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salary negotiation

I am in position to negotiate my salary with a new company. I remember reading some threads that gave links to some Amazon books about this topic. Do these actually work? Does anyone have *real* experience with them?

Unfortunately it is too late for me to buy the books... and i think i already know what the answers are... have more than one offer, etc. I have an existing job, but no other offers, but I desperately want to leave my current job.  Basiclaly I don't have too much leverage, since this is my only out.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Google turned up this:
Monday, October 27, 2003

Also, they asked for my current salary BEFORE the interview!  On the phone.  Did I get suckered?  I answered (not totally honestly actually, left myself some room)  I've seen it on job applications, but I just ignore that.  I was caught off guard on the phone so I just answered but lied a little.

Is that typical?  Or is that a sign that the company/HR plays hardball?

Monday, October 27, 2003

I've always been asked that. IMHO, if both sides are wise at least one side has to answer the question. It would be pretty stupid to go through the entire interview process if your lower limit is twice the position's upper limit.


Monday, October 27, 2003


You already said you want to leave your current position and that "weakens" your negotiating position. Getting this job isn't strictly about salary, it's about getting a job you like more, take that into account.

Our society seems to be hard wired to get bitter over financial transcations - salary negotiations, buying a car, house, etc.

Don't be concerned with getting the maximum dollars possible, they're not "suckering" you, they're looking to hire you. If they offer you something you like and is competitive, accept it.

If you're offered a competitive salary, accept it. Especially if the offer doesn't come from an HR person and comes from your boss - you don't want to to start your tenure on a bitter note.
Monday, October 27, 2003

Point taken.  And you're right that it of course isn't the most important thing, but it is significant especially since I live in a high cost-of-living area (NYC).

But I was inclined to think that being asked outright, in the first 3 minutes of conversation with anyone at the company, is a little hardball.  They should be able to tell from your resume if you will fit the salary range.  I found a little odd to ask for the salary up front.  Although I have seen those forms which ask you for your salary history at every single job.

At my last job I accepted the very first offer, and the lady even said "Are you SURE?" and I was just like "nah it's OK", but afterward I realized that she was starting low, so she could raise it a little when I asked.  I think this must be very common.  It's actually advantageous for both parties to start low, so that way you can ask them to push it up, and they will happily oblige, and then you will feel happy that you got your way.

After all, HR people/managers have negotiated for salaries many more times than a typical applicant.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

"is a little hardball"

Or perhaps they don't really know what they're doing. For some people you're a commodity, hired day labor without any particular talents, only a handful of skills.

My guess is if they asked for your salary requirements up front, they have a very specific budget, or they think they can judge your skills by the salaries you're being paid in other locations. Or they really don't know what a competitive salary is for this kind of position.

Who are you talking to, an HR person, or someone whose job description doesn't typically include hiring someone?
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Actually, I should make clear the dude asked me 3 questions right off the bat, 2 minutes into the phone conversation:

1) What's your salary?

2) Are you interviewing now? (lied and said yes, this is the only one)

3) Do you have any offers? (No, the truth, since I already lied on the last one)

To me, this is an example of a negotiation tactic that is quite effective in certain circumstances.  I have noticed this lately.  Basically, BEFORE the other party is even are AWARE that they're negotiating, you bluntly ask them what their cards are.  They are caught off guard.  It implies friendship that you would even dare to ask them such a thing, so some people will instinctively answer honestly.  Because they're not totally aware you're even negotiating, and they don't want to seem like they're negotiating by withholding information.  It is in the interest of each side NOT to appear as if they're negotiating.

My landlord did the exact same thing just last month.  Our yearly lease ran out, and we go month-to-month.  We have had serious problems, like the bathroom exploding into the kitchen (not kidding).  Right off the bat, he asks us "So you're leaving right?", kind of apologetically.  And again we were caught off guard, so we said "uh.. no", and right then that gives him a huge advantage.  If you're not going to leave, then he knows you have nothing in the works, that it will take a month or more to find a new place.  That buys him time.

And that's exactly what he did, he took that time and started fixing everything that was wrong for the past year.
He then refused to go as low as we wanted with rent.  We wanted him to discount the rent a lot, but instead he started trying to fix everything like crazy and keep the rent high.

If he didn't have that information, then he would be scared of us moving out (and he knows we know that he dosen't want that, because there are empty spots in the building).  And thus he would have to lower the rent.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

1. I think in any negotiation, the first person to name a figure loses. I never answer details about current or past salary. I just tell them current salary is inconsequential. What range were they looking at for the position?

2. Always leave the salary negotiations till last. The further down the hiring line you are, the stronger you are the stronger your negotiating position. I mean if you ask for oodles of money up front, you get eliminated from the running. When you have proved yourself to be the strongest candidate, and all the others have been eliminated, an extra £3k won't seem like a whole lot to mgmnt especially when the alternative is to restart the whole recruitment process again.

3. Don't price yourself into a sh*t job. You ask for too much, and the tendency is to give you all the work, to make  yourself earn your keep.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Always refuse the first offer from any company, and give your reason as 'salary level'. They always have a little more they can offer you.

