You've jumped through all the hoops. You've developed
a great r�sum�, identified a promising job opportunity, performed well
in rounds of interviews, and now the call has finally come: They want
But wait - the most challenging part of your job
search is still to come. It's time to negotiate your compensation and
If you're in a strong position - lots of offers,
outstanding technical skills, little competition - negotiating may be a
matter of naming your price. Even so, strategy is important. You want
your manager and coworkers to be glad to have you, not resentful of your
Besides, few of us are this fortunate. The typical
candidate really wants the job, is terrified of losing it by being too
aggressive, and doesn't negotiate effectively - if at all.
Whether this is your first job offer or your tenth,
you'll do yourself a favor by honing your negotiation skills. Whatever
the firm's initial offer is, it can often be improved - in many cases
dramatically - through savvy negotiating. And once you're on the job,
it'll be difficult to get the same boost, even with stellar performance.
If you've become the clear top candidate for a
position, you obviously have more bargaining power than if you appear a
little better than the next-best candidate. By the time you get to the
bargaining table, a lot of your negotiating has already been
accomplished - for better or worse.
Already at that point? Don't worry. Maybe you can
improve your salary five or 20 percent. Maybe you can negotiate an early
review with a raise for strong performance. And then there are bonuses,
increased commission, stock options, educational benefits, extra
vacation days, and a flexible schedule. These and a host of other
factors could mean the difference between job satisfaction and early
The Bottom Line
Your time is one of your most valuable possessions.
And when you take a job, you are giving up most of your waking hours to
help others achieve their objectives. Isn't it worth investing a little
time up front to make sure you're compensated at your full value?
Practice the techniques described in this Insider, do
the research to back up your requests, and you can negotiate an
excellent compensation package - not just a salary, but your other
must-haves as well, and even a few nice-to-have items.
If you do this well, your employer will also be
pleased with the agreement - and even more impressed with you. Note that
the principles here also apply to negotiating a raise, winning a coveted
job assignment, reaching agreements with coworkers, and many other
situations on and off the job.
Eleven Principals of
How do you build your bargaining power? Let these 11
principals guide you.
- Bargaining power is key.
- Your bargaining power reflects the company's experiences with
- The earlier you enter the hiring process, the more influence you
- Taking on a short-term project can dramatically improve your
- Know the market and develop alternative job offers.
- Establish your priorities, and evaluate offers accordingly.
- Be aware of what the employer can offer.
- Assess your power position realistically.
- Never be the first to name a salary.
- Always negotiate with the decision maker.
- Try to create situations that benefit you and the company.
1. Bargaining power is key.
Bargaining power is what you have if there's an oil
field on fire and you're the only outfit able to be on the scene
smothering the flames tomorrow. Bargaining power is what you have if you
wrote the year's hottest-selling business title, and now every company
wants you as a speaker. You can name your price, because you're the one
who can do the job.
If you can transform yourself from a qualified
candidate into the candidate, you won't have much need for fancy
negotiating tactics when it comes time to agree on terms. You can
probably upgrade your job title. You may be entrusted with a wider range
of responsibilities - which means richer experiences and more
opportunities. You may be able to report to a higher-level supervisor
and have greater decision-making power. All this translates to a higher
salary, access to more perks, and speedier career development.
If, on the other hand, the employer sees you as equal
to the other candidates, your efforts to significantly improve a job
offer will inspire a second look at your competitors. Making the company
feel like it needs you, specifically, will serve you better than
deploying every negotiating trick in the book from a position of
2. Your bargaining power
reflects the company's experiences with you.
Bargaining power is the sum of all the impressions
you've made. A referral from a respected source is a great first deposit
in your power bank. More than one adds to your account. Enthusiastic
references contribute still more. An impressive first interview, in
which you articulate your strengths, show that you know what it takes to
do the job, and share some insights based on your own research, can be a
big power boost.
If your follow-up to that first meeting demonstrates
more work on your part, you get a second interview and more power. When
your meetings with your potential colleagues go well, you raise your
stock a bit more. Perhaps you can tackle a short-term assignment (for
pay, if there is substantial work involved), and show off your talents.
Now they really want you!
By the time you are in what's generally recognized as
the negotiation process, you're dealing from a position of maximum
3. The earlier you enter the
hiring process, the more influence you can exert.
A company rarely decides to seek out a new employee
on the spur of the moment. Unless it's simply a matter of replacing an
employee who's moved on, such decisions typically follow a three-stage
Stage One: A
problem or need is identified. There's too much work to be done by the
existing staff, a problem with quality or customer satisfaction, or a
need to develop new business.
Solutions are considered. Should several employees' jobs be redefined so
that their talents are put to better use? Should an existing staff
member be moved to a new position? (If so, that person's old position
will have to be filled.) Should a new employee be hired to fill the
position? Or should most of the work be outsourced?
Stage Three: The
job is defined. The company decides to create a new position. The next
questions are: Where will the money come from? Who will the person
report to? What will the job description include?
Only after all three stages are completed does the
company go to the market-advertise the position, post it on the
Internet, hire a recruiter to find the right person. If you enter the
game at this stage, you're likely to face a fair amount of competition,
which means diminished bargaining power.
Getting considered early usually means entering the
discussions informally. If your first contact with the company is
through an informational meeting (perhaps set up through one of your
networking sources), you can talk about your background and interests
without the pressure of an interview situation, get feedback on any
research you've done, and learn about the industry and the business from
In the process, you may see a need or problem at the
company that has not yet been defined (entering at stage one), or find
out about one whose solution has not yet been settled (entering at stage
You'll be able to follow up on the information
meeting with a letter or e-mail describing the additional thinking or
research you've done (based on the insider perspective you've gained),
which sets you up for another meeting. Once you're in the discussion
loop and have established your credibility, you're in a prime position
to land a position that's tailored for you.