Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Don't Sell Yourself Short: 5 Things to Do Before Signing on the Dotted Line

Written based on the expertise of Kendell Brown, Associate Director of Alumni Relations – Kelley Graduate Career Services.

You’ve had your eye out for this job for months, endured multiple rounds of interviews, and waited weeks in agonizing silence to hear your fate. The day has finally come where the silence has broken and the offer is yours!

After going through this long and arduous process, the temptation to sign on the dotted line and make it official is attractive. But this is 2017. You owe it to yourself to take a long hard look at the deal in front of you and open up discussions for negotiations. According to a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, nearly half of workers accept the first offer given to them. Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University asserts that by not negotiating, employees are costing themselves anywhere from $1 million to $1.5 million over a lifetime.

With so much at stake, why is half the population so hesitant to even bring up the conversation? The most obvious reason that comes to mind is the fear that the offer will be rescinded. The probability of an offer being taken back is extremely low, especially if the discussion is done in a respectful manner. Negotiations are an extremely normal part of business, and there’s no reason to feel bad to engage in one. That being said, we do have a few words of advice for when the time comes.

1. Identify your values.
As strange as it may sound, your values are at the heart of every piece you will negotiate. Asking for a higher starting salary isn’t so that you can stockpile your cash, but so that you’re able to do what’s important to you. Whether it’s a trip to a foreign location, a bigger house for your family, or the ability to be able to leave at 5 pm every night, what’s most important to you will be displayed through your asks.

2. Be specific in your requests.
By being specific in what you ask for, you give the company something to react to. Ask for more than you’re willing to settle for, and work in a bit of wiggle room for when they counter. On that note, don’t make outrageous suggestions. (i.e. asking for a $200,000 salary when the offer says $150,000.)

3. Have evidence to support your demands.
Asking for more money “just because” isn’t a very effective way to get more money. Hiring managers are bound to have much more empathy if you’ve gone through and added up rent, student loan payments, and the cost of living in a city like San Francisco. And if you have other offers with more alluring benefits, don’t be afraid to bring that up, too. They want to know!

4. Ask for everything at once.
The hiring process is drawn out as-is. Don’t lengthen it by piling on request after request. Chances are, your HR contact isn’t the one who has the authority to approve the changes, so project a put together image by making all of your requests at one time.

5. Be prepared to accept; It’s not a game.
Simple as that: be professional, and don’t waste anyone’s time if you know that no matter what agreement you come to, you don’t want the job. Go in with the mindset that you’ll accept if your “bottom line” is met. 

While negotiating can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Come in with a game plan but know that if you’re asking your employer to be flexible, you should expect the same of yourself. Most importantly, come armed with the courage to let your voice be heard – the employer isn’t the only one in a position of power.


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