“Success in life is directly proportional to the number of awkward conversations you’re willing to have.”
I don’t know who that quote comes from, but I heard it not long ago and it really stuck with me because it’s 100% true. To be successful in just about anything, you have to be willing to take a risk or have an “awkward conversation”. The guys who get the most dates are the ones most willing to actually walk across the room and start a conversation with the beautiful brunette they’ve been wanting to talk to all night. Successful entrepreneurs are rich because they took the leap of starting their own business, while the rest of us toil away in a cube because we’re scared of what happens if our idea fails, or worse, we’re aimlessly waiting for a “million dollar idea” to fall out of the sky and land in our laps.
Over the summer I applied for an interviewed for a new position within my company. The new position represented a promotion from my current job, and would have much more room for growth and further promotion in the future. I had some knowledge that I was the only internal candidate for the job, and that would naturally give me a little leg up on the competition. My goal was to not only land the job, but maximize the offer if and when they presented me with one. In the end, I accomplished both of those goals, and here’s how I did it…
I took the interview seriously. This should really go without saying. But sometimes, especially when interviewing at a company you already work for, you might have a tendency to be a little more informal than you might otherwise be. My company has a pretty casual dress code, my potential new boss sat right down the hall from me, and we had a few informal conversations before my official interview. Regardless of all of this, I still showed up for my interview dressed in my “interview best”. I still studied the job description so that I could prepare some good questions to ask during the interview and so that I could prepare specific, concrete examples of things I had done in my current position that would set me up for success in the new one.
While the actual interview turned out to be a pretty informal conversation about the job, I later heard “through the grapevine” that the manager was blown away by how prepared I was and how much respect I showed the process.
After the initial interview I had a short follow up phone interview with the division director who works in Chicago. It was at this point that I figured I had a real good chance of being offered the job, so I started to prepare to negotiate salary.
I’ve written before how I think it’s always better to make more money, not spend less, and negotiating your salary is actually the easiest way to earn more money! Too many people think the employer will pull back the offer or get offended if they try to negotiate, but the truth is, employers expect you to negotiate a job offer. Think about buying a house – was your first offer to the seller your best and final offer? Probably not. From the other side, their listing price is rarely, if ever the lowest price they’re willing to accept. Each side expects some negotiation in the price. The same goes when you’re buying a car. Who shows up and just pays the sticker price? NO ONE!
So what are the chances an employer is going to offer you the absolute highest salary they’re willing to pay you right off the bat? Slim to none.
About 2 days after that second interview the hiring manager called me into her office and presented me with an offer for the job. It was at that point that I decided to have one of those “awkward conversations” and I negotiated the salary and terms of the offer.
In the end, an hour’s worth of research before the offer came, and a 15 minute conversation with the hiring manager netted me a salary $7000 higher than their initial offer, an extra week of paid vacation and the opportunity for an additional raise after 90 days on the job. In the immortal words of Larry David: “Pretttayyy, Pretttayyy, Pretttayyy good.”
Stay tuned for my next post where I’ll discuss the exact tactics and strategy I used to negotiate my salary and how you can do the same in your next negotiation.
Readers: Do you enjoy negotiating? What’s the best deal you’ve gotten yourself through negotiation, or what still haunts you about not negotiating in a situation?