Last Wednesday we were excited to host our first webinar with Professor Gillian Ku from London Business School. The purpose of the webinar was to shine a light on how to successfully negotiate job offers and compensation packages. Considering the current economic climate, it’s no surprise that people were keen to jump on the call and soak up all the advice that they could.
Gillian broke the ice immediately by explaining that she would like to take a conversational approach to the webinar, encouraging attendees to speak out and participate. Within the first few minutes, participants felt it was safe to share that many of them simply don’t feel comfortable when it comes to negotiating job offers or packages.
Here are a few key tips to take away from the chat.
The first nugget of advice Gillian bestowed upon us seems obvious. If you’re unhappy with your current position or want more from it, the most important thing you can do is ask. As Gillian said in the webinar, unless you put yourself out there and try for more, it’ll be very difficult for more to magically land on you. The problem of course, is how to ask. For women, this can be extra tricky. Gillian highlighted a study which revealed that men were more likely to land higher starting salaries while women were less likely to ask in the first place. Considering the webinar was mainly comprised of women, this certainly got a lot of attention. If you’d like to learn more about gender differences in the workplace, Gillian recommended picking up the book ‘Women Don’t Ask’ by Linda Babcock.
With the ‘don’t ask, don’t get’ strategy in mind, the next phase is to figure out how to do that. Gillian says that the negotiation process should always start outside the negotiation room. In other words: prepare, prepare, prepare! Whether you’re looking to negotiate with a job you are already in or are looking for an entirely new one, it’s vital that you’re able to highlight the key issues you would like to discuss. Examples include salary, holidays, flexible working, and shares. Understanding your preferences and priorities among the issues raised will help your employer get a better idea of what exactly it is you want.
While some issues being raised might bring you value, it may not be costly to the company. For instance, asking to work fully remotely won't cost your company a thing. Going back to being well prepared, it’s vital that you do your company research and have a broad picture of their needs. When doing your research, consider questions like ‘what are the company’s alternatives?’ ‘Who are you negotiating with?’ ‘What benchmarks are available?’ ‘How much have previous hires gotten in your type of position?’ Ultimately, when negotiating you are crafting a deal that is beneficial to both sides rather than you just selling yourself. Remember, value for you = value for the company.
Gillian went on to explain that in a negotiation, your greatest strength is having strong alternatives. In negotiation talk, this is known as improving your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiation agreement). The stronger the alternative, the easier it will be to go into the negotiation room and confidently ask for whatever it is that you want. That way if the other side declines your offer, you can safely lean on your alternatives. For people looking for new jobs, ideally, it’s a good idea to have multiple job offers at once. Gillian explains that if you have the skills needed for the market you are applying to then receiving job offers shouldn’t be difficult.
When negotiating your job offer or current position, Gillian says it is imperative that you have a clear stretch goal in mind. For instance, a key topic of negotiation is salary. When negotiating money, setting a realistic reservation price makes all the difference. That way, you will be less likely to get a bad deal as you know not to accept anything below your benchmark. Additionally, your stretch goal should encapsulate all the issues you have rather than just the salary number. You can do this by placing all the issues onto one metric and then come up with an overall goal.
When it comes to negotiating, it's important to set goals that are achievable and realistic for the company as well as yourself. For example, in the midst of a recession a company's budget may not be able to give you the exact salary or bonus you desire. In this situation, Gillian suggests requesting a review or bonus within a 6 month time-frame. This way you can anchor the first offer which suits you.
Negotiating job offers and packages can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’ve never done so before. But with these tips and tricks in mind, hopefully you’ve got a better idea of what it takes get what you're after. I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Gillian Ku once again for hosting this webinar and for bringing us some clarity in these turbulent times.