Working Capital - Mission Blog

<<Mission Blog Home Posted: 01-04-2019
female interview candidate shakes hands with interviewer

Does this scenario sound familiar:  You’ve finally gotten through every round of interviews, and the job is practically yours if you want it. You’re sitting down with your new potential employer as the compensation offer is slid across the table to you on a small piece of paper.  You look down to see a figure that is disappointingly below your expectations. 

No?  How about this scenario then: You’ve been with the company for several years, you have been offered a new opportunity that means more responsibility, leadership and time.   Your supervisor tells you what the position pays and you cringe that the job is twice the work, but only a minimal increase in pay.

In either scenario, you really want the job, but you believe that the compensation doesn’t match the commitment.  What do you do?  How do you negotiate a salary that is more in line with your expectations without alienating yourself from your supervisor or the company?  It’s tough and we’ve all been there.  If you haven’t yet, you will be.

Here are a few helpful tips that you should keep in mind when negotiating compensation.  If you do these seven things, you may just find yourself in the driver’s seat.

  1.  Remember that you bring value to the organization.  They wouldn’t be offering you the job if they didn’t think you were the most qualified person for the role.  The company is betting that they’re going to benefit from your talents.  That’s worth a fair trade.
  2. Understand that the company’s first offer is rarely its best offer.  Every organization is trying to make money – it doesn’t matter if it’s a for-profit or nonprofit organization.  Their goal is to maximize profitability in order to invest those profits into growth or service delivery.  If they really cannot provide you with fair compensation, then see tip #3.
  3. Be prepared to walk away.  The best leverage you have is yourself.  If the company truly believes you are the most qualified candidate for the job, they’re not going to want to lose you over a few dollars (subjective of course) and possibly end up paying the same amount of money to a candidate who is not as qualified.  Just as importantly, they won’t want to go through the recruitment and interviewing process all over again, leading to additional strain on the organization and its workforce. 
  4. Understand your true motivation – title, responsibility, career growth, or money.  If money is all you want then push them to the edge.  You’ve got nothing to lose – except the job.  However, if you really want the job because you see professional opportunity or you just love the work, then bargain from that position.  It will help you negotiate fairly but also without being overly demanding.  Remember, the company’s offer may not be unfair just because YOU think it is.
  5. Do your research.  Understand what a position like yours pays in the marketplace and go into negotiations with that data in hand.  You can negotiate from a position of strength if you know what others in the same position with experience similar to yours, working for a company as large as yours, are earning.  But make sure your research is solid.  If you’re not comparing apples to apples, a compensation comparison can backfire. 
  6. Look at the company’s annual report and/or financial statements.  This will help you better understand if the company is making a boatload but only offering you a piece of drift wood.  However, if it’s a start up or a company that is struggling (another consideration), chances are the company may not have a lot to spend.  So you can negotiate with them, but don’t push too hard or it may not result in the desired outcome (see the last sentence in bullet point 4).
  7. Walk in to the negotiations with other forms of compensation in mind beyond money.  A company can be much more flexible with benefits that don’t require a larger paycheck.  Can you get an extra week of paid leave?  How about working from home or on a flex schedule?  Will they compensate you for mileage or give you free parking?  If publicly owned, can they give you stock options?  These are just a few suggestions but think about what would make a smaller paycheck more tolerable to you.

I hope these tips are helpful.  They are by no means the only ideas for improving your negotiating position, but are worth consideration.  Let us know if you have any other suggestions and good luck negotiating your next compensation package!

Working Capital, Goodwill mission blog author
This article was written by: Brendan Hurley
Chief Marketing Officer

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