Get Your Best Salary Offer, with Kwame Christian

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Transcript

Find Your Dream Job, Episode 121:

How to Get the Best Salary Offer, with Kwame Christian

Airdate: January 10, 2018

Mac Prichard:

Hi, this is Mac, of Mac’s List. Find Your Dream Job is presented by Mac’s List, an online community where you can find free resources for your job search, plus online courses and books that help you advance your career. My latest book is called Land Your Dream Job Anywhere. It’s a reference guide for your career that covers all aspects of the job search, including expert advice in every chapter. You can get the first chapter for free by visiting macslist.org/anywhere.

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life. I’m Mac Prichard, your host, and publisher of Mac’s List.

I’m joined by my co-hosts, Ben Forstag, Becky Thomas, and Jessica Black, from the Mac’s List team.

This week we’re talking about how to get the best salary offer.

You’ve got a job offer. Congratulations! Now it’s time to talk salary with the hiring manager.

This week’s guest expert is Kwame Christian. He says to get the best salary offer, you need to prepare and know what you want. Kwame and I talk later in the show.

Salary is one part of your total compensation. You also need to consider health care, retirement, and other benefits an employer may offer. Ben has found an online calculator that helps you put a dollar figure on those perks. He tells us more in a moment.

You want to tell people you’re job hunting and you want to ask for help. How do you do this without seeming desperate? That’s our question of the week. It comes from listener Peter Weiss of Cleveland, Ohio. Becky shares her advice shortly.

As always, let’s first check in with the Mac’s List team.

Let’s turn to Ben Forstag who’s out there searching the nooks and the crannies of the internet. He’s looking for those websites, books, tools, any resource you can use in your job search and your career. So Ben, what have you uncovered for our listeners this week?

Ben Forstag:

This week I want to talk about a fun little tool I found online. It’s an Employee Total Compensation Calculator. I think when people think about work compensation, they tend to only really think about the salary. They look at that one number when making a lot of their decisions about work; whether they’ll apply for the job, what they’ll ask for in a salary negotiation, or how much they’ll push for in a pay raise.

Salary is important.

Mac Prichard:

It’s part of the package.

Ben Forstag:

Yes, and I certainly work, in large part, for a paycheck. But it isn’t the be-all-end-all of compensation. Many jobs come with a lot of other employee benefits. Things like paid vacation, 401K contributions, life insurance, medical insurance, et cetera`. These items all have real money value. They can really improve your quality of life and you don’t want to dismiss them as an unimportant part of your total compensation package.

This is actually a point we talked about before, and one that Jeff Weiss emphasized in Episode 37…way back in Episode 37.

Mac Prichard:

I remember that, yeah. He is the editor for the publications of your favorite magazine.

Ben Forstag:

Yeah, Harvard Business Review. He wrote their guide to negotiating. This is actually one of his points, which is, sometimes when an employer can’t give more money, they may be able to give you other things that have a monetary value. Things like time off or sometimes they’ll be able to pay for your tuition because that comes from another fund than salary.

It’s important to think through things like that.

This week, I want to share this nifty tool that I found. It’s a total compensation calculator. Basically, it tells you the total value the employer is giving you, based both on salary and the other benefits that are on the table.

The way it works is, you enter your salary along with all the other benefits, total days off, insurance premiums, 401 K contributions, all that stuff. Based on the data, the calculator tells you how much your job is “worth” in terms of compensation.

I think this was kind of eye opening for me because I put my own information in there, and yeah, it’s a much bigger number than what you would see on your paycheck. Thank you, Mac Prichard.

I think it’s something to keep in mind when you’re looking at jobs online, for example. I know a lot of the organizations that post on Mac’s List say, “Here’s the salary”, then they make a big point of, “benefits included, there’s lots of benefits.” Sometimes I want to ignore that, but those benefits have value and they’re really important.

Jessica Black:

They do.

Ben Forstag:

So consider that. But also when you’re thinking about negotiation whether it’s that introductory salary you’re getting or it’s the time for your annual review and you’re pushing for a pay raise. Think about all of these other benefits that are there and how you might be able to leverage those to increase your overall compensation package. I encourage you to type your own information in and see what pops up.

