Negotiating with a prospective employer is never easy. Most people don't even attempt to negotiate because they are afraid an offer will be pulled. However, when job seekers chose to negotiate, they often get more than the initial offer. This is especially true when they are willing to walk away from an offer.
A few months ago one of my clients received a job offer, but needed to have relocation costs paid. We worked together to come up with a goal of $6,000. At the last minute, my client changed her mind, and she told the employer that she would need $8,000 to relocate. The manager handling her recruiting said they could not meet that request. My client said she could not accept the offer. She thought it was time to move on. The next day, the company called back with a revised offer that included $6,000 in relocation fees and an ability to work remotely for one month, which let my client avoid paying two rents. If my client had not stuck to her guns, she got most of what she wanted. On the other hand, she did risk losing the job.
More recently, a client who is a manager with a small non-profit received a low ball offer from a large national corporation. She told the recruiter that the offer would have to be significantly increased. The next day the recruiter called with a $10,000 increase. My client compared her current position to what the new employer would ask of her. She also underscored the value she would bring to the employer. She did not ask for a specific amount, but told the recruiter that the offer would need to be improved. Two days went by. My client thought she had pushed things too far. She was wrong. The next day the manager called and increased the offer by another $10,000. She gambled and won.
I'm not recommending that every job seeker should take such drastic steps when negotiating. However, if you feel that an offer is not fair, you might want to consider taking a chance in your negotiation. There are no guarantees. Some companies will decide not to hire you. Others will recognize your value and give you what you're asking. Walking away is a big gamble that, in some cases, can have a bigger payoff.
As the job market gets better, employers will find it harder to get the talent they want, which means it’s a great time to negotiate for a better salary or other compensation. The website Payscale.com has some great resources that will help you negotiate. If you’re involved in a job search or in a position where you will have to negotiate salary, take some time and consider the great advice given by the experts on this page.
I’m coaching a client whose been offered a job as a tutor. The employer offered $15 per hour, but said he is open to negotiation. My client is currently making $20 an hour at a part time job, and she works an extra job she will have to give up to take the tutoring position. She wants the job as a tutor, but wants to make at least $18 an hour.
We practiced role playing for a negotiation session. My client, speaking in a muffled voice, said she really needed $18. Playing the employer, I responded that the best I could was $16, and my client meekly replied, “O.K.” That’s not a good negotiation style or strategy.
The first thing we worked on was sounding calm and confident at all time. Even if a negotiation doesn’t go the way you want, it is important to sound like you are in control, the equal of the person you are negotiating with. Practice your negotiation pitch, and listen to yourself. Keep practicing until you sound calm and natural.
The second step is to develop a strategy to obtain the wage you are seeking. When my client started by asking for the wage she wanted, she was setting herself up to get less. What should you do? If you want $50,000, ask for $53,000 or $55,000. These amounts will give you room to negotiate down. I practiced with my client so she would ask for $20 per hour with a goal of going no lower than $18. If she’s lucky, the employer will pay the higher amount.
The third step is to develop reasons why you are worth what you are asking for. The employer really doesn’t care about what you need. They need to know why you are worth what you are asking for or why you have something now that will let you walk away from the offer. My client currently makes a little more per hour (at a part time job). She also has training in an area that few other tutors have, which is another reason she should be paid more. Before you negotiate, have some reasons why you are worth what you’re asking for.
Finally, know your limits and risks. If you negotiate in a way that is disrespectful or out of line with standards for salary, an employer could pull an offer. Do homework on salary rates before negotiating. Be respectful, but focused on your goals. If you negotiate in a strategic and professional manner, the employer will respect you and accept some or all of your terms.
When many people hear networking, they only think about finding a new job. In reality, networking is a great way to manage your career and help others manage theirs. One way that network contacts can be resources that enable us learn more about salaries and benefits offered by potential employers.
My clients in nursing often are the best informed about what employers offer. They work together at different hospitals, and they share information, which enables nurses to make better decisions about where to look for work. They also tell each other which employers treat their workers well and badly.
How can you obtain similar information? Get involved in industry associations and groups. Meet people at networking events and talk to them about their careers as much as you talk about your own. As people in networks become comfortable and trust each other, they start to share very important information. Get to know people who can help you get the information you need to make good career choices.
Workers often end up in situations where they feel forced to make an instant decision: a job offer, salary negotiation, performance reviews, or signing a disciplinary document. One of my clients is involved in a negotiation that might not go his way. I gave him this advice: If you feel yourself getting angry or tongue-tied, ask for 24 hours to think about the situation. Taking a day will let you make a clear decision and express yourself more clearly.
Some employers will demand instant action. In those cases, do not assume good will. Ask what the consequence will be if you do not make an immediate decision. Or ask why the employer will not give you a day to think about your decision. Asking such questions will at least give you a few minutes to think about your action. They might even change the employer’s mind.
If you are forced to act immediately, know that you have the right not to accept what the employer is offering. It might cost you a job, but, in the long run, that could be a good thing. Bully employers will keep asking for more and more. Don’t give in to such people.
I often learn from my clients, and one of my teachers has given me a new way to think about how to present a potential employer with a salary range. My client, we'll call her Mary, did not really want this job. When the employer pressed her for a salary requirement, she responded with this range, "Something between $60,000 and $95,000," which is a huge range. I normally recommend a $10,000 range.
What was Mary thinking? First, she didn't want to price herself out of the market. Second, she wanted the employer to know that she thinks she could be worth nearly $100,000. These numbers are not made up. Mary is attending a leading MBA program where new grads commonly earn $100K on graduating. She also did research and learned that the employer commonly hires employees from major consulting companies, which means they must pay decent salaries. She gave a range that kept her in the game and is know negotiating after receiving an offer. She probably won't take the job, but if she does, it will be on her terms.
Do I recommend a $30,000 salary range. In most cases, I do not. In this case, it worked because Mary thought through her strategy and options. That's the first step in good career management.