How to Mishandle an HR Situation in 1 Easy Step

How to Mishandle an HR Situation 433
So then…I clutch the phone tightly, heart hammering, as the HR person utters those words I’ve been desperately yearning to hear: “We’d like to offer you a job when you graduate college.”


I silently shake my 22-year-old booty and gesticulate wildly, fist pumping and foot hopping!


And not just ANY job! A job at a FORTUNE 500 company on PARK AVENUE in NEW YORK CITY!

I’ve been fantasizing about this dream job for months as my fellow seniors and I prep for graduation and what lies ahead for all of us – new cities, new jobs, and (SQUEAL) new PAYCHECKS!

So NOW is the part of the phone conversation where we discuss income.

I try to shake my body free of the “omigodpleasehiremefortheloveofGodIambeggingyoutohireme” vibe –
And replace it with the
“manyouaresoluckyIagreetoworkforyousogetreadytoponyupthebigbucksbaby” vibe.

I furrow my brow, trying to remember all the clever negotiation techniques my friends and I practiced when discussing how best to secure a terrific starting salary.

Professors taught us to factor in the cost of living in the job location, median salary of other college grads, the type of position, and the relative financial health of the employer.

Based on all that, I REALLY, REALLY want to earn $20,000 a year.

Such a round beautiful impressive number.

And come on, they can afford it! Fortune 500 company! On Park Avenue! In Manhattan!

And come on, I’m worth it! Like seriously “L’Oreal” worth it! Graduating Summa Cum Laude! Paying my way through college by working part-time jobs and taking student loans! Winning awards and scholarships! Earning superb references from multiple summer internships!

I shall stand my ground! I shall earn twenty THOUSAND dollars!

Marvel at my negotiation skills!

HR Exec: “We’d like to offer you a job when you graduate college.”
Me: “Thank you for the offer. What’s the salary?”
HR Exec: “The starting salary will be $18,600 per year.”
Me: “Oh. (pause) I was thinking $20,000.”
HR Exec: “Really? ‘Cause we were thinking $18,600.
Me: “Oh. OK. That’s fine. Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Did you see that?
Did you see how I had them shaking in their shoes, terrified they’d lose the hottest young recruit in their company’s history?
Did you see how they almost caved – then I swooped in and magnanimously offered to reduce my salary so they could donate funds to charitable causes like blind orphan puppies?
You missed that?
It’s in the subtext. Highly sophisticated people would get it.

So anyhoo…what was YOUR starting salary for your first real job?
And were you as brilliant and tough a negotiator as I?

— Darcy Perdu

Keep the funny coming – just pop your email address right here to be sure you see my new posts each week!

(So spill – any fun salary negotiation stories to share? From either side of the desk? Do you remember your starting salary at your first real job – and what was the job?)

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52 replies on “How to Mishandle an HR Situation in 1 Easy Step

  1. Arionis said:

    $608.40 per month. The Navy was a tough negotiator back in 1987. In fact, they didn’t budge a penny.

  2. This sounds hauntingly familiar to my negotiating skills. My first PROFESSIONAL job? $10 an hour. HA.

    • Hard to believe that our first professional jobs paid about the same as a teenager gets to babysit these days! ha!

  3. Great story, Darcy. My first job out of college (in 1987) was with one of the (then) Big 8 accounting firms in San Francisco (I was relocating from Chicago). My starting salary was $22,000 (I never even thought to negotiate–many kudos to you for even going there). I thought it was a great salary until I learned that I was earning poverty level wages and qualified for the low income discount at a fabulous new apartment complex in the SOMA (south of Market area) of the city. Got me into a 500 square foot studio for $500 a month with a fabulous view of the Bay Bridge. Not too shabby.
    Suzanne Vince recently posted..Who’s Your Mini Me?My Profile

    • Cool — an affordable apartment with a fabulous view of the Bay Bridge? — so apparently sometimes “Poverty has its privileges…”

  4. HAHAHA. That’s awesome. My first professional job was about 25K. It was at a university so there was no negotiating. But I probably would have been as tough as you were. I got tougher when I applied at a high tech company and got myself a hiring bonus.
    Foxy Wine Pocket recently posted..The Pooping TreeMy Profile

    • hiring bonus?? NOW you’re talkin’! Gotta get me one of those!

