn't cause me any heartache.

    So, really you already know a minimum that you want. You just decide whether it's in your best interest to tell them up front or wait for their offer. Either they were going to offer you less, something similar, or something higher. What do you think the risks are of giving away your number first vs waiting for theirs in each situation? Personally I'd probably wait for their offer. If it was less than what I expected or wanted, then I'd come back (after calming down) with hard facts and a great argument for why I felt the job was worth more. And be ready to turn the job down.
     
  6. Oct 14, 2011 #5
    I'm looking for work myself and while speaking the other day with a rep from the local workforce center, we discussed salary. He said I should expect salary commensurate with the nature of the work performed, not necessarily the title, and at a competitive rate as reported by various salary reporting websites for that position and location.
     
  7. Oct 14, 2011 #6

    FlexGunship

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    I'm already well employed. Also, I'm also expecting another offer from a company that I've done contract work for. I explained I'm leaving my current job because the pay doesn't match the responsibilities I have, and I told them the value I think the work I already do is worth... so they can expect that to be the absolute minimum.

    Salary.com lists compensation (based on title, size of company, location, and experience) as $102,000 as the median, but I also assume that I would carry incentive based pay. Not sure if it's in addition to base salary or instead of.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2011
  8. Oct 14, 2011 #7
    What do you think they would actually be able and willing to pay you? Would you be happy at this rate?

    It sounds like they are really attached to you, which does not bode well for them in negotiations.
     
  9. Oct 15, 2011 #8

    AlephZero

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    Does the company already have meanigful levels of sales in some other overseas markets? If so, at least they have some idea what is involved in opening up a new market, though of course every country is different.

    If not, to be honest I would run a mile in the opposite direction, unless you already have the relevant experience (which apparently you don't).

    Don't get into the situation where you spend two years living in a hotel room overseas and working for peanuts, don't actually sell anything (not necessarily through any fault of your own) and then get fired as a failure with a black hole on your CV.
     
  10. Oct 15, 2011 #9

    enigma

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    You shouldn't accept less due to age. You should expect to accept less due to experience.

    If they offer you less than you think the job is worth, but you are still interested in the position (due to the opportunity, for example), I would have a clause added to have meaningful, measurable goals for 6 month, 1 year, 2 year periods with mandatory merit increases at those points if you reach them.
     
  11. Oct 15, 2011 #10

    turbo

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    If a company wants you to actually set up shop in a foreign market, and make decent gains there, I would ask them how many market analysts and lawyers they have that are skilled in the the details of the financial and legal atmospheres that you'll have to live in. You don't want to get thrown into that market as a wild card.

    If they have a great business plan for growing off-shore business, and you trust the principals, go for it. Otherwise you could be in for some harsh treatment. Look at your options, and good luck, whatever you decide to pursue.
     
  12. Oct 15, 2011 #11
    Interesting, this isn't a physics question. Personal opinion, follow your bliss. Damn the money. Professional opinion, make them a counter offer 15% more than they offered. Settle for 10% less than they offered, unless you simply love the work and the location. In that case damn the money!
     
  13. Oct 16, 2011 #12
    With those numbers, why are you looking for our help?

    Crap, you're set. Dive for it. Stop lording such salary extremes over us.
     
  14. Oct 16, 2011 #13

    FlexGunship

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    Well, they have distributors in several countries and all over the States. The problem is that which high technology applications a "salesman" distributor might have NO IDEA when to push a certain product over another one. As a result you end up with customers buying things they don't need, overpaying, or buying the wrong devices entirely.

    I have experience with business development, but in a different role. I understand the technical portion of business development ("for an investment of $300,000 and 400 man-hours, we can have these new features which will compete with product XXX made by company YYY.").

    Money isn't everything, I'm excited about a totally new challenge. If I relocate, the cost of living is 36% higher from my area of NH to the city that's home to this company's offices. Anything less than 36% more than what I make now is a pay cut for all serious purposes.

    I'm just wondering if the offer comes and it's unnaturally low, if I should suck it up because I'm young and they assume I'll live in a single room apartment, etc. Right now, I'm a condo owner, and I'd have to find a way to sell it (yuck, for a 30% loss), or rent it out with the liability that comes with being a distant landlord.

    The factors are complex. I've been told I've exceeded their expectations in every area. I'm just wondering if I should accept less just because I'm young. Should I expect to have a less comfortable life-style because of age? When the president says: "Please, a 26-year-old doesn't need that kind of money" should I nod and agree? (Frankly, I don't think I have it in me to just agree to a statement like that.)
     
  15. Oct 16, 2011 #14

    DaveC426913

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    Flex, why are you not telling them what you expect? Why are you putting the onus on them? They will surely lowball you unless you set their expectations.
     
  16. Oct 16, 2011 #15

    FlexGunship

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    If I say a number that is anything other than THEIR expectations, then I fall into one of two traps: (1) under valuing myself, or (2) pricing myself out of the job.

    The problem is that I keep saying I expect a salary that's in line with the responsibilities they want to give me. For the job I interviewed for originally, I have an idea of what is fair, but now after my interview they want to redefine the role I would fill. They haven't even pitched the new job to me. I understand a few of the new facets, but absolutely NOTHING in writing, not even a job title!

    So why am I not telling them what I expect to be paid? Because they won't tell me what I should expect to do!

    My fear is that I'll walk into this next meeting, they'll lay down a brand new position, new title, and give me a job offer at the same time. I will, of course, say I need time to think about it... but the question remains... when the dust settles, should I accept less because of my age?

    "We're offering you $XXX." "Well, we're close, I'd like $YYY." "Flex, m'boy, you're 26, you don't need that kind of money."
     
  17. Oct 16, 2011 #16

    DaveC426913

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    Ah.

    There's your problem.
     
  18. Oct 17, 2011 #17

    FlexGunship

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    I know, right? I'm meeting with the president of the company tomorrow. I'm sure he'll have the new job description and title. I guess when I know some of the details, I'll post them up here, and then everyone can weigh in a bit.
     
  19. Oct 17, 2011 #18

    S_Happens

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    It is a tough position. I voluntarily walked away from 6 figures to be an unemployed college student, so I can understand every aspect of what you're talking about (and won't chastise you about money).

    You definitely need everything in writing. The people doing the hiring can be fast talkers just like those trying to get hired. My wife was a victim of a fantastic sounding job description that just never was.

    I think you're right on track with where you need to be. You already see the pitfalls and upcoming decisions. Obviously it will come to a head soon, but can't be ironed out until the new job description is finalized.

    I've been talking with a lot of companies recently (both for summer internships and long term). Being direct and honest, coupled with experience, has gained me more than I could have imagined. Your current opportunity sounds a lot like my recent ones. I'm very optimistic, where I'm usually guarded, so maybe that helps.
     
  20. Oct 18, 2011 #19

    Evo

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    Update?
     
  21. Oct 18, 2011 #20

    FlexGunship

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    Hah... I had a private discussion with the president about the details of the position the company is in; details like liquidity, debt, and current business plan. We talked about, well, a lot of stuff. The president also described the other people they've interviewed and a few members of industry they offered a slightly different position to.

    He told me to expect an offer this week.

    I hope I'm not getting the run around.
     
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