Try Low, Sell High

A true story! A good friend of mine just received a nice offer to a great job. How he got this offer was somewhat unusual. I thought I share it in case it can inspire you to look at opportunities in a new light.

Given the economy, he decided to be more open minded and look for jobs that were below his level (which is Director). He saw a manager job opening on craiglist and applied. When the recruiter talked to him and asked him if it was ok if this job pays around $___ (about 25-30% lower than his last job’s base pay), he decided to say yes. His rationale was if the job is going to be easier and possibly can be done in 35 hours a week, he can always try to get another contract gig for 10-20 hours to make up the difference. He also thought it was another chance to practice his interviewing skills.

He had 3 rounds of interviews and spoke to 7 people including the President and CMO of this company. They all loved him and made him an offer at the salary range the recruiter informed him. After thinking about it, however, he turned it down. He was very frank with the CMO who made him the offer and said while this is a great company, the scope of work for this position is pretty substantial and would require all his skills and attention. This means, he probably won’t have time to do any contract work outside of this job to make up the difference.

The CMO asked what he was hoping for? He told the CMO, about 25% higher than their offer and expected the CMO to basically say goodbye. To his surprise, the CMO told him that he will investigate and get back to him. The next day, the CMO came back with a 20% jump on his offer and a change in title to Director.

The moral of the story:

  1. There are latent opportunities in job positions. This company for example had more budget for a higher position but didn’t want to offer that unless they really met the right candidate
  2. By agreeing to “try low,” you eliminate a lot of competition (other director level candidates who wouldn’t apply) and therefore have more exclusive attention and time during the interviews to impress the company
  3. Always negotiate even if you are prepared to walk away
  4. It’s always a good opportunity to practice interviewing and negotiation skills even if it doesn’t work out. What do you have to lose?

Good luck out there!

– Lei

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