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The Fine Art of Negotiating an IT Job Offer

Dec 23 , 2015

Negotiating an IT job offer is not an exact science. Rather, it is an art form, albeit one that many job seekers have trouble mastering. Think of it as a delicate dance, with each partner hoping to make all the right moves while not stepping on the other's toes or injuring themselves in the process.

If you are in the interview process for an IT position, it is time to slip on those dancing shoes and make some graceful moves as you negotiate your best offer.

To succeed at any dance, you must first learn the general steps. Here are a few negotiating tactics to get you moving in the right direction:

1) Be nice.

As it turns out, your mother was right. Being nice to people pays off in the long run. Nobody wants to dance with an unlikeable partner. Similarly, no hiring manager wants to go to bat for an unpleasant job candidate. Keeping your cool and projecting your winning personality will go far in a negotiation. Steer all conversations in a positive direction.

2) Timing is everything.

Rather than bringing up your salary requirements immediately, wait until the time is right. As a general rule, it is wise to get through the first face-to-face interview before you broach the topic of salary. What is the rationale behind this?

Simply put, it saves time. If you are not wowed by what you hear in the first interview, or if the hiring manager is not interested in taking a second look at you, there is no need to discuss salary at all. Why waste time?

3) Start off on the right foot.

Never lie in a negotiation. Answer questions honestly while protecting your bargaining power. This can be a delicate maneuver, but it is best to remember that lying is unethical and just downright hard to maintain. Anticipating potential trouble spots and formulating a plan to handle them will help you get where you are going in the negotiation process.

Navigating a straight path is best.

4) Lead with confidence.

Once the negotiation begins, remember to breathe deeply and keep your composure. In a recent Forbes post, Liz Ryan, a former Fortune 500 HR senior vice president, offered this advice: "The more you stay in yourself and calmly, pleasantly hold your ground compensation-wise, the more credible you become."

5) Swing your partner ... with style.

When making a request, use persuasion rather than ultimatums. Explain in a brief but confident way the reasons you are making the request. Better yet, explain clearly why you are worth what you are requesting. Striking a balance between arrogance and confidence may seem difficult at first, but a little practice will help you get it right.

6) Keep in step with your partner.

Speaking of practice, it is a good idea to work through potential scenarios in your mind before your negotiation begins. For instance, typically there will be a discussion about your salary in your previous position.

Preparing and rehearsing beforehand will help you navigate this tricky move with grace. There is no reason to specifically address your previous compensation, unless you believe it will be advantageous to do so.

Steering the discussion to your desired salary is the goal here. Fine tune your conversational maneuver with a friend who will honestly tell you whether your move is likely to work.

7) Maintain the rhythm.

Securing an offer before you negotiate salary and other benefits allow you to maintain momentum in the hiring process. Rather than allowing a particular part of the negotiation to stall the entire process, keep a dialogue open and discuss multiple points at once. In this way, the hiring manager may be able to see ways to sweeten the deal and meet some of your requests.

8) Make your partner look good.

Never forget that a successful negotiation involves concessions on both sides. Your goal is to win the points you really want, while allowing the hiring manager enough room to maneuver in the best interests of the company. To that end, it is important to be gracious and reasonable, while still protecting your interests.

The last move is the firm handshake after a successful negotiation.

The Bottom Line

Negotiation need not be thought of as a contest between opponents. Artfully mastered, it is a collaborative effort, a graceful dance that makes both partners look good. For more negotiating tips and helpful hints to find your dream job, join our talent network today.