Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Job searching.

Doing your research, negotiatin­g can help

- Rellie Derfler-Rozin Guest columnist USA TODAY GETTY IMAGES

In the market for a new job? Let me give you some advice on how not to squander this moment.

First, know that you have plenty of company. In April, 4 million Americans quit their jobs, the most since the U.S. Labor Department began tracking the figures about two decades ago.

Wondering why? After a year of remote work, many were rejecting returnto-the-office mandates, opting to look for opportunit­ies with more flexibility. Some were simply burned out after a prolonged stretch of pandemic stress and added workload. Some found the upheaval motivated them to make a change in where they live or work – or both.

With all those resignatio­ns – and as COVID-19 restrictio­ns lift, stirring consumeris­m and revving the economy – job postings also are hitting highs.

I’ve been studying and teaching workplace negotiatio­ns for almost 10 years. I know that as a job candidate, it can be uncomforta­ble negotiatin­g the compensati­on details when you really want the offer.

It’s why so few candidates – an estimated 57% of men and just 7% of women, according to a 2006 study – do so. But as you pursue your next opportunit­y, avoid the common pitfalls and consider this advice:

Don’t mention money too early. It’s tempting to get everything out in the open, but don’t ask about pay or benefits early in the interview. Our research has shown it can cost you the job. Being motivated by the work itself (what’s known as intrinsic motivation) and by factors like high pay, flexibility, benefits and vacation time (known as extrinsic

motivation) is not just common, it’s actually better for organizati­ons and for employees. But in a series of studies, we found hiring managers were 20% to 23% less likely to hire candidates who voiced an interest in the company’s pay and benefits structure. They judge these candidates as less intrinsica­lly motivated.

Focus on the whole package. Don’t focus entirely on base salary. Employee benefits – such as generous retirement plans, health insurance policies or tuition reimbursem­ent – can add a lot to your on-the-job and financial satisfacti­on. Remember to factor in other perks as well, such as vacation time, flexible schedules or telework. Some of those can make a big difference in your quality of life, without costing your employer dearly. The trick is to make the right tradeoffs (known as log-rolling) and to

suggest several options that might work for you but differ on some parameters. This way you are being flexible while still getting what you desire, and both parties (you and the employer) are happy.

Do know your value: Research what people are earning in similar roles in your industry. Check out sites like or Also, reach out to people you know – or seek out contacts through others in your network – to gain insights about what the norms are, what is open for negotiatio­n and what your leverage is. And be sure to compare apples to apples. Look for results that reflect your level of experience, education and geography.

Don’t pass up the opportunit­y to negotiate. People – especially financially vulnerable people – too often stifle their own economic advancemen­t because of the way they negotiate. In another study, we found that financially vulnerable applicants tend to view negotiatio­ns as a zero-sum game rather than a situation in which everyone can win. It’s a psychologi­cal barrier inherent in fewer opportunit­ies to observe wealth and value generation. Learn to see yourself as an important contributo­r to the company, and negotiate the terms that would keep you happy at the firm while giving in on issues that are of higher importance to the company.

Rellie Derfler-Rozin is an associate professor of management and organizati­on at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. She studies how the social context impacts employees’ decision making, focusing on hiring decisions, negotiatio­ns and business ethics.

 ??  ?? Focus on the whole benefits package, not just the base salary.
Focus on the whole benefits package, not just the base salary.
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