I mentioned to an advertising honcho friend of mine that I was thinking of writing a story on how to negotiate salary in job interviews. My friend, who is in his 50s—we'll call him Don—was inspired to write me a 10-point memo on how he's done it. Don likes to play hardball.
Don's tips include such advice as "If they've decided on you, you got 'em by the balls," and "Lie about your previous salary." Among other things, he suggests, go to your present boss, tell him you have an offer, and then "lie about how much the new job is offering and see if you can get more. Negotiate back and forth, depending on which company you want to end up with and how many bridges you want to burn."
So successful has Don been at manipulating employers that one year he wangled two different six-month severance packages. "I made 12 months in severance pay and worked only five months," he wrote.
But then at the end of his advice laundry list, he included a coda: "Of course, this was all then." He continued: "Now, I beg. I grovel. I take whatever anyone wants to give me. I suck up in ways that would shock others. I thank them profusely, lie to make myself younger and tell them about my nine sick kids so they don't fire me." One more thing: "If they make a cultural reference you don't get, just say, 'Whatever.' Apparently, that means you know."