The key to getting paid what you’re worth by a prospective employer is to sell yourself first to the hiring manager and talk about money and benefits later, according to Lee Miller (www.employability-expert.com), a career/executive coach and human resources consultant.
“HR wants to make sure you’ll fit in and wants to avoid making a hiring mistake,” Miller points out. “The hiring manager, on the other hand, is preoccupied with his or her biggest problem (pain) on the job right now and wants to know how you’ll help solve it.”
That means to sell yourself effectively as a job candidate you need to do your research and figure out what that unique problem is and how you can specifically help out. That “skill and will” combination will, according to Miller, lay the foundation for effectively talking about your compensation package.
During a November 2013 National Career Summit teleconference, Miller outlined his 15 commandments for negotiating compensation packages:
- Be prepared to show you are able to do the job, that you can address the hiring manger’s unique problem and that you know what the compensation structure of the company is like.
- Realize that a compensation package at the start of a job includes these negotiable items: salary, bonus, stock options, relocation expenses and severance (what you would get, for instance, if the company closes or is bought out during your first year on the job). The package should also outline level of responsibility, opportunities for training and tools for success (such as a budget, an assistant etc.). I would put needed accommodations due to a disability into the “tools for success” category.
- Remember that how you negotiate your compensation package is important. It is unlike other types of negotiation because tomorrow you’re going to be working with the same people who are involved in negotiating with you today.
- Understand your needs and those of your employer. Match your needs with the compensation structure of your new employer. In other words, don’t go to a startup and expect a big salary.
- Learn the dynamics of negotiation. You’re negotiating with individuals, and every person is unique. Discover what is important to each person involved in the process.
- Keep your credibility. Never lie, but use truth to your advantage as a marketing tool. For example, describe your current compensation in a most favorable light by describing your expectations for salary and bonuses instead of your actual current levels. Example: “My bonus potential is $25,000.” However, if asked directly about your specific salary, name your current salary.
- Understand the role that “fairness” plays in the process of negotiating with a new employer. After you’ve done your research, you can say, “I need this because the competition is offering …”
- Use uncertainty to your advantage. Never answer the question, “What it will take to get you?” Reply instead with this statement: “I want what is fair.”
- Be creative. That means you need to know what the employer offers and doesn’t offer. If you can’t get X, ask for Y (of equivalent value). Trade one benefit for another. Ask questions.
- Focus on your goals instead of “winning.” Negotiating compensation packages is not a game. Give your new employer the opportunity to “save face.” Both you and your new employer must feel good about the outcome. Both of you need to have no regrets.
- Know when to move on so you don’t press too long. In other words, know when to quit bargaining. It’s often prudent to leave two percent on the table and close the deal.
- Realize negotiating a compensation package is not something you need to take personally. It has nothing to do with you. It’s just policy. Asking is always acceptable, if you do it in the right way. If you believe it’s negotiable, it probably is.
- Know your bottom line, the minimum of what you need to get. If you run into a road block on a particular item in your package, ask, “Can you give me an equivalent in terms of (other benefit)?” If that’s not possible, walk away with this statement, “This is not a good fit for me right now. If something else comes up, call me.”
- Remember that employment is an ongoing relationship. Negotiating compensation is not a one-time deal. You’re always preparing your boss for the next negotiation process well in advance of your next review. Establishing your starting salary and benefits with a new employer is just the first in a series of negotiations that will take place down the road.
- Avoid using the word, “fairness,” as you travel that road with your current (not “new”) employer because that implies your supervisor is not being fair, and that’s a “putdown.” Instead, explain why you think you deserve an increase in compensation. What has changed to make it appropriate to pay you more?
Ask for a raise after you’ve done some exceptional work. If your boss can’t do it now, ask, “When would that be possible?” You may also want to ask this clarifying question: “What do I have to do to get that raise?”
How you handle compensation negotiations can make you stand out as a job candidate and as an employee with the right “skill and will,” says Miller.
The real make-or-break “skill and will” attributes are these: your ability to do the job, your ability to help resolve the hiring manager’s major problem and your savvy at negotiating a win-win compensation package.
Copyright © 2014. Hasse Communication Counseling, LLC. All rights reserved.
Jim Hasse, Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF), (www.jimhasse.com) has compiled and edited the recommendations of HR experts and the personal observations of both jobseekers and hiring managers into Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities (www.perfectlyable.com/), a comprehensive disability recruitment guidebook for hiring managers published by AMACOM (September 2010), the publishing arm of the American Management Association. Lighthouse International (www.lighthouse.org/), New York City, is the author of the 272-page hard-cover book, which continues to evolve online on Hasse’s forum, Timely Tips for Retaining Employee Talent (forum.perfectlyable.com). He’s the founder of www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com, a comprehensive career coaching guide for parents of youngsters with cerebral palsy.