Business Practice: Negotiating a new salary

What should you tell a prospective employer about your current compensation?

Credit: Joey Guidone

Apr 24, 2018

Business Practice is a collaboration between Chicago Booth Review and Chicago Booth’s Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership. Tell us how you’d deal with the situation below; once you submit your answer, you’ll be able to read and evaluate other readers’ answers, and they’ll be able to read and evaluate yours. Once we stop accepting new answers, we’ll post an analysis of the results by Chicago Booth professor of behavioral science George Wu, and if you like, we will follow up with a personalized email explaining how other readers responded to your answer. 

In your current job at LexCorp, you make $105,000—relatively low for your role and industry. You feel underappreciated and have started to look for other opportunities. After weeks of interviews, Wayne Enterprises has made an offer. All that’s left is to negotiate your salary.

You’ve done your research and have concluded that Wayne pays people of your experience and skills a wide range—between $115,000 and $160,000. Wayne is a better company than Lex, and anything in this range is more than you make now. You’d take any offer, but you obviously prefer to get the highest salary you can.

You set up a call with the HR director and make the requisite small talk for a few minutes. Then you bring up salary without saying anything specific. The HR director replies: “So, how much are you making at Lex now?” How do you respond?

This Business Practice scenario is now closed to new responses. Thank you to everyone who offered their insights and helped evaluate answers. Click here for George Wu’s analysis of the answers we received.