Negotiate Before You Sign

Negotiate Before You SignThis is another post about changing jobs that was instigated by a phone call from a friend who was thinking about changing jobs. You can check out my previous posts – “Should I Change Jobs” and “Leaving a Job, Talk to an Adviser”  and “Handing in my Resignation” which covers those topics. Also some of the things you should consider before making the decision to change jobs. In this case it is negotiate before you sign.

This post focuses on completing all of your negotiations for your new job before you sign your new contract. After you sign, all of your negotiation power is gone. The mantra of this post is always ask in a polite way about items you feel you need or want. The worst that will happen is that the interviewer will say no. There is of course a time and a place to bring your negotiating points up in the process to allow you to gain the most.  Hopefully the following comments and thoughts will help the reader in their quest.

When to Negotiate Details on New Job

There are many opinions about when you should negotiate details such as salary, benefits and perks on a new job. However the consensus seems to be that negotiation starts when you are discussing an offer that may be made to you. Always negotiate before you sign any documents.

Negotiating  salary, etc at an initial interview is not seen as a positive thing to do. No one has offered you the job. You may even turn the interviewer off by making demands too early. Wait until the interviewer has introduced the topic and even then go slow. If you sense that they are reaching closure on a potential offer, now is the time to discuss possible additions that you may be looking for. Note that I wrote discuss, rather than demand. It is all about reaching a compromise that both people can live with. Without being so demanding that you paint yourself into a box that you cannot get out of.

By the time you receive a letter offering you  the job all of the details should have been worked out and the letter should reflect those details. However if there is something missing that you felt had been agreed to, then obviously it should be discussed before you sign the agreement letter signifying that you are taking the job.

Negotiate Before You Sign – Alternate Solutions

There are many ways to solve issues and that is what negotiations are all about. An example of a colleague centered around vacation. The new job only offered 3 weeks vacation. However my colleague had been receiving 6 weeks vacation due to seniority with the current company they were with.

They knew that asking directly for 6 weeks vacation was going to be a non starter in this situation. However  they still expressed their concern about losing so much vacation on moving to a new job. Note that it was an expression of concern and not a negotiating demand.

The Human Resources person recognized that this was an issue for someone who was senior and brought a lot of experience to the job. They could not offer 6 weeks paid vacation, but what they could offer was the opportunity to reduce the salary by 10% and take an additional 6 weeks off fully paid at the lower salary rate. This was in addition to the regular paid 3 weeks vacation. Although they would be paid for 12 months, the pay rate would be 10% lower than the negotiated salary. For some people this is a definite win win, while others may feel they really need that 10%.

The point of this section of this post is that there are many ways to solve issues and create unique solutions. If you do not ask you may not be made aware of them.

Be Prepared for Negotiations At All Times

This is so important. You may find yourself negotiating during an interview when you did not expect it. Or you may receive a phone call from someone at the company you are considering after your first round of interviews. Rather than bring you in a second or third time, they may decide to complete final negotiations right there on the phone.

The point is you never know when you will be asked to consider a proposal. So you should always be ready. Know what you need to have. Know what you would like to have, and know what you are willing to compromise on. Be ready to negotiate the best deal you can at the time. Once you have said yes verbally and on paper, that is pretty much it. Unless you want to risk losing that particular opportunity! If you reopen negotiations after they were closed, it usually means that both parties can re-negotiate the agreement. Overall it is a bad situation to be in.

Comments are welcome about your experiences, do’s and don’ts etc. Anything that will assist our readers in their quest for better and more interesting jobs are welcome.

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