Negotiating Your Salary: Do Not Be First To Mention A Number

By: Bruce J. Bloom

The only time to talk about salary with a prospective employer is after they’ve told you, in clear, unmistakable terms, that they want to hire you. (See the website “Fast Track For Women" -- )

Once you’re certain they want you, it’s time to talk money. The most basic principle in your salary negotiation should be: get them to propose a number first. Unless the company is unwilling to negotiate on salary at all, you’re in a better position to obtain the highest possible figure if you find out what the company is willing to pay before you disclose what you want.

Here’s why:

• The company’s offer may be for more than you were going to ask. You end up with a better salary just by accepting their initial offer.

• If you disclose your number first and you’re very low in relation to the prevailing market, they may think you lack confidence, and begin to have second thoughts about you.

• If you disclose your number first and you’re far too high, they may think your price is out of the question and break off the discussion.

• If you talk first, the company knows the figure is the maximum they’ll have to pay to get you.

You set a ceiling on your price tag, because once you quote a number you can adjust it downward, but not upward. They’ll probably make an offer below your figure, knowing they can always come back up to that price if they have to.

• In a salary negotiation, when the company talks first, you can be certain the figure they mention is their minimum offer, and you should be able to nudge it upward from that point. If they mention a salary range, come back with your own range that’s at the upper level of theirs. Say the employer tells you, “We’re going to pay somewhere in the range of $45,000 to $50,000 for this job." You say, “Considering the hard work I’m going to put into this job to make sure it’s done right, I feel my salary should be in the area of $48,000 to $53,000. You’ve set up a bargaining situation in which it’s logical to strike a deal at $50,000 to $52,000.

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