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Tips on negotiating an indicative offer from one of the "Big4"

  • 22-04-2022 1:15pm
    Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    Hi All,

    I'm looking help on negotiating without being too bullish or coming across as unlikable.

    I did two interviews with one of the big 4 firms in Dublin, 2 interviews in one week. The role is for senior manager, within their tax team.

    The interviews went well, I liked the hiring managers and they've been very fast-moving. They sent out an indicative offer yesterday, the same day as 2nd interview. I have not received a contract or anything yet, I have to provide two references if I wish to accept.

    I told the internal Recruitment/HR lady what my salary was before I interviewed. Salary was not really discussed during the 1st or second interview with the partner or senior managers, I think they asked what I was on and that was it.

    I'm moving into a new industry as I'm coming from a consultancy in construction.

    The offer came out today and I'm a tad underwhelmed to say the least, any tips on what to do about going back to them?

    They've only offered a very small increase of €500 on my current salary., but that is a base salary. I’m told there’s a discretionary bonus which they couldn’t disclose yet. Pension scheme (I am 28, there is no contribution from them to under 30s)

    In my own company, I was due a salary review in May now anyway which would climb above this offer.

    I would only be moving up from the high €70s to just over €80K for a senior manager in this firm as the base salary. I’ve no idea what the bonus is that’s paid in a lump sum. I don’t get a bonus at the minute.

    My location of work is my home, they know that I will only be able to make it in to dublin 1-2 days per week, as I live over 100 miles/ 2.5hrs drive away.

    The biggest thing for me is work life balance. I do maybe 8:30 earliest to 6pm latest at the minute. I have no interest doing anything that goes past that for any amount of money every day. I’ve been there, and done 8am - 8/9pm for deadlines in construction before, not a chance would I go back to that.

    Thank you in advance.

    Post edited by Fiyatoe on



  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    I also interviewed with one of their competitors another big4, offering the same kind of role. I didn't say this in interview when they asked me if I was looking elsewhere, just said that I was.

    Is it petty/unprofessional to say "a competitor is offering me X more for the same role and giving me these benefits?"

    Post edited by Fiyatoe on

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    Fair point, i applied directly through their website and you had to enter salary expectations and current salary in the workday portal.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,325 ✭✭✭ cuttingtimber22

    First thing I would strongly suggest is not to name the company or competitors in a public forum.

    you need to consider what is your ask and what is your bottom line. If they will not meet it then you walk away with no regrets. You can then discuss with HR what scope there is for an increase - you have some leverage pointing to an increase you will expect this year in the new post and being able to signal you are worse off.

    You also need to consider where this job could go in 2/3/5 years and whether short term pain may have longer term gains. But you should not walk into a new job pissed off with the salary.

    good luck.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,292 ✭✭✭✭ Dial Hard

    In which case, always overstate your current salary!

    Anyway, if I were you I would definitely go back to them on the salary and potentially the accommodation costs. I can't see them covering your mileage to/from the office.

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  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 12,190 Mod ✭✭✭✭ riffmongous

    Don't forget the inflation and additional cost of living increases you can expect in the coming year.. see where you will be financially 3 years from now and if that's acceptable to you. You might need to be quite bullish with them here as there's a chance you could actually end up worse off

  • Registered Users Posts: 547 ✭✭✭ shillyshilly

    You'll always get the "oh you told them you're salary, you lost..." not the case, it's how you frame everything...

    Just remind yourself why you're moving get a better job, and to get better pay... anyone who says different is lying to themselves (of course there are trades offs, but that's the general)...

    A company is always going to low ball you... unless you're that unicorn they've been chasing ...

    Given the sector you're going into, negotiation is a given, again if you frame things correctly, it won't come off as bullish..

    The biggest asset is your willingness to walk away from the deal, it sounds a bit like you're not there yet..

    From a wage perspective, I would get back and say thank you for the initial offer, however I was expecting a bit more of an uplift over my current wage which I have provided to you, explain you have proven in previous roles that you can do "x" and bring "y" to this new role, is there any room to manoeuvre on this?

    Also, pension, did I see that they don't contribute until you are 30? Big red flag, you get most of your compound interest in your 20's and 30's, I would definitely ask for a re-negotiation on that, I would be bullish over that...

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    yeah i thought the pension one very odd, I'm 29 this year so that's quite a while away for me.

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    i actually told them my salary was 3k higher than what it is to bring it up to the nearest ten thousand, so I'm benefitting by 4K approx. but still, id expect to hit that in my salary review next month.

    my job at the moment is quite handy but very boring. i work remotely 5 days per week with no office travel (no one on my team goes in, otherwise I would) and I feel like I am not going anywhere.

