This article was originally published in the AICPA Corporate Finance Insider.
It can come near the beginning of an exploratory meeting or sneak up before the appointment is about to end. Under all circumstances and despite variations in phrasing, a hiring manager or recruiter will always ask a prospective employee: "What will it take for you to join our team?" or "What is it going to cost us to get you here?"
Does the very thought of being in such a situation make your hands clammy, your heart race and your stomach churn? (Or perhaps in these economic times, it is daunting but very welcomed.) Would you prefer any punishment rather than confront this inevitable happy dilemma? Usually accepting a job offer entails negotiating the financial terms of employment. Get prepared in advance and save yourself last minute angst.
Scenario of How to Answer: Advantage Candidate
Here are a few tips to help you manage this condition with confidence, knowledge and aplomb.
- Do your homework. Be prepared with figures and facts demonstrating your value to the prospective employer. Know your worth in the market. Research what comparable positions with similar responsibilities command in your industry and in your locale.
- Make it clear that your goal is fairness. You want to be compensated commensurately with what your colleagues are paid for comparable responsibilities, and you want to be rewarded for superior performance.
- Show that hiring you is not an expense but a smart investment. Prove that you will be able to add to the bottom-line through increased sales, cost reductions, revenue gains, enhanced productivity, etc. Have tables or charts to illustrate the impact your expertise will have. Use actual data if available.
- Don’t reveal an exact number for your desired salary or what you are currently making. Give a range that will allow you more room to negotiate for bonuses, benefits, time off, etc. because no two jobs are the same, no two candidates are alike. See Tip 6 below.
- Have a bottom-line in mind. What is this opportunity worth to you? What can you give up? What can you exchange to make the numbers work? Is there a necessity, a must-have or uncompromising need that you can’t survive without? Once you have narrowed that down, be willing to be flexible on the rest. Think about time-off versus salary, educational opportunities versus conference attendance, and others.
- Remember that this should be a win-win for you and your future employer. Make sure that they understand that you want this job and you are confident that if they also agree that you are the right choice, together you can make this happen. Take the focus off the dollars and put it on the chance to have an impact, find solutions, move forward, and more.
- Work this out with your future boss rather than their HR staff person. Only your future boss knows what they need and will go to bat to get this deal together for you. It's their budget — show them your "other" skills right from the beginning with your abilities to negotiate for yourself!
Next time you’re at an interview and you’re asked this daunting question, know that you can take on the challenge easily, because you not only did your homework, but you also followed the above tips and are ready to prove to your prospective company what you can do for them.
© 2009 Debra Feldman
Debra Feldman is the JobWhiz™, a nationally-recognized expert who designs and personally implements swift, strategic, and customized senior level executive job search campaigns, banishing barriers that prevent immediate success. Her gift for cold calling, executed with high energy and savvy panache, connects candidates directly to decision makers, not HR. Network Purposefully™ with the JobWhiz, and compress your job search into mere weeks, using groundbreaking techniques profiled in Forbes magazine. In addition to her private practice, writing featured columns and conducting exclusive workshops, Debra is a recommended resource to alumni of top-tier business schools. Contact Debra at www.JobWhiz.com to expedite your executive ascent.