Snoofle's tale is a little different than our usual Tales From the Interview, but these kinds of negotiating tactics are TRWTF. -- Remy

After more than 3 decades in our field, I find my self in the position of being able to afford to retire, but not yet actually ready to retire. This is partly due to the fact that my wife still wants to work. While walking off into the sunset together seems enticing, biding my time until she's ready seems somewhat boring (for the unmarried, having too much fun while she's still at work, even by her choice, is not conducive to marital bliss).

Once you realize that you've cleared the financial hurdles where the big bills like college tuition and the mortgage are paid and retirement is funded, your priorities at work change. For example, when you need to pay tuition and a mortgage, you are willing to put up with a certain amount of stupidity so that you can take care of your family. Once those bills are paid, your tolerance for idiocy shrinks quite a bit. To that end, I left my last job - for the first time - with no job to go to.

While I'm waiting for my wife to decide to join me, I've decided that taking another job could fill the time. Since I no longer need the money, however, my criteria for taking another job are far more stringent than usual. Specifically, no more managers who offer randomly chosen delivery dates without taking the amount of work into account. No more places that deploy directly to production. No more tolerance for managers that say one thing and then do another, leaving you holding the bag. No more teams of one experienced person to fix the onslaught of wrong-ness inflicted by a bevy of inexperienced junior developers.

A pile of $100 bills

As you might imagine, most of what crosses my in-box doesn't measure up. However, every now and then, something of interest (that seems to measure up) appears. The latest of these was a position as a highly experienced architect/developer at a non-financial company in NJ. The technology stack they were using was in line with my experience. The phone screen with the developers yielded some honesty about the differences between where they were and where they needed to be, but at least they recognized the shortcomings. It was a try-buy deal (usually a turn-off for me) with the numbers in the right range (e.g.: commensurate with my experience). I decided to go on the interview.

Don't get me wrong; if I could find a good position at half the money, but near home, I'd grab it (convenience trumps income). Unfortunately, there's very little in the way of tech offerings near where we live. If I have to make the long daily shlep, then I feel it's only reasonable to be paid along the lines of typical salaries in the industry and location where I'll be working. The fact that I don't actually need the money is personal and should be of no consequence to the company who will be getting my services.

The interview went well. A few days later the offer came, but at $50K less than what they had listed in the job posting. Upon querying, I was informed that although they said I had all the qualifications and experience they were seeking, they decided they only needed mid-level experience and so they adjusted the offer to reflect that. Although it's not about money, I don't like being taken advantage of, and declined based upon the discrepancy.

The hiring manager called me to try and convince me to take the position as we had all hit it off and seemed to be on the same page. I said that it seemed that they wanted 30+ years of experience but were only willing to pay for 15 years of experience, and that since the number they originally discussed and the one they offered were so different, that I was not interested in giving it away (would they be willing to let me dumb down my skills, knowledge and experience to match the compensation, or did they want me to use all of my expertise to do the best job possible?)

Of course he said the latter. He then pointed out that $50K wasn't that much money and it shouldn't be a deciding factor. I said that money wasn't the issue, but how they changed the terms on me after the fact was. I further pointed out that if it wasn't that much money, then I would take the job at the offered rate if he would personally make up the $50K difference.

Naturally he railed at that suggestion.

I pointed out that it was interesting that $50K was no big deal when it was coming out of my pocket, but it was a huge deal when it was coming out of his pocket; then I declined the offer.

A few days later, he called me again and informed me that he got the budget to pay the originally agreed-upon rate.

I am presently doing volunteer work, instead. If I'm going to take a paid position, it should be a fair wage given the skills/experience/location/industry/etc. I am not going to give it away. The fact that he tried to renege on a financial agreement just to make his budget look better - to me - is a huge warning sign that dealing with him would be an ongoing WTF, so I chose to pass on the position.

When you have fiscal obligations, getting paid something - anything - is better than nothing, but we all know that someone who is qualified but underpaid is someone searching for a new position. When you have the luxury of not having monetary obligations, dealing with someone who treats you fairly and honestly trumps - pretty much - all.

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