Let’s be clear. If I took a poll of all the students I’ve worked with and asked them why they signed up for my How to Negotiate Your Salary Like an FBI Agent class, the number one reason would be: “I want to make more money.” But when I talk to them after the course and ask them what they took away from it, they tell me so much more.
1) It’s about mindset. The first step in the entire process is just deciding to negotiate in the first place. Surveys show that up to 20% of people have accepted positions without any negotiation whatsoever, accepting the first job offer presented to them.
Whether they don’t know that negotiation is an option, are afraid of confrontation, lack the confidence, or feel that they will lose a position in a bad economy if they ask for more money, they opt to play it safe.
2) It’s about education. Salary negotiation is not a skill that most people are taught. It’s not covered in many schools, it’s not passed along from your parents, money is a taboo subject among friends, and your employer certainly isn’t going to show you the ropes.
Thus, it’s a real eye opener when job seekers begin to learn the facts. They discover that some of their co-workers are making more money for the same work, just because they asked, as well as the mindset of human resources.
3) It’s about self-discovery. During the research phase, students educate themselves about their value in the marketplace. Sometimes they find out, “You know what? I’m actually doing pretty well for myself.”
However, for those who have been in a job for some time, or don’t realize just how important their skills are, they’re pleasantly surprised that they could switch jobs and greatly improve their bottom line. Lastly, there are some, without question, who can say, “I’m way underpaid.”
4) It’s about skills. There are lots of things people do in life just for fun, such as learning guitar or playing golf. However, anyone that has ever taken a class or had an instructor for those activities knows how quickly you can advance your skills by learning the right way to form a chord or the proper way to grip a club.
The same goes for negotiation. Even just learning a few of the time-tested negotiation techniques, such as using silence or steering the direction of an interview can make a huge difference.
5) It’s about money. Whether we like it or not, we all need a way to keep score. What’s interesting is, the game is different for everyone.
Sometimes it’s easy. One client told me she just finished managing a major project and was charging $80 an hour. I told her to try quoting $100 an hour in her next proposal. The result? The client didn’t blink an eye. She told me, “Jim, this was a 6-week project with about 270 billable hours. You just made me an extra $5,000. I can’t wait to raise my rates to $125 for the next one.”
Sometimes it’s complicated. Another client was negotiating a job offer in another state, and we broke down four or five major components into what was important to him.
- The job title and vacation time were satisfactory, so we agreed to the initial offer.
- Benefits were somewhat important, so all we did was verify a discrepancy about when they became effective getting 45 days vs. 90 days.
- We pushed for higher reimbursement for moving costs based on our extensive research, but the company didn’t budge.
- We counter-offered strongly on salary, with the end result being a $30,000 increase over his previous position.
6) It’s about the big picture. So in the end, what is a good salary negotiation class about? It’s about all of the above… educating yourself about the latest workplace trends and how they pertain to you, discovering your value in the marketplace, gaining techniques to give you confidence when asking for what you’re worth, and taking a look at the big picture (title, salary, benefits, coworkers, work/life balance) to have a career and lifestyle that works for you.