When negotiating with a company's HR representative, I was asked for a 10k range which I would consider reasonable. I answered $X to $X+10K.

They replied with an offer which of $X-5K. I posed a question on here on how to counter. I got comments suggesting that I shouldn't ask above my minimum of the 10k range (i.e., $X) because it was not in good faith and shouldn't ask for more money.

This doesn't make sense to me. If I am going to give a 10k range then the entire range should be considered for the offer, and it should be reasonable to counter with more than the minimum.

My question is what is the point of the HR rep asking me for my acceptable salary range, if they then proceed to low ball me? Additionally, why have some on workplace.stackexchange said that I should be happy with $X and not somewhere between $X and X+10k? Is there something wrong with countering with an amount that lies within my initial range?

  • $X was the lowest end and the package would have to justify the offer. They didn't even offer $X.
    – LeanMan
    Nov 20, 2017 at 17:26
  • If they're going to low-ball you that hard, to try and get you to accept the lower end of your range, maybe whether you should counter, at all (vs just walking away), should be part of the consideration. Not sure this can be transformed into a good-faith negotiation. Nov 20, 2017 at 17:58
  • Again they didn't offer $X
    – LeanMan
    Nov 20, 2017 at 18:48
  • Ok I think I get what you trying to get at now. But then what was the point of the range. I'm glad I did give them a high range. I would actually be ok with $X but I think negotiating is an important skill so I'm pushing for more. Additionally, I am fine with walking way from the offer (FYI). Is it going too far asking for more? Have I already put a line in the sand with $X and now they don't see the reason to go any higher?
    – LeanMan
    Nov 21, 2017 at 5:33

4 Answers 4


Regardless of the reasons why they offered that amount, it's always best to negotiate strongly in the long run.

They like you, but they offered too little. I would stick to my 10K range and up the ante:

'Sorry I cannot consider anything less than $XXX and in fact the lower end of that range would only be acceptable if there were other compensations to go with it.'

Along those lines anyway.

Having said that, negotiating is risky, and you may miss out on the job altogether. If you think job satisfaction would be good you could consider the loss of income, but 5K is a lot of money.

  • 3
    This is the right approach. Asking for more money or perks after your an employee is much more difficult then when you are first hired.
    – Neo
    Nov 20, 2017 at 12:25
  • 1
    Phrasing it as "I cannot consider anything less than $$XX" is a high risk strategy. If they do not want to pay $XX then they will withdraw the offer and move on. On the other hand saying "I would like $XX" or "I think I am worth $XX" doesn't eliminate the possibility that you will take a lower figure. Nov 20, 2017 at 14:51
  • @DJClayworth that is weak negotiating and basically tells them you're having a bit of a cry but you'll bend over to whatever they want. I would not advise it, negotiate strongly, or not at all. But I agree it is risky.
    – Kilisi
    Nov 21, 2017 at 4:17
  • 1
    It's a style. Negotiation tutors would call your style confrontational. You're free to use that style if you are comfortable with it, and it can be successful, but be aware that it isn't more likely to be successful than a different style. The important thing is to know what you would do if they come back and say they absolutely won't go higher than their original offer. Then you have to walk away, or give in to them anyway and destroy any negotiating credibility you ever had. Nov 21, 2017 at 4:20
  • @DJClayworth I don't have much use for tutors... those who can, do.... those who can't... teach. There's lots of good negotiating tactics, weakness isn't one I'd try, better not to negotiate at all than to be like that in the long run. But you're correct, it's a personal method worked out over a couple of decades, no one taught me formally. In terms of being equally successful, I disagree, almost anyone I can think of would think the weakness laughable at best.
    – Kilisi
    Nov 21, 2017 at 4:38

They are negotiating. So are you. Shooting high to land low is a common first-volley tactic. That's why they let you go first.

If I want to sell my car for $5000, I would price it at $6000 and let someone "talk me down" to $5000 so they feel good about the exchange. A common tactic with salary negotiations is to say "I want $X, so I will ask for $X + 5K in hopes they try to talk me down to $X." So they likely know this is a common tactic and suspect you are using it to "talk you down" to a price you're perfectly happy with.

Of course you've made the "mistake" of answering in earnest and now they have no room for a negotiating victory and may feel they are overpaying for you if they can't save some money in the hiring process. Naturally this answer is heavy with assumptions.

If your answer is a hard line, you should tell them. Something like this might get your message across (perhaps tune it to your preferred tone):

I'm sorry, but I really was being truthful when I said that is the least amount I would consider reasonable. I really wouldn't be able to accept less than my minimum. I would be happier with something closer to $X+7, but would still consider slightly less if there are budgetary constraints for the position.


What is the point of these questions from the HR rep if they are not going to consider the entire range when offering you a job?

There are three possibilities:

  1. They had set a range of up to $100k for the role prior to opening the position for interview. When you responded with your desired, and therefore offered you the maximum to see if you would accept it.

  2. They had set a range which capped somewhere below $100k prior to advertising the position. They decided they really like you, so bumped it to $100k despite their original limit being lower.

  3. They were always going to offer $5k below your minimum.

In all cases, the point of getting you to go first is that it lets them set a frame to work in. If you had perhaps asked for $95-105k, the first scenario might have won you the $100k, the second one would likely see you being offered $95k, and in the third one you would only be offered $90k.

The problem is that we can't speak for this specific recruiter, and are not privy to their process in determining salary - so we can't tell you which strategy they're following.

And then when I consider countering with a salary that is within the 10k range, what is so wrong?

There's nothing wrong with countering with $110k - but you will likely lose the job. You've previously indicated you were happy with less than that otherwise you should have specified $110-120k. At least, that's how they'll see it, and they will likely move to make the next candidate an offer instead.

  • "but you will likely lose the job". There's no way you know that with the certainty you claim.
    – Nathan
    Nov 20, 2017 at 7:29
  • 2
    @NathanCooper what certainty? Likely is not a certainty.
    – HorusKol
    Nov 20, 2017 at 9:14

The $10K range is mostly immaterial. The thing they care about is the lower end of the scale. That is the number that you stated in your opening offer that you could live with.

If you said $110K to $120K and they offer you $105K they are hoping they can negotiate you down. If you counter with $115K they see that your 2nd request went up, it didn't go down. That means they expect your second number can only be in the range $105K to $110K.

If they had asked for a $20K range you should have stated $minimum to $minimum+20K where $minimum would have been the same as the bottom of the $10K range.

The only thing they will use the top of the range for is to know the number that will make you instantly accept. If you said $110 to $120 and they offer you $119K they expect you will say yes. You may even forget to study the benefits, so you might not ask for an extra vacation or a company car; or try to find out how high they were willing to go.

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