Jessica Black:

I love that because I remember one of my first “real jobs,” I didn’t get paid very much. My take home wasn’t that much but I had so many paid days off, so it was really worth it. I didn’t have a lot of money to go on vacation but I could do things in town or just have more mental health days, or whatever kind of personal days. It made a big difference and it did contribute to that extra total package.

Ben Forstag:

I’ve got an interesting story along these lines. My first job out of college, I worked with the YMCA year round, and my first salary, I’ll tell you, was $17,000 a year. I thought I was rich when I got that. I was like, “Whoa!”

Jessica Black:

It feels good.

Mac Prichard:

It does.

Ben Forstag:

I mean, that was not a huge amount of money, but my job also came with free housing and free food. As much food, camp food, as I wanted to eat.

Jessica Black:

Honestly, those are the biggest expenses. Housing and food are your top two biggest expenses.

Ben Forstag:

I haven’t even gotten to the last one. A car I could use whenever I wanted.

Jessica Black:

What?!

Ben Forstag:

Right? $17,000 on paper doesn’t look like much but when you realize there are no essentially no mandatory costs here. All of that money is discretionary, it changed the name of the game. Yes, I did use that money very discretionally.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Ben Forstag:

Instead of paying for rent, or food, or a car.

Jessica Black:

Good for you.

Ben Forstag:

I think it’s the kind of thing you should look at and think about.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, and certainly another big ticket item is health insurance. As you get older your premiums get bigger.

Jessica Black:

You appreciate having paid health insurance a lot more as you get older I think.

Mac Prichard:

I think you do, particularly if you have a spell of self-employment, and you’re in your forties or fifties, you might be looking at an after-tax, health insurance premium of $15,000 or $20,000 a year. That means you’ve got to pay payroll taxes on top of that.

Jessica Black:

You’re less risky. I know, before said “real job”, that I mentioned before…

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

I didn’t have enough money to pay for my own health insurance. I went without for many years before Obama Care forced me to make sure that I had it at all times. Before, I also had jobs that took care of it for me which was great, but yeah, once you get older, you can’t really do that risky business anymore.

Mac Prichard:

No you can’t.

Well great tips. Thank you for that resource, Ben. If you’ve got your own suggestion for Ben, please write him. His address is ben@macslist.org. We’d love to share your idea on the show.

Now let’s turn to you, our listeners, and Becky joins us to answer one of your questions. Becky, what’s in the mailbag this week? A letter from Ohio, I hear.

Becky Thomas:

Yes, we’ve got a question from Peter Weiss of Cleveland, Ohio. He writes:

“I’ve been told to reach out to my network when I’m looking for a job. I see people do this on LinkedIn with mixed results but I’m nervous about appearing desperate. What’s the best way to share news about my job search and ask for help?”

This is a great question, Peter. I have seen the same thing happening on LinkedIn where people will say, “I got laid off today,” or “I just left my job”, and there’s some levels of sharing personal or emotional information. Like, “Oh my gosh, I’m so scared what am I going to do?”, sort of like maybe some oversharing. I think a lot of that is your personal preference, what you want to do.

I think that as far as appearing desperate goes, I think part of this is ego-driven. You don’t want to be vulnerable, especially on your professional social profiles. A lot of people worry about sharing some of that tough news publicly but the thing is, everybody can relate to it. If you approach it from a positive perspective and with a clear ask, you will get support. If you’re recently unemployed you will need that support.

I think it is a personal decision how much you want to publicly advertise your unemployment or you’re looking for a job.  You don’t have to put out a full public blast on LinkedIn or FaceBook or something. I’ve personally had success just sending the same, similar email to different contacts when I’ve been looking for a job.  Just letting them know that you’re looking, the types of roles that you’re targeting, and giving them specific asks. If you want them to introduce you to someone else, or something, you can personalize it.

That’s one way to do it. You don’t have to put it out there for everybody to see. But there’s an advantage to posting publicly because you never know who’s going to have an opportunity for you. If you do do that, be sure to make it positive. Don’t criticize your former employer ever. That’s never a good thing to do. Let people know that you are excited about the next phase of your career. Again, I think the key here is to really ask for what you want because otherwise, people don’t know. Mac says this all the time, “You’ve got to make it easy for people to help you.” You’ve got to make a clear ask and help people help you.

