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Be specific

In this article, Heather Jacksic explains that it's better to be specific than giving a range when telling a recruiter your salary expectations.
Five piles of coins of varying size, the second largest one is circled.
© Luleå University of Technology

When you negotiate, give a specific number and not a range.

Studies have shown that people who give a specific number often get much closer to their asking salary. Giving a range can be problematic for two reasons:

  1. It can make you appear uncertain or weak. It sends the signal that you don’t really know how much you should be making.
  2. It gives the recruiter the chance to give you less than the amount you would actually like to earn. Although you might be hoping for an amount in the higher part of your range, a recruiter will focus somewhere closer to the lower number in your range since you said that you were open to that amount.

By giving a specific number, it tells the recruiter you know what you are worth and gives you a better opportunity for negotiating.

When you are preparing for negotiation, keep two numbers in mind—your ideal number and your minimum acceptable number. Your ideal number should be slightly higher (ca. 10%) than what you would normally expect for someone with your education and experience. Your minimum acceptable number is the number that both you and the recruiter know that you are worth and you shouldn’t be making any less than that number.

When an employer asks what your salary expectations are, give them your ideal number. This allows for some room to negotiate and it makes it is more likely that you will get closer to the salary that you want.

If you have a job in mind that you would like to apply for, why not establish an optimal number and minimum acceptable number now?
© Luleå University of Technology
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