An employer told me that he is considering offering me the job and he asked me first to tell him if I have any expectations regarding the salary. I told him the amount of fixed salary I think is legitimate, and that that I expect a bonus/variable part in addition (for which I didn't specify the exact amout).

The salary I stated is the minimum I want, and it's is the fixed part of the salary already touched by someone working in the company (who touches a yearly bonus in addition to it). It does not necessarily make me satisfied, that's why I insisted on expecting an additional part.

This is a small company, I didn't want to risk by giving a higher salary than what I know they already offer, and don't like haggling. I expect to be able to negotiate just the bonus/varibale part, and that would make me satisfied. The employer said he will contact me back to discuss it.

Is my approach too naive?

  • 1
    I think it depends entirely on who you're talking to. If you're talking to a professional recruiter, then chances are you'll need to be a sneaky, cunning, ruthless bastard because they are (in fairness, that's kinda their job). If it's a small enough company that you're just talking to the person who would be your manager, then I dunno. Jul 14 '16 at 22:48
  • @ParthianShot I'm talking directly to one of the co-founders actually, who is a more technical than business oriented person. What do you think then?
    – anonguest
    Jul 14 '16 at 22:54
  • 3
    You've just told them the minimum they need to offer to bring you on board. Why would they now offer you more than that? (Outside of that, you may risk coming across as arrogant, or uninformed about prevailing salaries.) I don't entirely believe the "first to quote a number loses" rubric, but there is some truth behind it; see past questions for more about that.
    – keshlam
    Jul 14 '16 at 23:51
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    I'm pretty sure this is basically a duplicate of - workplace.stackexchange.com/q/183/2322
    – enderland
    Jul 15 '16 at 2:28

Yes, your approach is too naive.

The starting salary has a more significant impact on your salary 5 years down the road than the performance during the next 5 years, because raises are usually in percentages.

If you say money isn't much of an issue and you know you can live a happy life at salary X, you can just ask for X.

But if you, like most people, like being paid what you're worth and dislike being paid less, then you need to learn how to negotiate. There's loads of literature and even classes to learn that.

In a proper negotiation you never state how much you really want. Instead you try to figure out how much they're willing to pay. One of the ways of doing so is stating a salary that's higher than what you want and then start to haggle. If you can negotiate a number that's equal or higher than what you wanted, you agree.


Giving a number figure to the hiring person, basically, limits your negotiation capacity at that number. Let's say the position pays $50,000 to $70,000 per year and your friend said he is getting $60,000 + bonus and you used this $60,000 as your base salary figure, thinking he got it and why shouldn't I ? Right ? At this level, if this company is competitively hiring in the market, they know they can bag you for $60K/yr. And they will see how much lower you can go. If you say I want $65K now, they will say, "oh at the beginning you said $60K and we based your value on that" and it might cost you the job if you try to raise your expectancy at this time. But considering this is a small company, probably a startup, you did not get much damage in my opinion. If there already is someone gtting the number figure you wanted, you can probably get it. But in the future, it is best to leave it to the employer to make the first move to have the negotiating power. Answers like "I am flexible as far as the salary goes, but I am sure you know what my worth is, being in the market for such a long time" or "I am not going to haggle for $200/yr difference, but I am sure you will not expect me to work for a salary less than what I deserve" All this language, puts the ball in their court, making them understand you made your salary research and they should not low-ball you. But no matter what, they will send a low ball offer to start negotiating. At that point you give them a figure more than what you are willing to settle for and the haggle starts.


It is a bit naive, but someone has to start somewhere.

When they offer you the job, you can simply state:

"Oh! that's great... but.. listen I really really do want to accept, but I have another offer, its not as good a company, but is a bit higher salary... can you give me time to think this over? no I cant say what they are offering"

By then they have spent ages interviewing people and decided that you are the best, so they are bound to be a bit flexible on salary. Also remember an employment agency will be taking a cut, and they wont look good if you pull out, so there is room for maneuver there as well.

You can do negotiating tricks to get a better salary, but at the end of the day just keep applying for jobs that pay more.

"I'd love to stay, i really like working here but I've been head hunted! If only you could match their offer.. no sorry I cant say what they are paying I've signed an NDA"

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