Another thing I was thinking about was, there’s specific groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, like industry related or expertise. If you’re a part of some professional groups, that’s a good place to make your post public but it’s not blasting it to everybody who follows you. That’s one way to do it too. I know there’s a growing number of professional groups on Facebook where people are just sharing, “Hey, I’m looking for this person. I’ve got an opportunity open”, or “I’m available and I’m looking for work.”, things like that. It’s more of a sharing forum. That could be a good place to do that as well.

As far as the place where you want to post stuff, I recommend posting on LinkedIn over a public Facebook post, but I think that’s me.  I don’t typically use Facebook for professional networking. I wanted to know what you guys thought about that?

Ben Forstag:

I am a big fan of using Facebook to tell people that you’re looking for work.

Becky Thomas:

Really?

Ben Forstag:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

That makes me sort of uhhhh….

Ben Forstag:

No, it makes me feel that way too, but if you think about it…

Mac Prichard:

I’m in your camp Becky here.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah. Let’s hear Ben out.

Ben Forstag:

But if you just think about it. For the most part, you’re obviously friends with a bunch of people you barely knew in high school on Facebook. Most of the people that you’re friends with on Facebook are family members, friends, people that you know from your past. If there’s anyone in the world who’s going to help you, and wants to help you, it’s these people. You need to at least let them know that you’re looking.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, there’s a lot of good will there.

Ben Forstag:

There’s a lot of good will. Plus, do you really know what your uncle does for a living? Do you know what his spouse does for a living? Do you know what his spouse’s best friend does for a living? There’s all these connections out there, that if you don’t even tell people that you’re looking, you just never know what’s going on.

The story I think about is, three years ago I was in the same boat. I was unemployed and I did not want people to know about it. I didn’t post it on Facebook and when I finally got a job, I posted some message like, “Oh, I’m really excited. After four months I got a job I’m excited to start on Monday.” Two different people were like, “Oh I didn’t even know you were looking. If you had told me…I knew someone who was hiring right down the street.” It’s like those kinds of things, you only stumble across them if people know you’re out there.

Jessica Black:

I think that’s a really good point because I think that regardless of the medium that you use for this, because I am more of the personal email to my trusted network. I think going about it via LinkedIn or even Facebook, or however you feel most comfortable, is completely fine. I think that the key is, if it feels uncomfortable to put all of your information, all of the details, and the everything, and it feels super tough to share it on a social network, you don’t have to say, “Hey I was just recently laid off”, or “I quit my job after this,” you can just say, “Hi friends,” or hi whatever, send it out into your network saying, “I’m looking for a job in this. Let me know if you know anyone.” Again, being very focused and tailored in it, then letting that happen rather than going in to sort of the…

That’s what I gathered from Peter’s comments, was that it was very… people were sharing too much personal information and that was what was putting him off. I feel like it’s okay if that’s not your style but find the way that works for you.

Addressing this side of things, I agree with you Becky, that it’s not desperate. I think that’s our own personal…it feels uncomfortable to share those types of things because nobody wants to be in that position, whether it was your choice or not to be unemployed. It’s scary to talk about, especially when you don’t have something else lined up. I’ve definitely done this a lot where I try to take on the burden on my own because “I don’t want to air my dirty laundry here.” “I don’t want people to know that I’m struggling”, or those types of things, but the few times that I have reached out to the trusted colleague, it’s been really beneficial.

I think that Ben is spot on that you don’t know who can help you until you reach out.

Ben Forstag:

I think we’re all circling the same idea here, which is you need to be purposeful in what you’re posting online. Again, when you’re out of work, you feel out of control, you don’t have a whole lot of control in the situation. It is desperate if you’re like, “I’ll take anything, help me, help me.”

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, don’t say that.

Ben Forstag:

That would be desperate.

Jessica Black:

There are bad ways to do it, yeah.

Ben Forstag:

But if you’re purposeful and you say, “I am looking for a new opportunity that does x, y, and z”, whatever x, y, and z, is for you. I think that’s not desperate, that’s being clear and I think people actually look up to that. They say, “Oh, Becky, or Jessica, or Mac, they look really purpose-driven here, and they know what they’re looking for. That’s not desperate, that’s assertive.”

