Honesty is the Best Policy (Even in the Hiring Process)
“Honesty is the best policy.” – Benjamin Franklin
This is of course true and also applies in the job search process. Recruiters must be honest about the company, the position, and in answering any questions that are brought up, and candidates must be honest about their past experience and what they are looking for in their next position.
This applies to the dreaded salary question as well. If you are searching for a job, make sure you have done your research on similar positions in a similar industry, be honest with yourself about the skills you may or may not have, and use that to know what your salary expectations are in your next role. I have personally had experiences and have seen similar experiences with co-workers where a candidate is being made the exact offer they said they were looking for yet counteroffer asking for $20,000 more.
This is assuming all the information they have given the candidate is accurate and aligned with their expectations throughout the process by the recruiter or hiring manager. What happens when a counteroffer like this is made? Several things. If working with a recruiter, they most likely have been in your corner each step of the way and helping to move you through the process. The trust that has been built is broken and the person who has been in your corner may not care to continue to do so. The same goes for the hiring manager who has a set range, was told a number you are looking for, met your expectation, and is now being told you want significantly more than what you have said.
There are times where the number you mentioned is the very top of the range and there is no possibility to give more. Breaking the trust and throwing this new expectation in at the end of the process can make the company want to go in another direction. Most jobs have more than one qualified candidate, and the decision comes down to one candidate being first with another being a close second. By doing this, you may have just pushed yourself to a distant second and allow the other candidate to move to first.
To avoid this, do your research! Again, know what you are worth and know what your expectations are. Stick to those expectations and don’t allow someone to try and talk you down from them (unless you are being completely unrealistic). And if you are made an offer with a company that you want to work for, that has met your expectations throughout the process, and that is meeting your expectation in the offer, offer the same courtesy with how you respond to the offer whether you accept it or not.
If you choose to respond by asking for 20% more than you previously mentioned, prepare to miss out on the job and be met with the look and thoughts of the skeptical baby above!