When they’re negotiating their compensation, many IT professionals commit critical errors that result in a stalemate or a final offer that’s well below the going market rate. Most recruiters and managers are trained negotiators, but you can level the playing field by avoiding these mistakes.
Research the market to determine an appropriate salary and benefits package for someone with your technical skills and experience. That will give you the confidence to put something on the table first. Leading off allows you to control the process and forces the the company to counter your proposals. Avoid the tendency to wing it or underestimate the other party’s negotiating prowess. There’s no turning back if they pounce on your low offer or cut off negotiations because your salary request is over-the-top.
Mistake No. 2: Not establishing priorities and concessions
Great negotiators consciously concede some issues in order to win others, so establish your goals and calculate a series of fall-back positions. This will force you to consider multiple scenarios and recognize a reasonable deal during a negotiating session. For example, if you crave work-life balance and you’d like to telecommute, calculate the resulting transportation savings in advance so you can agree to accept a lower salary or forgo parking reimbursement if you encounter resistance.
Mistake No. 3: Not justifying your requests
Share the reasons and relevant facts to justify your demands. That way the other party is more likely to consider your request or offer a compromise — assuming they accept your rationale. Make sure your presentation creates value for the other party; otherwise your pitch will fall on deaf ears.
One IT professional boosted an offer by resisting the urge to issue an ultimatum and instead offering a solution to the company’s near-term software problems. according to Jack Chapman, a career coach and author of Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make $1,000 a Minute. The professional monetized the savings from his ideas and asked to share the rewards, which resonated with the employer.
“IT professionals usually want a higher salary than they earned in their last job, but that won’t happen in today’s market unless they monetize their value and prior accomplishments,” Chapman observes.
Mistake No. 4: Not waiting for the right time
Never talk price until you’ve built an emotional connection and the manager is dying to hire you. You want to be in a place where neither party wants to walk away. “You’ll be screened out if you show your cards too early, because you haven’t had a chance to build a rapport with the hiring manager or establish your value,” says Chapman.
Mistake No. 5: Not recognizing a good deal
Don’t stand on principle or let your ego get in the way. You need to stay calm and keep the talks going until you achieve your objective or receive a reasonable offer. Continuing to push may put the entire deal at risk. In fact, many jobs seekers mistakenly think negotiations have to be fair and offer similar benefits to both participants. The truth is employers have the upper hand. Insisting on equality can shut down the talks without producing a deal. As long as each side achieves their primary goal, the benefits don’t have to be the same.
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