People are running to and fro suspended in disbelief regarding the economic downturn and the announcement of ever increasing layoffs. Passions are at a high, and people are lucky to get a job is the general view all around. Does that leave no room for negotiation I was asked? If I get selected, can I still negotiate salary or are they simply going to select the next person out of the 100 applicants. What am I to do?

Lets talk about Jennifer.

Jennifer is a mid level systems administrator with good skills in infrastructure, engineering, routers/switches/wireless APs, server configuration and administration as well as some security. She is currently employed but the company is being downsized, with positions going offshore. There is a large concern over her career future and she is interviewing at a local employer for a similar role. She makes 68,000 currently. Recently she added her CCNA to her MCSE, MCP certification list. She is also nearing completion of her PMP.

With the uncertainly of her employer, she has began the search process and was referred to a role within a local company. After interviewing under strict competition, she has been selected as the lead candidate and they are beginning to discuss compensation, benefits, vacation - the overall package. That overall package has changed since her original discussion with the company. At the beginning, the manager had discussed approx 70k. Not a large increase, however with stability and their benefits - it is attractive. HR has now issued an offer letter with an annual salary of 63,500 and no bonus (another perk the manager had mentioned).

How do I respond? What do I do? I like the company, they are doing real well and it would offer stability. But now I am taking a step back, the numbers are not what the manager said. Is this a trend I should look at? Are all promises going to undelivered on? Can I negotiate without pushing them off? What are my options?

This is not uncommon nor unavoidable. Companies are in the driving seat these days. How do we work with them to ensure stability and fairness throughout the process. They know Jennifer’s company is folding and that she will be without a job soon enough. Are they hard balling her? Do they really want her or want the best person they can get for the cheapest price? Be really interested in how you would advise this candidate?

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