DEAR AMY: I am a 34-year-old man working in risk management, seeking a mid- to senior-level position in my profession. Recently, I had a wonderful panel interview with a billion-dollar health care company. It could not have gone better. I was thrilled to receive a voicemail a day after the interview requesting a call back. When I called back and spoke to the recruiting manager, I was less than excited at the proposed pay. It was not commensurate with the position. I told the manager I would think about it, and prepared the argument for my counteroffer. I spoke to a job coach and did my research (again), preparing to ask for pay in line with the market standards for my profession. When I called the recruiting manager back, I eased into my thoughts on their offer. But being both firm and gentle, I began to explain that it was a bit on the low side for me. Before I could continue the discussion, the recruiting manager cut me off. He balked at the idea of negotiating and then went on to lecture me. He cautioned me for asking for more than what I was offered. I was stunned. And furious. I stayed calm, but I could not believe his reaction. A few days later, another recruiter at the same company followed up to see if I had reconsidered. When I responded, he also offered his own unique brand of advice. Amy, they treated me as though I was the first applicant in history to negotiate a job offer. Am I out of touch with the current job market? Since when did employers become so resistant to counteroffers and salary negotiations?
DEAR JADED: I shared your question with Dr. Brenda Wells, the Robert F. Bird Distinguished Professor of Risk and Insurance at East Carolina University. She responded: “I coach students who are graduating from college, and employers almost always expect these 23- and 24-year-old students to come back with a counteroffer. If an employer refuses to negotiate, you have a very important piece of information about that employer. This means they prize their position over their employees.
“Risk managers are in the business of protecting profit and people. They could always tell an applicant they don’t have the money to offer, but no reasonable employer should be offended at a respectful attempt to negotiate. This company did the potential employee a favor by revealing its true colors. Risk management is a finance-oriented field, after all, where discussing money should not be uncomfortable.”
Professor Wells and I agree that you are not out of step with the current job market, and perhaps you should feel you dodged a bullet with this particular employer.
DEAR AMY: I have three brothers. I have been estranged from the oldest, “Lars” (in his 70s), for more than 10 years. My two other brothers are close to both Lars and me. During a recent colonoscopy, Lars was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had surgery and now his prognosis is excellent. When Lars was diagnosed, he admonished our two brothers than I was not to be told of his status. One brother later told me they were made to swear on a stack of books. Lars is married, childless and very wealthy. Both brothers kept the news from me and promptly scheduled colonoscopies for themselves. Secrets have a way of being found out and needless to say I am very upset; not so much at Lars, but at my “loving” brothers for keeping the cancer news from me. As siblings we all share the same genetics and have the right to make informed decisions and protect ourselves and our children. I feel my two brothers had a moral and ethical duty to alert me. They don’t understand why I’m so upset. Am I wrong to feel betrayed?
DEAR DISTRESSED: I agree with you that “Lars” has the right to choose whom to tell about his medical status (including the right not to tell anyone). I further agree that your brothers had an ethical duty to share this important information with you, once they learned of it.
They should not have agreed to keep this secret, even when faced with a “stack of books.” However, you did find out, and perhaps this is because one or both brothers spilled the beans. So, either Lars chose the wrong stack of books, or your brothers might have accidently-on-purpose found a way to alert you. Is this a possibility?
DEAR AMY: “Worried” described a senior citizen family member who lived in her house and who used marijuana every day. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that this marijuana might be medicinal. Your judgmental attitude toward pot use is disturbing.
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: As “Worried” described it, this person was spending her days extremely impaired through daily marijuana use. If this is medicinal, then she should adjust her dose.