Sunday, July 15, 2018

Salary Requirements and Other Occupational Hazards

by Sole (writer), Miami, July 14, 2007


Just two days ago I had a traumatizing experience that I know I have to overcome. Quickly. My livelihood now depends on it. See, I knew changing careers would have its nightmare days when I’d begin to wonder how I’d feed my dog. Seeing freelancing as a great opportunity to finally stick to a strict diet is fine for me, but Nuala’s still a growing pup. What I did not expect was that I’d be playing a particularly virulent form of career dodge ball. I’d already been struck by the no clips/no opportunities bullet, and I’d overcome that rather stinging challenge by doing what is akin to sleeping my way to a higher position. I’ve been writing for free. Sorry Nunu. Luckily the groveling doesn’t last very long I’ve learned, so now I’ve got something to show for myself and prove that I’m not a con artist pretending to be a writer, which would be a terrible con by the way for those considering it. I’ve now got a couple of interviews lined up so obviously I start thinking of how I’ll be breaking my diet. I’m talking visions of much more than just sugar plums my friends. And then my reveries are dashed, broken by a single, insidious question. This is how the events unfolded, and while I did take the liberty to dramatize my experience a smidgen, it is all basically true.

One of my prospective employers e-mailed me this week to change the date of our upcoming interview. That was innocent enough. But what she did next reveals the depths of her ruthlessness. The she-devil went on to ask for salary requirements. Yes. The nerve you say. Exactly what I thought. Now how do I answer that? And better yet, why would I answer that before stepping foot in the interviewing office (which at this point I’m beginning to envision is more of a damp underground chamber with a rickety chair and a single light bulb swinging in the center of a yellowing room anyway)? Obviously I had no idea how to answer this question. Maybe I’m alone in this misconception, but I remember a long, long time ago in a, well, you know where, I was told never to discuss salary and compensation until the end of perhaps the second interview. Did the rules change? Did I miss the memo? Does that advice only apply to the prospective employee? Is it one of those “do as I say, not as I do” suggestions? It actually makes little sense to decide what a position should pay without fully knowing what it entails. And putting all this logic and reasoning aside, let’s be honest about my outrage here. I just don’t want to shoot myself in the foot. If I aim too low then I go in having settled for possibly less than I could be making while simultaneously setting myself up for a professional climb from high school teacher to corporate serf. If I aim too high, then my resume is quickly picked up by the hazmat technicians at said company where they will efficiently stamp the offending material with the word “DELUSIONAL” in red and file it into the shredder for six months should another opportunity arise.

Needless to say, after my 30 second break-down I did what any logical and reasonable professional would do – I ran to my computer. I read articles about salaries, input figures into work experience calculators, clicked on various multi-colored maps of the U.S., and basically informed my way to what I thought would be an appropriate response. After four hours of thorough research and painstaking study, I replied. And no, I will not say what my final figure was you nosey Nellies. I’ve had enough rejection and ridicule for one week.

It took this company only 15 minutes to send an automated reply that said, and I am loosely paraphrasing here:

This is an automated response. We have moved our offices far, far away from you. In fact we have no idea who you are and why you are asking us for money. Kindly go away.


The Hazmat Dept.

P.S. If you respond to this e-mail we will place a restraining order on you.

And with that, my interview pulled a Kaiser Soze. My dog is still refusing to talk to me. And truthfully I didn’t know how to follow up. So I e-mailed them back and told them that if that’s how they were going to be then I wanted all my CD’s and my favorite sweatshirt back. I still haven’t heard from them. But when I went to walk Nuala this morning I found a large, mysterious envelope shoved in my mailbox. I haven’t opened it yet, but it has all the trappings of a restraining order.

About the Writer

Sole is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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3 comments on Salary Requirements and Other Occupational Hazards

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By Steven Lane on July 14, 2007 at 10:31 pm
People get paid for writing????
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By Sole on July 17, 2007 at 07:44 am
Was that another one of those happy stories they tell us as children that's not true? Damn! Santa, the tooth fairy and now this! All in one month!
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By Jen on July 17, 2007 at 02:58 pm
Great article. I might try countering with "The highest amount you are willing to pay someone to do the job". I'm sure that would go over really well...
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