Handle this poorly and you'll not only negatively impact the offer you get, but could actually knock yourself out of the running altogether! Learn how to catch this question and quickly throw it back to the manager (before you get burned!)
OK...first off, remember that you are not a mind reader! As a result, you will never know exactly what the manager is thinking about offering you. So don't guess or try to be overly involved in this process. Set things up for them to do all the work so that you can avoid the following traps.
- Overpricing Yourself: If you say you want more than what they are thinking about offering , you will turn them off. No one wants to hire someone who is going to be making a concession by coming to work there or who will always be carrying around a feeling that they are underpaid.
- Underpricing Yourself: If you say you want substantially less than what they are considering. They may think you are desperate (or worse...they may actually offer you that!)
- Negotiating Yourself Out the Door: Just because they want you doesn't mean you can put the screws to them to get as much money as possible. Salary ranges are not arbitrary and are typically established with great detail. In other words, this negotiation window is finite. You can always find out if an offer is indeed the best they can do, but be mindful of pushing too hard here or else you'll risk pushing them away.
How do you do this? Simple... when asked what you are looking to make in an initial or final interview, just respond with these three points:
- Current Compensation "Well, I'm glad you asked. I'm currently making a base of 95K with a 10% bonus along with full benefits"
- Desired Salary "What I'm looking for is the most competitive offer. I'm hesitant to give you an exact # because I'm not sure what you think I'm worth and how I'd fit in with the compensation structure of the rest of the team. So, I guess this is a better question to ask of you.....What do you think I might be worth to your organization?"
- Big Picture "While money is very important, the opportunity within the position is really my #1 consideration. If we agree there's a match, I'm confident that you'd offer me the most you felt that I was worth."
This prevents you from saying any number other than your current comp and throws things back to put the responsibility on them to come up with the number. And by reminding them that it's not all about the cash, you send a very mature and balanced message about how you are looking at things.
And lastly, if you are working with a recruiter. These tips still apply and leave a nice open window for them to negotiate on your behalf . Let them do their job!