Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

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cnblure
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Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by cnblure »

Hello. I am worried that I may have missed the time to negotiate salary and relocation compensation. I received and accepted a tentative offer two months ago. Last month I flew out to do the fingerprinting, sent in my last three pay stubs for an advanced rate of pay, and submitted a crediting prior experience for employee annual leave accrual form. A few days ago I received an automated email to schedule a time to come pick up my id. I feel this means an official offer is soon to follow. My plan is to negotiate upon receiving this official offer if something for relocation is not included, but now I'm worried I may have already missed the opportunity for negotiation. Also this would be a move from a normal cost of living to a very high cost of living area. So while matching my current salary is ok, being able to negotiate for a little more would be better (opportunity and quality of life changes still make this worth it even if salary remains the same). I've tried to research this, but I was not successful in finding at what time during the process to negotiate. Thanks for any insight or guidance.
stan1
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by stan1 »

I believe you would have wanted to raise the relocation at the time you accepted the tentative offer. Full permanent change of station can be very expensive and is often not offered. I have seen a cash bonus paid out in lieu of PCS (maybe $10-20K). The final offer is usually contingent upon background investigation and drug test results, if those are applicable to your position. Could they still get you a cash bonus if you raise it now? I don't know but they would have to go back through a lot of the approval process. You didn't say whether this is a federal, state, or local job. Federal government is large and agencies don't entirely do things the same way. Looking forward: processes for student loan reimbursement vary by agency, if that's applicable to you. Many federal agencies offer tuition reimbursement for graduate degrees during your employment. You'd definitely want to take advantage of that benefit if you can. Congrats on the new job!
Last edited by stan1 on Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:46 am, edited 1 time in total.
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RickBoglehead
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by RickBoglehead »

I have zero experience with government jobs, but the time for negotiation was prior to accepting anything.
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UpperNwGuy
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

Is your current job in the private sector or with a different Federal agency?
margaritaville
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by margaritaville »

The time to negotiate is immediately after you receive the tentative offer. However, the door isn't closed until you accept the final offer. You won't be making any friends if you attempt to negotiate salary at this point, but you have to do what's right for your situation.

If you're just bargaining for a relocation allowance or additional leave accrual, that's more acceptable at this stage. If you're going to try to re-open salary negotiations at this point, the hiring agency will likely be less receptive and wonder why you waited so long. The HR folks typically don't have the leeway to make a counter, so they will have to go back to the hiring manager and ask them to submit justification to increase the offer. It all adds time and frustration to the already inefficient government hiring process.
Swansea
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by Swansea »

If I read the OP's post correctly, looks like the salary was already negotiated...the feds call it Appointment Above the Minimum. If so, I would not re-open the salary negotiation at this point.
retiredjg
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by retiredjg »

It sounds like you are not currently a federal employee. As a general rule, the govt does not pay moving expenses for people who are taking their first government job. There might be some exceptions in some difficult to fill vacancies.

Take a look at your vacancy announcement. They typically state that no relocation allowance is available.

It will not hurt to ask, but unless you are a very special "asset", it is unlikely that anything more will be offered.
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galawdawg
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by galawdawg »

I can only speak to my experience concerning employees of the State of Georgia. Compensation for almost all state employees is based upon a salary scale and there is little flexibility unless a candidate's education or experience justifies placement in a different class and/or step on the salary scale. Benefits such as annual leave, sick leave, health insurance, etc. are standard for all employees and there is no flexibility to negotiate those. Relocation assistance was never available.

Those general practices may vary slightly depending on the level of the hire and the employing agency. For example, the Board of Regents has more flexibility when hiring a university president than the hire of other state employees.

I'm sure if you can share the nature of your future employment (federal, state or local government, location and type of position), others here can provide more specific answers to your question.
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cnblure
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by cnblure »

Thanks for all the responses. This is for a federal job. It sounds like maybe I did miss the window for salary. Matching my current pay would already be above the range listed in usajobs.gov posting. But I think I will try to pursue something for relocation if it ends up not being addressed. I've brought it up a few times (the interview, with hr) but I never really got a yes or no. So it shouldn't be a surprise for them if I inquire about it. Thanks again.
retiredjg
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by retiredjg »

It sounds like you already got the best salary they can offer.

