Negotiation: What it is and why you should do it!

Black businessman shaking hands with a caucasian one

I have a post on my blog with tips related to negotiating job offers, but I have come to realize from conversations with student affairs professionals (especially new ones) that a more basic discussion of negotiation needs to occur.

            First there is this question: What is negotiation?

Negotiation is the conversation an individual has with the person who has offered you a job. At its most basic definition, negotiation is a “discussion aimed at reaching an agreement.” Applying this to a job offer then, negotiation is a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement on whether or not a person will accept a job being offered to them.

            Here is what negotiation is NOT:

  • Negotiation is not just making demands (though there could be requests for the offerer to consider).
  • Negotiation is not “getting what you want” (though there should be discussion about what you need or desire in order to accept the job offer).
  • Negotiation is not just about salary (although salary is the most important aspect of a job offer); it is about the entire package (e.g., benefits, moving expenses, title, start date, time off, professional travel, professional development, educational opportunities).
  • In the vast majority of cases, negotiation is not offensive to the offerer (They may be surprised, but don’t mistake that for them being upset or offended).

Too many student affairs professionals (and especially new professionals) receive the advice “Don’t negotiate”–just accept the job. So, what you are being told is – Do not have a discussion about your needs and desires related to the job offer you have been presented. This is further exacerbated for women because research tells us that men are already 4X as likely to negotiate than women!

I am not naïve; I understand the reasons why the advice to not negotiate is offered and why it is accepted in most cases. The assumptions people have about negotiation make it a frightening, competitive, anxiety-provoking process. I believe that we need to do a little perspective changing.

Okay, so let’s look at who you are and who you are perceived to be at the moment you are offered a position. Think about this. Seriously. You have been offered a job. That means you are the BEST person of all the people who applied for that job. Your skills are in demand. Your experience is in demand. YOU are in demand! They WANT you!! I offered you a job. I want to make sure you accept it, so you discussing with me your needs and desires becomes a perfectly natural conversation.

Additionally, as a new professional I would argue that you need to engage in this discussion. People will tell you to wait to negotiate until you are seeking more substantial positions; however, would you run a marathon without training? Would you cook a meal for someone you wish to impress without ever having cooked before? Please think about that!

There is no downside to engaging in a negotiation conversation. You will only either get what they offered you or you will get more. They won’t reduce the offer or withdraw the offer. The worst thing they will do is say no. And, if you engage in a negotiation conversation and nothing is changed from the original offer, at least you got to practice negotiation!

Finally, the attitude one enters such a conversation with matters. If you go in timid, lacking confidence, apologizing for asking for some aspect of the package to be reconsidered, you will send a clear signal to the offerer who will be less likely to adjust the package. Reflect on the points I have made, then go read my Tips on Negotiating.

Please let me know if you have any questions! Good luck!

Follow me at @pglove33



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