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After unemployment, reject low-ball offer?

Q. After two years of unemployment, I have been offered a position as a marketing data analyst. I’m fully qualified, if not overqualified. Research shows salaries from a low end of $49,000 to an average of $62,000 a year. The offered salary is well below the low end. I feel the offer is almost insulting and taking advantage of my desperate situation. How can I address this disparity? I like the company and would love to work there.

A. Prolonged unemployment is a horrible experience — financially, emotionally, and career wise. It’s something that only those who have been through it can fully appreciate.


So celebrate that you have an offer, then do your research. Why can the company fill this position now? Is this a replacement role for a recent vacancy? Or is this a new job based on business growth? The answers here, as well as any financial information you can find, might help explain more about the company’s offer.

You should try to negotiate for a higher salary. Valid reasons include your experience and the typical salary range for this position. Approach the negotiations with gratitude, “Thank you so much. I am very pleased to get this offer. I am confident in the experience I bring to the organization, and the contributions I can make.

“But I am disappointed in the compensation. Recent research I have done shows the compensation for this position between X and Y for someone with Z years of experience. This offer is below the low end of that scale. Is there flexibility in your offer?’’

Hopefully, you can convince the company to add to the offer. If not, consider asking for a six-month compensation review. If they don’t enhance the offer, ask yourself if you will be able to move past your feelings about the generosity of the offer. You need to be sure that you can accept this job without bitterness. Should you accept, you will want to be the high performing, positive employee you are, even if you continue to look for better opportunities.


Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.