Becky Thomas:

It’s impressive, yeah.

Jessica Black:

Then they’ll say, “Oh, I know my cousin’s uncle has their own firm…” in whatever it is that you’re looking for and they can put you in contact. That’s a lot of how you get your job, we say this a lot, is by using your networks. I think that’s good.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, I think you’ve all made this point in one way or another, and it’s targeted communication you’re clear about what you want and how people can help you. It’s not an online diary entry, “Today I came home after losing my job. I’m not sure what I’m going to do next.” Instead it’s, “I’m doing a job search, this is my goal, here are ways I hope people can help me. Please email me directly or contact me in this way. I’ll be reaching out to some of you individually but I just want to get the word out.”

Becky Thomas:

Totally. Thanks guys.

Mac Prichard:

Great, well great question. Thank you Peter, and thank you, Becky. If you’ve got a question for Becky, she too would like to hear from you. Her email address is: becky@macslist.org. Or call the listener line. That’s area-code 716-JOB-TALK, or use your Facebook account and post your question on our Facebook page.

If we use your question on the show, we’ll send you a copy of our new book, Land Your Dream Job Anywhere.

We’ll be back in a moment. When we return, I’ll talk with this week’s guest, Kwame Christian, about how to get the best salary offer.

Now let’s turn to this week’s guest expert, Kwame Christian.

Kwame Christian is a business lawyer and the director of the American Negotiation Institute. He also serves as a negotiation consultant for attorneys and for companies closing large business deals.

Kwame hosts Negotiate Anything. It’s the top ranked podcast on negotiation in the United States. In every episode, he interviews successful entrepreneurs and shares powerful persuasion techniques.

He joins us today from Columbus, Ohio.

Kwame, thanks for coming on the show.

Kwame Christian:

Hey, thanks for having me, Mac.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, it’s a pleasure.

Now our topic this week is how to get the best salary offer when a job offer has been made. This is a point where people are excited, so sometimes they might say yes to the first figure that’s mentioned. Let’s start with that very basic question: why shouldn’t listeners accept the first salary figure an employer offers?

Kwame Christian:

Yeah, that is a very good question and it’s an important one. The reason why you shouldn’t accept the first offer in most situations is because the hiring manager is going to make the offer with the assumption that you will negotiate. There is typically a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to the first offer that’s given. It’s almost like an opening gambit; they’re expecting you to make a certain move, if you don’t, you’ve given them an unanticipated windfall.

Mac Prichard:

I think that will come as a surprise to some of our listeners because I don’t think many job seekers understand that there is some flexibility on the part of the employer. In fact they’re expecting you to push back, aren’t they, Kwame?

Kwame Christian:

Yeah, and that’s one of the things that I’ve recognized with what I’m dealing with people or working with people who are accepting offers and trying to negotiate their salaries, and just professionals in general. We’re not brought up in a way in this country where we assume flexibility in these offers as they come. But one of the first things we need to do if we’re going to improve our ability to negotiate is to first improve our negotiation recognition.

Many people don’t negotiate well simply because they fail to realize when they have the opportunity to negotiate. That’s the first thing that we need to do, recognize that we have the opportunity to negotiate and take advantage of that flexibility.

Mac Prichard:

I want to talk in a moment about the negotiation process itself, but because you raised that point about the importance of recognizing there’s an opportunity here, I just want to acknowledge, there’s a gender difference too in how people approach negotiation, isn’t there?

Kwame Christian:

There is and it’s really unfair. Here’s how it plays out. For instance, the most popular book on the gender dynamics in negotiation is called Women Don’t Ask and it’s written by Linda Babcock and Sara Lashiver. It was a phenomenal book, and it outlined the biggest barrier to women in negotiation. It’s the failure to ask for what they want and deserve. Men, who are similarly situated, in addition to having the social constructs in their favor, are more likely to ask for what they want.

As a result, according to their studies (they were doing their research out of Case Western), they feel as though the wage gap could almost be eliminated simply by taking the step, that first step, of asking for what you want in a negotiation. That’s the first gender barrier that women face because there’s a social stigma that comes with women who stand up for themselves and ask for what they want. For men, when they do that, it’s seen as assertive and it’s a good thing, but there’s a stereotype against women where they’re supposed to just accept what’s given to them.

