Your Guide to Negotiating Terms of Employment

Tips on how to answer the million dollar interview question with confidence.

It can come at the beginning of an official job interview. Other times it sneaks up right before the meeting is about to close. Under any circumstance, it can be a touchy subject and one that poised professionals are ready to manage when it comes. Exact phrasing varies but the meaning is clear: “What will it take for you to join our team (or “What is it going to cost to get you here?)”

Does the very thought of being in this situation make your hands clammy, your heart race and the worrying begin? Unfortunately, part of accepting a job offer entails negotiating the terms of employment. Prepare your arsenal in advance and save yourself last-minute angst. Here are a few tips to help you conquer the situation with confidence and aplomb.

1. Research market rates online and offline.

Be prepared with figures and facts demonstrating your value by knowing your worth in the market. Research what comparable positions with similar responsibilities command in your industry and in your locale. Offline, check within your network for current facts and figures or find a contact that is familiar with this employer and may know the interviewer.

2. Be clear that your goal is fairness.

You want to be compensated inline with what your colleagues are paid for comparable responsibilities, and you want to be rewarded for superior performance. Nothing more, and nothing less.

3. Show that hiring you is not an expense.

You will be able to add to the bottom line through increased sales, cost reductions and enhanced productivity. Have tables or charts to illustrate the impact your expertise will have, and use actual data if available.

4. Never name an exact number.

Avoid naming your desired salary, or for that matter, what you are currently making. Give a range which will allow you more room to negotiate for bonuses, benefits and time off, because no two jobs are the same, and no two candidates are alike.

5. Have a bottom line in mind.

What is this opportunity worth to you? What will you give up? What can you exchange to make the numbers work? Is there a must-have or uncompromising need? Then, be willing to be flexible on the rest.

6. Take the focus off the dollars.

Put the focus of the conversation squarely on the chance to have an impact, find solutions and move forward. Remember that this should be a win-win for you and your future employer. Make sure that they understand that you want this job and you are confident that if they also agree that you are the right choice, together you can make things work out.

7. Discuss this with your future boss – not their HR support staff.

Only the P&L authority is able to go to bat, re-structure and re-allocate to get this deal together for you. It’s their budget – show them your skills right from the beginning with your abilities to negotiate for yourself!