Getting a Royal Flush When Negotiations Are Not Your Strong Suit
By: Teri DePuy
The pinnacle of your job search has finally arrived – after weeks or months of effort spent on networking, interviewing, researching target companies etc., your hard work has paid off and a job offer is eminent. Yikes, you hate negotiations and are probably asking yourself “What do I do now?” Similar to a winning poker hand I’ve called out 5 strategies essential to prepare for closing the deal.
The “ace” here is rapport. Throughout your engagement with a perspective employer, whether it is the hiring manager or human resources professional, one of your first strategies should be focused on establishing rapport to quickly build a positive working relationship. You want to earn the trust and confidence of the other party as without this, future negotiations will be difficult at best and unlikely to end with a favorable conclusion.
Your “king” is developing a keen understanding of the other person’s interests, challenges and pain points. With each interaction you’ve had up to this point, you’ve built your knowledge bank through strategic questions and fact finding intended to shape your understanding about the drivers and motivators for filling this position as well as any constraints the hiring manager might be facing. Armed with this insightful perspective, you will be in a solid position to negotiate a package that keeps the other parties interest on par with your own.
Turning the “queen” is where you begin to appreciate the value and potential of the cards you are holding. Now you should reflect upon and be clear about your own wants and needs. At the onset of your search you probably jotted down a few requirements you want from a target company – it’s time to refine the list (in writing) and rank your criteria for the ideal job, company and culture. This exercise is essential to articulating what is most important and your rationale for each.
You’re not done yet. Don’t gamble on the outcome by winging it, instead create 3 counter offers that are of equal value, and any of which you would be willing to accept. I suggest you use 10 +/- different elements with differing values for things such as base pay, bonus, PTO, title, work from home, or other job factors relevant to the role. Each one should be assessed by an absolute number so you can quantify each offer and verify all three are of equal value. The “jack” in this hand is the Multiple Equivalent Simultaneous Offers (MESOs) that serve as a powerful tool in maintaining a strong position, while signaling to the other party your flexibility and desire to find a win-win.
Lastly, your “ten” is negotiate the deal in its entirety vs. addressing issues individually. Once you have the offer, your hand is complete and you have a view of the whole picture enabling you to identify trade-offs to concede and earn good will by giving the other party a win. In turn, position yourself favorably to ask for and receive agreement on another deal element that is of higher importance to you.
Unlike in a poker game where a royal flush beats all other hands – your objective in negotiations is ending with two winners and a split pot. Try it! You’ll discover negotiating from a rational business perspective with a view of your and their interests will increase your likelihood of reaching agreement where both parties are happy with the results.