When it comes to understanding this stereotype and how pernicious it can be in these types of situations, it’s important to understand there are two different types of stereotypes that can be at play. Descriptive stereotype, that’s a stereotype that describes a certain kind of behavior that you anticipate a certain person to take, and a prescriptive stereotype, that doesn’t define the behavior, but it prescribes the behavior as this is how you should act in this certain situation.

For example, for an African-American male, which I am, I am in that group, the stereotype is somebody who’s aggressive, less intelligent, those types of things. That’s what they’re anticipating from me. But for a woman in a negotiation situation, they are anticipating that you will not stand up for yourself and you will not be assertive, and if you do, it’s actually more damaging.

With that knowledge, what we need to do, if you’re a woman in a negotiation is, you can’t assert yourself in the exact same way because it has negative impacts. That’s what we’ve been seeing in the studies, which is unfair but it’s important to know that. In order to negotiate effectively in these situations, you have to take a more collaborative approach. That means focusing on the needs not only of yourself, but also of the team and the company, and focusing heavily on establishing rapport on the front end. That is a way for you to circumvent those societal barriers that are standing in your way when it comes to negotiation.

You still need to ask but you have to ask in a slightly different way.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s talk about how to ask, but before we do that, let’s talk about how a candidate should prepare for that conversation. The job offer is on the table, the candidate is interested, they are in fact probably very excited about the position, and the next step is there’s going to be a conversation about salary. Why should people prepare for this kind of conversation, Kwame, instead of winging it?

Kwame Christian:

Yes, the desire to freestyle is strong.

Mac Prichard:

It is, isn’t it? Yeah.

Kwame Christian:

It is.

Mac Prichard:

Do you think it’s because people are anxious and they just don’t know how to do it? What do you think is going on there?

Kwame Christian:

Yeah, I think it’s a bit of anxiety. You don’t want to seem greedy or needy. I think those are two of the biggest psychological barriers people face whenever it comes to these discussions. If I ask for more than what they’re offering, are they going to look down on me? Are they going to see me as greedy? Or are they going to think I’m so impoverished that I need every little bit that I can get? Neither of those are realistic concerns if you are able to negotiate effectively.

Mac Prichard:

People postpone the preparation, but when they do do the preparation the right way, what does that look like, Kwame? What do people need to do to get ready?

Kwame Christian:

I’m an academic kind of person, so I prefer to prepare in a very systematic way. I do that because I know that if I follow certain steps, I can know when I feel that there’s a completion point. If you don’t have any guidance with how to prepare you’ll never really know whether or not you’re there, whether or not you’ve adequately prepared. Numerous studies have shown that the willingness to prepare and the amount of preparation is the single biggest determining factor when it comes to success in negotiation simulations.

So when we come to these actual conversations, it’s going to be the exact same way. The saying, “competence breathes confidence” holds true in this situation. The more competent you are, through the act of thorough preparation, the more confident you will be in those conversations and you’ll be able to navigate with a much more aplomb when it comes to getting what you want.

Mac Prichard:

What are your top three practical tips about how people should prepare for that conversation? What do they need to do before they start talking about numbers and salary with a hiring manager?

Kwame Christian:

Well the first thing you need to do is you need to recognize who you are and what you have to offer and what the market looks like. Let’s say I’m applying to a law firm job, and they offered me $100,000, and I say, “Thank you for that offer, I appreciate it, but I think I should have $300,000.” Now it’s aggressive, it’s ambitious, not legitimate at all. Here’s the thing, when you come back with a counter offer, you need to legitimize what you’re saying with something called objective legitimate kype criteria.

The first part is objective, that’s the opposite of subjective, it is rooted in something that is factual, and you want it to be legitimate. Legitimacy in this case has to do with respect. In this situation you want to get something, you want to base your facts in something that would be respected by both parties. For example, in a salary negotiation situation, the respected party would be something like Indeed or GlassDoor, something that is a third party neutral that would give a fair estimation for what somebody in your industry and with your experience can anticipate making in a position like this. Then you can utilise that criteria in your counter offer.

