5 Killer Negotiation Skills to Elevate Your Job Search and Pay Scale

5 Killer Negotiation Skills to Elevate Your Job Search and Pay Scale

Fact, there are 1.5 jobs posted and available for every unemployed American—that’s the most on record in decades. The “Great Resignation” is a mind-bending new normal for employers struggling to hire and keep great talent. But there’s some good news. This window gives professionals an edge to ask for more on the job search or even in their existing roles. But do you have the chops to negotiate?

Whether you’re fielding offers that are coming in on the lower end or you are grossly underpaid in your current gig, knowing how to negotiate can seriously benefit your job search, benefits, and pay.

For instance, maybe an offer for the perfect position comes in ten grand below your desired salary range. What if you ask for an extra week of vacation and bonus or stock options, and what if you tried to negotiate them up another ten grand and they compromised at an additional five thousand a year? You’d be shocked how often these negotiations end in favor of the talent, but it requires confidence and some seriously persuasive negotiation skills like these:

1. Exercise empathy.

If you’re giving a hardline without any wiggle room for compromise, then you aren’t negotiating. Instead, you’re making demands—and that approach could make hiring and HR managers alike rethink whether you’re the right fit for the position. There is no my-way-or-the-highway in on-team and cross-team collaboration. 

Empathy, self-awareness, and the ability to keep your cool matter. Recognizing the reactions of others and pivoting accordingly are all key to negotiation. People don’t always send out obvious distress signals. Learning how to read the room, or these days, the Zoom, means recognizing social queues and signs when the other party seems frustrated or closed off to feedback or room for discussion.

Your EQ is the glue to keeping it together during negotiations. While your concerns and feelings are probably all valid, fizzing over with an emotional outburst if you don’t get what you want—crying or raising your voice—is a bad look. Vital negotiating means maturely regulating your emotional responses. Stay positive, diplomatic, and constructive, even when you’re less than thrilled with the ultimate outcome. This approach shows that you’re a true professional—that matters in current and future negotiations.

2. Listen actively.

Negotiations demand unfaltering attention from both sides—even when you have a hunch that you’re at an advantage. It’s easy to get laser-focused on your goals in the heat of the moment, or if you’re feeling anxious because let’s face it, most of us don’t negotiate this way daily. Be sure to hear the other party out, openly and patiently. When you’re engaged in active listening, you may nod your head or smile to show you understand or empathize and pause for a moment after the other person speaks. Then for greater clarity, you can rephrase and repeat back what they’ve said to ensure you’re both in alignment before responding with your thoughts.

3 Present alternatives.

You must see the situation from different angles and perspectives—not just yours—to brainstorm and assess potential opportunities to move forward. Help find solutions. Finding a reasonable alternative or compromise isn’t always totally transparent. So, if you can find alignment across your goals, you can find a path forward that works for everyone.

Here’s an example: The employer you’re negotiating with tells you they have a hard cap on the annual salary for the position. Think about some practical and creative alternatives. For instance, you can ask for a signing bonus to help bridge the gap without giving them a repeating annual expense. Or maybe this is an opportunity to ask for a title change to position you for better raises in the future or a chance to increase your quarterly bonus percentage.

4. Know your audience.

Get ready to exercise your skills in persuasion. That means knowing what matters most to your audience. If you’re aiming for a higher starting salary or even a promotion or raise in your current role, go in prepared with meaningful stats and reasons the other party should act. Be ready to present your proposal while building a case to show them why they should say yes. Keep proof handy—whether that’s a list of your achievements or kudos from company executives or the stats on average salary ranges for your title, experience level, and location.

Here’s an example: If you’re angling for a promotion, it’s crucial to convey to your manager in a compelling way why your skills are critical to the success of your employer and your department. Give examples of how your work at the organization has helped you save time and resources or boost revenue. These are standout achievements to carry into a negotiation chat with a new employer to explain why you might be worth a higher-paying salary.

5. Avoid oversharing.

You’re human. TMIs happen. It’s easy to overshare during negotiations, especially if you’re amped up or on edge. Or worse, if you haven’t assessed and nailed down the case you want to make to your manager or prospective hiring employer. When you respond to questions, keep the focus on answering those specifics, avoid rambling or sharing excess information.

Here’s an example: If you’re making the case to your boss that you should have a hybrid work week with two days in the office and three at home, explain how it benefits the business. Talk about the productivity level you can achieve offsite in your home office and how the days you plan to commute are prime meeting days for your department. Steer clear of explaining that you want to work from home Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays because you might have gaps in childcare or someone to retrieve your kids from school. Instead of explaining how it helps your family, share how it helps the business. 

Come ready with stats on productivity increases while working from home while reinforcing how to maintain meaningful connections with colleagues when you’re remote with frequent on-camera communications. Coming prepared with objective stats and research shows your audience that you mean business—it’s very persuasive.

Remember, if an offer has just arrived in your inbox and you want to negotiate, it’s best to initiate a dialogue offline. Start your email with gratitude—thank the recruiter or hiring manager and be sure to convey your excitement for the new position. Next, ask if you can hop on a quick call to cover questions about the offer or salary so they know you’re planning on negotiating and aren’t blindsided.

We can help.

Whether you’re evaluating the current job market and compensation landscape, or you’re ready to make a big move to a new employer, Staffing Strong can help. Our talent specialists are ready to help you identify the opportunities and employers that are the right fit for your unique goals. Submit your resume and connect with us.

Meet the Author

Evelyn Vega is the Founder and President at Staffing Strong and the Past President of the Phoenix American Marketing Association. Since 1999, she’s been dedicated to supporting her clients in building meaningful careers and partnering with businesses in finding quality hires. Evelyn sits on various advisory boards in her free time and enjoys practicing on her drum set!

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