Monday, October 1, 2012

Negotiation: What is it and Why do it?

“I’ve been looking for a job and finally got an interview.”
    “That’s great!  It’s a tough market out there and just getting an interview is an accomplishment.”

     “Well, you found a job not that long ago.  This is my first interview in a while.  Any advice?”
    “Yeah, don’t ask about benefits or salary too soon.  Let the company bring that up later.”
“What if they ask about it first thing?”
    “Try to put off talking about it until after you’ve talked about your experience and accomplishments.”
“Wow.  Sounds difficult.  Sounds like a negotiation tactic and I don’t even have the offer.”
    “You’re right.  It IS NEGOTIATION and it will actually help in landing the job!”

Negotiation, like networking, is one of those terms that everyone uses when talking about job search and sort-of knows what it is but yet can be hard pressed to apply.  What is it, and how and when do you apply negotiation tactics in your job search?

Here is a definition:
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
    NEGOTIATE  > verb   - to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter

Sounds simple, doesn’t it?  It’s not, but it also is NOT a part of the job search process to be feared or shied away from.  When you don’t “negotiate,” on your own behalf when seeking a job, chances are you leave dollar$ and benefits lying on the table that could have been yours!

If you are one who shies away from negotiation, the articles found in the negotiation section of the AJC website should help.  You may shy away from fear, and like many job seekers I have known, just accept the offer that is given to you.  Or, you may shy away due to simply not knowing how to negotiate your offer.  In either case, here are a few tips to get you started.

Here are a few negotiation tips.

1.  Understand that negotiation begins the moment you say hello.
As the discussion between the job seekers at the beginning of this article indicates, the information you choose to reveal about your experience and accomplishments begins the negotiation.  It places you at a compensation level in the interviewer’s mind --  right off the bat!  It also indicates the level of responsibility you could assume in their firm.
    • Be cautious about revealing too much too soon.  It may lower your compensation or benefits, or eliminate you as a viable candidate.
2.  Know that EVERYTHING is negotiable.
Everything is up for grabs!  Most job seekers first, and often only, think in terms of salary when it comes time to negotiate.
    • However, you can negotiate anything from work schedule to vacation benefits to starting dates to resources to memberships to bonuses.  The list is just about endless.  
Give careful consideration to what it will take for you to be a happy and productive worker in the organization for which you are interviewing.

3.  Prepare.  Research the profession, and the interviewing firm if you can, in terms of the “going rates” for your skill set.
    • Know what you are worth in the marketplace.  
Know what the firm, or at least the profession, offers as a fair compensation package. 

4.  Prepare.  Know your own bottom line - that line you draw in the sand below which you can not go.
I have been surprised by the number of job seekers I have worked with who had no real idea as to what their cost of living truly is.  Know what it costs to run your household, and  your life style.  Ask yourself the tough question: 
    • What is the lowest I can go in salary and compensation package before I will have to walk away? 
Sort through your “wants” and “needs” - 2 different things entirely.  You may be surprised!

5. Prepare.  Learn about negotiation.
We generally fear that which we do not understand, and that is often the case with negotiation.
    • By learning about what it is and how to offer information on our own behalf, negotiation becomes a less scary part of the job search process.  
As you learn and build skill, who knows. . . you may actually come to relish the opportunity to negotiate!  And recognize that that when you are negotiating your offer to "come on board," you are at your most powerful point when it comes to your tenure with a hiring organization.  They want you and that's a powerful position from which to bargain.  Know too that the starting salary serves as the basis for future raises and bonuses. 

So, learn to negotiate.  It is a skill worth cultivating! 

For additional information on marketing yourself and your capabilities, please refer to the many articles found under the Articles tabs of the AJC–Career Strategy website. 
For individual coaching for your job offer negotiation, feel free to contact us here at the AJC to schedule a consultation.
 ____________________________________________________________________________                 AJC - for Your Career Path
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