Getting Ahead

Got A New Job? How To Demystify The Salary Negotiation Process

In this tight labor market, you are in a good position to negotiate when you receive a job offer or promotion. While many of us are hesitant to haggle over an exciting new position, start off the negotiation by shifting your mindset from confrontation to collaborative problem-solving in order to get on the right track.

Myth No. 1: Coming to an agreement equals success.

Remember you are negotiating to get the best deal, not just to arrive at an agreement. We often walk into negotiations thinking only of the best alternatives when both sides agree, but, in fact, we should consider our own best alternative to a negotiated agreement a.k.a. BATNA, which is to consider our options if no agreement is reached.

In a salary negotiation, your BATNA could be remaining in your current position or accepting another job offer you are considering. Alternatively, you can also think of your BATNA as options below your reservation price, which is the lowest price you would accept before walking away.

Next, assess your own aspiration for the deal. Ask yourself which of the following is the most important: Are you negotiating to get more monetary compensation or an overall better benefits package, to get recognition and title for the role or to get the skills and training needed to continue to be successful? Prioritizing your own interests will allow you to make better tradeoffs.

Throughout the job offer negotiation, not only are you working on agreeing to accept the job, you are also working on the best deal that will allow you to happily remain on the job in the future.

Myth No. 2: You’re at a disadvantage if you make the first move.

Often companies make the first move by extending the job offer. While some may think that making the first move puts you at a disadvantage, research from Northwestern University has shown that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, if you are well prepared in a negotiation, it is OK to make the first move. Be prepared to research the salary range through or and then request your desired salary range. Aim high but not so high that you go above the employer’s reservation price and they abandon the negotiation.

Myth No. 3: Honesty is the best (negotiating) policy.

While I’m not advocating for dishonesty, you are not required to show all your cards at once. In these conversations, you do not need to disclose your current or past salary information. It’s OK to give a range and doing so will give you some flexibility. Also, unintentional information sharing can hurt you in your negotiation. For example, if you know the salary of the employee that previously held the position, you may not want to reveal that upfront. You should only disclose your reservation price or additional salary comparables as a way to move past an impasse in the negotiation process.

Myth No. 4: It’s wise to negotiate one item at a time.

In thinking of your job offer as a package, come up with some relevant benefits you would like to receive that will enhance the overall offer. Examples include working remotely, getting leadership coaching, adding relocation or housing allowances or shortening the performance review period to allow for quicker promotion. Frame these benefits as a way for you to contribute to the organization more quickly and be creative in finding solutions to help the company save money and gain productivity, as well as improve your offer. The best solutions will be investments that companies are glad to make.

Remember in the end, you and your negotiating partner — whether it be the hiring manager or human resources — all have the same interest in mind, which is to hire the best person for the job and to retain the talent. Since you both already agree on the fact you are the best person for the job, in the spirit of collaborative problem solving, frame your negotiation to creatively develop a win-win deal for both you and the organization.

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