Did you look at the vacancy announcement regarding relocation expenses?
Swansea
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by Swansea »

I've been out of the HR game for a good bit, but I seem to remember that relocation monies are paid only to current employees.
However, first time employees who are in tough to fill positions, may be eligible for a recruitment bonus.
rich126
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by rich126 »

I think you are going to get a lot of different answers. Federal jobs are not all the same. They all are essentially based off a GS pay schedule but there are "varieties" of pay schedules used depending on the agency and job. I'm mostly familiar with the intelligence side of things (e.g., NSA). They have a technical pay scale that differs from the GS. Also you have locality pay which varies from place to place.

I know for sure in my dealings with them is that yes, you can negotiate. Now again some agencies have pay tied to a position and others (again, NSA) does not. For example at NSA you can have a more junior person supervise a higher GS position. Also people get promoted but may retain the same responsibilities (i.e., they don't have to move up to a certain position). I can't recall the exact terms but the differing methods are called "Pay in Position" or "Pay in Person".

I do know when I was given an offer to return to government, the initial offer was for the same grade as when I had left 10+ years earlier. I pointed out the fact that I now had 10 more years of experience and more technical skills than with I left and told them I would not return to that grade. So they (HR) went back to management and got a number of signatures for the higher grade.

Often HR tells you stuff but it isn't true. I won't claim they intentionally lie but they sure aren't 100% honest. For example I've known them to tell people to take the offer and they will get promoted yearly. Now some agencies have something called a promotion ladder where they do get promoted yearly (I think) as long as work is satisfactory up to a certain level. I know where I worked that was not the case and people came on board and were very annoyed when it took several years to get promoted. Or they came on board as a technical GS 7 with some job experience (e.g., coop) while someone else in the same field with the same experience came on board as a GS9. The former person didn't realize they could ask for more. Also it is always better to ask for a higher grade rather than a higher step (i.e., GS 11 step 2 is better than GS 9-9 even if the pay is similar or less since you get automatic step increases over time but moving up a grade is an actual promotion).

When it comes to jobs, you rarely will get something if you don't ask for it. And at worst, they can say no. Now the question is how hard to push if they say no since the HR group isn't usually the final say, instead it is the manager that wants to hire you. There are certain things HR can overrule on, such as making sure the person has the proper degree or years of experience.

Government employment is rather murky in my experience. You get some people who intentionally take a job they don't want just to get their foot in the door and then get upset when they find out they have to stay in that position for 24 months unless management provides a waiver and many won't (at least in my agencies). And sadly, in my experience, getting rid of employees doesn't happen often, even within the first 24 month (I think it is 24 and not 12) probation period. Most managers just don't want the hassle of doing it and things it reflects poorly on them.

Government can be good or bad. Agencies vary greatly and offices within agencies also vary greatly in terms of quality.
Mako
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by Mako »

retiredjg wrote: Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:17 am It sounds like you are not currently a federal employee. As a general rule, the govt does not pay moving expenses for people who are taking their first government job. There might be some exceptions in some difficult to fill vacancies.

Take a look at your vacancy announcement. They typically state that no relocation allowance is available.

It will not hurt to ask, but unless you are a very special "asset", it is unlikely that anything more will be offered.
This. As far as I've seen, every vacancy announcement has a section for "Relocation expenses reimbursed" and at my agency at least it always says no, and I think that's mostly true. I'll never say never, but it's highly unlikely that this would be changed for you if it said no. But obviously things could vary by agency and their specific needs.

And if they are already doing fingerprinting and IDs I would think your time to negotiate is passed. When I was hired (a long time ago) this was all done on the first day, they may think you've already accepted the job at the given terms.

