Should I take a low paying job if the office culture is impressive?

Friday March 6 2020


By Jane Muiruri

My friend recently went for an interview and was offered a long term contract with very little pay. When she went to plead her case with her recruiter, she was told that the company did not have money to pay hefty salaries, but that they have a great culture which she will enjoy working in. What is the best way to respond to such a statement?

During the interview process, candidates often focus too much on the compensation package instead of concentrating on getting the job, which would give them more bargaining power. The answer to this question may differ depending on the stage of the interview process at which it is asked. If posed during the face to face interview, do not quote a figure before finding out what the employer offers in terms of benefits and training opportunities.
If you have to, provide a range of your salary expectation. This way, you create a chance to negotiate for the best deal depending on how remuneration is handled in the organisation.

If the conversation on remuneration is done after you have been selected as the most suitable candidate, ask for a higher package since it means you have the skills, experience and attitude required for the role. However, if you quote too high, the panel might consider the second best candidate. It is important to balance between the organisation’s culture and the figure you desire.
A good employer will offer a competitive remuneration package and a good working environment too. However, you are better off in an organisation that facilitates employee development.

Request the recruiter to unpack the word “culture” so that you fully understand what it means to you as a prospective employee. Ensure that the salary you take enables you to meet your basic needs as well as grow your savings. Find out whether there are costs that will be borne by the employer such as subsidised meals or transport, or any other benefits.
Try not to take less than a 30 per cent addition on your previous salary. If the new company offers more benefits, you can reduce this percentage.
Remember you have bills to pay.

Jane Muiruri
Senior HR Manager,
Nation Media Group