That’s the first thing that I’d focus on.

Then I’d also focus on figuring out your unique characteristics and how it fits perfectly with the job that you’ve been offered. A lot of times we focus too heavily on the things that are the obvious, so our degrees, our years of experience, but you need to take some time and ask yourself, what makes you different? Honestly, one of the negotiation techniques you could use is asking the other party why they chose you. Because when you think about it from an evolutionary psychology perspective, there’s always the economy between the person who’s being chased and the person who is chasing.

If you, back in the ancient days, if you were out on the Savannah trying to survive and an animal runs directly at you, you’re most likely going to run away. Then thinking about today, an animal that’s primitive compared to us is a dog. If you stand next to a dog and you run away that dog is going to chase you. So you, in this position, a lot of people think they are the person who should be doing the chasing. “I have an offer, let me take it immediately”, but what you can do by asking the question, “Why did you choose me?”, it shifts that economy where you are the person being chased. Now they are justifying why they want you. Information is going to be the lifeblood of every negotiation. When they are justifying why they want you, you’re getting the information that you need to figure out what it is about you that made you different from all of the other applicants. Because they only have one offer and they gave it to you. That’s a pretty big signal that they want you.

Let’s figure out why and then when you’re countering, you can use that same justification to legitimize your counter proposal.

Mac Prichard:

Know what the market pays for someone with your skills and accomplishments. Second, know what makes you unique to that particular employer. Now when you start those conversations, why is it important, Kwame, to be the first person to mention a number?

Kwame Christian:

Yes, and this gets into the psychological principle of anchoring. With anchoring, the first number that’s said is going to have a disproportionate amount of strength when it comes to pulling the final offer, the final number, in a certain direction. For example, if they say the first offer, which they should, they have more information and that’s a simple rule of thumb you could use. Whoever has more information should make the first offer. The employer in this case is going to be the person making the offer, but then what you should do is, come back with the most aggressive offer or counter-proposal that you can reasonably justify, using the legitimate criteria that we discussed earlier. Then from there, you can assume that they’re going to either counter or accept but you want to give yourself enough wiggle room for you to be creative and use some things as bargaining chips. Either money, vacation, other benefits, move things around, but you want to give yourself as much space to move as possible and you do that by being aggressive with the first offer.

Mac Prichard:

Use anchoring to set that range, expect to have a conversation with some back and forth. When do you walk away from a salary negotiation, Kwame? How do you decide when to do that?

Kwame Christian:

You need to decide that in your preparation. I’m really glad you asked this question because this gets to the meat of preparation. Because you shouldn’t be surprised by what people say in a negotiation if you’ve prepared effectively. You should have worked out every possible contingency if you do it in a very systematic way. You need to predetermine as much of this negotiation as possible so you don’t need to think on the fly during the actual discussion, because during the discussion we’re going to be stressed out, we’re not going to be thinking as clearly. It’s going to be more difficult for us to do that.

Before you enter into that conversation, you need to know clearly what your baseline is. Here’s an example, I was working with a client earlier this summer. He ended up getting an offer for, it was about $135,000 per year. He wasn’t very happy with that and when I was talking to him in the preparation process, I was asking him what his walkaway point was. “What is your walk away point?” He said, “160,000.”

I said, “Okay, what if they offered you 155,00? Would you accept that?” He said, “Yeah, I’d probably accept that.”

“If they offered you 150,000, would you accept that?” “I’d probably accept that.” I kept doing that until I found the real one because 160 is still your aspiration, but it’s not your walk away point.

You want to be able to have quick answers for these questions during the conversation because when you start to waffle during the conversation it signals to the other side that they are close. If they were to offer something around the 150 range to him and he was kind of wavering on that, they would know that they were in the ballpark. Whereas if he would have had a clear answer to that, it would have made it clear to them, “We’re not even in the same ballpark right now.” We ended up getting $155,000 per year and a $20,000 signing bonus. They had a lot more room to move but the fact that he was able to reject offers that weren’t in his range with confidence led them to make more adjustments over the course of the negotiation.

Mac Prichard:

The bottom line: know what you want.

Well this has been a great conversation, Kwame. Tell us, what’s next for you?

