Monthly Archives: August 2016

Tips For Successfully Negotiating Business

Undoubtedly you’ve heard the adage that everything is negotiable. Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but what is true is that in any situation, it’s worthwhile to explore options. When you’ve been engaged in a job search, it can be tempting to jump at the first offer that comes your way. Most people do. In fact, only a mere 37% of candidates negotiate their job offers, and an abysmal 7% of women do. Negotiating is the core of business, and you are in the business of managing your career. It is incumbent upon you to investigate how the offer might better suit your needs to make for a mutually beneficial relationship between you and your employer. It doesn’t have to be scary! Here are my top ten tips for negotiating:

Consider the whole package. It is very easy to fixate on base salary. After all, that is critical in determining if the offer is worth pursuing. But look beyond that to things such as 401(k) match and vesting structure, bonus structure, and eligibility, paid time off, education reimbursement, and flexible working arrangements. Any and all of these are up for negotiation, so decide which one or two is most important to you.

Be likable and positive. People want to work with people they like, and people will fight for people they like. An adversarial approach will not be effective and is a good way to sour a relationship before it’s begun.

Have empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand other people and their potential limitations. Understand that
they may have constraints that will prevent them from meeting your requests.

Know your value. Be sure that you have objective evidence to demonstrate your worth. You need to understand the market rate for the position, so that you can understand if you are being offered market rate, or something less than that.

Write it down. Don’t enter into the negotiation without having written down the topics you want to cover. This will help to keep you on message.

Prioritize. Don’t negotiate every aspect of the offer simply for the sake of doing so. Determine which one or two components are most important to you, and focus on those.

Focus on the future. The key message of the negotiation should not be based upon what you’ve done in the past. It should be on how you can help be a part of future success.

Be positive, but firm. You don’t want to be a doormat, but you do want to remain active and upbeat during the negotiations, reinforcing that you are really excited about the offer and the opportunity to work with them. They just need to bend and stretch a little.

No ultimatums. Ultimatums are bullying tactics, and are rarely effective. An ultimatum is also likely to backfire.

Approach to Closing That Interview

Steve left the interview smiling and totally convinced that he had “connected with the hiring manager.”

As he stated, “The job is mine to lose.”

Now that the interview was over, he just had to sit back and wait for the magical phone call.


While Steve went about his usual activities, the interviewers compared notes, and the search to fill the position continued.

“He seems to have the skills we need,” said the hiring manager. “But, I don’t think this applicant is really interested. He never gave any indication he even wants the job.”

Lack of interest or enthusiasm during the interview process is on the top 10 list of reasons for candidate rejection.

Apparently, Steve did not realize that. Nor did he understand just how important it is to follow up after an interview, beginning with a thank you letter to each interviewer.

In addition to competence, employers want someone they would like to work with and who wants to work with them.

During the interview, always show your excitement and enthusiasm about the position (assuming you are being genuine).

Besides stating your interest in the particular position, remember the following points during the final moments of your interview:

1. Express your gratitude to the interviewer for the opportunity you have been given – no matter how the interview went.

2. Find out if there is anything else you can do (for example, sending samples of your work) that might give the interviewer a better sense of what you can contribute to the organization. Be sure you answer, “why should we hire you?”

3. Tell the interviewer that you are confident in your ability to perform the responsibilities and make a contribution.

4. Ask what the next steps are in the selection process and when a decision is expected to be made.

5. Follow up can help you turn an interview into an offer by knocking out your competition, reassuring the hiring manager of your capabilities, or turning a losing situation into a winning one.

Effective follow-up depends on knowing what happened in the interview, so be sure to take a few notes after each job interview.

For example, answer these questions and log your answers for future reference:

  • How did it go?
  • What did they say?
  • What unconventional interview questions were asked?
  • How many people were seen and how much time was spent with each one?
  • What role did each one play and who was important?
  • Who was the decision-maker?
  • What non-traditional interview questions were asked?
  • Which one was likely to influence the hiring decision?

Blow A Great Opportunity

If you have cultivated the belief that only the “lucky” people get the best jobs, please consider how much power you have given up and the amount of time you have wasted by believing that getting a good job is out of your control. I’m not disputing the fact that it may be more of a case of who you know than what you know, but believing that all you need is that “big break” is missing the mark. Even the best opportunities can result in a big goose egg if the people pursuing them take their relationships for granted or assume that an introduction is all that is needed.

Your connections may facilitate your leapfrogging over other candidates, but all of their praise will not substitute for your being able to articulate your value…

There is considerable work to be done, even when you do know the right people. It is still critical to make sure you show up as the most qualified, likely to fit with the team, excited and invested candidate an organization considers, regardless of how you get there. Your connections may facilitate your leapfrogging over other candidates, but all of their praise will not compensate for your being unable to articulate your value or live up to the hype that came before your meeting with the hiring team.

It is striking to me how many people still believe that all they need is “to get an interview,” with little thought of their need for preparation. The mindset that all a person needs is a fancy resume to get in front of someone and the rest of the interview process will be a wrap, sadly, still exists. To my frustration, I regularly receive after-hours emails with this request: “I have an interview tomorrow morning. Can you send me some tips?” This out-of-touch belief that getting in front of a hiring manager and ad-libbing your way through the interview process will work is as outdated as dial phones and decidedly less effective.

Maybe this analogy would help: You have always dreamed of travelling by car across country to visit historical sites. It’s the first of July and you’ve suddenly been granted three weeks of paid time off beginning the following week. Would you wait until after you start your 6,000-mile road trip to check your tires and oil, water and antifreeze levels? Would you leave without a map or a plan of what you want to see?

This may sound foolish, but not more so than accepting a referral to the hiring manager for your targeted position at your organization of choice without having prepared for the impending conversation. Regardless of how many praises were sung on your behalf, you will still be required to relate your knowledge of the organization and its mission, illustrate your value using examples of your relatable experience and explain why you left your last job or why you are changing industries/roles/directions, if that is the case. Conversations about all of these points require thoughtful preparation and are unlikely to be handled successfully if you’ve waited until the night before to think about them.