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an entry-level candidate with no experience wants an above-market salary — Ask a Manager

an entry-level candidate with no experience wants an above-market salary

A reader writes:

I am hiring someone for an entry-level position. It is meant for someone straight out of college and new to the field who is interested in learning a lot, meeting loads of highly connected people, and launching a potentially awesome career. I’ve set the salary to be a little above what other orgs our size do for this position to make it more competitive and retain staff. This seems to have worked well over the years.

I recently offered the position to a candidate and they came back to me with a counteroffer. I’m glad people are advocating for themselves, but the issue is the way that they asked. First they said that other employers pay significantly more and quoted a salary that is meant for someone with several years of experience. Believe me when I say that I have done the research and the number they were citing is not for entry-level employees. Then they cited their experience as the reason why they would be paid this amount. But they just graduated college and have never held a job before! The only thing I could think of on their resume that they might have been referring to as “experience” was having graduated from a prestigious college. This position does not require a prestigious college degree and they were not hired based on this background.

Now I’m very worried that I’ve made a terrible decision. They haven’t yet accepted the position and I’m wondering what I should do. Advice I have gotten has ranged from this indicating really bad judgement and I should revoke the offer, to they are just getting bad advice from their college’s career center and I should ignore it. In theory this person was following basic rules of engaging with a potential employer: give a counteroffer on salary and cite competing salaries and your experience when you do so. But you actually do need something to back that up, which this person lacked and therein lies my concern. Your thoughts?

I answer this question over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.


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