It’s back to school time in our household. This is the time of year when we focus on a fresh start - new learning, new friends, new teachers, and, of course, new clothes. I could never imagine how fast kids grow. The marks on the wall behind their doors show my kids have grown 2 full inches taller, each, in the last 4 months. While they are 2 years apart in age, they are within 5 pounds of one another.
So, last week, we prepared ourselves for what was in store. First, we worked out a clothing/school supplies budget and then, we began hunting for sales. My wife is the queen of finding good deals. She often comes home and shares how much money she saved on the latest spree. Never mind that she had to spend extra to save, but that’s an entirely different story.
When it came time to pick out clothes, my 6 year old daughter was quite clear on which attire did, and did not, meet her standards. She, apparently, has a sophisticated fashion sense. Try as we did to guide her to solid colors (so she could keep them as fashion trends change); she likes to make a statement.
What I discovered through this process is that she is a fantastic negotiator. She was willing to give a little to get what she wanted. She was forthright and honest in her communication, and she was not derailed by any feelings of emotion. Like any good parent, I’m proud of my children, and I love them unconditionally. But, I have to say, my daughter’s ability to negotiate really gave me joy.
We spend our lives negotiating. We learn very early on what we want, and we work throughout our lives to meet and exceed our goals. Those accomplishments are undoubtedly driven by a series of small and large negotiations. We negotiate at home and at work. We even negotiate on our way to work, as we try to navigate our drive time. We negotiate on eBay and at Flea Markets. We negotiate in classrooms and boardrooms.
When it comes to negotiation, the key is what you do prior to it. It’s important to do your research.
The employment market is no different, but the field you’re playing on is. Salaries are based upon several factors. Compensation is typically established to be commensurate with managed volume, experience and competitive landscape. As such, salary ranges are established before you even submit your information.
If the position you’re applying for doesn’t already provide salary range, then you’ve got to dig up some information. Talk with colleagues and friends, and utilize your social networks to uncover as much intelligence as possible.
The only time a candidate has leverage is when an offer has been extended. Be sure that you have a few points for which you can negotiate. This way, you can give a little and get a little, and everyone is happy. Sure there’s salary. But, there are also sign on bonuses, pre-determined timeframes for review of performance prior to annual evaluations (3-month review rather than 6-month), vacation time, training and development, and many other options that may hold a greater value for you than a salary alone.
You can make your life a lot easier by building rapport with a great recruiter…someone you feel comfortable with. Recruiters are a great buffer between you and the employer. They can communicate in a very direct way because they’ve already established a relationship with that employer. If a candidate was so bold, it would likely turn off the employer. Recruiters provide multiple opportunities with many different organizations. From that comes perspective, and that can be a candidate’s best friend.
Then again, only you know how much you’re willing to give, to get. In my daughter’s case, she’ll be rolling to First Grade this year with a really cool, zebra painted backpack. I wonder if she’ll be able to use it next year. There’s no question she will use it as a bargaining chip.
I’m so proud of my little girl.