Low-Ball Job Offer

Ds graduated in May from Northeastern with a degree in Computer Science/Game Design with a math minor, magna cum laude. He had two co-ops, one at a large corp. and one that was at a student co-operative making a game. He also worked as a C.S. tutor from sophomore year till graduation. He spent the first few months after graduation looking for a gaming job, but since August has been fruitlessly applying for C.S. jobs. (He worked for a month at an unrelated seasonal job before Christmas.) He was contacted by a tech recruiter a few weeks ago, went on an interview, and today was offered the job – for $40,000 (up from the $38,000 the recruiter initially told him they would ask for after ds said that was too low). That is really low for a programmer in the location where the job is, but the recruiter said since he hasn’t been able to find a job in over 9 months, that’s the most he can hope for.

I am really torn as to what to advise him. On the one hand, it’s a job, and he can use it as a stepping stone to another, better-paying job in the future. On the other hand, I was someone who always sold myself short in the working world, and I don’t want him to do the same. I am aware that the salary of your first job sets the tone for your future salaries. He also really hates the whole job hunt process, so the idea that he would have to go through this all again for a better job in a year or so is not one he likes.

I would appreciate opinions on what I should tell him.

Take it. The hardest step is the first step. Once he gets experience documented for his resume he is GONE! This place has to know that. It will be their loss.

Have him take the job, update his LinkedIn account and begin updating the resume. have him continue his job search like nothing happened. The higher pay will come once he has some experience.

Northeastern is a fantastic school with a fantastic co-op program. I am sure it helped him land this entry level position. He should have no regrets.

One of D’s professor’s bit of wisdom-
-Three things when looking for a job—location, how much you like the work, money. Pick two.

I’m not up on CS salaries but one complaint I hear from employers is the over expectations of salary from new employees. I think I would be looking at the potential for advancement in the company. And adding to your resume after nine jobless months would be a good thing.

The likely problem he is facing is that many employers are afraid to consider someone who has been long term unemployed (more than a few months, particularly in a non-recession economy), under the idea that if no one else hired him, he must not be worth hiring (herd mentality).

There could be other issues:

a. Having an overly specialized major (game design) may turn off non-game computing employers who think that his skills are not a match, or that he will jump to a game company at the first chance.
b. He could be looking in regions where computing jobs that he wants are not too common, or where the local economy is not so good.

It’s easier to get a new job when you are employed. Take the job…get some good experience. Look for opportunities to move up within that company.

Don’t project onto him. There is NO reason not to take this job.

I do agree with the premise that it is easier to find a job when you have one. Unless this job is with a firm that is not reputable, it’s probably a good idea in general.

May I ask what programming skills/languages the young man has, and what general location?

Also, has he been unable to get interviews, or has he gone on many interviews and not gotten the offers?

A bird in hand, Take the job!

Wow, kappie, I feel your pain. My son graduated in May with a CS degree, and about a month later went to an intensive web development school in NYC for 3 1/2 months. He did very well, and is a personable, smart kid, so we thought he’d have a ton of job offers to choose from. Not exactly. He got plenty of interviews, interest, but it has taken until just recently to get an actual job offer. These companies really seem to want that 3-5 years of experience, and he realized that even though he thought he had a significant number of skills, he should have been applying for new grad jobs. This time of year, there seem to be far more of them out there. This really perplexed us, because we thought this was a hot career field.

He finally got a job offer similar to your son. I wonder if it’s the same company. He turned it down, because he decided it was a predatory offer. You have a three year contract, they can move you anywhere, and if you break the contract, you owe them 30K for the training they provided. 30K, can you believe that? We think that might be illegal. However, he was able to use this offer to get other companies to hurry up their interviews, and is now sitting on a counter offer for a different company that he’d like to work for, at a significantly better pay rate, that hopefully will be sealed today.

If your son feels pretty desperate (and at this point, he might), he could consider taking the offer, as long as there is no contract required. He can get more experience, and quit, if he gets another job. He can delay accepting the offer, and parlay this into getting an interview with another company, if people are still talking to him. And he can counter that offer again, and ask for more. Many recruiters just want to fill the job, because then they get their commission, they aren’t necessarily looking into his best interests.

This is so hard, as a parent. I am very sympathetic to what you and he are going through! That seems crazy, after all his experience, to go through this.

Take the job and avoid competing with the next graduating class. - Unless there is something off, rather than just a low salary.

As predatory and awful as it is, it is a common practice, and firms like EDS have been doing it for years.

If you think that is bad, you should look into what the offshore tech services firms do.

Word of advice - it’s always easier to find a job while employed. Take it and continue searching.

How long should he keep this job before his starts looking for another? He says, “What is a company going to think if they see I’ve only been at this job for a month?”

Wow, is that actually legal? And I can’t see how it’s enforceable. We looked at what they’d be teaching him (things he already knew), realized that he could probably teach the class, as he has experience teaching programming also, and it sounded terrible.

If a much better opportunity arises a month later, thank your lucky stars and TAKE IT! However, don’t let job hopping become a habit as it will start to show lack of loyalty or other issues on his resume.

ETA: I may have misunderstood your question. How long should he wait before looking? He should give an honest effort to his current job but he should ALWAYS be looking for a better opportunity if he feels underappreciated or underutilized. A company won’t give him an interview if they have a concern about his time spent at his current job.

Has your son had his resume reviewed by NEU’s career services people and professors in his department? Have they looked at the companies he’s applied to, looked at his interview strategy, to see if there are any issues? What kind of offers are his classmates fielding? Has he been able to utilize any NEU CS department career resources, or alumni networks?

I would take the word of my child’s college career resources over that of a recruiter who is being paid to say things like “since he hasn’t been able to find a job in over 9 months, that’s the most he can hope for.” At the very least, run this offer past some folks at NEU to see if it lines up with what they’re seeing.

Oh, and not that he’s going to want to hear this…but yeah, the job hunting process is horrible and soul-destroying, and it is part of life. Even if he ended up at a big company where he could stay for decades, he will still need to job hunt as projects reach the ends of their lifespans or he gets a new boss who’s a tyrant. This is part of his education too. I know you the parent know that, but he the new graduate needs to know that, too.

He should ask them when a normal review and increase cycle will occur – probably after a year. He should tell them that, given that the salary is lower than he had expected, he is nevertheless very interested in the company (for whatever reasons he can provide) but he wonders if they can conduct his review and increase after only six months. He can tell them he is comfortable that by then he will have demonstrated his worth to them.

This way, they aren’t increasing the offer, so they are happy, but he’ll get any increase he might get sooner than he would otherwise.

^^@VeryHappy, I don’t know if that will do anything for him except for make him feel better about accepting the offer. No doubt they’ll say, sure, we’ll do a review for you. And that is completely unenforceable, and they can do anything they want to after he gets hired. If he wants to try for more money, he should try now. Maybe ask for moving expenses (if he has to move), or a larger increase in the pay. I would also be checking Glassdoor reviews to see if this is the standard salary they give new hires. Is this typical, and they give them raises and bonuses soon? Or is he getting way lowballed. What do people think of the company? You can get a lot of good information on Glassdoor. I’d be considering a lowball offer if it’s a company I really like and have great opportunities at, not so much if it’s a place that everybody hates.




That is just the first three google results I got. He should be sure he is OK with those terms. You can’t win the lawsuit, even if the decision is in your favor.

He has tried, and they went from $38K to $40K. So that step is over.