Sometimes a small company can't offer a promising job candidate the salary he or she wants. One solution: Offer a lower salary but throw in the prospect of a salary review that will take place before the typical 12-month interval. Pat Thompson of Clarke/Thompson Advertising & Design, a New York City agency with $1.5 million in sales, may offer equity in the future, but for now, she makes up for below-market starting salaries by granting new employees a six-month salary review. For example, in 1999 a Web developer who serves as the agency's director of new media was slated to receive a substantial raise at his six-month review.

Some recruiters and company owners say that if you can get to within 10% to 20% of the going rate for salary, or of what a candidate asks for, someone who really wants the job is likely to look forward to getting rewarded for good performance in the foreseeable future. Then you've got room to maneuver until your company grows enough to support a higher payroll, and until a new hire proves his or her worth.


In the early 1990s, a very promising job candidate presented David Mason with an ultimatum. The potential hire hesitated to join Mason's St. Louis architecture and engineering company because changing jobs would force him to give up an attractive benefit. He had been working extended days and taking every other Friday off. "He spoke with such fervor, and we really wanted to hire him," recalls Mason, the president and CEO of David Mason & Associates. Although skeptical, Mason decided the peculiar schedule was worth a try at his company, which at that time had only three or four employees.

Now Mason's team of approximately 100 employees works daily from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., putting in 81 hours in nine days. On alternating Fridays, the company shuts down while a skeleton crew of five or six -- who will get the following Friday off -- holds the fort. And employees who work on Friday do not stay past 4:30. Most clients, Mason says, share his philosophy that "in the larger scheme of things, there's rarely a problem that can't wait until Monday."

Since he implemented the schedule, Mason reports "a dramatic change in the amount of sick time employees take. We've found that our productivity has increased, and we've got people calling us who want to work here just because of the schedule."