Mr Jack
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

>I think in any negotiation, the first person to
>name a figure loses. I never answer details
>about current or past salary. I just tell them
>current salary is inconsequential. What range
>were they looking at for the position?

And this has actually worked, consistently, in the US?

Can you give us some details of the words exchanged at the interview? 

Matt H.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Talking about salary hinges on where you stand in the interview process.  Before you even apply or consider the job, you should definitely understand what salary range is in play - WITHOUT EVEN ASKING the question.  Ask peers, colleagues, Google, etc. if the salary is not listed.

It is fair to talk about salary - and you _will_ be asked point blank about your current level - once you've entered the final stages of negotiation.  You can always preface your current salary with, "I may be on the high end of the scale right now..." to indicate flexibility on your part.

Talking about salary before the final steps probably indicates a bad fit from everyone's perspective, IMO.

Doug Ross
Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Not sure about the US, but definitely in the UK.

When I complete the forms, and they ask for current salary, I leave it blank. When they ask me in an interview, I tell them I would like to get a better feel for the role, and levels of responsibilities before we can even discuss salary. I then ask them what range they were looking at.

Maybe I am a bit fortunate in that I have done a variety of jobs, some fairly different. (Mgmt consultancy, development, investment banking, micro finance, chicken farming, running family business, .... ). Another bonus is that I have worked in several countries, which distorts the salary figures even more.

Them:: We notice you did not complete the salary details on the form.
Me:: Yes I did not
Them:: So how much were you on?
Me:: Well, given the varied roles I have had in the past, that figure is inconsequential, and does not mean much.
Them:: We are really just trying to figure out how much you are looking for in this role.....
Me:: Like I said, it is too early to say, but it would all depend on the levels of responsibility, blah blah, and the exact nature of the job. Tell me, what sort of range were you looking at paying for the role?
Them:: Well between £x and £y depending on experience.
Me:: Thank you. I think we can work with those figures. So please tell me more about the day-to-day nature of the job.

(at no point do I commit to any amount this early in the process).

When the position is offered to me, I resell myself. Look, this is the job requirements. This is me. These are my strong points which match the role. At the very least pay me the top end of the scale mentioned in the interview.

Unless their selling point is 'cheapest in town' most good salesmen will sell you on the product before they sell you on the price. Same thing you should do when you sell yourself, which is what the interview process is. Watch the snakeoil salesmen in old westerns. The British equivalent is Del boy.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

One more thing, NEVER negotiate against yourself.

If you put an offer on the table, wait for a counter offer before you table another offer.

For example.
Me:: How much are you offering for my widget?
You:: £10
Me:: No, that is too low.
You:: £20.
Me:: OK

I might have been looking for £15, so you have left £5 on the table by not insisting that I make a counter offer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

You lied in the job interview, but you're worried that they suckered you?

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

I'm very intrigued by some of the advice given here.

Such as:
"Always refuse the first offer from any company, and give your reason as 'salary level'. They always have a little more they can offer you. "

I think it depends on the company that you are interviewing with.  Last time we hired an employee, we agonized over what to offer, because we felt she was worth more than what we could afford.  If she had turned us down flat with 'salary level', we would have regretfully concluded she was completely out of our range. That would have been the end of the negotiations. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Always give advice you wouldn't follow yourself... I do know people who do this, and they have never lost a job over it yett.

Personally I've always wanted the new job too much to care that much about salary. My current employers offered me more than I asked for anyway, so I was happy to accept.

Mr Jack
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

My employer has the whole interview/offer sequence laid out on the intranet. It states that if, during the initial phone interview, that the candidate won't say how much they make, that they get a "thanks, but we're not interested" response.  No dinking around allowed.

However, they're fair. I took a couple salary cuts at my last job before being laid off when they finally threw in the towel and closed the office. The offer they made me was generously above my salary before the salary cuts. I hadn't expected to get back to where I was, but i am.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

It's common in these type of situations for the hirer to offer the lowest price, expecting you will or might ask for more. Only the inexperienced just say: "OK" to the first offer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

"Only the inexperienced just say: "OK" to the first offer."

Right, but my point was that if you turn down an offer flat citing salary issues that might be that...

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

My experience has been that the best employers will offer you a fair salary up-front. You should know what the fair market rate for the position is (if you don't, then you have no business applying for that job).

The problem with refusing to disclose your salary is that as a job applicant, in the early stages, you are generally in a very weak negotiating position - making it tough to refuse to do anything, let alone refuse to disclose your salary.

If you're dealing with a GOOD employer, then it should be a non-issue. If your dealing with a bunch of penny pinching miserly scumbags, then yeah, play hardball with them. They're probably not going to stay in business long enough for you to be able to desposit your first pay cheque from them anyway.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The salary books tell you nothing.

I began to do much better when I stop listening to advice.

So here's my advice :)

Don't play games, you're either going to leave your current company or not, it's a non-negotating point.

Decide how much is reasonable given the market and your skillset and stick to it.

That's 'bout it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

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