Salary Negotiations in an Economic Crisis

Updated: Dec 14, 2020


Just a few short weeks ago, it was a candidate job market with the unemployment level at record lows.

How quickly things can change …. as the global economic impact of Covid-19 continues to increase, few companies are immune to the negative impact to their revenue stream in one form or another. The trickle down affect is impacting people at all economic levels.

So, how to negotiate your salary in a downsizing world? If you are fortunate enough to be offered a position it’s because the company needs you but in these uncertain times you may get a “lowball” offer that you would never have previously considered.

Even if it’s the job of your dreams a lower salary will have financial repercussions for your bank account for years to come.

Which brings us to what to do? The answer may depend on if you have a current job or not. Ask yourself a few key questions:

1. Do I need this job to pay my rent/buy food/pay my bills?

2. Can I afford to pass up the offer and wait for something better to come along?

Data is Key As with any negotiation you will need to prove that you are worth it (and not because your fren-emy is paid higher than you). Give examples of the value you’ve created for employers and be specific!

Know Your Worth Again, data is key here. Determine how much someone in your position with your experience and in your geographic location should be paid. Be objective, salaries vary greatly by industry, location and company size. Develop a range and set a “bar” i.e. the lowest amount you are willing to accept.

Be Flexible Be prepared for some back and forth to reach a compromise so leave yourself some wiggle room to negotiate a higher salary or discuss alternatives – see Consider the Perksbelow. Don’t agree to a new number right away – ask for time to think it over and schedule a time within 24-48 hours to get back to the recruiter with your counter offer. This allows the company time to consider and get any needed internal approvals.

Consider the Perks Is working remotely or having a flexible schedule important to you? Do you want unlimited time off to travel the world or write that novel? Does the company offer a 401(k) match, tuition reimbursement or college loan assistance aka money in your pocket! Bottom line is that Perks = $ and is part of the total compensation package.

But…understand the costs too! By this we mean, is the cost of healthcare contributions higher than in your current job? Will you need to spend more on gas or commuting costs? Are there other expenses to consider such as a formal dress code that will require you to buy new clothes andpay for dry cleaning for years to come?

Found Your Dream Job but the salary is not competitive? You may have received a lowball “covid related” offer. We get it, some companies may not be able to afford what they were previously paying. You have some options. Ask for a review in 3 to 6 months with a guaranteed salary adjustment or ask to work a reduced schedule so you can side-hustle. Some companies will be happy to do this and others won’t, probe to find out what they can do.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide how much you really want the job, how much value it can add to your resume and more importantly, your skill development aka value to any future employer. Take our Quiz to help you decide.

If you already have a job you don’t hate and don’t need to make a move right now then start upskilling yourself for when you are ready to move on. We’ll share more in an upcoming post.

Arche helps people architect, navigate and advance their career path with expert advice and tools to support your job search, interview preparation, professional branding, salary negotiations, and career advancement. 


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