Author Topic: What salary range should I accept/aim for post-COVID layoff to keep on FIRE path  (Read 2058 times)

bayareasaver

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Hi Savers,
My last day at my job, thanks to a COVID-19 layoff, was Friday. I have 6 week's severance pay and I live in Wellington, New Zealand. I have been a Salesforce Consultant for 10 years and I have my MBA but would really like to switch to either: a) not being a consultant and working instead at a customer (client) company if I keep doing Salesforce, or b) switch roles and become a business analyst or program manager at some sort of IT company.
My question is: given I was receiving a high salary for New Zealand of $140,000NZD/year, but was laid off, and the job market is terrible, what should I give as my new salary range and/or what salary should I be willing to accept to keep on my FIRE path?
Basically I'm trying to decide, before I am faced with the decision, whether I should accept as much as a 25% salary reduction.
Further questions are:
- Is it better to get a job sooner at a lower rate than I might otherwise accept in a better economy, just to be assured of a job?
- How much will this damage my earning potential in the long run, say if I keep a job for 2 years at this 'discounted' rate?
- Would I ever be able to ask for a significant raise, or would I be doomed to 3-5% raises (if that)?
- How can I find out what a company's ranges for this position might be before they ask me for my range? I know a couple of people who work at the company but I don't want to offend people by having them think I'm asking them what their salary is and I certainly don't want to burn bridges before I start working at one of the only places that might offer me a job.         
Thanks for any advice or suggestions!

mozar

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Do you have FU money? It can take awhile to find a comparable offer, but there is also nothing wrong with taking a job if you need it and continuing to search. Instead of asking how much a person makes ask what is a good salary at your company or what's the range.

LWYRUP

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Knowing nothing of New Zealand, or Salesforce, I would take the paycut if that's what you need to do and then in a few years when the market improves just go ask for more money or get a new job.  You won't be forever doomed to anything as long as there is a free employment market. 

Your earning potential would be higher staying consistently employed (until FIRE) than having a long 1-2 year gap where you try to hold out for something perfect. 

mspym

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I am with LWYRUP in terms of staying employed. Since you are in Wellington, have you considered changing sides to being a BA for one of the govt projects implementing SalesForce?

bayareasaver

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Thank you, this is all really helpful. FYI I'm considering giving, if I'm fortunate enough to be put in a position to do so, a range of $100-150kNZD.
My only concern is this seems like an absurd range, but I would give some explanation with it like: my last position was $140k/year, I don't know what your targeted range for this position is, so I'm giving you a broad range because... [I'm keeping my options open at this time??? I don't want to put myself out of the running as it's not just about financial compensation for me??? I'm really excited about this position??? Any thoughts on what's the best accompanying language or would you give a much narrower band???]
@LWYRUP Thanks, that's helpful, and I figure saving 20-40% of a significantly lower salary is better than saving 0% of $0 while spending my savings.
@mozar No, I don't have what I would consider to be FU money. I've known this was potentially coming for months (my department was losing money so COVID is just a nice excuse to start layoffs) so I've been going into cash savings overdrive, but I'm also going to be selling my home in California in a couple months and will need cash for that (repairs and such). Then I'll have FU money from the sale, but of course I'd rather save it to FIRE instead of spending it when I could be working unless by taking a 25% salary cut it will be too hard to make my way back up the earnings ladder to recoup that 25% and thus slow down my ultimate FIRE date.
@mspym Thank you, that's a great point and a good idea. I've looked into a few of these options and am not too excited about any of them right now because I've heard the ministries can be slow/challenging and resistant to change for the ones I'm most interested in or I fear I don't yet have the technical skill some of them need. So one thought I have is to take a job and keep working on my architect level certifications since I currently have access to free training as a Salesforce MVP and then in another year or two once I have those I could get a nice salary bump over the $140k once I've earned a few of those. This would also have the nice bonus of giving me a year or two break from the grind if I find a non-Salesforce BA/Program Manager job.
Thanks for helping me think this through, I look forward to any additional comments, thoughts, and suggestions!
FYI part of my thinking as to why it would be a significant salary cut is that I did some salary research on glassdoor and it said for NZ based Senior Business Analysts the salary caps out at around $105kNZD, which is a 25% decrease over the $140kNZD job I was just laid off from.


mspym

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For what it is worth, a friend of mine contracts for a Ministry and keeps trying to lure me back to NZ with $100-120p.h. contract rates. Plus there is less resistance to hiring a contractor than perms because of the lower obligation. Might be worth considering.
Good luck 🤞

mozar

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The common wisdom is to not bring up money first and ask them what the range is. Or just state your previous salary. Then they can say that's too much for us can you go to this amount? I know it can be tricky as a woman, but I'm a woman and I've had no problems. Also remember that for the employer it is "about the money" because it's a business. Don't sell yourself short.

