5 steps to getting past the disappointment and toward the deal you really want.
You are in the middle of the negotiating process and you’ve hit a snag: The offer is less than what you expected or isn’t structured the way you imagined.
Your first reaction is to feel mad, even resentful, because you think you were duped. Then you grow intransigent because you want to protect your self-interest and ensure you are getting the best deal possible.
So where did things go wrong?
Sometimes the negotiation process breaks down at the eleventh hour simply because the hiring manager was never really clear on the recruit’s expectations, and/or the recruit wasn’t versed in how the firm typically structures deals. When that’s the case, the only way forward – and the only possible chance of closing the deal – is to have honest and open dialogue to see if there is a middle-ground, win-win possibility. But, truth be told, even in cases where there has been an open line of communication throughout and everyone’s expectations have been managed perfectly, there is almost always a point where things break down. And it’s not surprising, because with any life-changing decision, when the stakes are high, emotions tend to run even higher.
Ultimately, the goal is to rise above the feelings that are holding you back from seeing through what is an annoying yet, in most cases, temporary obstruction.
Consider these 5 steps to get over the hurdle:
- Determine how much you want to be at this firm. Based on your due diligence to date, is this firm and its value proposition worth fighting for? If you are certain that the firm is the right choice for your business, then the best advice is to be reasonable and flexible. On the other hand, if you are uncertain, it is better to walk away than to create bad blood that could come back to bite you later on.
- Assess your expectations. Are you defining the ideal based on reality; that is, based on your true market value given current market conditions? Or are you fashioning a deal from a self-fabricated round number based on hopes and dreams? This is when getting educated by an objective third-party will help stave off disappointment by providing a clear picture on what firms are offering and a realistic valuation of your business in today’s marketplace.
- Determine what your minimum is. Everyone has a floor; that is, a minimum acceptable dollar figure. That number is based upon your personal economics today, and what you’d like that picture to look like in the future. So, for example, you might ask yourself: If I had the opportunity to build equity for tomorrow, could I live with giving up a signing bonus today? Think very carefully about this one; the numbers are not always as clear as you may think.
- Express yourself. You have every right to respectfully let the hiring manager know that you are disappointed and hold different expectations. But, getting angry or argumentative won’t move you in a positive direction. Start the conversation by showing interest and a willingness to negotiate, such as, “Your firm is where I want to be, so I’d like to make this work. Is there anything we can do to bridge the gap?”
- Pick your spot! Choose one reasonable ask. And the key here is reasonable. Ultimately, you are much more likely to get one realistic need met, as opposed to several unreasonable or unrealistic ones.
Following through this 5-step process often helps to set a more solid foundation and dissipates some of the emotion from what is a very important career decision. But there is one more reality you need to consider: Some deals are simply not meant to be made. That is, there are times when both sides are just too far apart to ever sync in the middle. If there is a level of unresolvable discourse now, it will likely not get any better in the future.
So move through the process by setting realistic expectations. Knowing what is most important to you and what is being offered in the landscape is key. That knowledge in and of itself will help to keep your emotions in check, and lead you to the right opportunities: The ones that are truly meant for you.