Negotiation: Your Secret Weapon

Image courtesy Thinkstock
Image courtesy Thinkstock

The coronavirus pandemic has brought on all sorts of changes in our personal and professional lives. What some have dubbed “The Great Resignation” is a phenomenon unseen in the modern world and has shaken up our entire economy. Employers and employees alike are faced with an equally painful reality: where do we go from here?

Employees are fed up because they say wages are not enough for the increasing cost of living, and employers are fed up because, “nobody wants to work.” While both sentiments are equally debatable and subjective in nature, it is on us as members of a non-stop society to find a solution. So, what is the solution? Negotiation.

For many years I was terrified of the word negotiation. It meant confrontation or an argument. I could not have been more wrong in my thinking. If I can rebound from this fear, I promise that you can too. I have come to understand that negotiation is necessary and extremely valuable for both parties.

What does negotiation have to do with you finding a job? Everything. What in the world can you negotiate besides pay to an employer? Anything you want. It’s true! Here are the facts: employers are desperate for workers, remote jobs are on the rise, and the power is finally in your hands. If you are a working-class individual, 2022 could not be a better year to find work.

Because of this immense shift in the power dynamic of employer-employee relationships, your fears of negotiation should be alleviated tenfold. The day has finally come; they need us more than we need them. That is not to say be greedy. Earning a reputation of being greedy, in work, life, or school is a bad idea. The key is to be fully transparent about all terms of your work agreement.

There were many times I would be afraid to say how disgusting I thought a pay rate was based on my experience, what competitors were paying, or how many millions the CEO of a company was taking home. Guess what? Now I say exactly what I’m thinking. It’s the most valuable professional decision I’ve ever made, literally. I’ve been paid anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent more just from negotiating. For example, many times employers will verify your comfort level with a particular pay rate. If you truly deserve and know you are worth more, you need to say that. “I know that company X is paying $16/hour for entry level positions, and I have four years of experience, so I’m hoping to get (insert your desired rate here) to start out.” That’s all you have to say.

It’s critical that you do your research. Know your job, know what comes with it, and know what other places are paying., LinkedIn, and even Facebook groups are all invaluable. Nothing spoils a negotiation more than someone who is uneducated about their own negotiating points. It’s hard to rebuke an educated, confident, experienced worker who asks for a higher wage than a company’s original offer. Employers will gladly start their wages lower than what they can afford in hopes that you won’t negotiate. I know and you know that such research takes time and effort. Well, I say, call their bluff!

Here’s where the fun starts: when they won’t negotiate your pay rate. Kudos to you for trying, but even your best efforts might not get you paid more. But your work is not done. In today’s fickle and volatile job market, everything is negotiable. Vacation days, benefits, work settings, and more. You don’t like going into the office five days a week? Fine, negotiate a hybrid work structure. You want better healthcare benefits, say so. Or my personal favorite, pick your own schedule. That too is negotiable. Hopefully, you’re in a place to reject a job offer if it doesn’t fit you and what you want from it. If that’s the case, negotiate until the very end.

If a place wants to hire you that bad, they will work with you. This does not come for free, though. Employers have been there and done that. They have probably heard most negotiations you may offer. The difference this time is that you’re going to be so educated on your field and what it pays, employers will have to negotiate something with you. My advice would be to drop everything and go to your local library for as long as your energy and schedule allow. If it’s one hour or ten hours, read like your life depends on it.

Turn your phone off, find some books on negotiating, and take some notes. Only take notes on what you believe to be the best concepts, and the ones that will resonate with you and your personality the best. It takes time, effort, and a whole lot of practice. Most importantly, it’s worth it. Get out there, read, learn, practice, and negotiate. It can and will pay you more! And who doesn’t like more money?