  5. Jenny said:

    My first job was in 1994 at a childcare center and I made minimum wage-$4.25 an hour! I was just happy to be able to afford gas to get there everyday!

    • $4.25 an hour? oh man, if you had that job NOW, you’d have to work 1 hour just to afford 1 gallon of gas!

  6. I thought my first REAL job was detassling corn when I was fifteen because I was no longer babysitting for a mere fifty cents an hour. All I know is, I blew my entire summer’s earnings on the COOLEST coat EVER that was in the JCPenney Catalogue and when it came I put it on and I looked just like McCloud. (That cowboy played by Dennis weaver. Not really the look I was going for.)

    • That’s hysterical! Teen girls don’t exactly rock the McCloud look! Ha!

  7. Julie said:

    I just had a 30th anniversary at the part time job I took just to keep the income incoming while I searched for my career. You know, the one I planned on while earning my BA. I started out at 4.65/hr I think. Thirty years later I make a whopping 13.80/hr. and work like a dog for it. God, that really makes it sound like there’s something wrong with me doesn’t it?

    • Julie, there’s nothing wrong with working that hard for that much money — as long as your job is “taste-testing new Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavors” — or “training new Chippendale’s dancers in successful customer relations!” :o)

      • Jenn R. said:

        Wow, those are good jobs! I think I may have just found my calling. Heck, I could even do both jobs at the same time. Thanks Darcy!

  8. I SUCK at negotiating – I’ve gotten better but still needs improvement. My first job was as a cashier in high school at kmart. That doesn’t count :P Have a great one Darcy! -Iva
    AwesomelyOZ recently posted..GTFO: We Truly Are Full of ItMy Profile

    • Hey, ANY high school job is cool! Gotta make some money, honey! Go Iva!

  9. I totally relate to this. I’m so non-confrontational, my friends joke that if someone rear-ended my car I’d write him a check and apologize just to avoid any uncomfortable moments. I could never negotiate salary! I don’t know how business men/women do it. Seriously, I was not cut out to haggle with anyone but my children, and they usually win those arguments, too.

    • Ha! I laughed throughout your comment! Especially the part about even losing arguments with your kids too!

  10. Lady Anne said:

    The first job I had – right out of high school, with my diploma carved into a rock – was with Ma Bell. I started at $45 a week, and within two years was making $60. Rent on a decent apartment at that time was $80 a month, so it was very good money. (1960, in case you *really* need to know.)

    • Ha! I love that image of your diploma carved into a rock! And $240/month ain’t too shabby when your rent is only $80/month! Excellent!
      And yes, we DO really need to know when! So thanks for spillin’ the date! ;o)

    • You worked security at a roofing company? Did you stop people from stealing the roofs?

      • William Kendall said:

        Ah, it was enough of a routine! The next year I did maintenance in the same place… ended by getting laid off, but not before they had me spending three days scraping tar out of a tar pit.

        • 3 days scraping tar out of a tar pit? holy cow! you’ve had some interesting jobs! I just had traditional office jobs — although I did have a cool job waitressing at an all-you-can-eat BBQ place in Louisiana that let the employees eat all we could eat too!

  11. Bill Mesker said:

    I love it! My first job ever? Maintenance guy at Wal Fart…. I mean Wal Mart haha. I was the flippin gopher for everything! I only got minimum wage which honestly wasn’t enough for all the shit they had me do.. Not to say that I wasn’t glad to have the job mind you.

      • Bill Mesker said:

        Why thank you! It just seems appropriate because I see nothing but old farts shopping there anymore haha.