FatFI2025

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The common wisdom is to not bring up money first and ask them what the range is. Or just state your previous salary. Then they can say that's too much for us can you go to this amount? I know it can be tricky as a woman, but I'm a woman and I've had no problems. Also remember that for the employer it is "about the money" because it's a business. Don't sell yourself short.

+1

If you say you're considering $100K-$140K, they're likely to give you $100K, even if there's more money available. I'd go in with $140K and say "I'd like to just to match my prior salary given the circumstances with COVID." Nobody's going to be insulted by that and, if they don't have the budget for it, they will let you know the lower number. You might send back one counter offer 5% higher. Easy peezy.

The last thing you should do is volunteer a lower bar when you don't have a solid idea of the market rate. After you've gone through the whole interview process and have an offer with a number, you can weigh all the factors and decide if it's the right move for you.

Don't undersell yourself and don't overthink this one move in relation to your larger strategy. You can always adjust the sails later.

One last thing, you should also apply to other major markets that appeal to you in case you don't get anything decent in Wellington. It's always nice to have options.

bayareasaver

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Thank you both so much @mozar and @FatFI2025. You're right, a lot of what I'm feeling is being driven by a previous interview experience with Xero where I made it to the final interview, HR told me they selected someone else but they would have hired us both if they could have, only for them to re-post the job two weeks later. Salary was an issue from the beginning (pro-actively brought up by them) since they are known around town for underpaying but I was clear if the opportunity was right I would have taken it even though it would have been a pay cut (FWIW at that time I said I was looking for $150k b/c this was in the before times).
I kind of feel like all bets are off in the COVID-world but things are starting to open back up here again and people with 20 years of work experience are hard to find, I'm just a bit bruised coming from a company that was so poorly managed.
Thanks again and for now I'm just hoping I will get an offer at all!

MrThatsDifferent

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Sorry to hear about your redundancy. That sucks. My thoughts: this is a rough time, Iíd go for whatever roles you can get and donít even negotiate the salary as along as itís around $100k. Just take it and get out of this mess. You can always keep applying for work and move on if you find something better. Donít make money your focus though, especially if what you need most is work.

Faramir

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Nothing new to add, Kiwi poster here but I agree with the previous posters.  I'm a bit surprised by your Xero experience, but I think that proves they were looking to screw someone over or want someone with less skill.  I think you need to stay flexible and get yourself in the conversation and then negotiate from there.

I always think that it's best to take a job that pays your bills but keep looking for something better than stay unemployed.  Think of the savings of doing something 6 months "beneath you" vs not working at all.  If you have a job that isn't CV worthy for 6 months you don't have to put it in your CV.

Specifically, your questions were (& my answers are):
- Is it better to get a job sooner at a lower rate than I might otherwise accept in a better economy, just to be assured of a job? Yes.
- How much will this damage my earning potential in the long run, say if I keep a job for 2 years at this 'discounted' rate? Limited, keep looking for better paid jobs.
- Would I ever be able to ask for a significant raise, or would I be doomed to 3-5% raises (if that)?  Yes.  If not, you're constantly looking for jobs at your higher paid level.
- How can I find out what a company's ranges for this position might be before they ask me for my range?  Ask those people you know for ranges they feel they're happy to give without giving their pay.

FLBiker

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Agree with most of what's been said here.  Just wanted to share that, in my experience, asking for / getting raises is totally doable.  I changed jobs in October, but prior to that I'd been at the same place for 11 years.  I had 6 or 7 different titles there, and got several raises outside of the "normal" 3-5%.  Admittedly, it was a time of tremendous change / growth, but at the same time I've definitely found that internal movement is possible.  This was all within BA / Operations, btw.

bayareasaver

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Just a quick update to say many thanks for all of the helpful suggestions here.

On Monday I will have a third round interview which will be a technical interview for a Senior Business Analyst role. I've never had the title of Business Analyst but I have been a consultant for the past 10 years, so that's why I'm nervous about the salary part but now I need to get through the technical part first. Wish me luck!

Paul der Krake

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Here's a thing you need to understand in salary negotiations at competitive, desirable megacorps: the person who decided to hire you and the person who sets your pay are not the same.

