My take on negotiating, and yes, you should always negotiate.
You’ve probably heard this one before: “First one to state a number loses.”
No, the first one to accept the number loses. Let’s put aside the psychology of anchoring for the time being and just focus on numbers.
When someone reaches out to me with a “golden opportunity” my default response is “What’s the compensation range for this position?”
If the compensation is too low, or they try to sell me on the intangible benefits, or back load the compensation with deferred stock/bonuses, or the compensation range is spread too wide, that’s the start of the negotiation. I haven’t even interviewed yet.
If they respond with “what are you looking for?” I respond with “My base compensation is currently $X.”
Occasionally they’ll follow up with “Yeah, we could match that.” Or even worse “We could get close to that.”
I’m not looking to make a move just for you to match my current compensation. You have to get above it. I’ve already got a number in mind that can open the conversation.
It’s your job now to say the right combination of words that’ll pique my interest. “Get close to that” is not the magic combination of words.
My default position is “No” and I realise that is a privilege that many don’t have. But the negotiation before I even interview has already started, the negotiation is for you to come up with enough reasons for me to say “Yes.”
Companies employ people who are very strong negotiators who do that sort of thing a dozen times a day, and they have more information than I do about compensation, and they often subscribe to the “sunk cost fallacy” that a candidate, having passed the interviews will more readily say “Yes.”
Sorry, but no, I’ve bought too much shit at fleamarkets over the years that filled me with instant regret that I’ve gotten awful immune to sunk cost thinking.
Again, I realise this is a huge privilege that many don’t enjoy. But if you are willing to say “No” at any point in the negotiation process, for the tiniest detail, you have the strongest negotiating position in the room, then you can just hash out the details until you are willing to say “Yes.”
“Yeah, that doesn’t work for me, I’m going to take a rain check.” And then stonewall. People hate silence. And they hate being rejected. Those are your strongest and simplest to execute negotiation tools you have if you are bad at negotiating.