How to Control a Salary Negotiation

A properly prepared job candidate needn’t dread or be tripped up by questions about compensation.

Well before you reach the point where an interviewer asks how much you
want, formulate upper and lower bounds of your required pay range using
separate methods, advises Jane Ashen Turkewitz, founder and president of T & Jam Resume Services and a former executive recruiter.

For the lower end, choose "a number you’d be happy with – and could live on," Turkewitz writes in a recent post on her blog, Let’s Talk Turkey.
Then, make sure to stick with the range you’ve chosen. "Don’t deviate.
If you say your bottom number is $75K and someone offers you $70K, you
KNOW you are going to say ‘no.’"

When fixing your lowest acceptable pay number, remember the law of
gravity: any offers or raises you get in the future will start from
your current salary at that time. And because markets will eventually
recover, you will probably make another job move somewhere down the
line. So if you do take a step back in your salary, Turkewitz says to
limit it to "a baby step, so that you can catch up quickly with the
next stage of your career."

What about the top of your range? Turkewitz says that should be a
number you think is reasonable for a person with your qualifications.
Coming up with that number usually requires a bit of research, such as
checking salary surveys in your profession, or consulting a former boss
or mentor.

One final point: While candidates often are advised to hold their cards
close to the chest on pay until the last possible moment, don’t expect
to get away with that if you’re interviewed by an external recruiter.
Turkewitz warns that external recruiters "need to get the candidate to
talk first," so they can use that information to screen out candidates
whose pay requirements fall outside the client’s budgeted range for the

— Jon Jacobs