Salary Negotiations in a Slow
Lately, a lot of people have
been asking questions about whether they should negotiate at all when
offered a job. After being out of work for too many months, they are
relieved to have an offer-any offer. They fear that if they negotiate, the
employer will get angry. They cringe at the thought of being told, "Hey,
buddy, there's a long line of people who'd love to have this job. If you
don't like my offer, take a hike."
It feels like groveling is the
order of the day. Of course, the playing field has changed has changed
dramatically in recent years. For example, it wasn't so long ago that long
ago that a major business magazine carried an article about the negotiations
of some new college grads with great computer skills. Companies were so
desperate to get "tecchies" on board that they would agree to practically
anything. Negotiations often sounded like this: "You want a masseuse to give
you a rubdown twice a week? No problem. You want to bring your parrot to
work? Sure, how does the bird like his steak cooked?"
Today, even people with years of
experience and sterling track records are having a tough time getting any
offer. Still, that doesn't mean you shouldn't negotiate. Just because the
playing field has changed, doesn't mean that you should just meekly accept
whatever they offer. Negotiations are part of the hiring "game." If you
meekly say "OK" to whatever they offer, it will hurt your paycheck
(obviously), and may also make the employer value you less.
Think of what happens in another
setting where negotiations are expected: the garage sale. Suppose you're
selling an item that isn't hard to find, say a clock. It works. It's not a
bad-looking clock, but it's a common item. That's like the low-demand job
market. You put a low price tag on it, you don't negotiate, and maybe even
offer to throw it in for free with another purchase. Your communication
affects the potential buyer's feelings about the clock, and the buyer may
even refuse to take it if you offer it for free.
On the other hand, if you're
selling that great-looking expensive leather jacket that doesn't fit you any
more, you will be a tough negotiator. You padded the price a bit to give you
a little wiggle room because you know people like to bargain at garage
sales. By tough negotiating, you communicate that the item has high value.
If you set your price too low or come down in price too easily, the buyer
may wonder if there's something wrong with the jacket.