Negotiating your salary is a small test between friendly adversaries. This guide by Lewis Schiff, “the Armchair Millionaire,” can help you win and close the deal. From Work It!: How to Get Ahead, Save Your Ass, and Land a Job in Any Economy, by Allison Hemming.
Negotiating your employment package with your prospective employer represents the first time they get to see how you handle yourself in difficult circumstances. The phrase “never let them see you sweat” certainly applies here. Don’t think of the employment negotiation as the final word on how much value your employer places on you. It’s a smell test between two friendly adversaries. Remember that you both want to win but both of you also need to close the deal with dignity. Leaving a little money on the table, or not fighting for the last dollar, can show your potential employer that you’re a long-term thinker.
Here’s my checklist for keeping your cool during pay negotiations.
- Ask lots of questions. During an interview, you are judged by the quality of the questions you ask.
- Never, ever throw out the first number.
- Never, ever throw out the second number.
- Discuss the benefits in detail, including health insurance, retirement package, and vacation policy.
- Find out if a severance package is something you can agree on before being hired and under what circumstances you’d be eligible for severance.
- Ask to schedule a salary and performance review within at least six months as a condition of accepting the job. This shows ambition and confidence.
- Ask for the offer in writing.
- Don’t get personal. This is business, so don’t share more about your personal life than is asked and even then, be careful about revealing too much. This includes family health problems, your financial situation, and your future plans (to get married, start a family, whatever).
- If you’ve scheduled a vacation that would occur after your starting date, make sure it will be honored as a condition of accepting the position.
- Never accept the job on the spot. Always tell them you need time to think about it. If they say they are going to offer it to someone else, let them know that it’s an important decision and you expect them to respect how seriously you take the decision. Agree on a deadline, even if it’s just twenty-four hours. Make sure to get back to them before the deadline.
- Conduct yourself in a professional manner at all times. If you want to rise in the company, you need to show them that you can handle yourself in a negotiation.
The bottom line: if you can keep your cool while negotiating your own employment package, you may be management material.
Contributed by Lewis Schiff to Work It! by Allison Hemming (Copyright © 2003 by Allison Hemming). Lewis founded the Armchair Millionaire web site in 1997. His first book, The Armchair Millionaire, was published in 2001. Today, ArmchairMillionaire.com is a fast-growing community of common sense savers and investors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allison Hemming, author of Work It!: How to Get Ahead, Save Your Ass, and Land a Job in Any Economy (Copyright © 2003 by Allison Hemming), is the founder of The Hired Guns, an interim workforce agency. She lives in New York City.
MORE ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR
- Being Downsized 101
- How to Be Successfully Unemployed
- How to Sneak Out of Work Without Getting Caught and Other Job-Search Tips
- The Tao of Interviewing: 12+ Tips to Help You Land the Job
- Why the Internet Is Ruining Your Job Search
- Read Chapter 1, “Get Out of Your Own Way: Diversify, and Get the Job You Really Want,” from Work It!
- See the book’s Table of Contents