(this assumes a federal job, if state I have no idea)
MOBugeater
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by MOBugeater »

As others have said, for relocation expenses you need to go back to the original announcement. It will either say no reimbursement, yes for relocation expenses but note that yes is not a guarantee either as it has to be discussed with the hiring manager. When I send out federal announcements for engineers I always include relocation expenses MAY be paid. And then I do that on a case-by-case basis whether it's worth it for me to pay that to bring that individual in. If the initial job announcement did not have relocation expenses covered then they would have to open up a new competitive announcement and start the process over. For new outside employees, we will offer to pay the mileage and hotel and per diem cost to get them here however not the moving expenses.

As for salary, you can negotiate with in the pay band, however the time to do that was when they extended the initial offer. If I have a mid-level engineer but I know it would command a higher salary than step 1, I tell them up front to expect the offer to be at whatever the grade level is step one. That is what HR has to do. To get a higher step they need to respond to that initial offer that they would accept however they would need a higher step level, and HR will ask for justification for that and then ask the hiring manager if they concur. that being the government that we are about eight people need to look at it and sign it before final. Lol.
Leemiller
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by Leemiller »

I would raise this with the person hiring you, not just HR. You are also better negotiating a higher permanent amount in your pay band vs relocation in my opinion. I’m a bit confused, did they already take into account your current pay? It helped me get closer to the top of a pay band for a non-GS scale agency. Actually, I had offers from two non-GS scale agencies and one would have negotiated up based on the offer from the other as well. HR tends to be awful in Fed govt so again make sure your hiring manager is involved.
UpperNwGuy
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by UpperNwGuy »

cnblure wrote: Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:22 am Thanks for all the responses. This is for a federal job. It sounds like maybe I did miss the window for salary. Matching my current pay would already be above the range listed in usajobs.gov posting. But I think I will try to pursue something for relocation if it ends up not being addressed. I've brought it up a few times (the interview, with hr) but I never really got a yes or no. So it shouldn't be a surprise for them if I inquire about it. Thanks again.
If your current pay is above the range listed in the vacancy announcement, you will have to take a pay cut.

It sounds to me that you never got a yes or no on relocation expenses because you didn't clearly state that you would decline the job if relocation wasn't paid. Are you willing to walk away from the job, or will you reluctantly accept the job and finance your own relocation?
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MillennialFinance19
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by MillennialFinance19 »

cnblure wrote: Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:25 am Last month I flew out to do the fingerprinting, sent in my last three pay stubs for an advanced rate of pay, and submitted a crediting prior experience for employee annual leave accrual form.
You missed the salary window, most likely. When I sent in my last three pay stubs, they responded with "you'll receive one step (GS) above your most recent salary". This is exactly what I received in my final offer letter. Considering you're currently making more than the higher limit of the paygrade, I would expect to see an offer with GS-XX Step-10.

As far as relocation, if the announcement says "no", it's no. If it says "yes" then I would ask them about it.

Hope this helps.
For the love of God, stick to your plan!!!
Arthur Digby Sellers
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Re: Can I Negotiate After Receiving the Official Offer for a Government Job?

Post by Arthur Digby Sellers »

Did they not tell you a salary with the tentative offer? If not, then I would think you can still negotiate within the range listed on USAJobs. If they did give you a number with the tentative offer, you are probably stuck with it.

I am currently going through the federal hiring process. When I received my tentative offer, HR told me a salary (the bottom of the pay band described on USAJobs). I told HR at that time that I would like to accept the offer, but that I wished to be paid at a level equivalent to others within the agency with my amount of experience (the middle of the USAJobs pay band). The hiring manager had to write some kind of justification, but eventually, after several weeks, they did get approval to pay me approximately what I had requested. Only at that point did I "accept" the tentative offer and begin the background check process.

If they haven't told you a salary yet, then I'm not sure how you or they can consider the tentative offer to have been "accepted." The material terms of the offer haven't even been disclosed. I would not feel bad about pushing back within the listed range. But if they did give you a salary number with the tentative offer, it sounds like you have already accepted it.
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