Undoubtedly you’ve heard the adage that everything is negotiable. Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but what is true is that in any situation, it’s worthwhile to explore options. When you’ve been engaged in a job search, it can be tempting to jump at the first offer that comes your way. Most people do. In fact, only a mere 37% of candidates negotiate their job offers, and an abysmal 7% of women do. Negotiating is the core of business, and you are in the business of managing your career. It is incumbent upon you to investigate how the offer might better suit your needs to make for a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your employer. It doesn’t have to be scary! Here are my top ten tips for negotiating:
Consider the whole package. It is very easy to fixate on base salary. After all, that is critical in determining if the offer is worth pursuing. But look beyond that to things such as 401(k) match and vesting structure, bonus structure, and eligibility, paid time off, education reimbursement, and flexible working arrangements. Any and all of these are up for negotiation, so decide which one or two is most important to you.
Be likable and positive. People want to work with people they like, and people will fight for people they like. An adversarial approach will not be effective and is a good way to sour a relationship before it’s begun.
Have empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand other people and their potential limitations. Understand that
they may have constraints that will prevent them from meeting your requests.
Know your value. Be sure that you have objective evidence to demonstrate your worth. You need to understand the market rate for the position, so that you can understand if you are being offered market rate, or something less than that.
Write it down. Don’t enter into the negotiation without having written down the topics you want to cover. This will help to keep you on message.
Prioritize. Don’t negotiate every aspect of the offer simply for the sake of doing so. Determine which one or two components are most important to you, and focus on those.
Focus on the future. The key message of the negotiation should not be based upon what you’ve done in the past. It should be on how you can help be a part of future success.
Be positive, but firm. You don’t want to be a doormat, but you do want to remain active and upbeat during the negotiations, reinforcing that you are really excited about the offer and the opportunity to work with them. They just need to bend and stretch a little.
No ultimatums. Ultimatums are bullying tactics, and are rarely effective. An ultimatum is also likely to backfire.
Know when to walk. What is an absolute deal breaker for you? If you cannot come to an agreement on that, then it’s better for both parties not to continue.