Radford Words: Moving On Up--Negotiating Your Way to Where You Want to Be

Radford Words
Moving On Up--Negotiating Your Way to Where You Want to Be

Although in many cultures financial bargaining is as common as a trip to the city market, in America even those who will bargain for a car or a house are generally uncomfortable with the idea of negotiating their salaries, says management professor Dale Henderson of Radford University. Yet those who get the best car deals, house deals and salary deals are those who are willing to take action at the bargaining table.
"Other people have what we want," says Henderson, "and negotiating is the best way to get it."
Henderson teaches his students skills they need to be good negotiators. Sometimes it makes a thousand-dollar difference in a graduate's starting salary; sometimes it makes a difference of thousands of dollars. Henderson offers the rest of us these fundamentals of salary negotiation.
* When interviewing for a job, don't mention salary. Instead, focus on selling yourself and let the prospective employer bring it up. Once she has committed to a figure, you can position yourself to get what you want.
* Never say yes to the first offer. This is not the same as saying no, says Henderson. You might instead say, "That's not quite what I had in mind."
* Always ask for more than you expect to get. This creates a climate in which the other person can have a win. Part of the reason for going through the negotiation process is so that both parties can feel they've won.
* To know how much more to ask for, do some research before the interview to find out what people in similar positions in other companies are making. Web sites of professional organizations are good resources, or you could call the human resources offices of several companies, tell them what you're trying to find out and ask for a range.
* Before the interview, decide on a "bracket"--the lowest figure you'll accept (your walk away number) and the highest you think you can ask for (your wish number).
* Usually a prospective employer is under as much time pressure to hire someone as you are to get a job. You can use this in your favor. If you're a good candidate for the job, it's in the employer's best interest to strike a bargain and get you on board.
* Creating a perception that you have options--other interviews or offers--gives you more power, but beware that if you use this tactic you must be willing to leave if the employer doesn't budge.
* Understand that in some organizations, such as nonprofits and educational institutions, there are tighter limits on what the prospective employer can offer.
Once you have a job, says Henderson, start negotiating for a raise on the day you're hired. "Not in dollars," he says, "but most employees have the opportunity to help create their own performance measures. Be sure you set objective, measurable performance measures in the areas in which you know you will do well."
If you don't have this opportunity, it's especially important to build a relationship with your boss. "The more subjective your performance measures, the more you have to do self-promotion--and there's nothing wrong with that," says Henderson. "Find something you do better than anyone else that is valuable to the company. When the time comes, base your negotiations on that. Present your case as to why you're more valuable." And as always, ask for more than you expect to get.

Article courtesy of Radford University (www.radford.edu).