Saturday, April 21, 2012

Negotiating the job offer: easier said than done?

As a third year PR student, I will be confronted to the job market sooner than I would have liked. To prepare us to face the sharks out there, me and my fellow students were taught how to negotiate a job offer. Although this was very helpful and reminded us that we are skilled and have valuable competences, it has come to my attention that arguing over a salary or days of holiday is not that easy, no matter how much experience you have.

From a young graduate perspective, I even find it inconceivable to tell a manager that we want a higher salary. We have been warned so many times about the difficulty to find a job that actually suits us during the three years of my degree that the idea of negotiating the conditions of a job has left me quite sceptical. Shouldn’t we just be grateful if we actually do manage to find a job that would allow us to fulfil our potential? Personally, I think I would be too scared that the employer might turn around and say: “Right, so you want more money, now, do you? Well it’s a shame because the other 200 candidates did not ask for that much. Good luck in finding a job love!”.

Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’m worth and will not let a prospective employer walk all over me or exploit me. But would I really try to argue that I want a higher salary, a company card and more holidays in this economical context? I highly doubt it. As long as the job offer is not incredibly undermining my skills, I think I’ll just take it and welcome changes to the contract as I go along.

Does this only apply to young graduates? Do we feel like this because we don’t know what we want yet and don’t know I to get what we want? Probably, and I’m sure that we will learn how to sell ourselves better over the years.

But I would also imagine that an employee who’s being promoted and tries to negotiate a higher salary than the one that was offered to them is also tricky. Again, I don’t think the current context (recession) allows anybody to be picky. Negotiating a job offer, yes, but not too much. There are thousands of people out there who would just take it as it is, why risking to be replaced by them?

I am aware that I probably sound very pessimistic, and I don’t know how you would negotiate (or not) the conditions of your job, but I would personally try to keep a low profile until I know I am in the position to negotiate and get what I want.

If you feel the courage to negotiate your job offer assertively, here's the link to a very helpful guide to being assertive. You will learn about yourself, your skills and the misconceptions, advantages and dangers of assertiveness.