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What to do if you're offered less money than you expected

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Picture this: you ticked all the boxes in your job interview, you’ve shown your potential, and you’ve gotten a formal job offer.

But, to your surprise, the amount they’re offering is less than what was mentioned previously.

In recent years, employers are increasingly seeing the value of real talent for an organisation, so they’re less likely to put the opportunity of hiring a well-suited employee in jeopardy by offering less money.

With that said it does still happen, so what steps can you take to prepare yourself and respond appropriately? Read on for some tips.

Ask why!

Like asking for a pay rise, people can be hesitant to address the subject. Don’t be afraid to challenge why you have been offered a lower amount than advertised in fear that the employer might take offence or withdraw the offer.

Think about it. You went to a lot of effort and, potentially, numerous interviews to get that offer. You owe it to yourself to know why the amount has decreased.

How to approach the topic

There’s certainly a right way to go about it.

  1. First, remember to maintain composure and be professional throughout the exchange. You should thank the employer for the offer and their time.

  2. Second, simply refer to the original amount that was advertised and ask why the amount offered was lower.

There can be different reasons behind employers offering a different amount. Maybe they think you have great potential for the job, but don’t fit all of the requirements for the role or maybe they’re taking a chance and seeing if you’ll accept a lower salary…

All in all, you can speculate all you want, but you won’t know until you step up and ask.

Top tip: Have the conversation over the phone as opposed to email. People are less likely to associate emotion with what’s being said over email, so if you really want your contact to empathise with your situation, get them on the phone and be honest about how you’re feeling.

Weigh up the pros and cons of the job

If you think there is no possibility of increasing the salary on offer, you should reflect on the pros and cons of the job before you reach a decision.

Ask yourself, are there any benefits of the job? For example, do they provide training that could expand your skillset? Would the company name look good on your CV? Are they in an industry that appeals to you? Or does the company culture appeal to you?

Think about the benefits that the job can offer you other than the paycheque and evaluate whether it’s worth accepting the offer. If it ticks enough boxes, you should definitely still consider it.

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to walk away

Just because somebody offered you a job, it doesn’t mean you’re obliged to accept it.

If you’ve reached an impasse with the employer and feel that your skill set deserves the salary that was initially on the table, the best thing to do is to move on and keep looking.

Accepting a job that offers no progression or benefits from your current role would be a step back in your career path. Your future is far more important than a job, so if all else fails, don’t be afraid to communicate that the offer isn’t adequate, and you won’t be accepting.

Not sure what salary you should be asking for?

If you’re looking for salary information, you can download our free Salary Guide which covers all industries and job titles, from entry-level to senior level.

Visit our Career Insights Centre for more job and career advice and insights.