Mod Note (Andy): #TBT Throwback Thursday - this was originally posted on 9/22/12
So, this question keeps coming up, "if I negotiate with a prospective employer, will I piss them off or ruin my chances?" I wanted to share the perspective of the person hiring and give you a couple of examples of what happened with people I have hired who were being paid below market wage to begin with. Some of you will probably think I'm a dick for saying some of this, but this is what really happens. Generally, your job is to try to get paid as much as possible and the employer's job is to pay you as little as possible. Getting upset about it won't help. Recognizing how to tilt the odds in your favor will. I consider the compensation negotiation a part of the interview and hopefully, you will understand why in the examples below.
What I write below applies to experienced hires anywhere and to small companies, but does not apply to standardized programs like analyst and associate programs at big firms (you usually can't negotiate those offers).
Don't be afraid to throw out the first number, just make sure it's a number you would be ecstatic to get. The company almost always make you throw out the first number and they make sure it's a number you are absolutely NOT ecstatic about.
How do they do this?