Salary Negotiation Tips: Going for the Max

This week’s question — Will stretching an employer’s offer to the maximum hurt me in the long run?

artSalaryEditor’s note: Salary expert Jack Chapman and Ladders want to help you negotiate the best deal you can. You can e-mail us your salary negotiation questions or situations or use #salaryQ to submit them via Twitter. Due to the volume of inquiries, we may not be able to respond to all questions submitted.

Q: If I know the employer is stretching themselves to the maximum to offer a fair salary and compensation package (in line with my past, proven value), should I be concerned that they will “work me to death” or resent me once I’m hired?

A: Once salary negotiations are done, people don’t pay a lot of ongoing attention to what you’re earning. Once you get in there, that’s all pretty much put in the past and you’re judged on your merit. A company that works people to death will do so whether they pay people a lot or a little. The same goes for an easy-going company, typically.

Sometimes it works the other way: a low offer gets increased. I had a client who wanted $5k more for a job than was offered. It was the best the company could do, but they told my client that they take care of people who work hard because they don’t want to lose good talent, so he could look forward to possibly getting that money in the future.

We both thought, “Right, that’s what they all say.” Then, in his first three months in the position, he set up automatic teller machines that were a source of income, set up new software and also brought in new accounts.

The employer no doubt was thinking, “This person is really performing. He wanted $5k, and I didn’t give it to him. He’s not going to stay.” So the employer called him up and gave him a raise — my client got what he’d originally negotiated for. If the opportunity is right otherwise, it is still valid to negotiate for what you want, even if you have to wait to get it.

Next week’s question: How can I juggle an offer while waiting to interview with my dream company?

You can find more salary negotiation articles from Jack Chapman here on Ladders, or by visiting him on the Web at