Negotiating 101

A former colleague of mine has a new job offer (congratulations!), and asked for advice on how to negotiate the terms of his employment. Here's what I suggested to him:

Negotiating is all about showing your worth to your prospective employer, and no one knows your worth better than you do. Show them how highly you value yourself by demanding double their original offer in both salary and vacation time, with extra dental benefits. And remember to insist upon those little perks that say, "I'm the best you're going to get," like free soda, extra bathroom breaks, ergonomic chair attachments, and a duck. Never forget the duck.

At the same time, negotiating is about showing how excited you are about this new prospect, so ask lots of questions to show that you're engaged. Here are some suggestions:
  • How many vacation days do you have per year, and what's your policy on pseudo-religious holidays?

  • Does the company medical policy cover self-inflicted wounds? What if it was an accident?

  • How many of your corporate officers have been convicted in the past year? Do you expect that number to go up or down in the next fiscal year?

  • Does the company provide legal counsel to all employees, or are they required to hire their own?

  • Could I bring a pet to work if it enables me to do my job? What if it's an iguana?

  • What is the company policy on drinking during business hours? Does it matter if I bring my own Scotch?

And of course, negotiating is also about compromise, so be willing to give up any of this if it means you get a job that you like. But not the duck; never the duck.

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