Headline: You Gotta Keep it Negotiated

Date: 12/26/2020

Body:   I was reading a wonderful article on the Penny Hoarder, on the topic of negotiation.   I have inserted the link below:https://www.thepennyhoarder.com/make-money/career/how-to-negotiate-salary/?aff_sub2=homepage

When you are rafting the whitewater, people can say that you are learning to “negotiate” the rapids, and a negotiation for an initial salary or a raise can certainly feel like this very bumpy trip.  But, this new expedition for you is very important, even though it can be difficult.  Future raises, future bonuses and your future opportunities could be governed by this one success or failure.

Why are these talks so important?

Salary negotiations are important because they demonstrate to the company that you have done your preparation and know the market rates and that you are confident in your skills for success.  Negotiations are also a time for you to think about your financial needs and to use the tight labor market to your advantage to score a higher starting salary.

Take Heart, You Probably Have Better Cards Than You Think.

Despite the pandemic, the largest issue cited by small business owners remains retention of talent.  Yet, per a 2019 study done by Robert Half, 70% of hiring managers are ready to negotiate, and 45% of job seekers simply grab the job offered, regardless of the accompanying benefits package.   Please know that you DO have power in these negotiations

How To Negotiate a Salary

Overall, before you have the negotiation with your prospective employer, you need to have a plan.   I propose the following plan:

  1. Decide what is really important to YOU.–>Many articles will focus on getting the most money out of an employer, and this IS important.  But, I think it is even more important to define what you consider to be “mission critical.”   To do this, develop an idea of your expenses per month and whatever your savings goals are.   Then, if there are non-financial goals that you have (e.g. a nicer office, better job title, better health insurance or something similar) you can use these “non-financial” inducements to bargain with your prospective employer.  You might ask for $5,000 per year and the employer might explain that this position has already been budgeted for.  In this case, you can say, “Alright, but in recompense, I would really like the larger office.”  Which is what you really wanted in the first place.   (Classic, “If you want a puppy, ask for a snake” negotiation tactics.)   But, until you are truly aware of your needs and wants, you can’t do this technique.
  2. Compile a list of specific, measurable achievements you have lived up to in the period since your last Review.
  3. Do research on competitors to see what is truly the “Market Rate” for a person with your experience.        
  4. When you receive the first offer, breathe, say  “thank you” and ask when they need the response by.  If you can’t put any time between the offer and acceptance, think of your non-financial concerns and accomplish 1 or 2 as you can, in lieu of the income that your research indicated.    It is always better to counter after a period of time, so that your emotions are less raw.
  5. When you do get an offer that you like, be sure to get it in writing.   As lawyers say, “verbal contracts are not worth the paper they’re printed on.”

But, negotiation is like any skill.   To become proficient, you must practice it.  If need be, break it down into practicing one technique at a time, until you can master all of them that you need.   When you do this discussion in person, please do all that you can to non-verbally impress upon the interviewer that you are confident.    To do this,

  1. Be sure to keep good eye contact with the interviewer.
  2.  Be sure to keep your posture open, but confident.  Leaning forward subtly is often helpful.
  3. Your handshake should be firm and brief.   Do not break the interviewer’s hand with your shake.
  4. Feel free to use appropriate hand gestures confidently, but please ensure that you don’t do anything unusual.    
  5. Observe the facial expressions of the interviewer closely to get clues to what they are thinking.  In return, please ensure that you do smile when it is appropriate.
  6. Be careful with any fidgeting.  Your body movements should be purposeful.   Perhaps cut back on the coffee on negotiation day, or do some guided imagery before the interview.

As you progress in your practice, it is a help to video-tape yourself, but also, ask your trusted assistant how they felt your non-verbal communication affected them.  One final suggestion is that you should be VERY cautious when you give an ultimatum.   If they call your bluff, you now have a VERY tricky decision to make.  NOT a good situation to be in.

What if they say “NO”??

It is important to admit that your boss might have to say no.  This is not the end of the world.   You might want to try to get 1 or 2 of the non-financial objectives that you had.   If this is a flat, “NO” and you are human, you WILL feel a flush of anger.  It is important to ignore this flush of anger, and best to reply in an ambiguous manner, like “I understand your position.”   Then, you have to determine if they are close enough to what you should be earning to stay with that employer, or look elsewhere. 

However, life is what happens while we are making other plans, so sometimes you have to say “Yes” to the offer expressed.   If this happens, you can accept the offer and ask the employer if you can revisit this in 6-12 months when you’ve proven your worth to the company.

What if they do ask for Salary History?

This is a tough one, because you want to give your future employer all of the information that they might need, but at the same time, you DON’T want to negotiate against yourself.  In fact, some states have passed laws prohibiting potential employers from asking this question.  If they push the issue, it seems best to offer them a range.  This range should be based upon your research into the market, and your needs.

Can I just phone it in? 

Some people are so threatened by this negotiation process that they would prefer to do it via e-mail.  Most HR experts seem to suggest that this is a really bad idea, and suggest that in-person negotiations are best, but if not feasible, phone interviews are second-best.   The on-going theme seems to be that you are trying to remind the HR professional that you are a human being.   If you are right in front of them, it’s self-evident.   If you are on the phone, they can hear the nuances in your voice that remind them of your human needs, and they might be more positively disposed to accommodate your requirements.






 Editor’s Note: The information in this blog should not be construed as tax advice.   Each individual has attributes that could change the recommendations in a material manner.  For this reason, please enjoy this blog, but before taking action, consult a CPA or tax professional to discuss the details of your situation.

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