Avoid Saying “I’m Negotiable”

When you are asked what you are expecting as salary, many of us state a number; and when the recruiter is silent, we follow it up with, “But I’m negotiable.” It’s the worst thing you can do. The blog Job Tips for Geeks says you shouldn’t give that message before your recruiter has a chance to object to what you are asking for.

Career advisor Penelope Trunk says that when you’re in that job interview and faced with the question “What’s your salary range?” don’t name a number. If you request a salary higher than the range for the job, the interviewer will tell you you’re high, and you’ve just lost money. If you request a salary lower than the range, the interviewer will say nothing, and you’ve just lost money. […] You want the interviewer to tell you the range for the position, because then you can focus on getting to the high end of that range.

If your interviewer’s not forthcoming about what they plan to pay and persists asking you to name a number, Trunk runs down several ways to fend off the question, like focusing on the position’s requirements, the current job market, and the employer’s budget. If they’re going to make you an offer, they’ll have to include salary with it.

“but I’m negotiable”

INTERVIEWER: What are your salary expectations?

CANDIDATE: I’m seeking €4000+, but I’m negotiable.

But usually it goes more like this

INTERVIEWER: What are your salary expectations? CANDIDATE: I’m seeking €4000+… INTERVIEWER: [Silently takes a note for five seconds] CANDIDATE: …but I’m negotiable.

Don’t do that.

The mistake here is that the candidate willingly dropped their request before hearing any objection to the number provided. In the first instance, they have altered their negotiating position before even giving the interviewer so much as an opportunity to say no.

The Fix

IN APPLICATIONS — When providing a salary requirement in writing, there is the option of using a single number or a range. Supplying a range could be potentially useful, as a range may account for variation between what companies offer in time off, benefits, bonus, or perks. When providing a range, expect employers to start negotiations at the bottom.

Providing some brief context along with the number (“assuming competitive benefits and working conditions”) will provide an opening to negotiate above the provided number/range when necessary. Usually there will be some part of the package that can be cited as below market to justify raising an offer.

If the recipient of the application feels the candidate is qualified and at least in the ballpark for the budget, contact will be made and the flexibility topic may come up early.

IN INTERVIEWS — Prepare a number to ask for along with any context before the interview. It’s quite a common question, and having an answer available should provide the best results. Improvisation on this question is usually where things go wrong.

When the question about compensation expectations comes up, reply with the number along with any brief and necessary clarifying context. Then, stop talking. Don’t say a word until the interviewer responds. Even if the stare down lasts a minute, say nothing.

Interviewers realize you are probably a bit on edge and slightly uncomfortable during an interview. Any silence, even for just a few seconds, is commonly interpreted by candidates as a negative sign (“Uh oh, why did she stop asking questions???”). Some hiring managers or HR professionals actually have a pause built into the script in order to determine possible flexibility without having to even ask.


Never start negotiating downward until some objection is provided, and don’t mistake the silence of an interviewer as an objection.

Source’s: lifehacker , jobtipsforgeeks.

Originally published at www.pieterherman.co.uk on September 29, 2014.

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