A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was going on a job interview. I did and was actually offered the job but ended up turning it down.
The process had started with a recruiter contacting me and telling me about a job that had come up that was a close match to my skillset. Usually, I just ignore these calls because more often that not, they’re not even close to matching what I do. This time though it was a good match so I decided to pursue it.
Before going too deep into it, I told the recruiter my salary requirements. I’ve run into situations before where a company wants to hire an experienced engineer but wants to pay them what they would pay someone that had just graduated from college and had no experience. I didn’t want to waste my time if this was going to be one of those deals. He assured me there would be no problem and that the salary that I was asking for was right in the range that they were expecting to pay. Good enough. I agreed to go forward with it.
First stage was a phone interview. It included myself and four people from the company, one of which was the CEO himself which I thought was a bit odd for the first interview since usually upper management doesn’t get involved until you’ve passed through the gatekeepers. The interview went on for about an hour. Things went well and although the CEO seemed a little confrontational everyone else was fine and seemed to think I’d be a good fit.
I got a call from the software manager a few days latter saying that they were definitely interested in me and wanted me to come in and do a live interview. Once again, I brought up my salary requirements and was assured that it would not be a problem.
They set up the interview and I was supposed to meet with four people but when I arrived at the company the only one that was there to interview me was the software manager. All others were out of the office that day. Seemed kind of odd. Anyway, the manager was nice enough, seemed to know his stuff and wanted me to start as soon as possible. He just needed to get final approval from the CEO.
A few days, go by and I finally get an e-mail with an offer. As you may already of guessed, it was less than what I was asking for. In all honesty, it was still a pretty good offer but it wasn’t what we had verbally agreed upon. This seemed wrong to me so I declined the offer. I didn’t know if this was just a negotiating tactic on their part or whether it was a far as they were going to go but I wasn’t willing to back down since I had received assurances that they would indeed be willing to pay me what I was asking for.
In the mean time, I took another look at the offer. Initially, I was just looking at the salary, but upon further inspection I learned that the benefits were abysmal. One weeks vacation, one week of sick time and only five paid holidays per year. On top of that they talked about health insurance and said that it would be split by the company and the employee but gave no indication of the percentages. Usually when they leave out something, it’s for a reason, so I’m guessing that the insurance split was not going to a positive thing.
There seemed to be lots of bad signs here, so I decided even if they contacted me with a better offer I was not going to take it.
I received a call from the manager who told me it was a small company and they couldn’t afford to pay what I was asking and that even if they could, it wouldn’t be fair to the existing employees. Both these things may have been true but why did they assure me up front that the salary would not be a problem?
Anyway, I politely declined the offer with the following e-mail:
Sorry I missed you. I was outside doing some yard work and didn’t have my phone with me.
I’m going to pass. It wasn’t just the salary, the benefits just weren’t there either. I appreciate that you’re a small company and I also understand the politics involved in keeping a whole group happy with various salaries makes things complex. I just don’t think I’d be happy there under the circumstances.
It was really nice meeting you and I do appreciate the time you took showing me around the place. No hard feelings on my part and I hope the same goes for you. Sometimes things just don’t work out.
Thanks again and best of luck to you and the people of YYY,
I do wish them luck, but I’m glad I declined. The money wasn’t the big issue, it was the fact that they mislead me about the money that was the issue. Turning it around, if I had told them I was an expert in C++ and then at the last minute told them I really wasn’t all that good at it, would they still have hired me? Of course not and rightfully so. Honesty is important and starting a job where my first interaction with management was a negative one did not sit well. I would have been unhappy with them from the start and I don’t believe that’s the best way to go into a new job.