DEV Community


Discussion on: Q: What is your salary expectation? A: I don't have one, make me an offer!

paytonrules profile image
Eric Smith

I really like this article. I'm curious - what is the evidence that these techniques work? I've tried them before - a little - and what I usually get is "yes but you have to put something down." The HR person won't take no for an answer.

jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel Fayard πŸ‡«πŸ‡·πŸ‡©πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¬πŸ‡§πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¨πŸ‡΄ Author

What is the evidence that these techniques work?


  • The experience of lots of people who have followed the tips from Patric MacKenzie and from
  • Personal experience. I have those techniques in practice since the last two years and it did make a difference. Not the first times though, you have to practice to get better at it.

I also have a more theoretical answer. I wrote last an article Contributing to open-source is like dancing Tango where I explain that if you really want to master the dance, you have to practice and understand it as both a follower and a leader.

The same principle applies here. If you understand what happens on the hiring side, the tactics become obvious. Well of course if I want to create a job opening, I will decide for a budget for it. Of course I won't pay anyone less than my budget, and not much more either. Of course, if I'm a looking for someone good for months already, without success, I won't be mad because the candidate defends its right of negotiating its salary.

The book Fearless Salary Negotiation spends lots of time explaining how hiring works on the other side FYI.

bloodgain profile image

They will take no for an answer, trust me. If they won't, you probably don't want to work for them, because if they won't be flexible with people they're trying to recruit, how do you want to bet they treat employees? That said, if you're really pressed and have to, go in with a decent idea of what you should get, then give them a number significantly higher. This is a well-proven negotiation strategy called "anchoring". If they say "that seems kind of high," say "Well, I'm negotiable on that, but I'd have to see an offer with the full benefits package and everything included to decide." I've had companies offer me nearly $20K less than my "requested salary" when I used this tactic, so it won't block an offer. But by starting high when pressed, you've set the negotiation around a higher target value, which is to your benefit.

One catch is on black-hole application systems that won't let you leave it blank. If you can put words, just say "negotiable". Otherwise put $0, because it's an obvious non-answer. If that's not allowed, try something else obviously dodging like $1, $1000, or $999999.