Five Steps to a Successful
Lena Bottos, CCP, Salary.com Compensation Market
Everything is negotiable. Or so the saying goes,
but is it true? Is
work, many aspects of your job are still negotiable. When done
well, a solid negotiation will result in a win-win situation
for both you and your employer and will get you closer to your
dream job. Whether you’re looking for a new job or just trying
to get more compensation for your current job, good negotiation
is essential to attaining that ever-elusive ideal
Step 1: Reflect
Look in mirror and assess your strengths and weaknesses. Be
honest with yourself. Two of the biggest mistakes people make
when negotiating on their own behalf are to ignore their
failures and weaknesses and to underemphasize their
accomplishments and strengths. Make a list of each and commit
it to memory. Your existing employer is already aware of items
on both lists, so use the strengths and be prepared for the
Individual strengths and weaknesses are valued differently
job-by-job. If you’re interviewing for jobs, highlight your
most relevant strengths
for that job
. Also, if you’re looking for a raise at a current job and
you're concerned about a specific weakness, look for ways to
address that weakness such as training programs, books, or even
asking your boss for advice before the negotiation
Nothing can sour a negotiation more than an ill-prepared
employee or candidate. If you are trying to negotiate for a
higher salary, do your research and find out what an employee
like you should be making. Talk with recruiters, your peers and
visit salary websites, such as www.salary.com. Also make sure
that you have a good understanding of the company’s policies on
the salary or benefits for which you are negotiating.
Gather and organize all necessary documentation and facts, such
as transcripts, prior reviews, current salary, and salary
expectations, so that you don’t have to struggle with facts and
figures during your negotiation.
Step 3: Prioritize
Many people overlook that fact that total compensation is made
up of numerous components – it's not just base pay. You’re more
likely to get what you want if you know what you want most. For
some it's base pay. For others (e.g., sales people), commission
rates are more important. Entrepreneurs will focus on stock or
stock options. Still others, such as second wage earners, find
health benefits or flexible work schedules are the most
valuable component of compensation.
Knowing what’s important to you sounds simple, but it requires
some thought. You might even find it worthwhile to give up on
something less important to get something more important.
Step 4: Present Your
Make an appointment with your manager or human resources
department – preferably before budgets are set and reviews are
done to give the employer an opportunity to plan ahead. Discuss
point-by-point what you can bring to the organization as an
employee and take time to highlight specific major achievements
or special skills. Make clear to the employer exactly what your
compensation expectations are and why you deserve them.
Be careful to use only business-related reasons for deserving a
raise or benefit increase. Not being able to take the family
vacation you want is not a valid reason for deserving a raise.
Also, be sure to connect your past achievements and future
abilities to the manager’s (and company’s) goals. This will
help put a value on what you can do.
Step 5: Negotiate!
This is where you and the employer discuss what you have
presented. In today's sparse job market, chances are you’ll
have to make a few sacrifices when it comes to negotiating a
deal. It is therefore important to define ahead of time the
minimum salary and other compensation figures you are willing
to accept. You will need to gauge the employer’s willingness or
ability to negotiate. It’s okay to be firm about stating your
requirements after an offer has been made, but remember that
the company has its own requirements as well, so a certain
amount of compromise is necessary for both sides to achieve
It is important to stay level-headed during this meeting. Your
negotiation is just a conversation between two parties looking
to achieve a common goal of either employee acquisition or
retention. Companies want happy, productive employees and the
negotiation process highlights the specifics of what is needed
to get you there.
important part of the negotiation process is discussing your
abilities to deliver outstanding results. Do it. Your best
negotiating leverage next time around is to over-deliver on
the promises you made to get the raise or job offer.
Remember, even in a down economy, the top performers will be
taken care of.