Once the bottom line is known, you can avoid the haggling that so often causes aggravation, disappointment, or hurt feelings.
My experience has shown that it’s much better to lay your cards on the table in the beginning than to barter to get what you want. An employer can get very irritable when a candidate says, “I’ll think it over,” or keeps coming back with new demands again and again. Even if you get what you want, you’ve created a negative impression with the company that will carry over after you’ve been hired. In effect, you may win the battle, but lose the war.
By determining your own acceptance conditions in advance, you’ll never be accused of negotiating in bad faith or of being indecisive. Whether you’re representing yourself or working with a recruiter, learning to differentiate between financial fact and fantasy will facilitate the job changing process.
You may want to itemize your bottom line, and, if it’s appropriate, show it to the company (or your recruiter) as a means to justify your salary request. Carefully figure your total package, and document any loss of income that may result from a differential in benefits, geographic location, car expenses, and the like.
If a recruiter asks for your bottom line, he or she isn’t trying to manipulate you or conspire with an employer that plans to “lowball ” its candidates. The recruiter is simply making a good faith effort to discover what makes you happy, and put together two interested parties.