  12. Paul said:

    Wow, memories – my first part time job, I was 13 (I lied and said I was 14 so I could get the job) and worked sanitation in a large commercial bakery. I made minimum wage (I think $4.50 per hr) and did some of the oddest things and loved it. The bakery worked 24/5 and shut down on Sat and Sun for cleaning and maintenance. So, I could be cleaning inside a stainless steel lard melter as big as a volkswagon or backing across the roof of a 2 story high oven, brushing off dust in 120 degree heat while trying to avoid steam pipes. Or shovelling flour from a 10 foot deep pump pit where the flour that was moved by pipes from storage to production had leaked. The guy who was my boss, Kenny (real name) was astounding and could find the smallest bit of dust in a 2 block long plant. There was a large commercial freezer kept at -20 F (-50 with the fan chill) that held some ingredients and some inventory. It was about 1000 sq ft and had to be cleaned out every weekend – about a 4 hour job chipping ice off the floor and walls. Looking back I had some hard dirty jobs, but I enjoyed every minute because I had a job and I made over $70 per week and had zero expenses. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much disposable income since.

    • Dang, Paul, that is some serious hard labor there! I picture you like one of those dusty little kid chimney sweeps from the Mary Poppins movie! Cleaning lard melters, shovelling pump pits, and climbing roofs in 120 degree heat ALMOST makes me feel like MY first job was sort of cushy:

      I was the teenager at our local amusement park in charge of making chili-cheese dogs inside an air-conditioned train caboose. And since it was the ONLY air conditioned place in the entire park, all the teen boys working at the park would find some excuse to come inside to enjoy the AC and flirt a bit. I was the belle of the ball! (– or at least the belle of the air-conditioned train caboose!)

  13. lol, my first starting salary out of college was for an environmental non-profit in DC and I told them I was passionate enough about the position to do it for $18k but I really wanted $20k and thought I could bring to the table enough to be worth that. And I got it. And all my other friends were starting out of college at other companies for $35k and up.
    The Next Step recently posted..Priceless Mom Moments: Sharing, Caring, and Private PartsMy Profile

    • You got your $20K! That’s awesome! That’s what I wanted too — but nooooo, $18,600 for me.
      And it’s ok that you didn’t make quite as much as your fellow grads for your first job because you worked for a non-profit so that means you’ll get a little higher cloud in Heaven! :o)

  14. Ha – you really were one bad ass bitch, weren’t you? I did something very similar, for a similar amount. Then I found out the receptionist was making the same salary as I was. But I had a master’s fucking degree and handled client accounts. HATED my boss after that.
    singlegirlie recently posted..6 Reasons Why Having a Boy Toy Rocks My WorldMy Profile

    • lol — yep, that’s me: a bad-ass bitch practically offering to cut my salary in half just to work there!
      As for finding out the salaries of other people at work — ouch! That’s always so painful when you realize someone’s making more, but contributing less. I prefer to stay in the dark, otherwise I’d just see the dollar sign and salary above everyone’s heads while I was talking to them! :o)

  15. Yep yep. I see that they were really desperate to get you on board.

    Mine is $617.67 per month. So it’s really really really great, you know? (tears in my eyes)

    Anyhoo, wish me luck for getting a new job with a higher pay! Have a great day there, Darcy!

    • Wann, I think that amount goes a lot further where you live in Malaysia than it goes here — but I still wish you a new job with higher pay — you deserve it! (By the way I loved the colorful graduation gowns in your blog post the other day!)

        • Since I can’t read Malaysian, I mostly look at the photos and it looks like you are always up to something fun and interesting. I love the photo of you and your pals playing laser tag that says, “Brace yourself. War is coming.” And I wonder what’s going on in the “Swoosh Swoosh” photo! I even tried Google translate to try to figure out what you wrote about in the post showing lots of photos of pretty ladies all dressed up, but with pink squiggles on all their heads! Google’s translation didn’t make any sense, but I get the idea that it has something to do with mini skirts! Anyway, you obviously have a lot of fun — and your blog has great photos!

