Salary negotiations are something most people think about related to executives. Not true. They go hand in hand with “will” and “will not.” The important list everyone has about what they’re willing or unwilling to do in any job.

During my “Career Transition” course, I’ve met people who are surprised when I show them how to negotiate for a new position with their current employer. Negotiation covers more than your salary – time off, flexible work hours, flexible work days, your cube location or anything else that matters to you and the time to bring it up is right after you’ve been offered a job.

Your “Will / Will Not” list is important – it’s critical – but the time to refer to your list is after you’ve been made an offer. Here’s why. By the time an organization has completed the steps to identify their top candidate for a role, they’ve already imagined what life will be like with you on their team. Even if the job required a candidate to move. They think you’re amazing – that’s why they’re willing to hire you. So if you really are amazing, wouldn’t they rather let their new “amazing” employee work from home in Dallas, than an office in Charlotte? Maybe, but you’ll never know if you tell the recruiter on day-one that you’re not willing to move. Once you have the offer in-hand you have something that didn’t exist when you were a candidate – now you’re the selectee and selectees have leverage because hiring managers and recruiters don’t want to be wrong. They picked you because you’re the best.

On to the negotiation. Never accept an offer before you have seen all the details in writing. Thank the recruiter or your new boss for their call and say politely, “Thank you for your offer – I’m delighted, and I’m looking forward to reviewing the details in your written offer.” Review the offer once it’s received – most companies will send it via Fedex, so they know when you’ve received it. They’re ready to move forward so you may get a call asking when they’ll receive a signed acceptance letter. That’s when you kick off the negotiation. Here are the steps:

  • Thank them for the offer and their work and effort to get it to you.
  • Tell them you have a few concerns and would like to address them.
  • Ask the caller if he/she has the power to negotiate with you about the offer?
  • If they can negotiate, point out that you will accept their offer if they can make a good faith effort to resolve your concerns.
  • Share your concerns (you want a window office, salary too low, bonus structure insufficient, you can’t pull the kids out of school until May, etc…).
  • Stay positive and keep it light, and give them a chance to respond.

Live the life you want not the one others try to give you.

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