Tuesday, April 30, 2013

What's Your BATNA?

Today I attended a learning lunch on salary negotiations, and also, specifically, on the gender wage gap.  We talked about Heidi and Howard, and Sheryl Sandberg - all very interesting.  But the discussion really picked up when these facts were shared:

Did you know that the 2013 working woman in America has a median paycheck 23% smaller than her male counterpart?  And that women make about 90% of what men make - until they are 35, when their salaries really plummet.   Women who leave the workforce to have babies or raise children, by the way, generally do better financially if they return to the same employer.

Other takeaways on negotiating job offers or raises:
  • It's necessary, when negotiating, to understand someone's point of view - and that can be vastly different than agreeing with it.
  • It's important to know your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) and to also consider the other side's BATNA (whoever you're negotiating with) - for more on this, read "Getting to Yes" - 1st edition is pictured below.  
For instance, when a prospective employer asks you, "What kind of salary are you looking for?" - well, you do NOT want to be the anchor to that conversation.  Instead, deflect it at least until you have a job offer.  Smart responses include:
  • "I'm looking for a competitive offer.  I'm sure we can come to an agreement later in this process."
  • "Do you have a range in mind?"
  • "At this point, I'd like to understand more about the position and the responsibilities involved and come back to that question later."
And then when you get a job offer, before you actually negotiate, know the details of the offer and feel free to counter, "This is an important career decision for me and I'd like some time to think about it."  If they want you to decide in a day, match them and ask for two.  Never exceed them in the amount of time you need to think about the offer, but matching them is reasonable.

And so while you're thinking about the offer, before dreaming about your new life and all the perks you think you deserve:  research the market, the organization, and the position - so you understand your value.  Consider cost-of-living differences, median pay, tangential expenses.

And then reply, NOT over email!  Email is a great communication tool but doesn't support the give-and-take of the negotiation conversation you need to have.  Phone is better; face-to-face is best.  Even if it's a company that exclaims, "We don't negotiate!" - there are still creative ways to get non-salary wins.  Besides that base salary, consider negotiating the following:  signing bonus, relocation expenses, stock options, vacation and personal time, responsibilities and title, professional development, start date, days off for known events - even that controversial one - working from home.

Pick out your top favorites and negotiate in order of importance to you.   Are there things on your list that can wait until you are a known commodity?  Maybe even a few months from now?  Maybe you don't want to ask about telecommuting until you earn trust and they know you are focused, credible, disciplined and consistent.  Be objective and specific, and keep your personal needs off limits.  No bluffing - don't tell them you have another offer if you don't.  Pick your words in a way that suggests you and your new employer are solving this "problem" together:  "I'd like to talk about..." or "I noticed this..." or "I'd like your reaction to..." or "What can we do?"

If you are talking salary, especially if this is a smaller company, don't get the last nickel!  You have to face these people again.

So that's what I learned today.  More information can be found at the presenter's website:  http://www.search-forward.com

I graduated the year this book first was published - it continues to be a best-seller.

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