A recruiter has lost her job after taking to social media to "brag" about low-balling a job candidate by a staggering $67,000.
US freelance recruiter Mercedes Johnson recently posted on Facebook that she had offered a female jobseeker a$127,000 (US$85,000) salary – despite the fact that the company actually had a budget of $195,000 (US$130,000) for the position.
"I offered her that because that's what she asked for and I personally don't have the bandwidth to give lessons on salary negotiation," Johnson posted.
"Here's the lesson: 'ALWAYS ASK FOR THE SALARY YOU WANT (DESERVE), no matter how large you think it might be.'
"You never know how much money a company has to work with. #beconfident."
But her "lesson" instantly went viral, with regular jobseekers and fellow recruiters alike describing the move as "cruel" on social media, given the massive, $67,000 (US$45,000) difference in pay.
It sparked a fierce debate online, with some arguing that jobseekers must always negotiate for their wage, while others insisted companies should simply pay employees what they were worth from the beginning.
It also inspired others to share how the situation could have been handled better.
Earlier this week, Johnson – who describes herself on Twitter as a "Follower Of Jesus Christ, Faithfluencer, Serial Entrepreneur, Worship Pastor" – told the Huffington Post that she had lost her job over the furore.
"I posted to my personal Facebook to encourage people around their worth. I never imagined it would leave my personal page," she told the publication.
"With this particular candidate, I did what the company required and I was let go."
Johnson also issued a lengthy public apology on social media.
"The purpose of that post was to empower others to not end up like this particular candidate. I want people to know their worth," she wrote.
"I made that post at the risk of my job because it's not right that many don't know what their skills are worth."
She acknowledged the situation should "not have been a public learning experience" and said she had "learned a lot" from the backlash, and that she understood how "the candidate that was directly impacted by my choice" had been affected.
"It doesn't feel good and this should have gone differently," she added, insisting that she "just wanted to instil confidence".
Meanwhile, a change.org petition calling for the candidate in question to have their salary reworked has also attracted hundreds of signatures.
"This petition is to help find this candidate and help them get their worth or a better company that will not take advantage of them," it reads.
"There is a clear difference between trying to save your company some money and low-balling a candidate. This was straight-up low-balling.
"With a budget of US$130k, Mercedes S Johnson offered a candidate US$85k, a US$45k difference, and took to Instagram to brag about teaching the candidate a lesson.
"Mercedes acknowledged that she was wrong, as various Twitter users called her out. "However, it's not enough to acknowledge you are wrong, correcting the wrong is actually true acknowledgement.
"Please kindly sign this petition to help locate the candidate and correct the unethical treatment they have received."
Johnson told the Huffington Post she had already secured a new role after being sacked.