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I'm wondering if a candidate's salary negotiation leverage diminishes if the company was not the one to reach out to the candidate, but the candidate applied for the job independently.

In my case, I found an ideal position at a growing company, but taking it would mean leaving a work-from-home position with a company where I am pretty secure and comfortable. I'm not afraid of the change, but I need to factor it into my salary requirements, because it will COST me more to take this job in terms of commuting costs, lifestyle change, loss of internet/phone/home office reimbursements. However, I was the one who sought out this new company/job and applied for it, knowing it would put me in this position. Does that matter, or is it still appropriate for me to factor it into my salary requirements and/or use it as leverage?

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    No it doesn't matter. You should be able to ask for more actually as the company saved a lot of cash not advertising for that position and/or going through agencies. – Tasos Feb 6 '15 at 13:32
  • there is a rather strong belief that first person to mention a number in a salary negotiation lose - from this perspective it only matters who was the first to mention a number, not who sought who – gnat Feb 6 '15 at 14:14
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    When negotiating salary, all that matters is that you get the salary you want. – DA. Feb 7 '15 at 6:33
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    @DA. - And you're more likely to get the salary you want if you're willing to say no to the salary you don't want. – user8365 Feb 9 '15 at 12:37
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Does that matter, or is it still appropriate for me to factor it into my salary requirements and/or use it as leverage?

No. Your salary requirements are your own, and have nothing to do with who sought out who.

As a hiring manager, I have never taken that into consideration - not once. I have a position to fill, and a salary in mind. I might find someone for less, or I might be able to stretch a bit for a very qualified individual, but not very much.

Remember that the hiring company doesn't care what kind of comfortable, work-at-home position you are leaving. That doesn't automatically make you worth more. They just want to fill the position, within their budget.

Decide in your own mind what this job is worth to you, and have in mind a number below which you would just walk away. Then enter in your negotiations.

Your talent, potential, ability to perform the job, and the value of the position to the company will determine what the company is willing to pay - not the specifics of your previous job.

  • I would love to hear the negotiations between you and a company that contacted you because of your SO presence and the next job posting you respond to. – user8365 Feb 9 '15 at 12:42
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No. Your salary is one simple thing; how much your employer is willing to pay for your services, combined with how much you want to charge for your services. If there is no intersection between the two intervals, there will be no employment.

  • And what about the case where there is an intersection? – Steve Jessop Feb 7 '15 at 13:28
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The fact you made the first approach means they know you're reasonably open to changing jobs, but it doesn't let them conclude you're willing to take a loss on the change. It's entirely appropriate for you to work out what "taking a loss" means, for you.

So, provided you present your current arrangement as part of the overall salary/benefit package that they have to beat in order for you to take their job, then it's part of your leverage. Provided they believe that they need to beat your current package, and that this is part of your current package, it remains in play. The fact you applied for the job doesn't change that.

The employer might try to brush off cost of commute/relocation as insignificant, since it is after all your responsibility to get to work. You have to make sure they understand that you're still taking it into account when deciding whether to accept their offer. If there's nothing wrong with your current job then it's their responsibility to make a better offer if they want you to leave it. The fact you applied to them doesn't change that.

If you're desperate to change jobs, and they know it, then that does affect your leverage since they know you're willing to take a loss. Simply applying for a job doesn't let them conclude you're desperate, but if you've given that impression by some other means then you might be in trouble because of that.

Note of course that having any amount of "leverage" is only worth so much. You can't coerce the employer into hiring you, so like Joe says it won't get you above the ceiling they're willing to pay for the role. Leverage just means they won't waste time haggling below what they believe you might accept. This might mean the result of having leverage is they don't offer you the job at all because they simply can't afford you. Use your leverage on someone with deeper pockets (or who has a more senior role you can fill). Let someone else have this job, who'll do it for what this company can afford.

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It's an advantage because you're more likely to say no/ask for more.

There's no way anyone can tell me they wouldn't think they have an advantage if a company directly came after them.

The cost of things in many of the world's economies is supply and demand and hiring isn't immune. Since it is difficult to get hard salary information (You can do a search on local car prices and get better data), perception of need can play a role.

This company posted an open job. Most people assume they really want to fill this position and will probably be willing to match the current salary market to a certain degree. It's not like you just sent them a resume for a position that doesn't exist.

Their perception of your qualification could be enhanced if they were to reach out to you. Let say:

  • You work for a company that is top in your field.
  • They heard your key-note speech at a major conference
  • They read the book you just published.

Would they offer you more because you appear to have strong qualifications? Of course. And you would have a stronger negotiating position because you probably have a job and can say, "Hey, you called me." if they're not willing to negotiate.

In your case, I don't think it matters. Probably all the candidates responded to the same job posting, but who knows, there may be one that they actively recruited and may have an advantage. Personally, I think in most cases, when a company approaches a candidate, the person feels she is in a position to say no.

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