Negotiation Guidelines

In negotiating the terms of employment your goal is to get what you want in terms of job content, compensation and control while maintaining your values and self-esteem.  To accomplish this you should reduce ambiguity, manage your own anxiety and understand that you are developing a reputation that will stay with you after the negotiation.

Values / Worth / Self-Esteem

  • Keep perspective  the job is the goal, not specific dollar amounts.
  • In the interview process, establish your worth and value to the organization in each statement.
  • Appear as someone who is evaluating information in order to make a decision about the position.

Reduce Ambiguity

  • Research the market to discover the appropriate range for you.
  • Assess your competitive position – how badly do they want you and what, if any, are their alternatives to determine your leverage in this negotiation.
  • Assess the internal landscape – understanding the company’s policies and compensation structure will uncover the negotiable aspects of the package.
  • Determine your own priorities your “must haves” and where you’re willing to be flexible.  Use the Compensation and Benefit Checklist to help.

Managing Anxiety

  • Get the offer, then negotiate. 
  • Ask about the company’s timeline and urgency.
  • Treat this as a business transaction – leave your personal baggage out of the conversation.
  • Evaluate different scenarios – determine acceptable possibilities and tradeoffs before the discussion.

Set the Tone

  • Aim at a dialogue about the criteria and your potential contributions.
  • Keep it positive and professional. 
  • Exercise patience – there may be unknown factors that cause delays.
  • Negotiating doesn’t need to be negative; you should look for a win-win situation.  If you are happy you will be a more productive employee.  If you sell yourself short and are not content with the compensation package it could lead to frustration with your employer.

Contract Elements (when applicable) – while most employment in the US is on an “Employment At Will Basis”, there are situations where a contract is negotiated.  In those instances, you should consider the following:

  • Term  usually 3-5 years.
  • Duties  should be general.
  • Compensation – strive to include a minimum without upside limitations.
  • Benefits – consider sign-on, bonuses, relocation, expense accounts, health.
  • Termination  conduction of and terms of justification.
  • Severance – include the monetary remuneration, outplacement and continuance of benefits.

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