Negotiating Your Compensation Package

By October 6, 2014 No Comments

Few of us really revel in the chance to negotiate, but it’s a skill job seekers and hiring managers both ought to master.  Today, Taunee Besson, career transitions expert and President and Principal Consultant at Dallas-based Career Dimensions brings us some pointers on how to get the salary and benefits you’re after – or as close as possible to it.. — Maurice Gilbert

give and takeNegotiating is a four-letter word.
Most women are uncomfortable asking for what they want because:

•  Neither their parents nor their teachers taught them how to do it.
•  They feel greedy or ungrateful not taking what’s been suggested.
•  Conflict is unladylike.
•  They’re afraid their potential employer might get angry, create a scene or even withdraw the offer.

But sometimes you just have to do it. 
If you don’t go after what you want now:

•  Your employer’s stinginess may become a constant source of resentment.
•  Your performance may suffer because you feel exploited.
•  Your future compensation may fall increasingly below the norm because most raises and bonuses are a percent of current salary.
•  You may continue to be underpaid, even when you change jobs/employers.

If you are unhappy with the package you’ve been offered, you’re entitled to ask for more.
Keep in mind, you are the number one candidate. The company has chosen you versus all your competition. You are the only person they want for the position. At this moment, you have a lot of leverage. If you don’t negotiate now, your next opportunity will be a year or more down the road.

Start by determining 100% of what you want.
Put together a comprehensive package of income, benefits and perks we’ll call Plan A. (See the Compensation Calculator for help with this process.) Make it a very reasonable, well documented request or add an extra 10 to 20 percent, if you’re gutsy. Whatever your approach, be prepared to justify the numbers.

Talk to your potential boss, using the Sandwich Approach: good news, bad news, good news, to state your case.
Tell her you are very interested in her offer and give specific reasons why you want the position. Then mention that, based upon your research on what the job is worth, you think (the components of your Plan A) would be more appropriate. If she agrees, you will be delighted to come on board.

She may accede to your Plan A or make a counteroffer.
This will typically be somewhere between her original package and your plan A. If you are happy with her new proposal, take it with enthusiasm.

If you want more, go to Plan B.
This proposal should fall between her second offer and Plan A. If possible, hold firm on the items most critical to you and reduce those of lesser importance. For instance, you may choose to continue asking for Plan A’s base salary, but cut the amount of your signing or performance bonus.

She may agree to Plan B or counter again.
You have the option of accepting her offer or countering with Plan C, which will probably require a decrease in some of your most critical elements.

Whatever you do, don’t offer or agree to anything you honestly don’t want. It’s better to walk away than start a position with a chip on your shoulder.


Taunee Besson headshotTaunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.

“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com  and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions  of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.

Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.

In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997.  
In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.

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