    Some times I think should I just be happy with having a "handy" number and use the WFH situation to my advantage. In saying that I am slowly going mad in the house all day every day at the laptop for almost 2 years now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,969 ✭✭✭ screamer

    In my experience no one moves jobs for less or pretty much the same money. It’s la la land when people say “think of the career advancement” etc. these top 4s are people heavy and it’s a long slog to promotion. Pay rises are paltry once you’re in there too, so go in on a decent amount or stick to where you are. You’ll only resent it if you feel you’re not being paid fairly. What is the market paying in your sector right now? In my honest opinion you’ve to decide, are you ok to walk away from this, cause if you are, you play hard ball and tell them you’re in active interviews with others and you’ve gotten a better offer, so either they match it or you’re walking. Of course frame it diplomatically, and tell them they’d obviously be your first choice but you’ve a better offer. If they really want you, they’ll match it. Up to you to decide how to play it but saying you’re a bit disappointed or you were expecting more, puts them in control of the offer again, a no no. So, tell them your offer is (add whatever you expected to get to what they offered) and you give them the target. Obviously it has to be realistic too, as in asking for 60k for a job whose market rate is 40k won’t fly, and they’ll see through it. Finally if they ask where you interviewed well it’s a small world and tell them you’d rather not divulge that

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  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    thanks all, yeah i had it in my head I wouldn't move for less than 10% increase which would bring me to the mid 80s.

    i will take on board all advice here and have a call with recruitment team this afternoon, putting it across in a firm but polite way.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,608 ✭✭✭ whippet

    I would agree with that stance - from the sounds of it you would actually be financially worse off making the move.

    I think it would be very unusual for a Dublin based company to offer milage to and from the office with over night expenses should you need to be in the office.

    As for salary negotiations - I had a similar requirement to put in current salary in to the application for a job application I did last year. I put €0.00 as it was a required field and then I set an expected salary in the field where it was requested. I was happy where I was but fancied a move but only if it made financial sense. So I threw a Hail Mary figure in. Progressed through two interviews, the follow up to the second interview I got an email asking what my expected salary would be ... at that stage I knew that if they were asking that question the chances of being offered the role were high. I just said that my expectations were on the application and they offered me that. Looking back now I probably could have chanced my arm and looked for more!

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,969 ✭✭✭ screamer

  • Registered Users Posts: 557 ✭✭✭ Skittlebrau

    You didn't mention a bonus in your list of benefits. Do you get one now? Senior Manager Bonuses in Big4 firms can be 20k-40k.

    I'd also expect mileage / accommodation costs to be covered for client visits but not for coming to the office. That would be fairly standard.

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    there was no bonus mentioned in the indicative offer, so I will ask them about that.

    Going to ring now this afternoon.

    it's a bit of a double edged sword, at the minute i do my work and stay near the laptop all day, sometimes do more than required from home. I know long term i cant sit in the house all day every week as its not good mentally or socially.

    But the flip side of this is that i may need to stay over a night away (which i think i wont mind) or drive 4-5hrs round trip to dublin for a day down there. Those diesel or accom costs could eat into the salary a fair bit per year, id estimate 5-6K per year.

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    finally, if they do come back - what do you all count as acceptable response time? if they come back on Monday, is asking for up to next Friday end of the week acceptable?

    I will have to decline any offers I may get elsewhere, particularly from one of their competitors.

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    yeah they told me the bonus is another large chunk on top of that, roughly 25% of current salary and there is no reason why you shouldn't get it... It's paid in december.

    That's quite welcome news! looking at maybe 15-20K extra. Hopefully there are no catches with this. The salary stated in the indicative offer was base salary only. Thanks to @Skittlebrau for flagging that. I'll probably only get half of that this year.

    The pension there was no movement on , definitely no contribution for under 30s, but after that it's very good i'm told.

  • Registered Users Posts: 918 ✭✭✭ BraveDonut

    Hiring in large companies is an expensive, laborious process. If you have gotten through the interviews and they are at the stage of making you an offer, my advice is to play hard-ball.

    As a hiring manager it is a massive pain to lose a candidate at offer stage - so the company will negotiate. If they balk at your request just back down to what you find acceptable.

    You will have a long time to reap the benefits of this interaction or to regret it.

    I think you should push hard in the current job market.

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    Yeah, a bit of fear is setting in now as I did play hard ball and they said they’ll come back Monday.

    the fear is not of losing the offer; it’s of maybe taking on a role with a lot of pressure and responsibility.

    in my current role I work in a team but all tasks are given to me to do. It pays all the bills with a bit left over and im comfortable. I’m rarely stressed. But I do work at home all day every day which I don’t like or think is good long term.

    on the flip side I could lose all that if the work life balance is terrible in a “big4” firm.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,657 ✭✭✭ downtheroad

    What value do you put on your time? Big4 senior managers put in serious hours, then add your commuting time on top which sounds lengthy. For a similar salary, a nice bonus, you are going to lose a lot of hours in your week. There's more to life than money. No point having an extra €20k salary and no time to spend it (or handing a chunk of it over to a petrol station/toll booth/hotel).

