Negotiator Job Search
Think of yourself as a negotiator rather than a job seeker. If you do this, you’ll see how much more effective your job search will go.
I just finished a great book on negotiations: Start with NO…The Negotiating Tools that the Pros Don’t Want You to Know by Jim Camp. What it made me realize is that the system he lays out in the book applies to your job search.
This will be the first in a series of posts on how behaving like a negotiator can help you find a better job…faster!
Mission and Purpose
Camp says that the first thing you need to develop is a Mission and Purpose Statement. This will keep you focused throughout the negotiations.
Similarly, you need to understand why you are looking for a new job. Have you left one job because of a bad boss or a toxic environment, only to take the next job and find the same problem there?
Get clear on why you are leaving.
What do you want in your next position? It is not just about money, but you do need to know how much you want. Some considerations are freedom, work conditions, hours, commute, time with family, etc.
What do you want? If you know what you want, you can put on your negotiator hat early in the interview process and weed out opportunities that will not meet your needs.
Stop Trying to Control the Outcome
Camp says to focus on your behaviors and actions instead of the outcome. You cannot make your adversary in any negotiation do anything. You can only focus on your own actions.
Similarly, in your job search, you can only control your actions. Waiting for a recruiter to call you back is not productive. You cannot make the recruiter call you, BUT you can take action by calling him or her. This requires persistent and for you to control your emotions.
Focus on actions that you can control. Let go of those things you cannot control!
Fuels of the Camp System: Questions
The single most important fuel you have, the most important behavioral goal and habit you can develop, is your ability to ask questions.
The negotiator wants to understand what his or her adversary wants and, more importantly, needs. It is imperative to be able to ask good, open-ended questions. An open-ended question is one that cannot be answered with a yes or no answer.
I have written about this previously in Probing for Pain Points in an Interview. You need to ask questions to find out:
- What problems the organizations are trying to solve
- What are the pain points
- Who is the decision maker for this hire
- Who influences the decision
What we hope is for someone during the interview process to spill the beans and give information you are not supposed to know!
In a later post, I will write on how to construct open-ended questions.
Nurturing and Reversing
Camp discusses that a negotiator approaches negotiations from their adversary’s point of view. The negotiator wants to get inside of adversary’s head. One approach is to be very nurturing in your voice and body language.
Similarly, when you are interviewing and asking questions, you want to be aware of the tone of voice you use. You want to feel approachable. Using the proper body language and vocal tone is key to giving this impression.
Camp also uses question reversing when asked a question that you do not want to answer. I have written about this twice before:
Both of these are questions you do not want to answer. Camp suggests to reverse the situation and answer with a question. This is a very effective negotiation technique, and you should apply it to your job search.
A negotiator will use nurturing conversation to make their adversary at ease, but when posed with a question that they do not want to answer, they will be ready to reverse with a question.
More on this in a future post.
Quiet Your Mind, Create a Blank Slate
Camp talks about managing expectations and assumptions. He talks about creating a blank slate. The whole idea is to stay emotionally even.
If someone in the interview process says, “You’re a perfect fit for this job,” you suddenly have positive expectations, which can be killers. You let your guard down. You may walk out of the interview and think yeah! And then, nothing. You wait and wait and wait…
Unless you hear, “We will be making an offer in two days,” then keep your guard up, quiet your mind, and create a blank slate. In negotiations, the negotiator is always on guard. You should be too!
Assumptions are killers for any negotiator. Camp says he has often heard someone say:
“I know what they’ll do if we make that offer.”
“This is the way they operate.”
“If you raise the price, they’ll want a volume discount.”
You have probably done the same in your job search.
“I am too expensive for them.”
“I am a perfect fit for the job.”
“If I ask for more money, they will rescind the offer.”
All of these assumptions can be killers to you getting what you want.
Know Their “Pain,” Paint Their “Pain”
Pain. This what brings every adversary in every negotiation to the table.
In negotiations, your adversary sees either current or future problem.
Similarly, when the hiring manager is looking to fill a position, he or she is trying to solve a problem.
You need to understand what their pain is and only then can you frame the issue to address their pain. You will want to get into their head before you enter the interview. This will require doing some research.
The Real Budget
Camp talks about creating a budget made up of time, energy, money, and emotion.
My rough-and-ready formula for calculating the overall budget for negotiation gives “time” a value of x, “energy” 2x, “money” 3x and “emotion” 4x.
Notice that time is the least important but emotion is the most important.
How much emotional capital did you spend in your last or current job search? If you are a baby boomer, the answer will be a lot. Think about the budget like a negotiator.
The Shell Game
Be sure you know the real decision makers!
Who’s calling the shots? Who are the real decision makers within the adversary’s bureaucracy? This might seem, at first glance, to be a fairly mundane issue, but it’s not. It is a critically important issue in any negotiation.
I have had multiple discussions with clients about the role of the recruiter. They are not decision makers, but they are road blocks. If they tell you the hiring manager will like, not like, or whatever…they are only sending a signal. Treat them politely like messengers, and make sure your messages are delivered.
Sometimes even the hiring manager is not the real decision maker. It may be their boss.
When I was hired by a non-profit, the decision to hire me was made by the CEO and not my manager.
Behave like a negotiator and play the shell game to find out who is the real decision maker.
The End Game
If you have played the negotiator role throughout the interview process, negotiating the offer will be easy. You will know:
- What they want
- What you want
- Who is the true decision maker
- Their budget
- How to control your emotions
I recently had a client ask a VP they interviewed with, “What keeps you up at night?” The VP spilled the beans about all of the problems they were having. My client now knows why they want and need her. This will be invaluable in negotiating the offer.
This is the beginning of a series on this topic. Look for a post once a week, diving deeper into each section of the Negotiator Job Search.
You can read the rest of the series here.Marc Miller
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