If you’re in the game of taking control of your career and running it like a business, negotiating your pay package is the most important negotiation that you’ll go into during your working life. And if you’re doing things right, this negotiation will take place several times during the span of your career. For the record, I’ve negotiated my pay package 12 times and I’m sure there’s more to come.
With the years I’ve certainly gotten better at it. In fact, in the last 5 years I’ve switched jobs three times and each time I negotiated salaries that were 30% higher than what I was getting paid in a previous role. I’ll do the math for you – I basically gave myself a 30% pay raise every 14 months in a market where the yearly average is 4.5%.
Read on if you want to know what I bring to negotiation table.
The Golden Principle: We win or no deal
In the business world a negotiation marks the beginning of a relationship – not the end. For that reason the only sustainable outcome is a ‘we win’; that’s when you get what you need and the other party does too. That means that a negotiation is not a dog-eat-dog affair, instead it’s the process through which two parties that want to work together reach mutually beneficial terms.
If you’re wondering what happened to getting what you want, which can be different to what you need, here’s something for you to think about. Lets say that you throw a tantrum on the negotiation table and end up getting what you want – but that costs you the relationship, let alone any future business. Is that what you really want? Think about that.
Principle # 2: The 3 Fs – Be fair, fact-based and firm
One of my mantras in life is ‘ask and you shall receive’. It guides me whether I want to know what perfume a stranger on the street is wearing, or when I want to get business from someone, or even when I want someone to help me. I know that if I ask, I receive.
However, I also know that it’s crucial to ask nicely. And on the negotiation table that translates to being fair, fact-based and firm.
To be fair have an abundance mentality. Relax, there’s enough to go around for everyone. Aim to work in collaboration with the other party, not against them.
To be fact-based do your home-work. Know before the negotiation begins what you really and truly need. Remember that you’re aiming for a ‘we-win’, not an ‘I loose-they win’ and not an ‘I win-they loose’. As obvious as that may seem, I’ve often seen how, in the heat of the moment, people give up their needs and go for the ‘I loose-you win’ to avoid confrontation. Doing so lacks vision because ask yourself, how sustainable is a relationship in which you feel that you’re loosing? Eventually you’re going to want out. Right? And whatever you do, give yourself some wiggle room. Start asking just above your must-have point. Otherwise you risk being offered below it.
To be firm, be fair and nice but hold your ground. In short, do not be aggressive or greedy. Express your needs clearly and respectfully. Trust me, people tend to be more cooperative when you use a friendly yet grounded tone.
Principle #3: Be ready to walk away
You read right.
Coming across as desperate is one of the surest ways for you to get the short end of the stick during a negotiation. Do not believe, even for one second, that the job that you’re being offered is the only one available in the universe of work. Besides, if you in fact get your ‘dream’ job with loosing terms, how sustainable will that be? With that in mind, once you know what you must-have, hold your ground. If you don’t get it, walk away. I can’t guarantee that this will happen to you, but it has happened to me several times now that I’ve turned down what was meant to be a ‘final’ offer and the other party has come back to offer me what I need. Because actions speak louder than words, by walking away, you’re making it loud and clear that if a future employer really wants you on their team, they need to reconsider their offer.
Principle #4: Deliver on your promises
Because your reputation is also on the table during a negotiation, make a commitment with yourself to deliver on your promises. I am not saying that you should shy away from over-stretching your abilities, all I’m saying is if you do over-sell yourself, make the commitment to deliver what you promised, no matter what. Make no mistake, when you say that you’re going to do something and you do it, the person who benefits the most is you because it increases your confidence in your ability to make things happen. And that’s priceless..
Principle #5 – Keep the lessons
Becoming the negotiator that you want to become takes practice. Quite possibly, there will be times when you feel that you could’ve asked for more (you know that when your offer gets accepted too quickly – ouch!). Don’t dwell on your mistakes or losses. Instead focus on the things that you did right on the table. Keep these in your box of tricks.
I say live, learn and grow!
Your turn now. Do you have any tricks to share? What about happy stories? Any horror stories?