Career Advice Tuesday – “Too Much Back and Forth”

December 7, 2010

Dear Infosecleaders:

Most recently I have completed an interview process with a company and I have been notified that they would like to hire me as their Information Security leader.   Prior to them making their decision, I had a detailed discussion with their HR representative, about my current compensation and some of my expectations about what compensation I would require to accept the position.

After about 3 days, I received a call from the HR person, informing me of the details of the offer.  The offer that they provided was actually a little less than my current compensation (when taking all into account).   I then called the HR person the next day, and told them that I remained interested in the position, but that the compensation was not aggressive enough for me to leave my current position.  I reminded the HR person of our previous comp discussion.  The HR person said they would get back to me.

Two more days passed.  The HR person called me back with a revised offer.  The offer was adjusted slightly higher – and was now more than my current compensation – but still significantly short of my expectations and to account for the risk of leaving my secure position.   The HR person stated that they believed that this was the best that they could offer, and I should think about it.

I called the HR person back the next day, and I began the conversation by stating that I was going to decline the offer, based on compensation.  I told them that my initial compensation requests were the one that I was looking for, and although I would be flexible, I expected the offer to be very close to the amounts I had requested.

Immediately, the HR person said that they would like to take one more shot at the offer and I should hear from her in the next few days with their final response.

My feeling right now is that most of the excitement and the good feeling about the new role has disappeared.  I believe that I have not been listened to, that I am being “nickel and dimed”, and that the company does not understand what it takes to acquire high caliber information security/information risk professionals.

Are my feelings valid?  What do you think I should do?



Dear Pong,

Yes, your feelings are valid.  During any negotiation process when one side does not feel that they have been listened too or dealt with fairly, it is natural for them to feel slighted and undervalued.   When people’s emotions are involved and their sense of self-worth and value are involved, the bad feelings naturally escalate.

I believe that what you are seeing is how the company operates and generally looks at talent acquisition.  I believe that you should treat this as a warning sign – as what you would most likely expect if you were working there.  It should also be somewhat of an indicator on how they will compensate in the future – this will include both pay raises and bonuses.

Plain and simple, their behavior should not be ignored or taken lightly.  Considering that you are applying for the top information security position – you should have more leverage than someone applying for a subordinate role.  If their initial response to the end of this recruiting process was to offer you a position for less money than you currently earn, and significantly less money than you initially requested, then I think this is  a big red flag.  You are correct to draw the conclusion about how this attitude will effect your ability to both attract and retain junior members of your information security team.

Furthermore, for the HR person to tell you that after the second pass that the offer was most likely the best they could do, and then after you declined, their response was to tell you that you would go back another time for some possible revisions, would really cause me to question my level of trust.

Long and short, you should wait for their response and consider it.  I would definitely keep an open mind.

However, I think that you are justified in your conclusion that their behavior may have  soured the opportunity beyond repair.  In the end, you should trust your gut instincts and do what you feel is best for your long term future and your career as a whole.  Let us know what you decide.

Hope this helps.

Lee and Mike

Posted by lee | Filed Under Advice, Career Advice Tuesday, Compensation, Interviewing 


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