Friday, September 21, 2012

The Art of Negotiation

New construction sales are up. Resale housing sales are up in certain price points. But it is still a buyers’ market in housing sales. I finally sold my house after 2.5 years on the market. It was far from an enjoyable experience and frankly I feel a bit violated. I’m told an offer is coming. Expect it to be low. Of course it will be low I think to myself. But that’s the negotiation dance. So they present their offer. Okay the offer is low. I expected that. What I didn’t expect is that they wanted furniture, electronics, cabinets, shelving. Heck they asked for everything it seemed like except our kids! So I’m caught off guard a bit certainly and counter. The response back….nope. The offer stands. No interest in my counter. No concessions on their part. Want, want, want. No give. So what happened to the negotiation process??!! They knew they had me in a corner and I knew if I didn’t fold I was going to be paying two mortgages.

Some job seekers believe that companies will offer well below the market value for their skills because the job market is poor. My response to that…..would you want to work for someone that does that? But I also understand that many good people have been unemployed far too long and something is better than nothing. The good news: I truly believe however based on my experience working with many companies across the US, a company actually undercutting someone is much more rare than one might think.

Companies are paying a fair & competitive salary for a person’s skill set & experience. Granted salaries are not being inflated certainly. At least companies are not trying to take advantage of the job market.

So how about negotiating when you get an offer? Or how do you complete a job application on salary?

As for the job application, what are your salary expectations? You could complete by saying “a far & competitive salary for the position.” If a number is required, I’d recommend that you do your homework prior to completing the application and through research determine an idea as to what is the range for the position you are applying for. Then do not exceed the midpoint of that range but answer with a response such as, “As close to $X as possible.” Now if you are working with a recruiter they should be able to consult with you on these questions of course, so use them to help you. They are your advocate.

How about when you get an offer? Well if you like it, accept it. If it falls shy of your expectations then your response could be:

“Thank you for the offer. I truly appreciate the potential opportunity to join your company. I will review it and get back to you by tomorrow at noon.”

Now do your number crunching and determine an acceptable figure. Base your reasoning on facts not on simply because I’d like more. You need to go back to the employer and give them reason to increase their offer. Perhaps there is a difference in the cost of the benefits over your last position. Perhaps the bonus potential is less than your last position. Perhaps the travel expenses are higher for your commute. These are logical and acceptable to figure into the equation. And if presented properly the employer will not be offended.

So at the agreed upon day/time you call back. You explain that you are sincerely interested in working for them. Of course only say this if you truly are. Don’t play games with them. And don’t play one offer against another. Burning bridges never pays off in the long run. Then you explain your reasoning and ask if they could get close to $x figure on base. If they can you will accept their offer. Okay, you’ve given them your sincere interest, commitment and logical reasoning for asking for the figure you gave. If they can do it they will. If they can’t you can still accept on good terms or decline on good terms.

There is the art of negotiations.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Find Something You Have in Common

When you think about it, it can be amazing what we can learn from every day occurrences that happen around us. For example, recently my daughter started eighth grade. Overnight she seemed to be grasping at some sort of transformation that frankly absolutely puzzled me. This is a child that operates under the “I’m my own person” philosophy. Great sense of humor. Creative. Incredible natural athlete. Marches to her own drummer. Then came eighth grade. Something changed. The kid that would rather wear her hair pulled back in a pony, wear baggy basketball shorts and T-shirt with something basketball related on it tossed it all to the side. No more pony. Skinny jeans, etc., etc.

But the transition did not come without challenges. I could sense she was not 100% comfortable with the new look. But then again, being a teenager she was not one to come running to us to share her inner most feelings and thoughts. So we could only feel as though there was something not quite right. Perhaps we are fortunate, however, as given enough time she typically will share with us. Fortunately she did this time as well. It wasn't just about her wanting to change her image. Instead it was more about searching for a common thread that would link her to others at school that dressed a certain way. A way she typically did not dress. It wasn’t about fitting in but about searching for something she could have in common.

What a perfect reminder to me of a technique I had not thought much about for quite some time. Okay, so allow me to make this relevant to you as a job seeker. You have an interview scheduled. You’ve done your research. You have a level of comfort about the company and their business and their products. You have a level of comfort regarding the position you are interviewing for and your experiences and skills as they relate to the role. You have your resume and references ready. You have your interview attire ready to go. All prepared for a successful interview. How about a little tidbit that just might help as you enter the office of the interviewer? Sure, who wouldn’t want that, right? Here’s where it all relates. As you enter the office quickly scan the walls, shelves and desk. Often times you will see photos or items that will identify something you & the interviewer have in common. Perhaps it’s kids. Perhaps it’s fishing, golf, boating. It could be any number of things. But if you can quickly identify such a common interest it can make a great ice breaker to kick things off.

“I see you enjoy boating. Do you get out on the lake much? Where do you typically go boating?”

“I noticed your daughter is in dance. My daughter is in dance as well.”

The possibilities are endless. But it will not always work naturally as you might be interviewing in a conference room or someone else’s office. So if the situation allows you to lead into the conversation with something you may hold in common it can be a great way to kick things off. After all, we are all people with interests and many times common interests.