Before you attempt to negotiate salary, it is critical that you have reached a personal decision about whether you truly want the job. Proceeding to negotiate an offer when you are not convinced that the new employer or the opportunity is truly right for you only wastes your time and in fact could be creating bad will between you, the recruiter and the hiring managers within the organization extending the offer. Be honest about your intentions before going down this past. You never know at what point in your future you will be crossing paths with parties to this process again…
If you have determined that the attributes of this opportunity does suit your needs, you are ready to begin this process.
Unless you’re motivated entirely by money, it is doubtful that a few extra dollars will turn a bad job into a good one.
The term “bottom line” refers to the amount of compensation you feel is absolutely necessary to accept the job offer. If, for example, you really want $96,000 but would think about $95,000 or settle for $94,000, then you haven’t established your bottom line. The bottom line is one dollar more than the figure you would positively walk away from. Setting a bottom line clarifies your sense of worth, and helps avoid an unpredictable bargaining session.
We recommend against “negotiating” an offer in the classic sense, where the company makes a proposal, you counter it, they counter your counter, and so on. While this type of back-and-forth format may be customary for negotiating a home purchase, job offers should be handled in a more straightforward manner.
We recommend: Determine your bottom line in advance, and wait for the offer. If the company offers you more than your bottom line, great. If they offer you less, then you have the option of turning the offer down or revealing your bottom line to them as a condition of acceptance. At that point, they can either raise the offer amount or walk away. And once the bottom line is known, you can avoid the haggling that so often causes aggravation, disappointment, or hurt feelings.
By determining your own acceptance conditions in advance, you’ll never be accused of negotiating in bad faith or of being indecisive. Whether you’re representing yourself or working with a recruiter, learning to differentiate between financial fact and fantasy will facilitate the job changing process.
If you feel the need to justify your salary request, you can itemize any loss of income that may result from a differential in benefits, geographic location, car expenses, and so forth. In some cases, supporting documentation can be found through such sites as salary.com; however it is important to realize that this data is not always conclusive and accurate.
Often, there are considerations aside from money that need to be satisfied before an offer can be accepted. Factors such as the new position title, review periods, work schedule, vacation allotment, and promotion opportunities are important, and should be looked at carefully. If you have a vacation pre-scheduled and paid for, you will want to ensure that you bring this up in this process, not after you’ve accepted the offer.
You can use this approach to quantify each consideration or “point” you need to satisfy as a condition for acceptance. Once you and the company settle on each point, you won’t need to go back later to negotiate “one more thing.” Knowing your bottom line puts you in a better position to get what you want, since you’ve established a set of quantifiable conditions needed for acceptance.
In all cases, be realistic. We often find professionals that adopt a sense that because they are “being recruited”, they can essentially ask for anything and expect it. This sense and attitude generally results in a negative outcome for all involved. We go back to our intro comments on this article. If the opportunity meets your long-term career goals and the organization is in line with your values, then you owe it to yourself and the prospective employer to be realistic in your expectations. If not, kindly decline and walk away and be prepared for the next phone call you get further down the road. You may actually need that phone call…
Fernando Espinosa and Warren Carter are the Senior Managing Partners of QualiFind, Inc. and can be reached at 619-661-2585 or firstname.lastname@example.org