Tag Archives: negotiating

$250,000 too proud

bus wreck

Over negotiating can be a wreck. Watch out.

How hard do you negotiate? If you are critical to a project’s success, shouldn’t you be really well paid? The job market is hot.  A lot of employers are not finding the right person.

Here’s an example I was part of:

Mike’s expertise selling into FEMA was critical.  Their product was more than an idea, but not a proven solution.  Mike was already calling on FEMA contacts even though he wasn’t officially on payroll.  The feds wanted their product.  This would be a big win for everyone.

Mike had been unemployed for 8 months and was running out of money.  This was juicy.  If Mike quit or was fired the day after he started, he’d still get $250,000.  The commissions would double that. Still, he was worried he wouldn’t get everything he deserved.  The contract wasn’t tight enough.  What about bonuses in year 4?  He brought in the best lawyer he could find.  The company balked at his demands, his lack of flexibility.

Then the lawyers and the dragging negotiations wounded Mike’s pride.  A venture capitalist said the wrong thing.  The CEO didn’t want to completely get rid of the non-compete agreement since there was a one year severance guarantee.

Mike quit the negotiations. The product was cancelled.  The company was closed.

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.  (Harris)

What hurt the most was that it took Mike six more months to get a different job.  That job paid half as much with no commissions or bonuses.  He had to clean out his savings accounts and sell his cars to survive.  Mike told me, “My pride cost me $250,000.   That was the best offer I ever had. What was I thinking?”

This was an extreme case.  The problem was pride.  When you know you are essential to a project, you want to be treated with respect.  Sometimes that respect kindles the flame of overarching pride.

The job market is really heating up.  I am seeing more examples of this destructive pride.  A manager once told me his policy is, “If two people are absolutely critical to a project and they disagree violently and refuse to compromise or go down one of the two paths, FIRE THEM BOTH.”

Don’t forget, even if you are irreplaceable, the project can be cancelled.  There are always alternatives for an employer.

Don’t let destructive pride make you expendable.

Something To Do Today

Have you ever withdrawn from a job or promotion pool because it took too long to get a decision?  Realistically look back.  What did you gain?

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Later:      How fast?

Daydream

Audible

Down by 20 at halftime

Ten percent more in your next job – part one

You have interviewed with five people at the company.  Your references have been checked.  The background and drug checks came in clean.  Your recruiter has more negotiating skills in his little toe than the whole management chain in that company put together.  Now to see how much money you will be paid for the job.

There is an upper limit you won’t get past.  It may be the first offer you hear.  It may be reached after a week of haggling.  There absolutely is an upper limit.  The best negotiator cannot get you more money than that limit. That limit was 50% more than the salary range for one position I’ve seen. But there is a limit.

What are the factors that set the limit?

  • The company’s finances
  • The other people available for the job
  • Your resume
  • Your interview

That’s it.  The first two are very complex, but you can’t do anything about them.  The last two are closely related.  Your resume and your interview work together to show possibilities.  They show how you might affect company finances. They allow you to be compared to those other people.

The next two blog posts will deal with what information you need to get to your future bosses, and how to radically increase your interview effectiveness. They are about how to get that 10% more.

Something to do today

Make a list of the topics covered in your last job interview.  Tomorrow we’ll see if you covered the most important information.

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Later:              Get 10% more at your next job, 2 more parts

He lost a $100,000 job with this question

I don’t have a bank account because I don’t know my mother’s maiden name. (Poundstone)

True story: He was interviewing for a $100,000/year job.  The interview had lasted an hour.  The hiring manager loved the candidate.  There was no one else interviewing.  The hirer had made up his mind that this guy was going to work for him.  The manager asked, “Do you have any questions?”  The candidate said, “Yes, how much time off do I get and when can I start taking vacation time?”  Five minutes later the candidate was out of the office.  He had no clue why the interview was terminated so abruptly. He was not hired.

Attitude is everything in an interview.  A hiring manager is looking for someone who will work hard.  He wants a team builder who will inspire others.  He wants someone who will take some of his burden away. 

Don’t ever ask the “What’s in it for me?” questions in your first interview.  The correct time to ask is when they bring it up first, or when they make you a job offer. 

Here’s a list of some of those questions you should NOT ask until later:

                   How much time off and vacation do I get?

                   What is your sick leave policy?

                   Can I come in late or leave early sometimes?

                   Do I have to work late?

                   What will my pay be?

None of the above questions is asking anything evil.  You need the answers to all of them.  You’ll get all the answers before you accept the job.  Just wait a bit.

The correct questions to ask are about the company’s direction, your role, potential job growth, your teammates, etc.  Ask questions that show you want to work hard. Your questions should show you want to help. 

Attitude really is everything in an interview.  What you are most interested in asking about will show your interviewer what your real attitude is.