in Career

When should you make the initial offer in a salary negotiation?
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You should almost always wait for the initial offer, but there is one situation where it could be best to make the initial offer yourself. Here’s when it makes sense to start things off.

The question

What is the right situation to make the opening offer in a negotiation, and when should you wait until you hear their offer?

My answer

Short answer: Wait for them to make an offer unless you’re concerned their offer will be so much lower than your minimum acceptable salary that you can’t make a reasonable counter.

Before you start negotiating, you should determine your minimum acceptable salary to do the job. Knowing the number where you’ll walk away is very helpful in the negotiation process—you’ll make better decisions with this number in mind.

You should always wait to hear their offer first, and avoid telling them your current salary if possible. You can learn a lot about how a company values your skill set and experience by waiting to hear their initial offer. You enter the negotiate at a significant informational disadvantage, so this new information can be extremely valuable to you.

The exception is when you are concerned that they may make an offer that is so low that you can’t make a reasonable counter and get anywhere near your minimum acceptable salary. It can be tough to negotiate if their offer is drastically lower than what you will accept to do the job.

You can get “How to ace your next interview”—a free chapter from my book Fearless Salary Negotiation—at How to ace your next interview. The chapter covers what I call “the dreaded salary question” (What are you making and what is your desired salary?), which is usually the first opportunity you have to disclose or not disclose your current/desired salary numbers.

Or you can get the full book here: Fearless Salary Negotiation: Get it here