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Salary negotiation - how to get what you want

Posted by Elaine Varelas  February 17, 2010 09:43 AM

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A. I am in a good job which I have had for the last five years.  I finished my MBA, and started looking about a year ago.  I really want the right next job, and have been working with recruiters, networking, and doing lots of research.  I am hoping you can provide me with some sage career advice.  I have been very interested in a specific company; they arenít the market leader but they are a good firm.  I was able to get an interview, and was finally offered the role. I am now playing the negotiating game with them in regards to the compensation plan.  I have a number in mind that is almost 10% higher than what they are offering me and I am attempting to get one additional week of vacation. After speaking with the HR recruiter it appears they are not willing to budge off the initial offer, and she made it clear I was annoying to have even raised the issue.


Do you have any advice as to how I can negotiate my comp plan with people who seem unwilling to move off a number? Their excuse to me as to why they would not go higher was peer equity. She asked me how I would feel if I knew someone doing the same job as me was making $10K more. Does the recruiter think we all donít know it happens all the time?


A.  Congratulations on getting the offer!   It sounds like you have been doing a great job in the job search process, and have a thoughtful approach regarding advancing your career.  Getting an advanced degree during the last few years will serve you well over the long term if it hasnít started to pay off already.  Many job seekers report they have been waiting out at least the last 12 if not 24 months so that the market would change before they embarked on a job search.  Taking advantage of this time by going back to school and pushing to gather additional experience will help all job seekers as the market improves. 


The most effective negotiation begins before you even interview.  You had a compensation number in mind, and the amount of vacation time you hoped to be offered.  Hopefully, these goals were based on actual industry, market, and specific company research.  Company specific research can provide information about why they would be inclined to make you an offer.  Which skills do they need most?  What value do you bring that exceeds any other candidate?  Your goal is to help each person interviewing you see the added value you bring to the organization.  If you are working with a recruiter, make sure to debrief and gather information on what the company representatives like, and what they saw lacking and wanted to see more off.  Use this data!


If you are not working with a recruiter, make sure to note the areas managers highlighted.  You really need to push your value to the organization as you try to negotiate the financial part of your package.  You can start your negotiation discussion with human resources to negotiate, and I encourage you to talk directly to the hiring manager. The person, who wants you most, will most often show the most flexibility.  Make sure all these conversations are professional, and far from `annoying.


You might offer to meet halfway between their offer and what you want.  You can also consider a financial review at the 6 month mark.  Another strategy is to show how little per pay period the compensation difference is for them, and what a difference it makes to you. You might also tell them that small amount is the only thing standing between an acceptance and they will reap the value in less time than they anticipate. 


If this doesnít work, you make the hard decision of whether to accept or not.  There needs to be a reason for you to leave the good job you are in, and advancement and compensation need to be prioritized every time you get an offer.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

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