Negotiating a Job Offer: Scenarios and Secrets

By Simon Ward

In today’s world, negotiations for job offers are anything but a walk in the park. They can be intimidating, stressful, and downright scary, and every single situation is different. It can be hard, almost impossible to know what to say and do so that you don’t completely blow a great job offer. How do you handle negotiations? What can you do to ensure that you get the best possible offer for the job that you want? Well, before we get into the secrets that you’ll need to negotiate successfully, let’s take a look at three different scenarios that are the most common:

Scenario 1: For the last four years you have been working at the same company. You pull your own weight and have never gotten a bad review or comment from your supervisors. However, a recruiter has been calling a lot lately, telling you that you could – and should – earn more somewhere else. You like your job and the company you work for, so you don’t want to just quit but you want to make sure that you’re earning a competitive salary. You really want to ask for a raise, except you know that budgets are tighter now and no supervisor likes to be levied with outside offers from their workers. So what can you do?

Scenario 2: You have made it to a third round interview with a company that you really like for a job that you want. Yet, you just got another offer from a really great company that you would rather work for. The hiring manager at the first company finally just gets to the point and asks: “While we are considering several candidates, we really like you and what you bring to the company. We hope that you feel the same. So, if we can offer you a competitive salary, would you be ready to come to work for us?”

Scenario 3: After several interviews, you’ve finally been offered a job that you know you will love. The down side is that the salary is a lot smaller than you feel that you deserve for the experience and knowledge that you bring. So, you ask the hiring manager if there is any room for negotiation in the salary. Her response is “Well, we don’t normally hire people that have your background since our work culture here is a bit different. We don’t feel that this position is just about money, but are you saying that you won’t work for us unless we raise the salary?”

Each of those three scenarios offer a real world problem that most of us have dealt with already. They are uncomfortable and you never know how to handle them, but they show you how complex negotiations can be when it comes to finding a great job that you will love and that will pay you what you deserve. There are two growing problems that also add more complexity to these issues: One is that many companies are now offering stocks, bonuses, and other options that factor into your salary and are based on personal, and group performance. The second is that companies are also now using sliding scale bonuses both for signing and for performance, which makes it even harder to compare offers that you have and choose the right one. To top it off, there are more people competing for the same positions who all have huge differences in their strengths, backgrounds, knowledge, and salary histories that employers have no clue where to place benchmarks for salaries or to give them a scale for what used to be standard packages.

Then there are those industries where the horrible labor market has made it so that candidates now have ever shrinking options and even less leverage than they used to, giving employers a better platform to dictate hiring and salary terms. For those that have been unemployed or are just worried their job might be on shaky footing, these issues all compound to make their negotiating power go down the drain.

However, there is a bright side to all of that negativity when it comes to job negotiations.
When a job market is complex like this, it makes great opportunities for people who can use their skills and their knowledge to negotiate conditions, terms and more when it comes to employment. However, negotiations work best when there is a wide range of outcomes to work toward.

It is important to keep in mind that every single situation is different, but there are some great tactics, strategies and secrets that can help you get through many of the problems that most people face when trying to negotiate with potential employers and those they already work for. There are fifteen actually, for the sake of time, I’ll begin with the first three and then follow up five more in the following post.

Secret #1: Likability Is Your Ace In The Hole
Never ever underestimate the power of likability when it comes to job negotiations. It may sound too basic or too cliché, but it is a crucial step in negotiating for a position. Here’s why: If someone likes you, they will fight to get you what you want. Now, being likable is more than just being polite when you’re dealing with people. It is more about managing some of the normal tensions when it comes to job negotiations, like asking for a better salary without sounding like a greedy person, showing problems in the offer they have made without sounding like you’re nitpicking, and being able to be persistent without being a bother. If you aren’t sure about learning to do this, ask a friend to practice interviewing you. This way, you will have an honest look at your tactics and enable you to practice before you are in front of a recruiter or hiring manager.

Secret #2: Be Clear That The Company Can Get You On Their Team
Consider this: Would you want to put out tremendous effort to help someone, if you knew that they were just going to say no to you in the end? Of course you wouldn’t. The same is true with hiring managers. Before you start serious negotiations with a company, you want to make it clear that you are very serious about working for them. Think of it this way: sometimes you have to explain how everyone wants you to make everyone want you. But, this is a fine line to walk because if you come on too strong, the hiring manager will automatically think that they cannot afford to hire you or keep you happy, so why bother? Make sure that you balance the leverage options you have with reasons that you would forget them to accept an offer for their company.

Secret #3: Make Them See Why You Deserve What You Are Asking For
Now that you have mastered how to make them like you and how to see that they can get you, you have to show them why you deserve what you’re asking for. Don’t go into a negotiation assuming that your proposal will stand on its own. You want to make sure that you have a story that goes along with it.

You don’t want to go in and request a higher salary, or ask to work from home, etc, without explaining why you deserve it. If they hear a demand and see that there is no real justification for it, they will see the demand as just that, a demand, and will make you look arrogant. Make sure that you tie this in to likability and practice how you ask for things and how you explain why you should get them.

More secrets to follow in our next post. >>>