Negotiation for First Timers

So you are ready to put your cards on the table and let your employer or client (or potential employer or client) know you are ready t...


So you are ready to put your cards on the table and let your employer or client (or potential employer or client) know you are ready to talk numbers. That’s a mighty big step - and congratulations are in order for deciding to take it. So many people will sit back and let the opportunities to make more money or have a better job pass them by because they are afraid of what negotiations are all about. This fear comes from not understanding the interests and needs of both parties, but what’s even more scary is how many people don’t know what they want out of their jobs or prospective projects with clients. Here’s how you can navigate the not-so-scary negotiation waters for the first time, without losing your shirt. 

Do Your Homework

Let’s say that you are applying for a new job. This should be a time filled with excitement for you. Instead, you might find yourself dreading the one question that stumps so many people: “what are your salary expectations?” Ugh. It’s the worst question. It’s loaded, you know. The company usually already knows how much they are willing to pay for a position long before it is posted to accept applicants. But don’t let that stop you from showing up with an answer. 

Do some research about what the position typically pays in your area or comparable areas in the country. Decide if that is enough for you based on what you know about the job. You need to know your bottom line. The company already has a good idea of what theirs is, so you need to know yours. Make a list of all of your accomplishments from your past experiences and then figure out how to relate them to your new position. Company representatives will be impressed with what you can do for them, not necessarily what you have done for others. While that information gets you in the door, they will hire the person who can give them the most value for their money. 

Practice Your Pitch

Now that you have identified how much money you want to make in your new role, you need to practice walking the walk with your potential employer. You’ll want to ask a friend for help with this or stand in front of the mirror to get acquainted with your sell. And you better believe it’s a sell. You want them to be willing to pay you whatever you want so you need to practice. 

Imagine yourself explaining how you once saved your previous employer $10,000 by automating a process for them. Then imagine telling your potential new employer that you can save them that and more by building out robust systems for tracking and responses - or whatever it is that you are going to pitch them. The takeaway here is that you need to be able to relate your pitch to what your new employer needs. Talk in terms of the future by related it to the past, but always keep the focus on what you can do for them. 

Just Say It

There is no better advice in the world of negotiation than to “just say what you want.” If you are set on a number, give yourself a range to work within, but don’t go below that range unless:

  • There is clearly opportunity to be promoted or to move up in the company.
  • Your benefits package is more than you expected or more than you have now.
  • You get ample vacation time or can take lieu time for extra hours worked.
  • You have learning opportunities that could help you move on to the next role or opportunity - in this company or the next. 
When it comes to negotiating, you want to have your story straight about why you want a certain salary. Simply needing a job is not enough of a reason. So many people undersell themselves because they just want to get the job. They think they can live on the money they will make or that they shouldn’t be greedy in wanting to make more money. Other people think that negotiation is like putting in for a city tender: it goes to the lowest bidder

Leave the Drama at the Door

Sure, it can be scary to ask for what you want. But it is even scarier to think you are not being paid what you are worth. An previous employer of mine once asked me why he should hire me. I told him, “because I’m awesome.” After he finished laughing and settled his surprise, he offered me the job, at the salary I asked of the company. I had never put myself out there like that before and was pleased to find that my candor was a breath of fresh air for the company. My confidence told them that if they weren’t going to hire me, someone else certainly was, so they scooped me up pronto! 

In simply terms, negotiation is just a fancy term for a conversation where each party is trying to get the best deal possible. Employers want to know that they are getting their money’s worth, and employees want to know that they are being paid what they are worth. It can take time for those two things to align in a person’s career, but being clear about your expectations, standing up for your experiences and being confident - without being cocky - can go a long way in getting you the job you want and deserve.

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Vyas Infotech: Negotiation for First Timers
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