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I have been interviewing with a company for about a month for a position I'm excited about. I would like the job, but I have also made it clear that I am comfortable at my current job and am not desperate to leave.

If they ask me my salary requirements, what if I gave them a number and told them that it is a "non-padded" number and it is my true requirement to come work for them. Would that help or hurt me? Would this be viewed as a "refreshing approach" or naiive on my part?

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    It doesn't matter what number you give them, you are supposed to make them believe the number you give is the true requirement to come work for them. So naive is my take on the matter. If you want to get the deal done quickly then negotiate on the phone. I don't really see what you are trying to accomplish. MOST people don't negotiate, they simply take what is offered. MOST people don't make as much as they think they deserve either. There's probably a strong correlation there. – Dunk Feb 6 '15 at 23:23
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    I don't want to haggle " is in its self a negotiating strategy :-) – Pepone Feb 7 '15 at 21:18
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    "help or hurt" doesn't play into this. If you only want that job at that specific number then nothing else really matters. Either they meet it or you don't take the job. If it does matter, then you're still negotiating and this question is still meaningless. – NotMe Feb 7 '15 at 22:38
  • If that's your requirement, that's your requirement. There's no need to state that it's anything other than your actual requirement. If they come back with something less, that's on them. – DA. Feb 9 '15 at 3:37
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If they ask me my salary requirements, what if I gave them a number and told them that it is a "non-padded" number and it is my true requirement to come work for them. Would that help or hurt me?

This is a great approach if your desire is to get a quick answer, and cut out some of the back-and-forth. (It's also an approach I have used on occasion in the past).

Most likely, one of two things will happen (assuming you are the candidate of choice, and they ask your salary requirements after the interview process):

  • If your number is within their planned salary range for this position, you'll get an agreement quickly
  • If your number exceeds their planned salary range, they will thank you for applying, and move on to the next best candidate.

Either way, you'll probably get a quicker answer.

  • +1 - I think for most situations, the hiring manager has a salary range to work with and could base a quick decision on this. – user8365 Feb 9 '15 at 12:58
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You state that you're excited about the prospect of this new job, but you're comfortable in the current job. It's good that you've told your prospective employer this.

Instead of saying "this is a non-padded number", present it as "this is the minimum salary it would take for me to consider leaving my current position". This could result in an immediate end of your process, in the case they consider it too high.

On the same coin, when you give them a minimum amount to leave, you shouldn't expect to be offered any more than that minimum. So, make sure your "minimum" actually represents a healthy bump that would necessarily be able to attract you to the new company.

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If you are willing to walk away from the opportunity, I don't see any reason not to play a little hard to get. I would emphasize that the number you're giving them is the minimum it would take for you to consider an offer given your current circumstances. That salary doesn't necessarily guarantee that you'll take the job; it just isn't so out of line with your expectations that you'll reject it immediately. That gives them the opportunity to offer more if they really want you and can afford to.

By saying "this is my non padded number" you may be effectively shutting down negotiations that would benefit you. If they come back with your ask, I wouldn't push for more but there's no advantage to tipping your hand before you know how excited they are about bringing you on board or how much they were expecting to pay someone of your caliber.

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It's hard to give a definitive answer to this, because everyone acts differently.

Some interviewers would see it as a refreshing and straightforward attempt to avoid "the game", others would see it as an ultimatum or merely an aggressive attempt to "win" the negotiation. This is part of the reason we "play the game" - it's harder to give the wrong impression.

A more usual approach would be to wait until they offer and ask for your requirements, simply to state the same amount and justify it, saying that you've worked out what you currently pay for your lifestyle, how much it would require to achieve that, and that this is the amount for which you would be willing to move.

They may agree to your demands or, if they wish to treat it as a negotiation, they may try to lowball this in the hope of calling your bluff.

Either way, you're in a negotiation whether you like it or not. If they agreed, your excellent negotiation tactic of "be up front about what you want and why" has worked. If they didn't agree, you're now sat there with their offer and your request.

If you're secure in your current position then you can simply state that you're sorry but you value yourself and your lifestyle goals at that level and, while you're appreciative of the opportunity, don't feel that you can accept a lower offer.

The point is that you should expect a negotiation, because it's a) Expected, b) happening whether you want it or not.

