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EP 1507 Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter explains how to respond to the negotiating ploy of an employer wincing when you mentioned what you’re looking for.

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Here's how it goes. They ask you, "So, how much are you looking for?" You answer. They respond with a slight groan and a wince that is designed to make you feel like you said the wrong thing and that there is no way shape or form that they can go to that amount.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes they can't. Sometimes it is just a negotiating tactic and you can't tell the difference.

When they wince and make a sound like a groan, consider responding by saying something to the effect of, "Is that a problem?" Put it back on them to explain. When they start explaining that it is too high for them, you may respond by saying, "The research I've been doing is that firms of your size are generally paying this amount of money for the kind of work. that I do.. It certainly possible that you might want to reconsider your numbers but let's get acquainted in the meantime." After all,'s the subject of salary is usually coming up very early before they get to know you and your value.

"Let's get acquainted with one another and let's see if you find that I have that kind of value. If I do, I'm sure you'll find a way to come up with the right compensation and, if you can't,, you've learned something about the job market and what the value of someone with my background is."

Again, very matter-of-fact. It's not responsive, "But I NEED that amount of money. I MUST get that amount of money. " It's all about being matter-of-fact and very simply, is respone to the wince, stating factually what your value is. That comes from research.

I also want to mention that there are times where they are extending an offer to you and you are watching them, or if you're receiving the offer over the phone, you can do the wince as well.

Over the phone, you might simply respond in a manner that suggested they did something wrong, which makes them wonder what is going on. If you do it in person, you can do your version of the wince.

The wince is a great tactic for them and it's very easy to just swat it away.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1500 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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