Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Doing your research, negotiating can help
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 figures about two decades ago.
Wondering why? After a year of remote work, many were rejecting returnto-the-office mandates, opting to look for opportunities with more flexibility. 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 offer.
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 benefits 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, flexibility, benefits 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 benefits structure. They judge these candidates as less intrinsically motivated.
Focus on the whole package. Don’t focus entirely on base salary. Employee benefits – such as generous retirement plans, health insurance policies or tuition reimbursement – can add a lot to your on-the-job and financial satisfaction. Remember to factor in other perks as well, such as vacation time, flexible schedules or telework. Some of those can make a big difference in your quality of life, without costing your employer dearly. The trick is to make the right tradeoffs (known as log-rolling) and to
suggest several options that might work for you but differ on some parameters. This way you are being flexible 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 glassdoor.com or payscale.com. 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 reflect your level of experience, education and geography.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to negotiate. People – especially financially vulnerable people – too often stifle their own economic advancement because of the way they negotiate. In another study, we found that financially 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 firm while giving in on issues that are of higher importance to the company.
Rellie Derfler-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.