Are Employers Taking Advantage of the Difficult Job Market?

Does the weak economy of the last few years mean that employers are taking advantage of recent grads looking for their first full time job?  It’s clear to me that some employers are seizing on this opportunity (if you can call it that) to make low or even insulting job offers to entry level candidates. They do this because there are just so many more candidates than jobs at this level.

So, what does the inexperienced, young job seeker do?  Do you accept a position with an insultingly low salary just so you can have a job and a chance to prove yourself?  No. Even in this economy, I discourage such a move.  The solution is to educate yourself so that you’re in a good position to negotiate when you have a job offer. You also need to know what to listen for.

Here are three comments employers make that are, in my opinion, an effort to convince a job candidate to make uncalled for compromises:

  1. “It will take us time to train you.”  A lot of times what they’re trying to tell you is that you will not be paid a full salary during the “training period.” What does that mean?  The truth is that every new employee requires SOME training to acclimate to a new company, their policies and procedures.  This is especially true when you’re just starting your career. But to join an organization and accept a lower or minimal offer because they have to train you makes no sense, and would be completely unacceptable in a better job market.  A lot of companies say they will give you a raise after the “training period” is over (whenever they deem that to be the case), but this puts you in a terrible negotiating position.  You have your strongest position when you negotiate BEFORE joining a company.
  2. “A lot of young employees don’t stay at a company more than a few years.” The employer is making this observation often because they’re trying to justify why they’re not fully investing in you.  People leave their jobs for all kinds of reasons, but usually not because they are happy, challenged and well paid.  More often, it is because they don’t see the opportunity for growth, they are underpaid or they are not enjoying the workplace environment.  In any event, if a company wants you to join with a strong, positive attitude, that should be reflected in the salary that you are being offered.
  3.  “There are a lot of people out there who would want this job if you turn it down.” And here is my response to that comment: If the employer wants the best person, it doesn’t matter how many other people have “applied” for the job.  They chose to interview you because of your qualifications and skills.  Remember that once you join a company, raises can prove to be minimal.  So if you don’t get the salary you want when you are offered the job, you will probably not make up for it when you get your raise.  And, who wants to join a company that makes you feel like a commodity, not a choice?!  When an organization has limited ability to hire, doesn’t it make sense for them to hired the most qualified candidates, not the most mediocre?

So, if you really believe that you are a compelling candidate for a job, you have to learn how to negotiate for yourself.  If you back down and accept an offer that seems like too much of a compromise, you will not be starting your new job with the same excitement, enthusiasm and commitment that are required to show your best skills and talent.


Lesley is president and founder of Priority Candidates, which prepares college students and recent graduates nationwide to get hired for their first jobs.   Previously, Lesley spent more than 25 years in executive search, working with candidates from entry level to C-Suite executives in organizations ranging in size from small, family owned businesses to large international organizations.  Her fundamental knowledge of what hiring manager’s look for is the core of what Priority Candidates does to prepare college students/recent grads to get hired now.  An alumnus of Duke University who is based in New York City, Lesley has been featured in USA Today, ABC’s New York Viewpoint with Ken Rosato, ABC News with Art McFarland, The New York Times, NY Nightly News with NBC4’s Chuck Scarborough, eCampus News and John Tucker’s Small Business Report on Bloomberg Radio.   Lesley always welcomes connections via LinkedIn, on Twitter or by email or phone, available on her website.

Related posts:

  1. What Employers Are Really Looking For
  2. What Makes Millennials Marketable to Employers
  3. 3 Things Students Can Do to Position Themselves to Succeed in a Tough Job Market

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