Thursday, October 24, 2013

How to negotiate for your dream job?

"Did you have it?"
Credit: Bankrollmob.com
An excellent question from a longtime reader:
What advice do you have on negotiating the offer package for something you'd consider a dream job? I'm lousy at negotiating under the best of times, but if I interviewed and got the offer, I'm pretty sure I'd just jump on it and say "yes! anything you'll give me!". 
Back story: I'd be moving from one big company to another one, and anticipate that most things (salary/benefits/vacation) would be comparable. Cost of living would be higher- but enjoyment of living would also be a lot higher.  
I don't have much experience with negotiating, other than to say that your negotiating power is (according to "What Color is Your Parachute?") never higher than when you have an offer in hand, but have not said "yes."

My one positive experience with negotiating was letting drop (not on purpose, mind you, I'm not that smart/strategeric) on my first industrial job interview that I needed an answer quickly because I had another offer -- that it was an offer for another postdoc was perhaps besides the point. I came to find later that it moved my salary number and my title higher, which was nice.

Readers, I don't doubt that you've faced Johnny Chan and headed to the cashier afterwards. Any advice for our reader? 

4 comments:

  1. In my experience, the best lever you have in your arsenal is the cost of living. If you were moving from a high to low cost of living area, you can be damned sure that the offer would include the cost of living differential, so you need to push on that when you go the other way.

    I've said this before as well: vacation is cheap! Ask for more!

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  2. When I got the offer I ultimately took I said explicitly that I had another offer for more money. It was even true, though in a higher cost area. The HR drone still wouldn't budge on salary, but I was able to get a 5K signing bonus out of it. For a lateral move you can make it clear that (as far as they're concerned) it would have to be worth the significant investment in time and effort involved. Like Don Draper says, you want to move FORWARD. The people (and I use the term loosely) who decide these things have built in the assumption that you'll ask for more than they'll give and they'll offer the least they think you might take. It's unlikely that an offer would be withdrawn just because you asked too much- such a petty and fickle company isn't one you should want to work for anyway.

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  3. I will agree on squeezing out more vacation time. This can easily be asked for and, to my surprise, granted. Asking for more money is definitely something I would do in your shoes if only to cover the difference in cost of living between cities. No company will turn you away for asking for too much. As I hear sales people say, "Don't ever leave money on the table." .

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  4. Remember that the negotiation does not have to end in a deal in order to be successful.

    If they offer you something very low, won't budge, then promise opportunities to advance later it may be in your best interest to decline the job. I tried to negotiate with big company which does not negotiate, failed, but took the job on promises of a rosy future. I really regret taking the job. They initiated one of the biggest layoffs in the world last year and plan to continue. The promises of quickly increased pay and advancement were empty.

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