There’s been a lot of talk these days in the media about negotiating; most notably from the man who has quoted his “second favourite book, after the Bible” more times that I can count. Yes, the infamous Art of the Deal by none other than Donald Trump, has been top of mind for me lately. Not because I’ve read it, nor because I have any desire to read it. But, because I’ve come to realize that there lies a great power, and yes, even an art, in making a deal – in negotiating.
Until recently, I always had a “take what ya get” mentality. And, in all fairness, during the earlier part of my career, that’s really the only option I had. Freshly out of school, lacking any real, “grown-up” work experience, and having little to no assets to my name, that was the smart and responsible thing to do. I didn’t have much under my belt that I could leverage, or so I was lead to believe. Now, I’ve come to realize that no matter what age you are, what experience you have or don’t have, there is always something you can leverage about yourself that can make you an asset to any company.
With that said, always negotiate! Don’t ever settle for the first offer, or the first thing you see on paper – whether that’s a salary, a benefits package, a job title, whatever. Don’t be a jerk about it, but find a creative way to optimize an opportunity to your advantage, depending on your end goal. For those of you just starting out in your careers, look for ways to expand the responsibilities within your job, gain more experience than you would otherwise get, and use that to advance onto something bigger and better.
Know your worth, actually.
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again and again – KNOW YOUR WORTH! I don’t mean this in a campy, emotional way, but in a tangible way that converts to dollar signs and extra zeros at the end of your paycheque. I meet too many people who settled for the bottom end of a salary range simply because they didn’t know how much their skills, experience, know-how, and connections were actually worth. What you know, who you know, and what you’re able to make and contribute is worth something in the marketplace. Figure out what that number is, and stay true to it.
Women are notorious for low-balling themselves, and kicking themselves for it later when they see what their males counterparts are making. Obviously, wage gaps are an inherent problem in society, but women must also take responsibility for the times they’ve closed a deal leaving a tonne of money or other benefits and perks on the table.
I’d never negotiated my salary before until very recently. A job offer came in, paying more than I was already making, but I rejected the first offer, and made a counter offer. It felt like a rush – I was both terrified, but also proud. I felt like I was standing up for myself, in a way, finally taking some level of control in my life and my career. They accepted my terms.
I’ll admit, I was nervous that they’d walk away, but I knew that I brought a unique set of work experience, practical skills, and a confident personality to the table. I knew I’d be an asset to the company, and carried myself accordingly. Know your worth, and be confident in it, even if you lose the deal. The art of negotiating is a skill that can be learned, and practice makes perfect.
Be ready to walk away
At the end of the day, negotiating is just a conversation. Come into negotiations with a solid idea of what you want, where you’re willing to compromise, and what those compromises look like. Be specific and stick to your own terms.
For example, set a salary expectation as a range. Employers are more than likely going to offer you the tail end of that range – that’s just smart business. But, always counter offer and give reasons why you’re doing so. If they refuse, come in with a second number, otherwise, be ready and willing to walk away if the terms aren’t meeting your expectations. This is where it takes yet another level of courage – the courage to say no. Have confidence in what you have to offer and don’t settle for anything less.
Remember, negotiating is a part of life. Whether you’re bidding on a house, negotiating a salary, or the terms of a client contract; if you want to get anywhere in life and business, this is a skill you must learn, and hopefully master.
Here’s to talking your way into more money…