Negotiating a Salary. Precision vs. Games.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal had an article written by Lauren Weber about negotiating salary.  It encouraged people to be more precise when negotiating a salary.  In short, it said to ask for “$63,500” to entice an offer of “$62,000” instead of “$65,000” which will likely generate an offer of “60,000”.  The premise is that the hiring authority will assume that a round number is an estimate of what someone needs and a more precise number better contemplates the candidate’s actual salary requirement.  It equated salary negotiations to a game.

While interesting, I think that this concept is not entirely accurate.  Precision is important when negotiating salary.  It’s imperative that you can justify the salary you are asking for (by switching firms, your health care expenses are going up, you now need to pay for parking, you are assuming management duties, etc.) but trying to “play games with the system” by asking for an odd number seems silly.  Get the salary you want by justifying the request!  Assume that your new firm is sophisticated and won’t be tricked by gamesmanship and creative accounting.  Throwing out an accurate salary request with the ability to justify the request is always the best plan.  Remember, you can always justify an increased salary by showing the value you are adding to the new position, so spend some time thinking about what you bring to the table.

What has worked for you when negotiating a salary?

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