CAREER ADVANCEMENT / JAN. 02, 2015
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5 Ways of Learning Negotiation Skills

Despite all of the soft skills we have developed over our lifetime and all of the hard skills we’ve attained in our academic careers, there is one important aspect that we have neglected to learn: the art of negotiation. 

The skill of negotiating is something that is sorely lacking amongst those in the labor market, particularly for millennials. Due to the highly competitive nature of the labor market and the paucity of well-paying jobs in today’s economy, we just accept any job that is given to us, even if it pays below the average or if it pays a salary below our human capital. 

Workers that refuse to negotiate their incomes may believe that they risk losing the employment opportunity, but negotiating shows the hiring manager that you know you are worth more than $12 per hour or $50,000 per year because of your work experience, education, skills and certifications. 

In addition, individuals that do negotiate their salaries may not be performing adequately enough. It takes a lot more than just slamming your fist on the table demanding higher pay, but rather requires you to employ a number of different measures to sway the employer to understand your point of view. 

Think of it as a court case: you’re presenting your case and at the same time persuasively explaining how you’ll be a tremendous asset to the company in question. Essentially, the main premise is that if the company is paying you $25 per hour, you’ll double that value in no time. 

If you don’t know how to negotiate then here are five ways of learning how to properly negotiate with your potential employer: 

1. Preparation 

Prior to the job interview, perform a thorough research on the company’s position, the labor market and the overall enterprise. This way, when you actually discuss the terms of employment then you have better leverage because you can cite what the job pays elsewhere, how the company is doing in today’s economy and how your skills translate to a higher salary in the field. 

2. Never Revise Your Offer Without a Response 

You have put forward an offer to the company interested in hiring you. However, you have not heard from them in a couple of days and you’re eager to find out if they wish to have you in their employ or if they have decided to look elsewhere. Therefore, you become impetuous and decide to change your offer and list yourself with cheaper labor. This is the wrong move as you should never adjust your offer without getting a response to your initial offer first. 

3. Practice Negotiation Skills With Others 

If you want to seriously improve your negotiating skills then consider employing different types of techniques elsewhere in the economy. For instance, if you’re in a furniture store try to see if you can get a better price on that sofa. Or, if you’re purchasing a used car then see if the dealer can throw in some benefits, features and perhaps a cheaper price. 

4. From Confidence to Flinching 

When an employer informs you that they’re willing to pay x amount of dollars each year, you have to look confident and you must flinch at the offer. An example of this: the job decides to pay you $30 per hour so your response should be, "Pardon me? You want to pay me how much for my labor? I never expected to be paid that low." Or something along those lines. You have to be confident in your appearance while also flinching at the same time. Of course, don’t overdo it; you’re not on Broadway. 

5. Establish a Contingency Plan 

As you embark upon a career change, always establish a contingency plan upon entering an office and partaking in a job interview. This should consist of the worst-case scenario, what if the employer is 1.5 percent below your initial estimates and what would happen if the employer refuses to pay you your demanded salary. A plan B is important in any area of life so it shouldn’t be different in the labor market. 

Not everyone is a good negotiator. It takes a certain suave, slick, witty and confident individual. However, with practice and preparation, you can become one of the best negotiators as the years go by. Persistence and knowledge can go very far in the process of negotiation. Remember, never sell yourself short. 

Photo by Sebastiaanter Burg via Flickr.

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