Negotiating is intimidating. Talking about money is awkward enough as it is, but add on the element of asking for more money, and it just gets extremely uncomfortable.
One aspect of negotiating a job offer that seems to make people squirm is the fact that it’s not really a give and take. The idea is to just, you know, take more—and that feels weird, not to mention less effective.
So, how do you make it a give and take when it just feels like you’re doing all the taking?
I recently attended an event by a very frank recruiter who was answering every job search related question from the audience as honestly and thoroughly as she could—and the questions were tough, especially about negotiation. The most interesting insight she offered was that there is actually something job candidates can offer when they are negotiating (and it’s unbelievably obvious): Accepting the role in a timely matter.
Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter: Once the perfect candidate is lined up and the job offer out, there is nothing he or she wants more than for you to sign said offer. That means all the recruiter’s work is done! With that in mind, the magic words for you to say when you’re negotiating are: The only thing preventing me from signing this offer is...
When you begin your negotiation from this angle, the recruiter is on your side. He or she wants you to sign, and you want a slightly higher salary or a more flexible schedule—whatever it is, it’s now aligned with the other party’s interest as well. As long as what you’re asking for seems doable, then what you’ve just said is pretty much music to the recruiter’s ears.
Next time you’re gearing up for a job offer negotiation, try it! Make sure you’re actually willing to accept the offer should your requests be met, and then set up a time to chat with the recruiter. During the conversation, be clear that you’ve very excited about the opportunity, but that you have one or two concerns about the details of the job offer. Then say the magic words, and see what happens. If you can get HR on your side, then half the battle is won.
Photo of people talking courtesy of Sam Edwards/Getty Images.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author