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NegotiatingNegotiating a Job Offer

A successful negotiator must have some degree of “leverage”. Leverage is exceptional value that you bring to an employer. Uninterrupted track record of work attendance, experience using a particular piece of equipment, or a unique track record of success can all be used as Leverage.

Successful negotiations

In Successful negotiations, both sides feel good about the outcome. It’s not a win-lose outcome; but rather a win-win outcome.

Take lesson from the Boy Scouts, “Be prepared.” Do your homework and know the value of the things you are going to negotiate. (e.g. What’s the cost of health care benefits on an annual basis, the value of a week’s gained or forfeited vacation.)


When to negotiate and how to prepare

  • Negotiation begins AFTER the job offer but BEFORE you’ve accepted the position. Attempting to negotiate after you have accepted the position is difficult because you have given up a large amount of the leverage you had. Don’t try to negotiate prematurely, it may send the wrong signals to the potential employer. Try not to accept the job offer on the spot if you don’t know all of the job offer elements. Be patient and wait for specifics to be presented to you. Make a business decision; not an emotional decision.
  • Develop a strategy and a logical plan for what you want to gain during the negotiation and how you are going to approach the discussion.
  • If the Salary portion of the job offer is deficient, always start there first. Results in this area may influence how adamant or flexible you may choose to be on other points.
  • Homework is essential. It literally pays to know as much as you can about the pay range for a position you’re interested in. Be sure to factor in the cost/value of your health benefits and other services as well. Information can be gained by both research and conversations during networking. General market conditions for a skill can also affect the amount of financial compensation you can request. Knowledge is Power!


Who can negotiate?

Anyone can negotiate! You just need to be prepared.

What can you negotiate?

The following is a list of the most common things people negotiate in a job offer:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Vacation
  • Flextime
  • Education/recertification allowance
  • Equipment: laptop/PDA/cellphone/auto
  • Travel
  • Association fees/subscriptions
  • Start Date
  • Reporting relationships
  • Job Title
  • Level of authority
  • Budget, access to resources
  • Bonus (starting or incentive)
  • Airline miles
  • Severance

Tips and Techniques

  • Know what your minimal needs are before you can even consider accepting employment. Keep in mind… There is a big difference between what you want and what you need.
  • Consider your needs and current situation. Your individual situation will impact your bottom line. Some common factors to consider can be as obvious as whether or not you are currently employed or as simple as the amount of vacation time you had from your previous employer.
  • Evaluate the options to make sure the entire package is best for you.
  • Always be positive! Your behavior in an interview is used as a predictor of your behavior as an employee.
  • Consider the BIG picture.
  • Negotiate salary first, and then consider other benefits and perks.
  • You can negotiate for the present and the future.
  • Compromise can be the key to positive negotiations. A “no” to one question does not mean you cannot continue to pursue other desired concessions.
  • Negotiating is best done in-person. If done sitting across from the decision maker, you may benefit from being able to observe verbal and non-verbal cues of the hiring manager.
    • Facial expressions and body language may provide insight into which of your requests are considered to be routine and which are more unusual.
    • Negotiating over the phone does not eliminate your ability to tell what the person on the other end of the line is thinking. Pay attention to the sound of their voice and pace of their speech to get a better understanding of what they’re thinking.
  • It is essential that you are Professional throughout the entire interview process. Just as you are watching and listening for cues from the hiring manager; they are looking and listening for cues from you.


Developing a Go/No Go line

  • Determine beforehand your deal breakers. Establish a go/no go line and how important each item is as well as the total end package.
  • When determining how you rank with other applicants, consider the following:
    • What level position are you applying for? (entry level, management, etc.)
    • What value, unique skills, and experience do you bring to the employer?
    • What is the market like in your area for similar positions?
    • What is your risk level?
    • How comfortable are you in attempting to negotiate?
    • How willing are you to walk away if your negotiation points are not met?
    • How will you feel if the company declined to compromise or withdraws the offer?

After Negotiations are Complete

When you’ve completed negotiations and met your go/no go criteria, ask for the changes to be put in writing or offer to write them up and submit a copy.


Final Thought:

If you don’t ask, the answer will always be NO… So ask!

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