Person #1 is your future direct manager or somewhere near him. They likely don't give a rat's ass whether you get paid 120k or 140k. They want the position filled, like, 3 months ago. They're begging HR and the recruiting team to send them qualified candidates to interview. Over the last month they interviewed 2 people who should never have been extended an in-person interview, one person was marginally qualified, and then you came and were qualified and their day was made. So now they want you. Finally, after hours of interviews, they have a live one. You are the prize.

Person #2, the person who you're likely talking to, however, is professionally trained to get you to say yes without going over a given pay range. Depending on the company, their own compensation incentives might be aligned to lowball you as much as they can and still get you to say yes. They literally have no idea what you will be doing, or even what your department does. They just have two conflicting imperatives:
1) getting you to say yes to please your direct manager
2) getting you to say yes for not too much money to please their direct manager

Here's the thing though: it's insanely expensive to hire people. Like, tens of thousands of dollars expensive for the most skilled white collar professionals. And they've already paid a lot of that cost already by interviewing you. About half a dozen people at a minimum were involved before you were extended an offer. Every person that walks away from an offer is a pure loss for them. They really, really want to put a checkmark in the "offer accepted" column of their spreadsheet that's right next to your name.

So now your goal should be, always, to ask for the maximum that you think you can get away with plus some extra buffer just because. What you actually need for your goals is irrelevant. Let person #1 put the screws on person #2 to get to the max number, not the okay number.

How do you do this? You could offer to sign right then and there and start next week if only they would do X. Or email them and explain how excited you are to work on this specific aspect of the role that they value a lot, if only they would do X. Do you notice a trend here? Make it easy for them to say yes. Don't offer justifications from your life's story about your child's preschool schedule, or your sister's upcoming visit next month. State what you want (whatever it may be) and offer something they really really want: a quick fill.

Good luck!

AK

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I'm a Salesforce technical architect though not a CTA. As an MVP, getting another consulting job at a consultancy would be the easiest employment opportunity despite wanting to change. How about working at the mothership aka Salesforce? In the past, I have had decent experience with recruiting companies like Mason Frank, despite them having a not so great reputation.

Congrats on becoming an MVP. That is a lot of work!

Fuzz

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From my limited experience, where "desired salary range" is a qualifying question on a job application, most people leave that blank or put in TBD or depends on the role, or something like that. There are all kinds of blog posts on how to answer that question. I would find an answer that feels natural to you, without putting down a number. Ideally that number is linked to your value to the company and you want to be part of a company where your skillset drives a lot of value.

Also, Salesforce is awesome and I would imagine there are a ton of remote jobs you could find.

bayareasaver

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Hi friends,
Ok, so the day has come, and the $130kNZD job offer is here! I'd like your advice on what to say to negotiate this up a bit. Some factors in my mind are:
- My last salary was $140kNZD (made redundant by COVID)
- I'm interviewing tomorrow for a position targeting $180kNZD (note their hiring process will take two weeks so my current offer will expire before I would find out if I got this other job)
- On Friday I was ambush interviewed for another position offering $130kNZD; there are a few more steps in that process but I have in an email that it's likely I'd get that position

More info:
First off, the third round interview turned into a fourth round interview on Thursday (it's now Tuesday here in New Zealand) which was intense but good because I got to ask a lot more questions of my future manager which I would have wanted to do anyways.
She then forced me to give a salary range, so I gave a huge salary range of $105-150kNZD, and I told her I had another interview scheduled for today (which is true, though it just got moved to tomorrow).
I've emailed the HR contact this morning to ask who is the best person to speak with about the salary amount and a few questions I have about the package (how strict are they about not taking any annual leave for the first 12 months - feel free to weigh in on this but I already spent $1kNZD on a ticket to Australia for Salesforce conferences that have been cancelled but it might be nice to go and sit on the beach for a week in July if that's an option; I figure I'll just tell them I have pre-scheduled travel and take it as unpaid).
My current plan is to start by asking if any movement is possible on the $130kNZD offer, then be silent. Then I'm not really sure what the best plan is exactly to get them to come up a bit. I know that believing I should get an extra $5-10k is an important part of the strategy and that's a bit hard to believe right now since I'm not working but easier since I am interviewing for another role at $180k and $130k does represent a pay cut for me.
Any thoughts are greatly appreciated, thanks in advance!

Padonak

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How do you get so many interviews and offers? What's your secret?

Paul der Krake

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Exploding offers are bullshit. Tell them you have another interview pipeline and need more time to decide.