When an interviewer asks you a question to the effect of “How much are you looking to make?” we first recommend providing a more general answer.
It’s not yet the time when they’ve become able to understand what you can bring to the table; you’ll probably have only had the first interview to make a good impression. Try responding with something like, “I’d entertain your best offer,” or, “What I’m looking for is a long term opportunity; I weigh in the people, the location, and the growth potential—money is just another piece of the puzzle.”
These responses are often fine for getting past that initial question. If you’re asked the question again, or some variant such as, “What kind of numbers would make sense for you?” it shows a certain level of interest and that you’re moving in the right direction.
But how do you negotiate so that you’re not answering with a number that is too low (meaning you’re leaving money on the table), and yet not too high (potentially turning off the employer at an early stage of the game)?
Much of your strategic positioning will depend on how you phrase your answer
Much of your strategic positioning will depend on how you phrase your answer. If you discuss how you are exploring opportunities in the marketplace, it can take the pressure off of this negotiation and bring the conversation back to a more general nature. We also recommend discussing what you are seeing as a range of possible packages. This range will depend on where you’re coming from and what might be the next step up from that point. Package can include base, bonus and benefits and ranges often leave the door open for future negotiations.
Lastly, I know of two incredible resources that I’d like to share with you: First is a book entitled “Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator who does trainings, seminars and private coaching. I highly recommend his outside-the-box negotiating style.
Second, I also recommend Jim Camp’s book, “Start With No.” Jim and Chris have similar negotiating styles, but different teaching methods. I encourage you to look at both and find which one speaks to you.
If you’d like to learn more, feel free to peruse our website for open positions, where we keep an active list of these searches we’re currently engaged on. For other questions you have, feel free to reach out to us anytime. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
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