Navigating the Salary Negotiation

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salary negotiation
A friend of mine once went to an auto dealership to purchase a new car. As he and his wife browsed around the showroom, his wife saw a car she absolutely loved. When my friend asked the dealer what kind of incentive he could provide, the dealer bluntly said, “I don’t think I need to give you any incentive. I saw how excited your wife got about the car. You can’t go home today without that car.” Over the years, I have met many talented candidates who do a great job putting together a great resume and nailing the interview. When they get to the salary negotiation however, they get lost. As a result, they are unable to negotiate as competitive of a salary or position as they should have. If this sounds like you, here are key points to remember which will help you in your process.

The salary negotiation process starts sooner than you think

From the moment you step into the office of your prospective employer and make that great first impression, the employer is sizing you up. The employer is trying to figure out whether you have the right skills, attitudes, and values to contribute effectively to the organization. At the same time, the employer is also trying to determine whether you have some of the unique, hard to find qualities that the organization is in dire need of. Many people know how to showcase the basic qualifications for the job, but it takes some very careful listening skills to pick out from your interviewer the challenging pain points that keep your employer up at night. If you are able to convince the employer that you are a hero when it comes to these pain points, it will shape a better negotiation position for you.

Understand your options

My friend at the dealership ended up paying whatever the dealer quoted to him. I am sure you realize that if he just did a little research, he could have gotten a much better deal even at the dealership he ended up buying from. Likewise, before you enter into the salary negotiation, I strongly advise you to do a little research to understand your options. Without revealing your intention to leave the company, maybe now would be a good time to talk to your boss to see how he/she sees your career developing in your current role. If your boss was planning to grow your role in some exciting ways, it is good information for you to consider before accepting a different position. If you have other offers pending, now may be a good opportunity to politely let them know you are planning to make a decision soon. Once you explore all the options available to you, you can negotiate from a position of strength. You have hard facts that will support your stance.

Be calm and polite at the negotiation

For many people, the actual salary negotiation is very stressful. It is hard not to attribute some self-value through your salary. It’s not unusual to go through the negotiation process thinking, “Am I being too greedy? If it’s a job I love, nothing else should matter, right? Maybe I am being too picky, etc” (and it shouldn’t surprise you that many employers will exploit those feelings during the interview process) As a result, many people go through a “Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde” situation where they inadvertently become a very different person during the negotiation than who they normally are. Ultimately, the whole process becomes very frustrating and confusing. Instead,
1) Be calm РYou know that the employer knows of your unique heroic experiences. These facts will speak much louder for you than any verbal tactic you use during the negotiation. In fact, by this point, the employer probably already made up their mind how much they are willing to negotiate for you. Staying calm and inscrutable will be strong allies for you.
2) Be polite – the person on the other end of the negotiating table can do a lot for you or to hurt your total package. Politeness goes a long way and you are dealing with a human being. You’ve showcased your talents, you reviewed your options, and you understand your leverage. At this point, being polite but firm will only reinforce all those great qualities you are bringing to the table.
3) Take your time – no matter how weak or tempting the offer, thank the employer for “putting together a thorough package” and let him/her know that you will need some time to review the offer carefully. Advise him/her you will provide a response after a set duration – typically, no longer than one week. Tell us about your experiences – successes or lessons learned from your interview experiences.