Precise anchors

  • Darren Robinson
  • 23/11/2015
  • 21:30
  • Candidate
  • Insights
Darren Robinson Head of Northern Europe

Darren Robinson is managing director of Badenoch & Clark Luxembourg, the largest staffing and recruitment firm in the Grand Duchy.

Through the 'Job Doctor', Darren answers questions about career development and finding a new position.

Dear Job Doctor,

I recently read in The Wall Street Journal that I should avoid round numbers when negotiating salary or a raise, and ask for precise figures instead. What do you think of this idea?

I thought that this was a really interesting article with credible research and good advice.

The research from Columbia Business School provides an example, that if a candidate asks for a precise figure such as 63,500, they are likely to receive an offer of 62,000, whereas asking for 65,000 is likely to receive a lower offer of 60,000.

It uses the premise that if the candidate uses a rounded figure then the offer (or counter-offer) is more likely to be rounded (down). If a candidate uses a precise figure then the employer assumes that the candidate has formulated this figure through research and an understanding of the value of their skills.

Many people in a sales role will understand the term “anchoring” from the HarvardProgram on Negotiation”. In this context, the initial salary figure--precise or not--is known as the “anchor”.

For many candidates who have limited experience in negotiating and using anchors, discussing and negotiating one’s own salary is the most stressful part of the interview process and very few feel skilled and comfortable enough to achieve their desired outcome.

Employers also get this sensitive process wrong and can either lose the right candidate or engage a candidate who has an immediate ill feeling toward their new employer.

Many employers and candidates recognise the benefit from utilising a third party recruitment specialist for these sensitive negotiations who have the competence to achieve the desired outcome for both parties.