In negotiating the terms of employment your goal is to get what you want in terms of job content, compensation and control while maintaining your values and self-esteem. To accomplish this you should reduce ambiguity, manage your own anxiety and understand that you are developing a reputation that will stay with you after the negotiation.

Values / Worth / Self-Esteem

  • Keep perspective – the job is the goal, not specific dollar amounts.
  • In the interview process, establish your worth and value to the organization in each statement.
  • Appear as someone who is evaluating information in order to make a decision about the position.

Reduce Ambiguity

  • Research the market to discover the appropriate range for you.
  • Assess your competitive position – how badly do they want you and what, if any, are their alternatives to determine your leverage in this negotiation.
  • Assess the internal landscape – understanding the company’s policies and compensation structure will uncover the negotiable aspects of the package.
  • Determine your own priorities your “must haves” and where you’re willing to be flexible. Use the Compensation and Benefit Checklist to help.

Managing Anxiety

  • Get the offer, then negotiate.
  • Ask about the company’s timeline and urgency.
  • Treat this as a business transaction – leave your personal baggage out of the conversation.
  • Evaluate different scenarios – determine acceptable possibilities and tradeoffs before the discussion.

Set the Tone

  • Aim at a dialogue about the criteria and your potential contributions.
  • Keep it positive and professional.
  • Exercise patience – there may be unknown factors that cause delays.
  • Negotiating doesn’t need to be negative; you should look for a win-win situation. If you are happy you will be a more productive employee. If you sell yourself short and are not content with the compensation package it could lead to frustration with your employer.

Contract Elements (when applicable)

While most employment in the US is on an “Employment At Will Basis”, there are situations where a contract is negotiated. In those instances, you should consider the following:

  • Term – usually 3-5 years.
  • Duties – should be general.
  • Compensation – strive to include a minimum without upside limitations.
  • Benefits – consider sign-on, bonuses, relocation, expense accounts, health.
  • Non-Compete Agreements – read  through this carefully before signing; check out "Dealing with Non-Compete Agreements" for more information.
  • Termination – conduction of and terms of justification.
  • Severance – include the monetary remuneration, outplacement and continuance of benefits.