Kwame Christian:

Yeah, I have some cool things coming down the pike. I did a Ted Talk last month and it went really well. It’s on Finding Confidence In Conflict because when it comes to negotiation, a lot of times there’s a conflict at the front end of the conversation. If you don’t do a good job of addressing the conflict you will not be able to persuade the other person. It’s about building rapport, strengthening relationships through the use of conflict. That should be coming out in December.

Then I also have a free guide for your listeners. It’s a salary negotiation guide and much, much more. Like I said, it’s good to have a very systematic approach to preparing for these negotiations and this guide has a salary negotiation guide, a conflict resolution guide, and it talks about the three characteristics of an effective negotiator. It will provide you with a framework that you can use to prepare for your next salary negotiation and make you feel confident in the amount of preparation that you put into it.

Mac Prichard:

I did have a chance to visit your website and prepare for this conversation, Kwame, and I was very impressed with the thoroughness of the content and advice you offer about negotiation. Not only about salary, but other issues in the workplace.

People can learn more too, about you and your work by visiting your website, which is americannegotiationinstitute.com.

Kwame, thanks for being on the show today.

Kwame Christian:

Hey, thanks for having me, I appreciate it.

Mac Prichard:

It’s been a pleasure, take care.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio with Becky, Ben, and Jessica. I’d love to hear from you all around the table here. What are the key takeaways you took from my conversation with Kwame?

Ben Forstag:

What are the key takeaways you took from the conversation, Mac?

Mac Prichard:

You’re turning it back on me?

Ben Forstag:

That’s right.

Jessica Black:

Key negotiations.

Ben Forstag:

I say that in jest because I thought that was great, that idea of turning the tables and saying “Well why did you pick me? What are you basing the salary you’ve given me on?” Putting the other person on the spot and making them answer that question so that you’re the one being chased rather than you chasing them.

Becky Thomas:

How do you phrase that though? I was thinking that that was really smart too, but I could see it… maybe that’s from a female perspective, too. I feel like it would come off as super aggressive in a negotiation.

Jessica Black:

Let’s talk about that.

Becky Thomas:

Should we?

Jessica Black:

No, no, no.

Ben Forstag:

I’m out.

Jessica Black:

No, no, no.

Becky Thomas:

No, you need to be a part of this conversation.

Jessica Black:

I just wanted to table that for later, I didn’t want to lose that message but I want you to continue.

Ben Forstag:

As you enter the phase of the hiring process where you start talking about money, or even when right when they say they’d like to offer you the job. “Thank you, that’s great. I’m really excited. Tell me why you think I’m the right candidate for the job. Why did I make it to the top of the list?”

Jessica Black:

I love that.

Ben Forstag:

Literally just have them articulate all the reasons they think you’re great. It’s kind of like that benchmarking he was talking about or that anchoring. Where you’re anchoring on really good things, so that you have a stronger position to ask for a higher amount. They basically are listing the reasons why for you.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah, they’re listing out your negotiation tactics for you.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

Then you can come back with “Well here’s why this is so valuable.”

Jessica Black:

Right. “You just mentioned that I am strong in this and this and this, so here’s why I deserve this extra bit of money.” Yeah, that’s strong and I…

Mac Prichard:

It’s the ultimate social proof.

Jessica Black:

Absolutely.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Mac Prichard:

The person is telling you all the great things that make you the best candidate.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I think that’s a great tactic and I think you laid that out really well, Ben, of making it conversational and not aggressive. Because I think there are ways that it could come across as… If you don’t phrase it well, it can be very interrogative, rather than the soft handling. I think that’s a really important step.

Ben Forstag:

It struck me that one of the reasons that people really struggle with this is because, throughout the entire hiring process, we tell people, “Show you’re interested, always go overboard in showing how interested you are. Send thank-you notes, send an email, tell them in the interview; at the end of the interview, ask for the job.” All of a sudden a switch is turned and now you’re supposed to be like, “I’m interested but I could walk away. I need to be paid enough.”

Jessica Black:

It’s a tough balance.

Ben Forstag:

Making that pivot is really tough I think.

Becky Thomas:

It is.

Jessica Black:

It really is, yeah.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah, but it’s important to recognize that when that offer’s on the table, you, as a candidate, you’ve got leverage.

