Nearly half of workers (49%) don’t negotiate their first job offers.
Oftentimes, it comes down to a lack of experience in negotiating, which can be a tricky step for most.
A new survey published at CareerBuilder found that the more work experience candidates gain, the more likely they are to negotiate that first offer.
Participants in the study who were at least 35 were 55% likely to negotiate the first offer compared to 45% of workers between the ages 18 to 34. Furthermore, men (54%) tend to negotiate for higher salaries than women (49%).
But whether you have negotiating experience or not, pushing for what you want at the beginning of your career will have payoffs later on in your professional life.
Below, Deepak Malhotra, a professor at Harvard Business School, provides negotiation tips for his business students. We’ve compiled a few key points:
1. Make the other side believe that you deserve it.
“It’s not enough that you believe that you deserve it,” says Malhotra. “It has to be believable and justifiable to them.” Essentially, don’t ever ask for something without giving a good explanation of why you deserve it and why it’s a legitimate thing to ask for.
While it’s important to fight for what you deserve, Malhotra also says to keep in mind that you still need them to like you at the end of the day. “They need to be able to want to do it for you,” he says. Learn to walk the thin line between promoting your successes and coming off as arrogant.
2. Help them justify it to their bosses.
No matter how much someone wants to do something for you, they may not be able to due to internal constraints. Before the negotiation process, “you want to spend a lot of time figuring out where they’re flexible, where they’re not flexible,” he tells Harvard business students.
Basically, you need to understand what they can give. Keep in mind that they still need to sell the deal to their higher ups, so if the company is hiring 20 other people from your school, it might be difficult for them to explain why you deserve a higher salary.
3. Let them believe that they can get you.
It might make them push harder and faster for you if they think someone else might scoop you up, but they also need to believe that they have a real chance at hiring you.
Says Malhotra: “Nobody is going to go fight for you, go to bat for you, expend political or social capital internally for you if they think at the end of the day you’re going to say, ‘Thanks, but no thanks.'”
4. Know your opponent.
People often think negotiating is all about persuading the other person to think the way you want them to, Malhotra says. And although that plays a part, “nothing is fundamentally more important than understanding the person on the other side of the table from you.”
Who are they? What do they like? What are their interests? What are their constraints?
Malhotra says you need to learn as much as you can about a company to understand the bottom line and why they’re interested in you. Then you can align your interests with theirs.
5. Negotiate multiple interests simultaneously.
If you get an offer and you have a few concerns, bring them up all at once. Don’t list a few things, and then list a few more later in the process.
“You can imagine why that’s really annoying,” Malhotra says. Hiring managers want to get all of your concerns upfront, so that they can go back to their bosses once and come up with a workable solution.
It’s also important to say what’s most important to you. Otherwise, the employer may think that they’ve met you halfway, while you feel that they opted to change the least important details.
6. Understand the meaning behind the questions.
There’s always a reason the employer is asking you something. To answer adequately, you need to understand why the questions are asked.
“Don’t get stuck on what they’re asking you,” he says. “Figure out why they’re asking you.” When a hiring manager asks if you’re interviewing elsewhere, for example, they’re really trying to figure out how fast they need to act to get you before another company moves in.
7. Ignore ultimatums.
Malhotra says that sometimes things that sound like ultimatums will be said as an attempt to show “a position of strength,” but it doesn’t always mean that it’s actually an ultimatum.
If someone says “we never do this,” the worst thing you can do is ask them to repeat it. If they find out that they are able to do it for you later, they will be embarrassed if you call them out on it. In short, let them make the ultimatum a big deal, but don’t make it a big deal for them.
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