Few experiences in your professional life are likely to be as rewarding and exciting as the satisfaction that your first pay check at a new job brings you. However, our first venture out into the workforce offers us no negotiation at all of what that first check will read. Our mediocre skills and lack of expertise only brings us the money employers say we can get.
Keeping your head up, always gaining knowledge, and having expertise in an area will soon turn the table of salary negotiations in your favor. Before you feel the same sense of triumph, you have to learn the art of “Salary Negotiations” skills through a process that can make sense into the hearts and minds of jobseekers everywhere. The ability to negotiate salaries and benefits packages will become ever more important as your level of seniority increases.
Expect the unexpected because jobseekers are often so focused on landing the position for which they are interviewing, it may seem premature to think about salary negotiations beforehand. In addition, most interview advice books and columns caution jobseekers to let the hiring manager make the first move when it comes to talking about money. Although this advice is absolutely correct, you should still come into the interview fully prepared to discuss the issue of salary if the interviewer chooses to bring it up. Jobseekers who fail to prepare for the salary negotiation process are much more likely to undervalue them or to accept the first lowball figure that the interviewer offers up. So how can you avoid this common interview pitfall? I think jobseekers can easily overcome these obstacles with a bit of advance planning, practice, and preparation.
“Salary negotiations are also important because each interaction between potential employees and prospective employers prior to employment helps fill information gaps that each party has about each other. Although much of the recruitment has focused off of the signals applicants send to potential employers and their first impression prospective employers also send signals to applicants that may be just as important in determining recruitment outcomes. For example, negotiations that take place during the interview process are likely to set a tone for future exchanges” (Porter, 273).
“Once you receive a job offer, it is time to evaluate what is most important to you. Is it cash offered through the basic salary and cash bonus, or is the possibility of large future gains through stock options more attractive? You can negotiate only when you have a solid offer. Once you’ve established your value to the employer or market, you must sell your knowledge, skills, and abilities. Your “offer” usually consists of the value you bring to your new employer; your expertise, connections, or customers. Ask yourself, “What do I offer that no one else or few others can match? What did they like about you? Your strengths, your knowledge about their industry or organization? When you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to negotiate” (Hagevik, 34).
Pre-employment interactions help form a psychological contract between employees and employers. The psychological contract that is formed during salary negotiations may not only set a precedent for future interactions, but also help potential employees make choices as to which organization they are willing to join. The employer could get the impression that you are a “go getter” if you start negotiating salary right from the start. By knowing how to do this well is where the class would get its value.
“The idea of negotiation raises the anxiety level of all but a few people, those who thrive on the thrill of competitive bargaining. Most physicians I’ve met do not relish the process and view it as a type of conflict. “Most of us react to conflict the same way our ancient ancestors reacted to saber-toothed tigers appearing on the horizon. Our instinct is still ‘fight or flight,’ however much we have evolved in other areas. Our primitive urge is either to fight back and escalate the conflict, or to run away. This flight may mean actually leaving the room, or simply withdrawing emotionally. When you give in to either fight or flight, you lose control of the situation and are likely to feel either abusive or victimized. “Marilyn Moats Kennedy says, “Unless you’re prepared to overcome a natural reluctance to make counter offers in a negotiation, your options are not just limited, they’re nonexistent.” “One of the rules of the ’90s is, ‘Get the money up front'” (Linney, 1).
Learn all you can about your prospective employer’s goals. Then try to determine as specifically as possible the results you can produce. Remember, your new employer is seeking opportunities through a suitable match. By being able to clearly articulate the value you can offer, you put yourself in the best possible position for negotiations.
“If you listen first, you will have a better chance of being heard when you speak.” People listen better, sooner, and longer when you speak to their needs first… but… research shows that people speak first to the other person’s needs only three percent of the time. We usually speak first to our own needs because we are unclear about what we want and are trying to figure it out as we talk, or because we’re secretly afraid we can’t have it, and we are trying to trick, overwhelm, or fast-talk others into giving it to us. The result is that people close down and are less receptive to what we say.” You will be able to listen carefully, if you have done your research and written down what you want before the negotiation begins” (Linney, 8).
After you’ve developed a clearer understanding of the salary ranges that are prevalent in your industry, it’s time to develop a general range that you feel comfortable with. Consider your salary history and current rate of compensation, and make sure that the upper end of your stated range is slightly higher than what you actually expect to receive. That way, you’ll leave a bit of wiggle room for the negotiation process. If you are asked the question, what are your salary expectations? Your answer should be like this, “Well, obviously I would like to be on a top salary for the role as I see myself bringing great value and experience to the company, as well as determination and commitment. What do you think is a fair salary for what I hope to bring to your company? Don’t settle on an unrealistic salary range.
“Organizations with set salary structures will pay close attention to employees within the organization with a similar background and experience are earning. They will have a difficult time providing a higher base salary or a considerably larger stock option package to someone from the outside. However, a signing bonus is a great way to keep internal equity, yet provide a newcomer an incentive to join. A few extra stock options is another way to provide something beyond the original offer. If vacation time is very important to you, concentrate your negotiation strategy on getting your desired amount of time off. If you know what you want and are being business-minded about it, the hiring manager will listen, but if you come across as being greedy and wanting too many things increased, you may not get what you really want” (Yaroshevsky, 470).
Celebrate your accomplishment. When negotiations are handled properly, you’ve achieved part of what you wanted and everybody will win. You will know it when it happens, and so will your employer. Enjoy your decision. Never dwell on “what could have been.” Get paid to go to work with enthusiasm and optimism.
Hagevik, Sandra. “Negotiating Your Way To Success.” Journal Of Environmental Health 62.10 (2000): 34. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.
Linney, Barbara J. “Negotiate The Salary You Want.” Physician Executive 22.12 (1996): 12, P1. Business Source Premier. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.
Linney, Barbara J. “Negotiate The Salary You Want.” Physician Executive 22.12 (1996): 12, P8. Business Source Premier. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.
Porter, Christopher O. L. H., Donald E. Conlon, and Alison E. Barber. “The Dynamics Of Salary Negotiations: Effects On Applicants’ Justice Perceptions And Recruitment Decisions.” International Journal Of Conflict Management 15.3 (2004): 273-303. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Nov. 2011.
Yaroshevsky-Glanville, Mary. “What Are You Worth?.” Nature Biotechnology 24.4 (2006): 469-470. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Mar. 2012.