VOL. 129 | NO. 86 | Friday, May 2, 2014
By Angela Copeland
Negotiation is one of my favorite topics. You negotiate things every day – from which movie to watch to what to eat for dinner. At work, your ability to negotiate can hit close to your wallet.
I learned the importance of negotiation at 19. I was given the opportunity to spend the summer working as an engineer for General Motors in an automotive assembly plant. It required me to relocate over 1,500 miles, so I hoped the company would pay to move me cross country.
My family pressured me not to ask for anything extra. It was a big deal to get a great job so early, and negotiation would have been disrespectful and embarrassing. I kept my mouth closed, and found a way to move myself.
On the first day of work, I attended orientation. Everyone was getting to know one another and comparing stories. Almost immediately, I learned I was the only person in the room who hadn’t received relocation.
The next year, GM called and extended the opportunity to come back – this time at their headquarters in Detroit. I had a second job offer from another company in hand, so I was ready to negotiate. “I will come to work for you under one condition,” I replied. “You’ve got to pay for my relocation.” The HR representative immediately said, “Of course we will.” I was shocked. How could negotiation be so easy?
I’ve negotiated every job offer since. The process has taught me two things – companies almost never start with their best offer first, and the best way to get good at negotiation is to practice.
In addition, unless you behave irrationally, the company won’t take their original offer off the table, even if they can’t meet your request. The worst-case scenario is they say no, and you’re forced to decide whether or not to accept their original offer.
When you negotiate, try to think of one more thing you’d like to have. It can be a little more money, more vacation or a better relocation package. If you feel the need to negotiate for more than two things, you’re probably not on the same page with the company and it may not be the right fit for you.
Position your negotiation in the form of a question. Explain all of the things you like about the job, and ask if they can help you with one more thing. Explain that if they could meet this one request, you’d accept their offer and be ready to start. Nine times out of 10, you’ll find you walk away with extra.
A hiring manager recently told me that if she had $50,000 available for a job but the candidate said they only needed $40,000, then she’d pay only $40,000. Remember that companies won’t start with their best offer, and it’s your job to ask for more. At the end of the day, they expect you to. If it feels hard at first, just remember: Negotiation gets easier with practice.
Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, www.CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (Facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).