4 Steps to Negotiating Anything

Businesspeople handshaking after negotiation or interview at office

Negotiation is a given these days. If you know how to do it well, you’ll not only get a higher salary, but many other benefits, too.

The Five O’Clock Club experts agree the four steps to successfully negotiate a competitive salary/compensation package include:

  1. Secure job interviews
  2. Eliminate the competition
  3. Get the offer
  4. Negotiate the salary and benefits

During an interview, try to avoid sharing past salary information if possible. Most companies want to know salary information for all the wrong reasons. For example, if you made more in salary in your previous job, a company may be concerned that you are “overqualified” for a position that would pay less. Conversely, if you were paid less in your previous job, that same company may be concerned that you are simply too junior level and not qualified for a position that pays more.

The goal is not to get into salary negotiations until the company puts an offer on the table!

When you reach step four, remember the entire sign-on package is negotiable and can include more than a base salary. For example, certain benefits such as vacation, flextime, and personal days off can often be negotiated. For more senior-level people, there are also sign-on bonuses, supplemental compensation plans, and even “golden parachutes” in the event someone is eventually terminated — all of which can be negotiated.

Also, when negotiating your total compensation package, do not exclude travel time, relocation, work-from-home arrangements, and working on a contract versus full-time basis. Many job hunters make the same mistake when it comes to discussing these parts of the job as they do when discussing salary: They engage in these topics before the company puts an offer on the table. Wait until step four to start these conversations.

Finally, remember that certain benefits covering medical, hospital, dental, prescription, and eye care plans are less likely to be negotiated because they are company-sponsored plans applicable to all employees, as are 401(k) and other retirement-based plans. Strategize by focusing on other benefits and leaving these be, if possible, to give yourself an edge and demonstrate a savvy business mindset.

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