The main purpose of taking on project or temporary work is often to gain new work experience, but job seekers also want to be paid fairly. Not everybody needs to negotiate their salary or hourly rate, but multiple studies have shown that those who choose to negotiate earn more than those who don’t. Some people look at the experience they will gain from working on a project as more valuable than the rate they are paid, because in the long run that experience will increase their earnings. When you do decide that you want to maximize the earnings on a particular project, you are more successful if you follow these seven steps:
1. Gather market intelligence.
It’s imperative that job seekers do their research to discover what is being paid in the market for somebody with their level of skills, and for the responsibilities being asked for. There are websites such as GlassDoor.com, PayScale.com, Salary.com, and Indeed.com that can provide some data. Even reaching out to known contacts within the same field can provide some compensation insights. None of these sources will be precisely accurate, but they will give a general idea of what can be expected.
2. Negotiate when an offer is being extended.
It can be a big mistake to try to negotiate too early, or too late. The optimal time to begin to negotiate is when the offer is being made. Before accepting an offer, it’s fine to request a day or two to consider the offer or you can make a counter offer right on the spot.
3. Negotiating style matters.
There are generally five main styles of negotiation; Accommodating (trying the make the other side happy by giving them what they want), Compromising (trying to achieve half of what you ask for, and giving the other side half of what they ask for), Avoiding (trying to avoid confrontation by not bringing up concerns or objections), Competitive (trying to win a victory against the other side), and Collaborating (trying to work together with the other side to create a win/win agreement). The first three styles (Accommodating, Compromising, and Avoiding) do not result in higher compensation, and should be avoided. Compromising sounds good but it doesn’t prioritize what is most important to each side, it simply goes for half. Competitive negotiating can result in higher compensation, but regardless of the amount, people who use this style are usually unhappy because they didn’t get the bigger win they had wanted. The ideal negotiation style is Collaborating.
4. Lead with gratitude and interest.
Before proposing any counteroffers, it’s best to ensure that the person extending the job/project offer understands that it is appreciated and that there is sincere interest in working on the project or job. The counteroffer should be presented as wanting the work, but with different terms.
5. Offer a commitment with your counteroffer.
Negotiators are more likely to have their counteroffer accepted if they are willing to offer a commitment. This means that when the candidate proposes different terms, they also commit to the potential employer the date they will begin working for them if they accept these proposed new terms.
6. Be flexible, but willing to walk away.
While it’s important to take the wants and needs of the potential new employer into consideration, there is a point at which it makes sense to walk away from any offer. There are many things to consider when determining where the walk away point is. It’s not only about money, please see number seven below.
7. Negotiate for more than just more money.
As mentioned earlier, the most valuable thing gained from working on a project may be the experience itself. In the long run, this experience may provide more career fulfillment and more earnings. Other things to consider would be: working remotely, negotiating a favorable work schedule, and responsibilities. Some may negotiate having less responsibilities on a project if they feel that would be more in-line with the pay being offered. Others may want to negotiate having more responsibilities on a project so they can gain that experience and list on their resume moving forward.
In the end, working on a project is going be about gaining valuable new experience. It’s not always necessary or wise to lose the opportunity to gain valuable experience over a small amount of money in the short-term. But if it makes sense to negotiate for a better offer, following these seven steps will lead to the best results. Good luck!
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