Jessica Black:

Absolutely.

Mac Prichard:

You’re at your most attractive as a candidate and that helps the process.

Jessica Black:

Yeah, I loved that he mentioned that at the beginning, of the fact that employers expect a negotiation or a little bit of a conversation at least about it.

Mac Prichard:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

When you don’t, when you just accept the first offer, not to say that it speaks less of you or anything like that, but it’s just interesting that it’s expected.

Mac Prichard:

You have a choice.

Jessica Black:

Don’t shy away from it because you should always be negotiating. I think that goes back to what I really want to talk about because I definitely wrote that down. When you guys were talking about the gender differences and the wage gap and things like that. I had a tough time when he mentioned that he thinks that the wage gap could be eliminated if women just asked for what they wanted.

Mac Prichard:

He’s citing research from two authors at Case Western.

Jessica Black:

Okay, and I completely believe that he has research for that, but I don’t think it’s as easy as, “Women just speak up for what you want and then the wage gap will be eliminated.”

Becky Thomas:

Well, I think he did contextualize that.

Jessica Black:

Of course.

Becky Thomas:

Afterwards too, saying “People do have preconceived notions and you have to factor that in.”

Jessica Black:

I appreciated that.

Becky Thomas:

That’s the tough part for me, is that women and minorities, and older professionals…

Jessica Black:

Anybody.

Becky Thomas:

There’s this notion that everyone who has some sort of inherent bias about who they are, they need to kowtow to the employer’s preconceived notions. I just have a problem with that. It’s unfortunate that it is that way and I think that sometimes we’re not giving employers enough credit. We should just, “be who you are” and not try to assume the worst about employers sometimes, but it’s like, again, how do you do that?

Jessica Black:

I think the lesson that we can learn from this is that everybody can be better. Employers can be better, having less inherent bias.

Becky Thomas:

Like naming your bias and then getting over it.

Jessica Black:

Right, and job seekers can be better at speaking up, using the tools that Kwame listed to be able to come and be prepared. Fully prepared and knowing what your lowest rung will be and what your ideal is. Your range, I guess. Knowing your talking points of why you are asking for what you’re asking for. Ask for what you want.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

There’s no harm in saying it and if it doesn’t happen at least you asked.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah. I liked what he started out with, take the opportunity.

Jessica Black:

Yeah.

Becky Thomas:

People expect you to negotiate. Go for it. Give yourself permission and do it. Ask for it.

Jessica Black:

Yeah. Well, I think a lot of people think that if they ask for it, that the job offer will be revoked.

Becky Thomas:

I very rarely hear that that happens.

Jessica Black:

It doesn’t happen. What he was saying too was that you’re there getting that job offer because the employer wants you and you got to this point because of what you bring to the table. Having that confidence and believing in your own competence is a huge value. Making sure that you bring that into the negotiation is important.

Becky Thomas:

Yeah.

Jessica Black:

Women and men.

Becky Thomas:

Yes.

Mac Prichard:

Agreed.

Jessica Black:

Go do it. Go for it.

Mac Prichard:

Alright. Great discussion. Thank you all, and thank you, Kwame. Thank you, our listeners for downloading today’s episode of Find Your Dream Job.

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Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job!

Don’t be nervous. Be prepared! This episode of Find Your Dream Job shows you how to negotiate your salary like a pro. With guest expert and negotiation consultant Kwame Christian, we learn what you need to do to prepare for your next salary negotiation, set a baseline for the salary you want, and convince your employer to give it to you.

About Our Guest: Kwame Christian

Kwame Christian Esq., M.A., is a business lawyer and the director of the American Negotiation Institute. He also serves as a negotiation consultant for attorneys and for companies closing large business deals. And Kwame hosts Negotiate Anything, the top ranked podcast on negotiation in the US. In every episode, he interviews successful entrepreneurs and shares powerful persuasion techniques.

Resources in this Episode:

  • Want to know how much you’re total compensation package is worth? Try this tool: Employee Total Compensation Calculator
  • Need more help prepping for a negotiation? Get a free salary negotiation guide from Kwame Christian.
  • Listener Peter Weiss asks about the best way to share publicly when you’re looking for a new job. Would you post about your unemployment on Facebook?