Mistakes that people make when looking to negotiate salary:
Negotiating salary can be one of the most challenging aspects to handle properly, and to your advantage, when seeking a new career opportunity. In times of economic challenge, such as a recession or long recovery period, every business is looking to do more for less, and that affects offers made to those that they look to hire. Workloads for current employees have been significantly increased, and companies will look to achieve the same efficiencies from their new hires. Of course, supply and demand play an important part in salary levels too: with so many struggling to find work, it’s natural for companies to take advantage and work to reduce incoming salary levels. That concept is well understood by hiring managers looking to reduce their payroll percentages for their departments; by HR individuals looking to improve their performance numbers and ratios; and by the individuals facing this headwind when negotiating their salary packages.
The first major mistake usually occurs before ‘negotiations’ have even begun, since it typically happens very early in the interview process. That mistake can be an answer in conversation during your first interview, or an answer given when you are handed a package of paperwork by someone in the HR department. It’s the question that you should never answer: “What is your expected or desired salary.” Ever play poker? What would happen to your monetary funds in a poker game if you shared with others at the table insights into the cards that you were holding in your hand? It’s the same principal, but now you are gambling with your future compensation, so you need to think things through before answering questions that may seem innocuous, or expressed as ‘required questions’.
The other major mistake in negotiating is to accept that you are now a commodity, equal to all the others competing against you. Understanding how to properly present and differentiate your value, as compared to those that are competing against you for the role, is crucial to gaining your desired compensation. Aside from presenting, and fully representing your value to those that you meet during the interview process, individuals seeking a better salary must also learn one of the fundamentals of successful negotiating: whomever speaks about money first, loses. When I coach individuals on salary negotiations, it begins with a singular goal for the job seeker during the interview process: never talk about money. It’s natural to want the best offer that you can receive, but you must approach this quest for your desired compensation with great self-restraint. The secret to getting the very best offer is to make them ‘fall in love’ with the skills, abilities, and all that you have to offer that differentiates you from all the others seeking this role.
Once they fall in love with the best ‘new addition for their team’, any discussions of salary needs get much easier, as they have already decided upon you. But, remember, a successful negotiation is one where everyone wins: you get your needed or desired salary, and they get an incomparable addition for their team, so be ready to deliver!
The 3 things that a person must have prepared before negotiating a salary:
1. A unwavering understanding that any discussion whatsoever of salary needs must come only after you have convinced them of your unique value during the interview process.
2. Be sure that you have fully developed your value and differentiated what you offer from the ‘very best individual‘ that you can imagine, as that person is your real competition for the role.
3. Develop a persuasive argument to differentiate what a company might expect when comparing the results from someone ‘capable‘ that they may hire, as compared to what they will gain in efficiency and bottom-line results by choosing to hire you for the position.
Whom should I negotiate with, and is there a ‘protocol’?
Two very similar companies may handle salary negotiations very differently, but my advice to my own coaching clients is always to be selling and persuading the real decision-maker. Are you interviewing for a position in the HR department? Then the decision-maker is in the HR department. If not, then the actual hiring manager is a better choice. Win the hiring manager over with your value and you will have an advocate –regardless of where the financial compensation decisions are actually made. Be sure to give the hiring manager the tools necessary so that they can represent you in those internal discussions by properly presenting your full value to them.
Author, Career Coach & Speaker on Job Search
© John Crant
As seen and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, on FINS.com, on CareerBuilder’s CBsalary.com, on The Ladders, in The New York Post, The Huffington Post, in Essence magazine, in CRAIN’S New York Business, on Forbes.com, in amNY, and on CNN, BBC, FOX News, Arise TV – John shares the answers and the concrete steps for success in Job Search.
John is a Featured Speaker at The New York Public Library’s JOB SEARCH CENTRAL, as well as at the YMCA in New York City, and is a Social Media expert for Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program.
He speaks at Corporate Events, works with Workforce Development organizations, and teaches both students and alumni with this Self-Recruiter® Series for Colleges and Universities.
Changing the Rules: How to Be Your Own Recruiter &
Ride the Economic Crisis to Your Next Career Challenge.
© 2009 John Crant
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