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This is the twenty-fourth in a series of blogs supporting the College to Career Calendar available for downloading at www.interview2work.com. Today’s blog discusses how to discover your negotiation style. We have developed a tip sheet on salary negotiation you might want to check out.

If you have been following my blogs over the last few weeks you know why it is important to consider negotiating a job offer and how to evaluate the salary and benefits offered. The next step is actually responding to an employers offer with more than “yes.” You can say “yes” immediately if the offer matches or exceeds your expectations in the areas of salary, benefits, schedule, training and development, and any other issues that are important to you. However, there is a very good chance you will discover others hired into the same position started at a higher salary or were offered benefits that you would like to have.

Before you are faced with the challenge of responding to an offer, find and practice the negotiation style that is most comfortable for you. I have over the years found that people, both candidates and employers, tend to prefer one of two styles. I call them the “mantra style” and “compromise style.”

The mantra style requires you decide what is acceptable to you and you continue to repeat it until the other person agrees or he/she makes their final offer. At that point, you decide if you want to accept the offer. People who dread the idea of negotiating the price of a car or entering into a political debate often find they are most comfortable using this style.

The compromise style involves deciding what is acceptable to you and then you ask for more expecting to receive a lower counteroffer. If the counter does not match what you expect, you respond by asking for more than is offered. You continue this process until the other person is no longer willing to compromise. At that point, you decide if you want to accept the offer.

As you enter into a negotiation you know the style you will be using, but not the style of the person you will be negotiating with. After the first interchange, you should be able to tell. The employer using the mantra style will react to your counter offer by repeating the original offer and usually say something like, “we offer all your entry level X this salary.” The employer using the compromise style will counter with a different salary than the one originally offered. Whatever style the employer uses, stick to your style for at least one more round of conversations. If you are a “compromiser” negotiating with a “mantra”, you can say, I was thinking based on my education and experience you might start me at a higher level.” If you are a “mantra” negotiating with a “compromiser” repeat your request and say something like, “don’t you agree this is a fair salary/request?” If you are negotiating with someone using the same style you are it will quickly become obvious. Mantras will reach an agreement quickly and be relieved to move on to other things. Compromisers will enjoy the process.

Before you end your negotiations by saying “yes,” make sure you have agreed on all the issues that are important to you. Then ask for the offer in writing. If the employer’s practice is to not put offers in writing, send an email or letter outlining your understanding of the points you have agreed on. Your written communication is not a binding contract, but it is a way of letting the employer know what you understand the terms of your agreement to be and gives him/her the opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings.

A final word about negotiation before we move onto other topics. Negotiation is a formal discussion between people who are trying to reach an agreement. The emphasis is on reaching an agreement through discussion. The goal is to secure an offer that meets your requirements and start to establish a pattern of positive, open communication with your new company and boss. That means you need to stay positive and proactive throughout the process. Comments like, “this offer is an insult” or “are you serious?” have no place in negotiating an offer.

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