Not many employers can afford (quite literally) to utter Marlon Brando’s classic phrase from The Godfather, “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse” in today’s difficult job market. Does this mean that salary negotiation today has become a redundant practice? Here are a few recession salary negotiation tips and tricks that can help you fetch, even in these turbulent times, a salary package close to your expectations or even, slightly above.
Kelly Services has hired some good talent that had unfortunately been laid off due to adverse business conditions within their previous organizations. Though the fixed salary range they had to offer was much less than what the candidate was earning at his previous employer, he did display maturity in accepting the offer and also negotiated on a higher performance linked variable piece. Is logic was simple that his work will speak for itself and in a short time frame; the organization will itself review and reward him for his performance bringing him at par with his earlier salary levels. Several job seekers, in a quest to look out for a job in today’s tough market are not only adopting a practical approach at the salary negotiation table but also have learnt to let go off the frills fancies by quoting very realistic expectations at the interview stage itself, during current recessionary times. So how can you negotiate? What is price? It is the cost of a product, right? For example: the price of a cola bottle is Rs 15. Now, how would you define value? It is the perceived benefit that one expects from the product. For example, the value of a cola bottle will vary depending on whether you are a thirsty wanderer in a desert or whether you want to sip it simply because there is no water available at the table. The above analogy rings true in today’s job market.
The recession has had a somewhat dampening effect in terms of the power an average employer can wield at the negotiation table. However, good talent is still hard to come by and challenging times such as these require companies to have the best people on board. If you have the kind of skills and demonstrable performance that the company is looking for, you can still demand your price.. So can you demand a particular salary because your cost of living demands a particular compensation figure? Or can you use past figures as a benchmark (after all, people did walk away with 30-40 % increases multiple times in a year)? If you have been a happy victim of the days of generous increments and multiple pay increases in a year, it is time to come to terms with reality.
Experts say that if you believe that the company is having a hard time, you should settle down with the raise given and not negotiate further, even if your salary is lower compared to the market value. Job seekers can abide to the following tips before negotiating with a prospective employer: 1) In the current times, organizations may not be able to offer high fixed salaries, but would be willing to offer higher variable performance linked incentives. 2) focus on long term benefits, Stocks and other long term benefits do not affect company’s salary budget in the short term and hence companies would be willing to offer you a higher ratio of long benefits against a lesser fixed / in hand salary, 3) volunteer for more than what the job profile demands at present. This may help broaden the scope of your work and help negotiate for a salary commensurate to the added piece of work and 4) don’t compare your compensation with your friends or peers.
Let’s look at two diverse instances wherein job seekers tried to tactfully.
Don’t Hesitate to Negotiate
(1) Invest time in researching about salaries earned by people from a similar background in your industry. Research will help you understand the salary trends that your industry is witnessing after recession and then, calculate your real worth.
(2) Do not start negotiating as soon as you get the offer. Take some time from the recruiter to analyze the offer. This not only gives you time to think about the offer, but also gives an impression that the amount you quote is well thought about.
(3) Instead of just focusing on the in-hand salary or gross salary, look at the complete package objectively. There may be many other benefits that may make up for a lesser in hand salary than you expected. These benefits include health benefits, tax benefits, flexible work timings etc.
(4) Chart out a win-win situation: Remember that the salary negotiation process is not a competition between you and HR. It is a discussion to reach to a consensus where both the parties are happy. So, negotiating always keep the company perspective in mind.