Negotiating the Terms of Your Compensation - Continued

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Set a clear goal

Studies on negotiation consistently show that people who set clear and aggressive goals achieve more favorable settlements than those who aim low or do not set goals at all. If you want a salary of eighty grand and a total package worth 100 grand, shoot for it by throwing out an anchor worth more than 100 grand.

Set a walk-away price

You know your own financial goals, responsibilities and liabilities. If you cannot take anything under seventy grand and still make sense of accepting the position, do not pretend that you can. Your walk-away price depends not only on your financial needs, but also on the attractiveness of your alternatives to accepting the offered position. If you are currently making sixty grand and there are no other offers finding you, settling at sixty-eight grand might not be a bad idea. If, on the other hand, you have been offered a position for seventy-five grand and a generous benefit package, sixty-eight grand seems less reasonable.

Use fairness as your standard

The idea of fairness strikes a cord in most everybody, even though people have differing perceptions of what that means. Obtaining a compensation package that both you and the employer consider fair is particularly important since you are entering into an ongoing relationship. If you discover four months into the job that you are making twenty percent less than your counterparts, your enthusiasm for your new job can sour. If your employer feels like you bullied him into a costlier package than the company authorized him to offer, he could easily become resentful toward you.

You must be able to make a case for why your self-serving version of fairness is appropriate. Are you worth more than most people because you have more experience or because you have a track record of attracting big clients? Perhaps the rationale for your standard of fairness has little to do with you personally, and everything to do with asking for the median market value of your work. Maybe you are asking for a salary that is commensurate with others performing the same role in the company. Remember: if your negotiating counterpart makes concessions, she needs to be able to justify her concessions to her boss. Reciprocally, it is helpful for you to identify what your employer considers fair. 


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