Thursday, May 29, 2014

In which I discover that my failure to negotiate left me paid less than the man they hired to replace me who is doing 10% of the work I did

So you guys know that I got a job two years ago so Primo could take an unpaid leave of absence to run for the state house. I had enjoyed not working for money - there is a lot to be said for sleeping past 6 a.m. and not having a boss, but one of the things that you can not say is that it is lucrative.

We are not rich people. We do not have trust funds. If Sly and Doris continue to buy bourbon at this rate, we will be supporting them very soon.

If Primo was not going to make money, then I had to make money.

I had to get a job. Not an easy thing to do when you have been out of the work force for a few years. But I polished my resume and followed Alison's advice and lo, I got a job interview and then an offer two days later.

I should have known that with an offer that quickly, they wanted me.

But I needed them.

It's never a good position to be in - to need a job more than they need you.

Plus they had told me what the job paid in the very first phone conversation. In the first two minutes. I had felt the blood drain from my face when the recruiter told me the number - it was less than half of what I used to make. It was less than I made before I spoke Spanish fluently and had international experience, both of which were required for the job.

Old salary = X
Old bonus = 20%
New salary = less than X/2
New bonus = hahahahaha. What's a bonus?

I didn't feel that I was in a position to negotiate.

So I didn't.

Wait. I did. When I found out that my health insurance would not start until the first of the month following 30 days (what is wrong with these cheap jerks? Wwo applies a waiting period to salaried professionals? that is just mean and petty, but man, was that a red flag that I should have heeded, but again - I needed the job), I told them they needed to pay my COBRA on Primo's insurance.

They refused, but after a week of negotiating, they finally agreed to raise my salary by $1,000 a year, which still did not change the X/2 formula much.

I swallowed my pride and took the job and then discovered I would be in a cubicle instead of an office and man, was it demoralizing.

Then I moved to a subsidiary of my company for 0.75X, which is still a lot less than they told me the job would pay.

I have since learned that Sergio, the CEO of my company, takes pride in hiring people at the lowest wage he can pay. Perhaps the costs of turnover have not entered his mind. But since I started four months ago, two people have quit, one of them taking a pay cut just to get out of here. There are only nine of us in the US office, so two out of nine is notable. Four have quit in the past year and they quit in the Argentina office, as well. Perhaps lowballing people on pay is not a good long-term strategy.

OldJob hired a replacement for me.

Before I left OldJob, I spent a week putting together a process manual detailing everything I did:

1. Recruiting new franchises
2. Managing existing franchises
3. Promoting existing franchises
4. Opening and managing our office in the Grand Duchy of Fenwick
5. Preparing all the monthly financial reports for my boss and the CEO
6. Preparing all the quarterly reports and presentations for the board of directors
7. Developing new products

My old boss looked at the list and decided that the new person would be doing 1, 2, and 3. Only there is nothing to do for 3, as I had already prepared the entire 2014 promotional calendar and gotten it to the proper people.

So. They hired a new guy to replace me. To do 1 and 2. The other duties have been assigned to my former co-workers.

I found out they are paying him about $20,000 a year more than they paid me.

He is doing far less work.

He does not have my level of experience.

But. I hate to say this because it sounds like the last resort of the whiney - I think it's because he is a man. Part of it is because he negotiated. But I tried to negotiate and I got nowhere. He was probably willing to tell them no, or at least for them to think that. But my old boss doesn't really seem comfortable around professional women. As my Brazilian friend says, "He is from the school that is old."

This is a valuable lesson for me. I will negotiate on my next job. I will not let the guy next to me who is making less of a contribution earn more.


  1. I wish there was someway you could sue.

  2. I think this is just too common for us women. We're told that we don't negotiate in general, so we go and try to do just that and are pretty much brushed aside and ignored. Our skills aren't worth as much as a man's in the business world, still.

    1. What's so weird for me is that I have up to now always been paid the same as my male peers. I know, because I have seen their offer letters and because we have compared salaries. That was all at those evil Fortune 100 companies. It took coming to a non-profit that Does Good before I was discriminated against like this.

  3. Really frustrating, i'm sure. Since I was frustrated just reading it. Some of it could be learning lessons from when they hired you versus when they hired him. Nah--you just need to negotiate better, And when we learn, we do better next time. And you will.

    1. Part of it was I had to have a job when I accepted at Division A. Part of it was I didn't know how to negotiate, but am a little better now after reading Ask A Manager.

      And part of it is that the director who hired the new guy was not there when I started. She became my boss and was horrified at my low pay. I think she wanted to make sure she could keep someone for more than a year, so fought with the big boss to increase the salary.

  4. Re Sly and Doris, can you get them to switch from bourbon to vodka, the cheap store brand kind? Also, having worked in a retirement community, I can tell you that chronic heavy drinkers do not live to a ripe old age.

    I am looking for a new job too, having been laid off due to outsourcing, so I'm not in a great negotiating position now myself. But when I apply for something I always have a minimum I would consider for that job and that commute. I'm fortunate that our finances are not so dire that I need to take anything. But what you went through was really frustrating. Sorry about that.

    1. Richard, I will suggest the cheap booze.

      Good luck on the job search.

  5. Sorry I'm confused - are you still with the same company that you got a job with 2 years ago - just a different department or are you with a new company ?
    I read back through the archives but maybe I missed something ? Is this the place with the *shhhh - whisper * radio ?

    Maybe it's time to get a new job :)

    1. Anon, I am with the same company, but with Division B, which is the crazy place with the radio. Division A is where they replaced me with someone paid a lot more.

    2. Thanks - I got a bit confused !

      Are you looking ? Because the place you're working sounds completely bonkers ! Great story material and gives me a giggle, but probably not as amusing for you to go to each day :)