At the end of the day, there are two parties at a table who have to find an agreement that works for both of them. Be prepared to either reduce your requirement or walk away, and be aware that your approach may be seen as a hardline negotiation tactic.

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    I would NEVER justify a salary requirement based on my choice of lifestyle. My choice of lifestyle happens to be a 3.5 sq. mile private island in the Bahamas with a 15,000 sq. ft. mansion, 2 pools, and a yacht. I don't believe I could use that as a justification for a salary. The value you bring to a company is the only basis for a salary. Do your market research and keep your skills current. – Wesley Long Feb 6 '15 at 16:27
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    There's a big difference between picking a number out of thin air for things you want, and mentioning it as a justification for setting a bottom line. Agreement is based on your value to the company, but the company's offer is based on their budget, why on earth shouldn't my counter-offer be based on mine? We're both working within the same approximate range, if you wish to ask for an extra £2k a year that's as relevant as them trying to reduce your offer by £2k a year. Note that I'm not using it to define the salary, just by way of "I've worked out what I'd be happy to move for" – Jon Story Feb 6 '15 at 16:32
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    The real issue I have is that a lifestyle is no justification for a salary. If you were to present that argument, I'd throw you out just on general principle. – Wesley Long Feb 6 '15 at 16:43
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    Of course it is! I work in order to 1) Pay my bills, 2) Life the lifestyle I would like. I prefer to enjoy my work and I like to do a good job, but I don't work for the benefit of the company I work for. By that theory, why should I care what their budget is? They set a budget based on cost/profit, I set mine based on my personal income and what I wish to achieve. Sometimes they may have to moderate their budget based on the market, sometimes I may have to do the same, but that's not to say we shouldn't each offer what we would like. If you work for minimum market value, good luck to you. – Jon Story Feb 6 '15 at 16:46
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    Exactly, I don't care what my time is worth to the employer, I care what my time is worth to me, and then I hope that there's a middle ground where our valuations overlap. I think you're missing the point slightly, this is in the salary negotiation after both myself and the company have concluded that this, salary negotiations permitting, is a good fit. I'm already confident that I'm going to be able to add value, otherwise I wouldn't take the role, and they're confident that I'm going to add value to the approximate level of their budget... otherwise we wouldn't even be talking salary – Jon Story Feb 6 '15 at 20:29
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There are some very good answers here but I'd like to offer a different perspective. It may be helpful to understand how the employer's side looks like. Many people seem to assume that this is completely open to negotiation and that the primary motive of the employer is to pay the employee as little as possible. That is often NOT the case.

Let's take the example a Software Engineer IV who is working in the Boston area.

  1. Look at www.salary.com . SW Eng IV in Boston has median of 116k with 50% sitting between 106k and 126k. Many companies have detailed data on this. There are compensation clearing houses where companies can compare what they pay. So the companies know exactly what the compensation landscape looks like and what the current "market rate" is.
  2. Most of your peers in the new company will be in that range.

  3. So the number that the hiring manager has in mind is 116k with some adjustments for your personal case. A little less if you are a bit junior, a little more if you feel close to an Eng V.

  4. There is actually NOT a lot of wiggle room around the 116k for the hiring manager since it could easily upset apple cart. Compensation equity is actually pretty important in many companies.

  5. There are sometimes other perks which are more fluid than base salary: bonus, stock options, benefits, etc. If there is an expectation mismatch these can help to mitigate, but it does require negotiation.

  6. The hiring manager is actually motivated to makes this work. Finding good people, contacting them, phone screening them, interviewing them, and on boarding them is a LOT of work and cost sizable amounts of time and money. Low-balling an offer is not a great strategy. The new person may easily receive a much better offer (i.e. "market rate" offer) and after a few month and then walk away just after they have become productive.

To answer the actual question: Against this backdrop the "no haggle" number is often a good strategy. If it is way over than that's the end of of it and it would have never worked in the first place. If it is way under the hiring manager might take a pause and think "what am I missing here?" but if she's done her homework properly she will accept and in all likelihood offer more (to maintain the fragile compensation balance she's built up over the last 4 years). If it's in range, that's probably what you'll get. Makes everyone happy and off we go.

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If you want to minimize your negotiation efforts you could do the following :

  1. Tell your potential new employer to make you their best offer.
  2. Tell them yes or no.

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