Monday, January 27, 2014

An Offer You Can't Refine

I received my official offer letter for the Foreign Service Information Management Specialist position today. I accepted my orientation invitation 11 days ago and was really starting to wonder when I'd receive my final offer. In the end, I called up HR this morning and asked for a status update. Apparently my invitation acceptance e-mail was misplaced, so they rushed to get me my official letter. I hadn't been too concerned, since receiving an offer letter after an invitation is not a competitive process, but I have had a little anxiety to see what pay step I would receive. Unlike the private sector, many (if not all) federal government positions use strict metrics to determine starting pay. As a strong believer in always negotiating (or attempting to) starting salary, it was weird to get an offer that I knew I had no influence to change. The IMS position is guaranteed a grade 5 on the FS payscale, but after accidentally reading the FSO salary determination details, I'd spent a short time believing that FSS positions were salary matched (in grade). When I found out my mistake I was understandably bummed.

However, there are more important things in life than money, so I fully intended to take this position regardless of my starting pay. This concept was reinforced when my HR representative called to make sure I was aware of the system they used to determine starting salary, and that it would be a not-insignificant pay cut for me. I told her I was aware and believe the experience and opportunity this job represented was worth the difference in pay. She then pleasantly surprised me with an offer 4 steps above what I'd previously expected. Having already been maxed out on excitement, I can't claim to be more excited than I was before, but I'm certainly happy to accept a 12% increase in my starting pay. Due to the frequent moves, the Foreign Service seems to compensate with an expectation of single career families, so even their lowest starting pay is quite reasonable. Now it's time for the inevitable struggle between wanting to be helpful until I leave my current job and "short timer" syndrome. Wish me luck!

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