How to Negotiate your Salary and Job?

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Chloe Xu
Director, Australia

How to Negotiate your Salary and Job?

🔥NEW Possessing negotiation skills is important for all professionals and can help you at every stage of your career. Being effective at negotiating will help you achieve and maintain job satisfaction and can even improve how the organisation you work with performs.

There are many situations in which people may negotiate throughout their career. From agreeing upon a starting salary to signing off on the retirement package.

When getting into a career negotiation, most professionals focus heavily on the stressful and awkward bargaining over the offer package they could receive. But researchers from Harvard Kennedy School suggest that people should think more broadly about how the opportunity will fit into their long-term career goals. Without this thinking, you may lose valuable opportunities for career advancement. For example, when there is a work-life conflict, negotiating the workload and the conditions that affect it are more critical than the pay and benefits to remain employed gainfully and moving forward professionally.

The goal of a negotiation is not only to get as much as you can. The best negotiators generate mutually beneficial solutions for themselves and for their counterparts. When making the offer, you should also consider the needs of other stakeholders.

To achieve a desired outcome, Bowles and Thomason propose a four-step approach for a career negotiation:
  1. START WITH YOUR CAREER GOALS. Instead of focusing (only) on the offer received, you need to think about your short- and long-term goals and map backward from the objectives to figure out the next steps you should take. And when you're facing multiple offers, you should compare them not only with each other but also against your version of what you want to achieve in a set timeframe.

  2. UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF THE NEGOTIATION. There are three types of negotiations based on what you're negotiating for: asking, bending, and shaping.
    • Asking. You want to get something that is standard for someone in your position or at your level. You need to show that what you ask for is reasonable because it matches with the usual practices or norms.
    • Bending. You request a personal exception or an unusual arrangement that differs from the typical organisational practice or norms, such as a remote work setup. In this situation, justifying your request is important. To avoid being perceived as seeking special treatment or unwilling to perform your duties, you need to take proactive actions. List the reasons to why and why not your counterparts would support your proposal and your responses.
    • Shaping. While the asking and bending negotiations focus on a person's career path, shaping negotiations centre on changing the development path of a working group or an organisation. Therefore, it involves more stakeholders and the support of allies.
  3. BE CLEAR ABOUT OTHER DETAILS OF THE NEGOTIATION. Having access to the information on what, how, and with whom is crucial for a successful negotiation. As you prepare to negotiate, write all of your questions and find the answers from the talent professionals you could access online and offline. Meanwhile, you need to stretch your inquiry beyond your closest professional networks to ensure that you have the broadest information possible.

  4. ENHANCE YOUR NEGOTIATIONS THROUGH RELATIONSHIPS. Just like you might go to people for information or advice to reduce ambiguity in the previous step, you might think of others who could provide social support for your negotiation. They are people who will speak up in favour of your proposals, or who will be your allies. To build a coalition of support, you need to make the rounds of key stakeholders, talk with them individually to get their feedback and input. This practice is time-consuming, but it enables you to explore people's interests and concerns privately and to incorporate their ideas into the proposal. This also helps you predict how your negotiation counterparts will respond when it comes time for you to present a formal proposal.

The above "back and forth" during the search for a mutually beneficial solution will open your eyes to other perspectives, help you better understand your colleagues, and find ways of working together to create a suitable solution. To generate goodwill and motivate agreement, you need to explain to your counterparts why you want to negotiate and how your proposal takes their interests into consideration. Brilliant careers are not built alone, your work and life partners play a vital part of it. Negotiation is the key to finding mutually gratifying ways for your career to advance.

Resource: Bowles, H. and Thomason, B., 2020. Negotiating Your Next Job. HBR, [online] 99 (1), pp.70-75.

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