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Bait And Switch: Why You Should Never Accept Low Pay

Updated on December 12, 2012



Bait-and-switch is a form of fraud, most commonly used in retail sales but also applicable to other contexts. First, customers are "baited" by advertising for a product or service at a low price; second, the customers discover that the advertised good is not available and are "switched" to a costlier product.

Should you accept low pay on a job with the promise of better pay later? Advice for young workers.

Should you accept low pay on a job with the promise of better pay later? Never! I come from the generation (under age 35) that will live much worse off than their parents because of this on-going corporate scam. Corporations always pay the young people next to nothing and promise greater pay later that never materializes. Gen-Y has difficulty adjusting to this reality because often their boomer parents teach them to "do the right thing." The list of duties goes something along the following lines: Go to school, be loyal, be positive, contribute to society, work above and beyond, etc., and the money will come.

I'm here to tell you, it won't. Had I known this ten years ago rather than three years ago, I would be a hell of a lot better off. If an employer gives you crums and promises greater pay later, you need to be looking for a new job immediately while doing your current job. By all means, take the crap job to have some income, but you should know better. You should know that 90% of the time, the promise of greater pay is a lie. So you must look for a new job that offers better starting pay. You may have to do this two to three times the next five or so years until the "you're young, you can accept low pay with the promise of something greater" pattern breaks.

However, you need to be smart how you conduct yourself. Remember you scoop up more bees with honey rather than vinegar. That's why you must put that silly smile on your face and take that job when an employer hands you an offer you know to be a rip off. The point of this exercise is to "establish a base." You see, if you remain unemployed, everyone will assume you're desperate and try to offer you the lowest pay possible. Once you've already achieved the lowest pay possible, you're then in a better position to barter. There's hidden money. Don't believe employers when they say "that's all we have budgeted." You just need to come up with clever methods of persuading them to reveal the hidden cash without coming across as demanding or whining. Stating "I already earn that much" is usually the path of least resistance.

If your current employer is truly genuine and does intend to deliver the promise of greater pay, you need not worry. You won’t be committing a betrayal because finding a job, let alone a better job, is hard and long. By the time you find that better job, it will most likely be a year or two later giving the employer a chance to follow through on his/her word. If he or she does follow through, you can stop job searching. As long as you keep the fact you were searching for another job a dirty little secret, you should be fine. Indeed, it's a cruel and heartless world out there. You do have to fight fire with fire. The days of unions, honest money, and honest hard work are gone. We're in a globalization gilded age of the wild west. Under no circumstance should you EVER trust an employer.

Don't fall into the trap of accepting low pay because "this is a cool job." No job is "cool enough" to accept low pay. It's a job, and it isn't supposed to be fun. Following your dreams will bring you to financial ruin. Money is simply more important.

Gen-X knew this reality and job jumped around. Gen-Y hasn't got a clue yet that you have little choice but to do this in your 20's in order to get ahead. There will come a time that jobs hoping becomes less profitable and even harmful, but based on the salaries/wages I see young people earn today most are not near the level where you should plant your feet down and cement a foundation . . .

Don't do unpaid internships. We call this slavery and it should be prosecuted as such. I've never seen anyone get a job from an internship, but I have seen companies cycle through interns like disposable car parts to do the jobs nobody wants to do. The fact of the matter is most corporations use young people as a "burn and churn" model. They don't care about you and companies no longer develop talent. The world thinks you're young, dumb and stupid. They want to exploit you, and in many ways you have to let them do it. You can't become a radical like I was in my mid 20's and call employers on their bullshit, but what you can do is tippy toes around and tactfully come up with ways not to surrender to this fate.

What's important is that you know it's bullshit and that you're being exploited. I'll go on to advise you to not listen to your parents. Their advice is from a bygone era and will certainly be toxic. They will steer you down the path of poverty, of working hard for the company and that job hoping is bad. This path led me to poverty and it will lead you to poverty as well. In fact, this path led me down the path of ultimate poverty for a while: being an employed homeless person.

It's important to surround yourself with an educated social circle that knows the score and agrees with you in how the world is really run. While disowning your parents may not be possible at this stage in your life, I recommend ditching your current friends who have similar thinking patterns and to start replacing them. The last thing you need are friends who believe more and more education, along with subsequent debt, is the key to financial well being. The last thing you need are friends who preach the value of hard work and loyalty. You definitely don't want friends who preach the values of charity in some far off distant land while you're struggling here. The last thing you need is idiots babbling on "follow your dreams" or "I hope to make a difference." This is typical naïve youthfulness you could honestly do without, as it will just make your head spin through what are difficult financial times. When I say "typical naïve youthfulness," don't believe it's strictly an age issue, because many people have never grown up and need to wake up. This includes your very own parents.

Don't waste your time informing the hapless masses who are ignorant and enjoy being screwed over by their employers. It's a waste of energy that could be spent on bettering yourself. It's only natural to want to help them, but understand most people can't be saved. They won't listen to you. Instead you'll experience a lot of rejection and you'll be seen as crazy. It's important you find people who are open to the lines of thinking that I mentioned.

Now, I know there is a lot of rebuttal in the background. No doubt, many believe this article is taking the "wrong attitude" and the "wrong approach" to work. I beg to differ, I've accomplished more the past three years I utilized this "work ethic" than the past nine years I did the "right thing." How many people you know are failing by "doing the right things?" That should be more than enough indication that what you've been told is right is wrong; and that what you've been told is wrong is right.

Now use your own head and draw your own conclusions. . .

-Donovan D. Westhaver


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    • Angela Kane profile image

      Angela Kane 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      Excellent hub, I would also include internships that seem to last a lot longer than usual. Everyone is trying to get something for free these days including employers.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 6 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I like the way you think. I agree completely. Great advice!