All negotiation is a skill and part of that skill is in timing. So whatever you negotiate for you need to pick your time, and choose your battles carefully.
Whether you're going for a new job and don't feel that they are offering you enough, or are looking for an increase in your salary and your employer isn't offering a pay rise, there is always room for manoeuvre, especially if your skills and experience are of high value.
Give and take
Negotiation is a two-way street so you need to consider the wider picture and not just focus entirely on what it is you want. You also need to think about what the company might need and how you can help them. Some of the things you need to think about – and to take into a negotiation with you are:
- Your real worth
- Your desired outcome
- The company's prospects and situation
- The company's benefits and bonuses structure
- The company's own objectives
- The current economic situation
Understanding the wider picture stops you from becoming predictable in your negotiations and allows you to build counter arguments when the negotiation isn't going your way.
Once you have this win-win mentality, then you can make some progress. The best bargaining tools to introduce are those that mean a lot to you, but cost little to the business.
- Leave entitlement – get a few extra days off every year
- Flexible working – work from home or change your hours
- Travel allowances – get a company car subsidized public transport
- Appliances – ask for your mobile phone or broadband to be paid for
- Commission – when your company makes more money, so do you
- Share options – benefit from the company's growth
- Promotion – ask for more responsibility and a better job title
- Training – sign up for courses that will improve your ability
- Membership – join a gym or industry association
- Clothing allowance – get a new wardrobe on the company
These can be all be win-win situations that reduce your personal taxation, increase your productivity, and offer year-end windfalls.
Many companies will already have many of these schemes in place so be sure to do your research so you can find out which bargaining tools will be easy for them to agree to and which will be a bit more difficult.
Be creative and introduce these one at a time, rather than laying all your cards on the table straight away. Make sure that whatever they offer, you always have a trump card to pull out. In negotiations, you always want to retain a perceived position of power.
Be firm, but remember to be diplomatic at all times and show a willingness to reach an equitable conclusion.
Remember, if you are doing a good job or can add real value to a new employer, any company will be prepared to consider your requests. Don't sell yourself short by going straight to direct negotiation, talk about your value first.
If what you're offered isn't what you really want don't be afraid to turn it down. Every negotiation is a valuable experience so evaluate the outcome and take what you have learned into your next negotiation.