Negotiate

Breathe in. Breathe out.

This is an exercise in staying calm while all cards are on the table, lying face down. You study the deck, eyes squinted, imagining how if you can see clear through to the other side, this game would be so much easier. Instead, you breathe. You wait.
There are a few different jobs I’ve interviewed for over the past month. Some are better than others. A few pay pretty good salaries. There is one I really want. The job requires a ton of responsibility. Global travel. It’s a great opportunity for me from every angle, except that it doesn’t provide benefits or paid time off, etc. It’s hourly. But that shouldn’t matter if the hourly price is right.
And that is where the cards are lying right now. Except in this negotiation there is a mediator. Someone hired for the sole purpose of finding out what my cards are, bringing them to the company, and deciding if I’m worth what I’d like to make.
I did what I normally do and asked for a range they were looking at first. The range was somewhat low, although not necessarily lower than I expected. I inquired if it would destroy my chances of getting the position if I asked for more. Are there other candidates? The answer – yes, there are two other candidates who made it to the final round. But they like me the most. They seem to really want to hire me. That’s great. I think they’re right because I’d be really good for this job. Given my normal lack of confidence on these sorts of things that says a lot.
But what I don’t know is where those other two candidates stand. Am I really the top candidate? Are they willing to negotiate with me until we settle on a fair hourly rate? Or did I high ball too much? Too little? It’s hard to say. It’s hard to figure out what is comparable to an annual salary when you drop all benefits. Even my last job, which paid an average annual salary, ended up being worth more with a severance, stock options, conference fees, and a free computer. Those stock options, in theory, could one day be worth even more. In a contract position all you get is your hourly salary. So why not try to get a fairly high rate?
I’m just not sure what counts as high and what counts as “she’s crazy for asking for that much.” On one hand, there’s a part of me that feels like I did that right now, on the other hand this is a short-term project and if they don’t like me or think I’m worth my rate they can easily terminate me at any time, so it’s not like they have a lot to lose if I’m not all that and the bag of chips they think I am.
Right now I’m trying to figure out what the lowest I’ll go is. The range I was quoted seemed a bit vague. My title isn’t generic, so it’s hard to say what level it falls under. Even researching what other people are paid in this position elsewhere is tricky, there just aren’t many specialists in this type of role out there. At least not with enough experience to get this far in the hiring process.
I’d really love it if I got a call today that said “ok” to the dollar figure I quoted. I have a feeling they’re going to come back with something lower. How much lower… I don’t know. I really hope they wouldn’t say “you’re too expensive for us so we decided to pass.” That would be the worst thing to hear. Yes, there are other opportunities. Yes, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But I really want this job. It would be so good for me. And I think I can really make a difference in this organization. Show my stuff, so to speak. Move to the next level.
God, I hate waiting. I was told they will get back to me fairly quickly. Sounds like they want to hire someone yesterday. It would make my year if they just said yes, and gave me a start date. Fingers crossed for the best possible outcome when our hands are flipped face up.
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2 comments

  1. Abigail says:

    It's terrifying, I know. But I think you did the right thing. Companies tend to be willing to at least do a counter-offer if they like you a lot. If not, then it may not have been worth your time anyway. Good luck!

  2. Simple in France says:

    Good for you for negotiating. I always get freaked out by that kind of thing. HOWEVER–if I'm given a range, I'll ask for the top of the range.I once had a friend who discovered she was working alongside a complete jerk that was about 1/2 as productive as she was. He made $8,000 more than her a year . . .because he negotiated it.

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