You may have been at this job thing for a while, looking for the right fit and the right opportunity to move your career in a new direction. Maybe a recruiter came knocking at your door one day and you decided to take a look at what is out there. Or, your boss decided to throw a lot of cash on the table in fear you might decide to start your own competing business and entice you to stay on board instead. However, you got to the position of being the most popular kid in the employee break room, you need to be able to separate fact from fantasy when it comes to weighing your options and negotiating your position forward.
You may have the perfect resume, your credentials are impeccable or you have a unique skill set that only a select few can appreciate. Leveraging your assets is a good thing but negotiating against yourself when it comes time to make a decision about your future, isn’t. What does that scenario look like? Well, let’s say you are making $100K a year now and someone is willing to offer you $200K but you decide you have more opportunity to go it on your own and tell them you want $300K to accept the offer because you have the potential to make more money on your own. This is where you need to know how to separate fact from fantasy. Negotiations on salary need to be about what you are actually making or have made in the past, and not on your perception of what you can make lest you appear “greedy” If your current employer or future employer is willing to in essence double your salary, you should not start asking for extra time off, an increase to your 401K match or some other variable which does not make you look like a savvy negotiator but more like a spoiled, petulant child!
When it comes to figuring out your worth you have to be in a position to have earned the level of income and stature your position demands on the open market. If you have not been offered and turned down an amazing salary for a certain amount of money or title in the past, then you can’t expect your current boss or prospective employer to make up the difference. You have to be earning or have earned a certain salary or position or benefit in order to effectively negotiate a more substantial offer moving forward.
To compare yourself to others who make more with no facts in your favor to back it up is not leveraging your assets, it starts resembling a hostage negotiation. Making unreasonable demands especially when you really, really want the opportunity in hand is a very dangerous game to play. It may be a seller’s market right now, where candidates have an upper hand due to a shortage of talent, but the tables can turn at any time and you don’t want to be the one standing in the Starbuck’s line wishing you had taken that last offer that came along but you passed because the vacation was more but not enough than what you previously had.
Whenever you are in a situation where someone is offering you more than what you currently have on many levels from base pay, to benefits, to title, to opportunity, be careful not to squander the offer because you are fixated on the details that in the big picture, don’t add up on your career balance sheet. Greed is good but not when you lose out on something you really want.
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You Asked We Answered
Question: I've been out of work for a while. Do I take a job offer if the pay is awful?
Answer: Yes, taking a job, sometimes any job particularly if you have not worked in a while is good not only for your paycheck but for your mental health as you search for the job you really want. There is no shame in accepting work for honest pay. You are in transition and you need to remind yourself of that and not feel bad if the job you have now or are considering isn't willing to pay you what you are worth. There will be a job out there that will and you need to use all of your resources available including interim work to realize your goals. Taking a low paying job in the meantime may bruise your ego but it won't kill your pride or your wallet.