negotiation tips #1

Here’s some negotiation tips that I provided for a friend of a friend.

She works at a financial institution and was looking to make a transition to a different department, while keeping her options open for a negotiation.

Do you know how much of a pay increase a person can reasonably expect from an internal promotion?  I should note that the company publishes guidelines on all internal job postings about what the minimum, midpoint, and maximum pay ranges are for a given position. My manager said that actual job offers can vary and that I shouldn’t assume a job offer will match the posted midpoint. How much should I use these internal ranges as part of any negotiating strategy?

Internal salary bumps are generally lower than if you hop to another company, based on my experience in the technology industry. That being said, I recommend pushing for a 20% increase, granted you did legit work, and you have a strong BATNA (best alternative to negotiated agreement, the strongest being another external offer). There is no harm in pushing even if you think they follow a stringent "internal" pay scale. I have a sneaky suspicion that the internal pay scale is a bullshit tactic to limit employee asks. They are not drawing from limited government funding. A financial institution is a for-profit entity, and we all know what they have. Companies will pay for commensurate value.

In the event that I get an offer where I would like to negotiate, how does one go about doing that? The general advice says to tout your accomplishments and use salary data to back up arguments about your market value.

You should always negotiate. Even if the salary is higher than what you expected. Negotiate.

I wouldn't say "tout your accomplishments" so much as presenting notable achievements in your current role, and then taking the extra step to figure out what keeps the company up at night about the new responsibilities you will have, and already have some of the work done in achieving them.

For example, if your new responsibilities include figuring out how to generate more revenue from program XYZ, you can present an operational plan outlining how to tighten up team operations, implement a new marketing effort, and code up a proof of concept algorithm for predicting customer churn (I'm making this shit up). But the extra step is not the operational plan. It’s doing the work on the plan and getting key stakeholders onboard. If you did this, and I were a hiring manager, I would say, "ok well, this person is already making me sleep easier at night, and they're not just saying how awesome they are." Again, this is showing that you're a top performer that is cognizant of solving problems before they arise, and that you actually walk your talk.

Part of your negotiating strategy is knowing your worth. This means research on your company's pay ranges and the market rates at other companies in your geographical location. Gauge what you're worth in that range using broad strokes on years of experience, and how effective you think you are, and add 10-15k on top of that as a buffer to your self-deprecation. This is your opportunity to Google-fo. There are multiple resources for free pay scale insights (Reddit, Quora, Blind, Stackoverflow surveys, etc) and if you’re really desperate, talk to real friends and connections who have similar positions.

Never be the first to reveal what salary you want to start the negotiation at. If conversations somehow get sour and they try and coax it out of you and you're in a corner, give them a range that's backed by research, and then trend towards the upper portion of that range. Practice deflecting and pushing back.

Set a salary limit that you will under no circumstances accept. By the time you start having conversations or emails regarding negotiation, you should not be negotiating with yourself on what you’ll accept. Your walk-away gets stronger as the strength of your BATNA increases. Practice your walk-away.

Is it true that you should ask for slightly more money than you really want so that the company negotiates down to your actual desired salary?

It is true that you should always ask for more money, not slightly more money. There will be a convergence between the two parties as to what is fair, and what is "fair" is based on a lot of things.

What if they say no to all my monetary asks?

There are many more creative options to negotiate on. These include equity, signing bonuses, year-end performance bonuses, more frequent performance reviews for more raise opportunities, commuter benefits, relocation expenses, equipment, education stipends, extra vacation time, remote work, getting a dedicated hour everyday to meditate and do whatever, or even a monthly meeting with the CEO. If you can dream it up, it can happen. The last few are interesting, so don't be afraid to get creative. Some of these are much more interesting and impactful than just more money.

None of it matters.

After all this, nothing is more powerful than having another offer at another company, because that means they can lose you as a talented asset. That puts them in a position that says "oh fuck, if we don't pay or give this person what they want, they'll ghost." And you won’t have a problem with that, because you’ve got a better offer somewhere else.

Personally, I don’t like salary negotiation. Depending on your abilities, you could be looking at a difference of 5k to 30k, which isn’t fair, really. Similar to tipping, shit like this should just be included. Companies should pay the market rate and present the exact salary before interviews begin, with no negotiation allowed. This focuses the interview on the the essence, quality, and value of the interviewee.