Use a Precise Number in Salary Negotiation

Want to get a raise this year, or more money at your new job than you earned at your old one? Research from Columbia Business School suggests that naming a precise, non-round number when negotiating your salary could lead to higher earnings.

 piggy bank

(Photo Credit: 401(k) 2013/Flickr)

“It matters because round numbers seem less informed. People who use them seem like they haven’t really done their homework, or they’re just sort of being arbitrary,” says Malia Mason, an associate professor at Columbia Business School, in an interview with CNN. “…Precise numbers are just one way to communicate to people ‘don’t mess with me’ or ‘I’m informed, I’m not just throwing some number out there.'”

Mason headed the study, which was called Precise Offers Are Potent Anchors: Conciliatory Counteroffers and Attributions of Knowledge in Negotiations. The research found that offering an odd number — $5,015, for example, instead of $5,000 — was likely to give the negotiator the upper hand.

What does this mean for you, the salary negotiator? Naming a non-round number for salary (CNN offers the example of $105,000, instead of $100,000) might give the recruiter the impression that you’ve done your homework, and make you more likely to get it.

Of course, this technique only works if you can back up your claims. PayScale’s Research Center will give you an idea of what people with your job are earning in your part of the country. Once you know the range, you can pick an ideal number, and a drop-dead number — the latter being the salary at which you wouldn’t take the job.

If you’re already employed at the company, and negotiating a raise, you’ll need to add two steps to your process: familiarizing yourself with company policy regarding raises, and getting together your previous performance reviews, to prove that you’re worth what you’re asking.

Whatever your situation, this new research suggests, asking for an odd number might be the extra push that gets you more money.

Tell Us What You Think

Did you negotiate a raise this year? Tell us how you did it! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.