My cousin Jeremy and I like to talk about business together…
First off, how cute is he? He is Lulu’s son…
…and he was the youngest cousin on family trips, while I was the oldest…
…so I spent my childhood summers carrying him all around Cornwall.
These days, Jeremy lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and two kids, and he’s an ex-Fortune 100 negotiator who now does one-on-one negotiation coaching. His work is pretty fascinating to me, so I asked him to share his best advice with Cup of Jo readers. His immediate answer:
When you get a job offer, always ask for more.
“Long story short — people often leave money on the table,” Jeremy told me. “In a recent Pew Research Center study, 66% of people who asked for more money got some or all of what they asked for. There are few moments in life where a short conversation could yield so much.” Plus, think about how much a salary increase can add up over the years. “The power of compound interest, baby!” he says.
So! Here’s how to ask for more…
1. Shift your mindset away from you-vs-me.
“You’re not trying to fist-pound your way to more money,” Jeremy said, laughing on the phone. “Everybody wants to get a deal done, so it’s more like collective problem-solving.” So, maintain a friendly, collaborative tone.
2. Remember that it’s not just about money.
There may be other things that are negotiable, like vacation time or a better title. “For example, if it’s a start-up, they might not have lots of money but they might have equity,” says Jeremy. “Maybe you could say, ‘Seems like you guys want to conserve cash, but could equity be more flexible?’”
3. Talk to someone who’s a good sounding board.
Spitball your strategy with your spouse, a trusted colleague, a cousin like Jeremy. “People can be great advocates for others, yet not great advocates for themselves,” he says. “People have a tendency to underestimate their leverage with employers. Even in a down market companies are looking for quality talent.” So, talk to someone you trust in this area. “If you have someone good, talk to them,” says Jeremy. “If you don’t, hire me!”
4. Negotiate over email, if possible.
When discussing the numbers, try to stick to email. “If you’re talking to a recruiter, she has probably negotiated seven offers this week,” he says. “You’re just out-gunned.” So, don’t put yourself in the position of having a live conversation, where you may get flustered. Instead, email allows you to gather your thoughts and clearly make your case.
4. Write a script.
“People may think, ‘Oh, I’m not a good negotiator,’ but it’s just a matter of presenting what you want and why you’re worth it,” says Jeremy. Don’t wing it — write a script, plan your delivery, copy and paste your talking points. There’s so much value in preparation and thoughtfulness.
5. Silence is valuable.
If you do negotiate over the phone or in person, use silence to your advantage. “After you deliver a statement, like, ‘I would be willing to do this for $175,’ STOP TALKING,” says Jeremy. “Let it sit there. Don’t negotiate against yourself.” Some view silence as an intimidation tactic (fair), but it can also give both parties time to absorb the information and think of creative solutions.
6. Finally, it’s okay if the answer is no.
“The objective is to make sure you’re not leaving money on the table,” says Jeremy. “They may not be able to give you the amount you asked for, but at least you are empowered by that knowledge. You don’t want to go back and find out that your colleague asked for $20K more and you could have gotten that, too.” Jeremy tried to negotiate his first job offer as a starting analyst in banking during a recession. “I had no leverage,” he says. “The answer was no. But you should build it into your DNA to always ask for more money.” Each time will get easier and easier, until it’s almost second nature.
Jeremy with the only person who can out-negotiate him.
Thanks, Jeremy! His company is Peak Negotiations, if you’re curious or need any negotiation coaching or help setting rates. He’s really the warmest person. “I’ve negotiated everything at this point,” he says. “You may think, They’re never going to accept this, followed by, Holy shit, they just accepted this!”
P.S. The best career advice, and the mentor myth.