For better or worse, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of spending a significant amount of time during my relatively brief career not working on jobs, but looking for jobs. Having graduated from school twice, quitting jobs three times, and being laid off twice has given meet the opportunity to explore strategies at getting a job. I’ve landed five jobs in my career and the negotiation has been anywhere from me saying, “That’s fine” to giving them a list of items that must be incorporated into the job offer. Sometimes they say no and sometimes they say yes, but it’s never bad to ask. Taking a job is a huge commitment and if a company gets irritated with you for trying to get the story straight before you take the leap, then screw them because if nothing else you’re trying to make upcoming years as productive and pleasant as possible for both parties, so it is in their interest to in the very least listen to what you are looking for.
I know there may not be many job offers flying around right now, but there are certainly a lot of people out of work, and the job offers will be rolling in soon. So once they do, you’ll need to be prepared with the following list (just don’t bring it to the interview).
1. Get a six month review written into the offer – One of my professors in grad school made this suggestion and I just did it for the first time with my most recent employer. It is fantastic strategy because there is no way for them to say no. How can you not give an employee a review when they ask for one? When the time comes, I doubt they will bring it up so you will have to. If they give you some line about how they’re too busy or you have nothing to worry about (performance wise), insist on it happening. If they still don’t do it, write them an email of a “self-review” and at the end ask them to respond with comments on how they think you could improve your performance then give them a deadline. This is job security at its finest. Keeping people in the dark oferty pracy what they are doing wrong at work should be illegal, and construction companies love it because its easier to just fire you than give you things on which you need to improve.
2. Don’t talk turkey – If you’re asked how much money you want to make during the first five minutes of an interview I would walk out unless you’ve had significant background discussions before this. This just shows that they are looking to fill a position required by either a client or executive and don’t really care about what you’re capable of doing. Saying things like,”I’ve decided that I am not going to request a specific salary during my job search,” is far from out of the question. If there is a salary box on the application, leave it blank. Let them make the offer and go from there. The number they offer should tell you how much they want you to work for them.
3. Get a severance written into the offer – This is of particular importance if you are relocating for the job because not only are you leaving a job but you are leaving a network of contacts that could hire you if you lost your job. Suppose you move across the country for a company and they decide they don’t like you after about six months. They’ll fire you and claim that you haven’t been working there long enough to deserve a severance. If you are leaving a job and a location you need to have the assurance that if you lose your job you’ll have income for at least three months after you’re laid-off. Last ones in are usually the first ones out when things start to slow down – trust me.
4. Be confident – They gave you a job offer because they want you to work there – it’s not charity, it’s business. They think you can make them money and maybe, just maybe, they like you as a person. There is nothing wrong with asking for more money, more responsibility, or telling them straight-up that you want to run this friggin’ place one day (if that is in fact the case, of course). You of course run the risk of intimidating them a bit, and making them secretly afraid of you bulling them over and pushing them out of their jobs, but I think the risk of that is low. Try to get in the driver’s seat – beggars can be choosers.