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Salary Negotiation Techniques

The best approach to putting the deal together is to decide whether you want the job before an offer is extended. This allows you to clarify whether the job suits your needs. Unless you’re motivated solely by money, it’s doubtful a few extra dollars will turn a bad job into a good one.

The term “bottom line” refers to the amount of compensation you feel is absolutely necessary to accept the job offer. If, for example, you really want $76,000 but would think about $75,000 or settle for $74,000, then you haven’t established your bottom line. The bottom line is one dollar more than the figure you would positively walk away from. Setting a bottom line clarifies your sense of worth, and helps avoid an unpredictable bargaining session.

I recommend against “negotiating” an offer in the classic sense, where the company makes a proposal, you counter, they counter your counter, and so on. While this type of back-and-forth format may be customary for negotiating a residential real estate deal, job offers should be handled in a more straightforward manner.

Here’s how: Determine your bottom line in advance, and wait for the offer. If the company offers you more than your bottom line, great. If they offer you less, then you have the option of turning the offer down or revealing to them your bottom line as a condition of acceptance. At that point, they can raise the ante or walk away. And once the bottom line is known, you can avoid the haggling that so often causes aggravation, disappointment, or hurt feelings.

By determining your own acceptance conditions in advance, you’ll never be accused of negotiating in bad faith or of being indecisive. Whether you’re representing yourself or working with a recruiter, learning to differentiate between financial fact and fantasy will facilitate the job changing process.
If you feel the need to justify your salary request, you can itemize any loss of income that may result from a differential in benefits, geographic location, car expenses, and so forth.

Often, there are considerations aside from money that need to be satisfied before an offer can be accepted. Factors such as the new position title, review periods, work schedule, vacation allotment, and promotion opportunities are important, and should be looked at carefully.
You can use  this approach to quantify each consideration or “point” you need to satisfy as a condition for acceptance. Once you and the company settle on each point, you won’t need to go back later to negotiate “one more thing.” Knowing your bottom line puts you in a better position to get what you want, since you’ve established a set of quantifiable conditions needed for acceptance.

How to Evaluate a Job Offer

Let’s assume your employment interview went well, and there’s sincere and mutual interest on both sides. You now need to decide two things: first, whether the new position is right for you; and if so, what sort of offer you’d be willing to accept. To help in the decision-making process, take the following test as a way to compare the two positions.

Position Comparison Guide
Directions: Compare the new job with what you already have.

old job New job Element under consideration
     Position title
    Supervisory responsibility
    Project authority
    Decision-making autonomy
    Freedom to implement ideas
     Ability to affect change
    Promotion potential
    Challenge of tasks
    Ability to meet expectations
    Access to professional development
    Professional growth potential
    Company/industry growth
    Company/industry stability
    Starting salary, benefits, perks
    Future compensation
    Commuting distance
    Travel requirements
    Work environment
    Rapport with co-workers
    Rapport with management
    Comfort with corporate culture
    Other considerations (specify)
     
   

Total score: New job vs. old job




Your Next Job: What Does it Really Pay?

Compensation will be a key factor in your decision whether to accept a new position. However, few people take the time to really understand their economic choices, mostly because there are so many hidden factors, such as cost of living, benefits, and so forth. To help you put your choices into perspective, use the following guide to evaluate your prospective compensation package with what you’re currently earning.
Position Compensation Guide

Directions: Compare the economics of the old and new job.

Current Job New Job Element to Consider
$ $ Base salary
$ $ Bonus, commissions
$ $ Additional perks
$ $ Profit sharing potential
$ $ Value of stock or equity
$ $ Pension
$ $ 401(k) contribution
$ $ Reimbursed expenses
$ $ Cost of living differences
$ $ Moving expenses
$ $ Travel expenses
$ $ Insurance premiums
$ $ Property taxes
$ $ State, local taxes
$ $ Sales taxes
$ $ Other expenses (specify)
     

$

$

Difference (+/-)


Regardless of where compensation ranks on your list of priorities, it’s a good idea to know what you may be getting into when faced with a career decision!




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