If you had preliminary salary discussions during the interview, but then receive an offer that isn't in alignment with those discussions, you have to decide how to proceed. This is a tricky situation that needs to be handled appropriately.
Before you shake hands and agree to the offer, it is worthwhile to think through your options.
1) Evaluate the Full Package
Keep in mind that the full offering is more than just the salary. Consider the benefits being provided as well. How is the health care plan? What about vacation time? Does the offer include bonuses or stock options? All of these details need to be considered, as they are part of the full compensation package. Is it possible that although the salary is not what you anticipated, the full package makes up for the gap? It is worthwhile to spend time evaluating the details before deciding how to proceed.
2) Check Your Gut
If, after examining the full package, you still think you are not being provided a fair job offer -- especially based on the discussions you had during the interview -- you should evaluate why this situation occurred.
Do you think this was intentional? Did they mislead you on purpose? If you have an inclination that they lead you to believe you would receive a salary they never intended to offer, consider it a red flag. You want to work for a company that values you and your performance. If they are playing unfair before you even start, it may be a sign of future issues. It might be wise to dodge a bullet in this case, and decline the offer. Find a different business that values their employees...and compensates them appropriately.
Is it possible that the person speaking with you during the interview didn't know what was realistic to offer? In this case, it may not have been an intentional effort to mislead you, but an inadvertent one.
3) Consider Negotiating
You may want to consider negotiating for a salary that is more in line with what you anticipated. First, you should thank the hiring manager for interviewing you and offering you the position. Then, you can express that the offer is less than you anticipated and lower than you think you deserve for the role you will be taking on. Back this up with salary guidelines from glassdoor.com, salary.com, or another reputable site.
Next, arm yourself with a "highlight reel" showcasing your strengths and accomplishments to show why the company should be willing to pay you what you are requesting. Ask for a specific value that you think is fair, and that you would accept should they agree.
You should also start to think through what you will do if they decide not to increase the offer during the negotiation process. It is possible the hiring manager will tell you the original salary is the highest they can provide. Do you want to accept it, or move on and seek something else? Your answer to this question will depend on your specific circumstances.
Facing an unexpected low salary offer can be a difficult situation, especially if you are interested in the position. Considering the above three aspects may help you determine how best to proceed so that you don't have regrets in the future. For additional job search assistance, reach out to Revision Resume!
For additional reading on this topic, consider the following articles:
Offered a Job? Evaluate the Following Before Accepting
What if You Don't Want to Accept the Job Offer?