This is “Chapter Review and Exercises”, section 10.9 from the book Job Searching in Six Steps (v. 1.0).
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Individuals can naturally get intimidated when they have to negotiate, but the truth is that we negotiate things every day, without even realizing it. We negotiate which restaurant to go to, which movie to see, how to best present a project, yet no one feels intimidated or nervous about negotiating.
It’s a given that negotiating for a job has more serious implications that negotiating for what movie to see, but if you’ve done your prep work, it should go very smoothly.
Negotiation is a skill and, like any other skill, practice is critical to succeeding. Role-play with your friends and your contacts at career services. Practice asking for a slightly higher salary with a partner who doesn’t give in easily. Practice asking for a higher salary with a partner who doesn’t give in at all. Respond professionally and appropriately at all times.
When receiving an offer, it’s best to think of the totality of the offer. What makes you happy about the offer? What displeases you and how would you like to see it changed? In some cases, you will not be pleased in the compensation arena because you’ll have less vacation time than you would like or no opportunity for a bonus (at the starting point). Either way, remain professional at all times, and balance and weigh each component, thinking about the long-term potential of the position, the company, and the industry.
Sometimes when you negotiate, hiring managers will go higher with compensation and sometimes they will not. If the compensation is extremely low, much lower than the average, perhaps you should refuse this offer. Consult someone who knows what they are doing: career services, a professional you can trust, or perhaps a career coach. It’s well worth your effort to ensure you move ahead wisely and appropriately.
Some people view compensation as the most important component of an offer, and others, perhaps most, place it in the top three or four components. Other components may include the following:
Interview and get multiple job offers and negotiation will be much less stressful.
One final note: don’t forget to follow your gut instincts. We often immediately know whether something is a good or bad idea, and we are usually right. Negotiating can be risky, but you can mitigate that risk by using all of the previous job search steps, and also tuning into and trusting your instincts.