Salary negotiation tips: Making the right decision on your bottom-line number

Apply these 6 criteria to help you decide when the best alternative to a negotiated agreement isn’t good enough.

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. Our inaugural question addresses how to decide if an offer is right for you.

Q: What if a job offer has been made, and after a thorough and exhaustive negotiation, the maximum the employer can offer (salary plus future raise potential) is still less than your bottom-line (no-go) number? What is the checklist or thought process you should go through to make the right decision?

A: The whole reason to have a no-go number is to avoid doing a checklist after an offer. The point of a no-go number: you have an actual number, and also the best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). If you don’t hit your salary goal, you agree to part ways. You say, “I’m really sorry we weren’t able to make it work but I’m going to have to look at an alternative.”

Below are 6 different things to consider when calculating your no-go number. Your number might be a blend of these elements:


Would the level of challenge be correct in the job and you’re doing work that would feel good to do it? Is it at a level that’s neither over your head nor boring?

Growth in Responsibility

You may not want more, but is it an option? A high school teacher may not aspire to being department chairman. Not everyone has to have a way up, but some people do.

Growth in Skill Level

Does it allow you to get better at what you’re doing through training and development.

Company Environment/Philosophy

How well do you fit with the management style


Do you need to relocate, or commute a long way?


Consider the various elements that go into it, both short- and long-term, to be sure you have considered all aspects.