          • Lol the “Swoosh swoosh” thing was the sound they make when they played skiing with Xbox Kinect. It was so funny because eventually we (the audience) all did the swoosh swoosh sound!

            Yeah. I’m having so much fun with my theatre club members. We are like family.

            Again, thanks for really spend some time to try to find out what I wrote in my blog. I did wrote some in full English but when find them, you’ll get grandkids by then. Lol.

          • Ahhh, now the “Swoosh Swoosh” makes sense! And I love theatre people too! Such a fun, welcoming, creative, crazy bunch!

  16. LorainLouAvul said:

    My first job was at Taco Hell in 1983. I made $3.87 per hour. I was so young and naive that the “college-boy” manager convinced me I had to tell the guest when I handed them their food “Enjoy your meal Ole” yeah I was a dumb blonde. They also told me I had to count the individual pinto beans when we put them in the commercial size pressure cooker. I rocked that polyester dog-shit brown uniform, “Ole”

    • Bwahahaha — Taco HELL! That’s hilarious! And that’s so funny about counting the pinto beans!
      I can’t believe the manager convinced you to say “Ole” when serving the customers!
      Reminds me of my friend Jill who was in her 20s and taking a trip with her boyfriend who had never flown on an airplane before. She convinced him that the flight attendants always ask for first-time flyers to raise their hands, then the flight attendants select some of them to come in the aisle to help explain the safety features and emergency procedures. The poor guy was terrified! The only thing that scared him more than flying was public speaking!

      • Paul said:

        New, young employees can be a great deal of fun as they don’t have a lot of “common sense” about the situation. My Dad was a sales manager for the bakery I mentioned above. He was checking out the shelf space in a large supermarket one day when he noticed a young student pricing dozen cartons of eggs. Dad and the store manager had an ongoing game of practical jokes, so Dad approached the young man and identified himself as a manager (dressed in a suit). He instructed the young man that he had to price each egg in the carton and helped the young man work out a price per egg. Whe he left the store, the young man had emptied the entire egg display and was busy opening every carton, pricing each egg and then replacing the cartons in the display. Apparently after some time had elapsed the real manager walked by and wanted to know what the hell the young man was doing. The young man described Dad and said he had told him to price each egg. The manager made the young man empty the display, remove the price tag from each egg, reprice and replace the cartons. The next time he saw my Dad, he had a few choice words for him.

        • That’s priceless! That poor kid — but how funny! And I’m not surprised to hear that your Dad was a prankster — obviously a good sense of humor runs in your family!!

      • Bill Mesker said:

        There’s another name for Taco Bell….. Toxic Hell! I mean holy shit you better pray to the to the toilet gods that the plumbing can handle all of that toxic stuff that is exiting your body at a high rate of speed!

        • Ha! These names are hilarious! And accurately descriptive!

  17. Congratulations on the gig!

    I’m terrible under pressure like that as well. I usually just say “okay” to everything.
    “And you’ll be getting us coffee every day”
    “And you can expect some hazing, the staff will probably hang you upside down over a balcony at least once.”

    That was my fault for accepting a job with Suge Knight right out of college.

    • That’s hilarious! I’d gladly be hung upside down over a balcony for a celebrity job too!
      (I’d prefer Ryan Gosling as the celeb, just in case anyone asks…)

  18. Blind orphaned puppies everywhere thank you for your sacrifice. I would’ve given you the 20 grand. Those stingy corporates.

    It was so great meeting you at Erma, Darcy! What a fun weekend. Went way too fast, didn’t it?

    • Yes, it was so cool to meet you and my other cyberpals at the Bombeck conference! It was a blast!
      As for my salary negotiation story — I’m so glad you would have given me the 20 grand. And you know — it’s not too late. You can STILL give me 20 grand. Just mail it to me, baby! :o)