How a 2-Minute Salary Negotiation Can Impact You For Years

by Staff - Original publish date: July 29, 2013

Don't Be Short-Sighted

Life in 2013 moves fast. Some would say too fast. Our tweets are only 140 characters, social videos on Vine max out at 6 seconds, and we’d all like to get six-pack abs in just a few minutes. What surprises some job-seekers when they learn about salary negotiation, is that sometimes the entire conversation around your future compensation is wrapped up in just a few short minutes, but can have a lasting impact for years to come.

If you’re not prepared, it can fly by in an instant. If you don’t have the right approach, you leave money on the table.

Here are two crucial reasons why you need to approach this with a 2-year approach, not a 2 minute approach.

1. Deciding to Negotiate

There’s no doubt about it, negotiation is stressful. In fact, it combines many of the most common fears people have:

  • First, it’s a form of public speaking, which is the #1 fear that people report.
  • Next, it’s doing something you’ve most likely never done before. Who isn’t nervous when doing something for the first time?
  • It involves promoting yourself and your accomplishments, something many people aren’t comfortable with.
  • Lastly, it involves the topic of money, a subject that often has deep-rooted feelings in someone’s life.

Geesh, why not just hold the negotiation on the ledge of a tall building while perched on a ladder and have a large black cat walk by so we can combine all of our fears into one?

Preparation is Key

On top of all this, it takes a fair amount of work to adequately prepare for a negotiation. You should:

  • Do your homework to research the salary range for your position
  • Prepare a portfolio of your past work accomplishments to support your case
  • Learn negotiation techniques in order to deflect unwanted questions, build rapport with your counterpart, be comfortable with silence, and group together a total compensation package
  • Role play your negotiation conversation with a friend to make sure your responses are natural and effective

Given all the stress and effort that has to be done for this 2-minute conversation, who wouldn’t want to simply avoid it and accept what is offered?

The Benefits of Negotiation for the Long-Term

However, despite these fears, you must look at the next two years of your career, not the stressful two minutes. Here’s why:

  • More money: By negotiating even a 5% raise at a new job, you stand to make hundreds of thousands of dollars more vs. simply accepting the initial offer. Negotiate well now, and you’ll be making more 2 years, 12 years, and 22 years down the line.
  • Even more money: Of course, it’s not just your first job that you’ll use negotiation. Because you’re starting at a higher initial salary, all future raises will be larger. And when you move on to other companies, your higher base pay will position you to ask for more at your new job.
  • More respect: If done correctly, your future manager won’t look at you as a difficult employee. In fact, they might even respect your business acumen more and prevent you from losing the job.

Negotiating is Worth the Risk

I recently spoke with a hiring manager who recalled the only time she had heard of a candidate getting an offer revoked. The scenario? It was a sales job, the candidate was offered a salary, and they accepted it as is. The hiring manager ended up withdrawing the offer. Why? They said if the candidate wasn’t even willing to stand up for themselves and negotiate their own salary, how could they sell against other competitors and effectively sell their product?

Clearly it’s worth it to look at the long-term view.

2. At the Negotiation Table

OK, so you’ve decided to negotiate. How should your viewpoint change? Here is what happens if you’re mistakenly in the 2-minute view. You hear the offer and think about your current situation:

  • What is your rent?
  • How much more (or less) is the offer than your pay now?
  • Can I handle the workload I’ll be starting next week?
  • Is that more than my friend just got offered?
  • I didn’t really click with my future manager, I wonder when my next raise is?
  • How quickly can I end this awkward conversation?

In short, the 2-minute view incorrectly focuses entirely on the salary number that was offered and your personal situation.

Why the 2-Year Approach is Better

Someone taking the 2-year view looks at the big picture, and responds as such. They're considering:

  • How much you are paying in rent is irrelevant. A company doesn’t pay you more if you’re still living at home, just as they wouldn’t pay you less if you were living rent-free in a beach house. Don’t bring it up.
  • How much you are paid now is also less important than you think. You could be vastly underpaid or overpaid at your current job. What matters is what the value is right now for this job for someone with your skills in a given market.
  • This conversation will end in a few minutes, but your job will consume you for the next two years (or more). You better be able to handle the workload and enjoy your job at the same time. And if you had a bad vibe with your future manager during a cordial interview process, how do you think things will go when deadlines need to be met? Make sure it’s a good fit for the long run.

More Benefits of a Long-Term Approach

Other reasons focusing on a longer-term approach is beneficial include:

  • In the 2-minute view, the candidate focuses all on themselves. The smart negotiator looks at things from the company point of view, asking “Over the next two years, how can I provide value and make money for them?” By positioning how you will help their bottom line, you provide the business case for why you should earn more money.
  • Lastly, your happiness at this job over the next 24 months is more than just salary. Are you working on great projects? Does the position give you freedom and creativity? Is it your dream job or a stepping stone toward one? Are you working for someone that can mentor you in your career? Are there additional benefits such as bonuses, vacation, flextime, profit sharing, training, and travel that add significantly to your bottom line beyond just base salary?

Time is running out. What approach will you take?

Let Help You Negotiate

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.