The Negotiation Dance

The Negotiation Dance

by Carole Martin
Monster Interview Coach

One step forward; one step back; step together, and back again.

To perform the negotiation dance, you must have a good sense of balance. Knowing your value will help you feel more confident about staying in step during the negotiation process. The employer takes the lead and you follow, staying with the rhythm. You move together through the process, taking care not to step on each other. The dance is never confrontational or harsh, but smooth and in harmony.

Often, the first step takes place on the phone. The interviewer asks for your salary requirement or the salary you’re currently making.

First the Music Starts

You take a step back and try to postpone this discussion until you have more information: "Could you tell me the range budgeted for this position?" Or, "What would you typically pay someone with my background and experience?"
Postponing the salary discussion is the best step for you, at least until you have the information needed. By doing research ahead of time, you will feel confident knowing your worth. There is a point when the range, or your expectations, will be revealed, but it is better to wait for the interviewer to lead and give out the information first.

If the employer determines that you are right for the job, he will take the lead and make an offer. It is now your turn to move the dance to the next stage. But first you must evaluate the package. The following must be taken into consideration:

  • Base rate: Always the top priority.

  • Alternative compensation: Bonuses, commissions, stock options, profit sharing, etc.

  • Benefits: Premiums for insurance, paid time off, matching 401k, working conditions, etc.

  • Other perks: Car, education reimbursement, training, laptop computer and the like.

Let the Dance Begin

You call the hiring manager and say how delighted you are to receive the offer, but you have some questions and concerns. Scripting your dialog ahead of time will give you confidence to be succinct regarding what you want.

"Based on my eight years’ experience in this industry, my MBA degree, and my proven ability to raise funds and build teams, I feel the base rate offered is low. Is there any flexibility here?" you ask.

In stride with you, the hiring manager asks what you have in mind. And because you have done your homework and know your value and worth, you are able to sell yourself based on what you will bring to the company.

"Based on the research I have done, I feel someone with my experience and background should be in the upper level of the range we have been discussing."

Hold your position and count to 10. Silence is a strong tool in negotiations. The hiring manager waits through the silence and then promises to get back to you. He is in sync with your movements. You’ve presented your case well.

The Final Steps

Whether you are negotiating for more money or some other perks, the rules remain the same. Let the employer lead, and maintain your own sense of balance. By preparing and researching ahead of time, you can feel more empowered in this process, as a partner in a dance, moving with the flow. The rhythm of the negotiation should be smooth, moving toward the final step: acceptance and agreement.