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  • Registered Users Posts: 647 ✭✭✭ tjhook

    I think you have to pick your poison. The way a prospective employer treats you during the hiring process is indicitive of how they'd treat you as an employee. If they're honest, upfront and follow through on their commitments, that's all a good sign.

    My last job was one I hated, and when I applied to my current employer I said that money isn't my priority. It was true, although not the smartest thing to say. What they were offering was similar to what I was already on, but with better benefits. I accepted it. The new employer then gave me a "signing on" bonus - basically what they would have paid a recruiter if I'd gone that route. They didn't have to do that. I'm still with them 10 yers later.

    It sounds like you don't have a problem obtaining new roles. If this one doesn't work out for you, you're free to move on again - maybe giving it a year to look good on the CV.

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    Well I don’t want to be doing more than I do now at the laptop, 8:30-5:30 most days. The odd evening I’ll maybe work to 7 if I’ve a deadline but rarely more than that.

    I wouldn’t be interested in something where I’m working past 6pm every day unless it was my own business or I was self employed, as I’d burn out quickly, so I need to ask someone inside the firm.

    The travel I’m not too worried about as they said one day per week is fine and maybe another day for a client offices/project visit. Weirdly it would be better than based in the house 5 days a week getting cabin fever.

    would it be inappropriate to reach out to one of the guys that interviewed me twice via email or LinkedIn? I got on very well with him, but I suppose he is going to tell me what I want to hear to get me in.

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,657 ✭✭✭ downtheroad

    Don't waste your time, they'll just tell you what you want to hear. I trained in Big4 years and years ago. All of them brought us in to gradate open evenings, meet and greet kind of thing with staff of all levels that work there. The common message was great work life balance, oh you play football - no problem leaving on time to go training, etc. Not at all the scenario when we started working there. Plenty of guys in my intake gave up the rugby, football etc because of the hours expected - and we were just trainees on tiny salaries.

    When you're senior manager level you can be guaranteed to be working til at least 6 and beyond most evenings. Granted I was in audit which was probably the worst of the worst in terms of hours, but it's a general culture in those firms. Instead of people greeting each other with 'hello' it was 'busy?' - that's all anyone cared about, how busy you were.

    I can understand that 5 days WFH can be boring, cabin fever, etc. But being in your home town, clocking off at a nice hour in the evenings, and not doing savage commuting (it might be 1 day per week now with the Big4, but that could all change in a heartbeat), I'd give it all some serious thought over the weekend if I was you.

    Not trying to put you off, just saying to really consider if the grass is greener in this potential new role.

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    Yeah, I’ll have to do a bit of digging on the work life balance. If it was crazy I wouldn’t care if they paid me 200K a year, I wouldn’t take it to be doing 12 hour days at the laptop all day every day. Stay where I’m at .

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,429 ✭✭✭ kaymin

    I'd echo this comment. I spent 10+ years at senior manager / director level at Big-4 firms - they're sweat shops. I didn't work so much overtime because I delegated to staff that were paid overtime or given time in lieu but the pressure / volume of work is unlike anything you'll experience elsewhere - at least that's my experience. Due to the volume of work it's hard to switch-off. And if you make one mistake during the year that's all they remember at your annual review. Having them on your CV opens doors though as it shows you have a certain work ethic!

  • Registered Users Posts: 322 ✭✭ Fiyatoe

    Where are you at now out of interest? I’m coming over from construction which can be just as bad on some projects or for some companies/clients.

    that just seems severe those hours. I openly told them my age, level at present and that i haven’t managed anyone higher than grad level before. But got the offer. I’m thinking now are they desperate for staff and hoping I’ll come in looking to do all the hours under the sun to climb the ladder.

  • Registered Users Posts: 19,100 ✭✭✭✭ Ash.J.Williams

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,429 ✭✭✭ kaymin

    I'm in an investment management company now. I was in audit when I was in the Big-4. Even if they're short staffed they will be very slow to turn away work so you're right to be concerned about work / life balance. Tax professionals are in demand so if you do join them just make sure you're paid for it, or stick it out for a year or two as it opens doors to more opportunities than you might have now.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,429 ✭✭✭ kaymin

    Just to add, the lack of pension until 30 seems ridiculous, I'd push back on that and ask for a 10% increase on their offer for that alone.