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Karen Edwards Blogger

Negotiating - From a Corporate Recruiter's Perspective

Posted by Karen Edwards | April 20, 2015

Welcome to the April edition of the OWLI blog! We have a lot of great information for you this month! Be sure to check out the end of the blog for upcoming events and also the names of the WINNERS of our March Bonus drawing for Seth Godin’s book, What to do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn).

This month, Craig Colligan, Recruiting Manager for Össur Americas, provides inside information on how to negotiate for a better salary and benefits. When we formed OWLI and asked what topics would be of interest to the field, you overwhelmingly asked for help with negotiating skills. That’s no surprise given these statistics:
  • Studies show women are 2.5 times more likely than men to “feel a great deal of apprehension” about negotiating.
  • Men initiate negotiations four times more often than women do.
  • 20% of women say they never negotiate at all.
  • When women do negotiate, we tend to ask for less, asking (and receiving) an average of 30% less than men do.
  • By not negotiating a first salary, an individual stands to lose more than $500,000 by age 60—and men are more than four times as likely as women to negotiate a first salary.
  • In one study, eight times as many men as women graduating with master's degrees from Carnegie Mellon negotiated their salaries. The men who negotiated were able to increase their starting salaries by an average of 7.4 percent, or about $4,000. In the same study, men's starting salaries were about $4,000 higher than the women's on average, suggesting that the gender gap between men and women might have been closed if more of the women had negotiated their starting salaries.
  • Another study calculated that women who consistently negotiate their salary increases earn at least $1 million more during their careers than women who don't.
  • Many women are so grateful to be offered a job that they accept what they are offered and don't negotiate their salaries.
  • Women often don't know the market value of their work: Women report salary expectations between 3 and 32 percent lower than those of men for the same jobs; men expect to earn 13 percent more than women during their first year of full-time work and 32 percent more at their career peaks.

(Source, Women Don’t Ask: Negotiating and the Gender Divide, Linda Babcock and Sara Leschever, //

Bottom line, we as women need to feel confident and justified in asking for a fair salary and the benefits we need. So whether you are interviewing for a new job or negotiating for more at your current job, here are some great insider tips!
Negotiating … from a Corporate Recruiters Perspective, by Craig Colligan
The Decision to Change Jobs
Negotiating begins the second you decide you are going to pursue a new opportunity.  There are reasons why you chose to start looking for a new opportunity.  Begin the job search process by first evaluating what you want in your next position, and consider all elements of the position, not simply compensation.  Evaluate and prioritize potential opportunities in five areas:
  1. Company/Work
  2. People
  3. Opportunity for Growth
  4. Commute/Travel
  5. Compensation

Being the Best Candidate
As a Recruiter speaking with hundreds of candidates and making hundreds of offers, I can say with confidence, prepared candidates who know what they want and ask diplomatic questions about their preferences ALWAYS have better leverage when the offer is extended.
Understanding what is important to you, and how important, is essential to finding the right opportunity.  Determine the order of importance of the five areas of evaluation.  Is compensation the most important factor in accepting a new position?  Is the company size and stability or the risk-reward with a start-up appealing?  Is opportunity for growth into management or outside sales important?  Are the skills of the new mentor/supervisor critical?  Once you determine your priorities, list attributes with specific qualities for each area.   Is compensation with less salary and greater variable compensation desired? Or is a larger base salary with smaller bonus potential, greater benefits or vacation essential?  Is a more corporate environment or more casual, a coach/teacher as a supervisor or one who allows freedom, less travel to be home or more travel with a larger territory preferred? 
Knowing your preferences in advance will help you find the right opportunity, and avoid the wrong one, and in reality, prepare you to be a better candidate.  Now you are ready to ask specific questions relative to those areas and specific attributes important to you and in turn show your high level of interest, desire to learn all about the position and company, and your ultimate desire to take on this position.   By becoming the best candidate and one the company highly covets, you are already increasing your negotiation status.   
What, How and When to Ask and Answer Questions about Compensation
Compensation negotiation tactics start with your first contact with the potential new employer.  When first contacted by a “Recruiter” (e.g. Recruiter, HR Representative or Hiring Manager), they will ask about your current salary and/or salary expectations for their position.  ALWAYS tell the truth.  Share only what you currently earn, including all elements, regardless if they ask for your expectations.  For example: “My current salary is X, I receive a car allowance, and my variable compensation is Y or Y%.”  If the Recruiter asks again about your salary expectations, repeat your current earnings and add a comment such as:  “Considering my current salary, coupled with my experience, I am hoping, if selected, the company will make a fair and equitable offer.”    By saying this, you are being specific and truthful about your current earnings, but remaining vague about expectations.  You have tactfully reminded the Recruiter that no offer is on the table and it is not the time for formal negotiations.  While you should know your expectations, now is NOT the time to disclose them!  First get through the recruiting process.  
Offer Imminent
Once selected as a finalist, review your priority list regarding the importance of compensation.  How high a priority, will dictate how aggressive to be in the negotiation process.  Remember to consider all elements of a potential offer, including base salary, variable compensation, health benefits, 401K, vacation, relocation bonus, expense reimbursement, equipment provided, prepaid vacation plans and how the new employer will deal with it, etc.  Decide what elements are most important to you.  There are many research websites to provide general compensation information, but use caution with this generic information, since it may not pertain to you and may not be validated.   From a Recruiter’s perspective, this general data means very little.  Every offer is unique to the individual, considering previous compensation, experience, education, position worth to the company and to a small extent equity among other similar employees within the organization.  
Verbal Offer
Typically the first offer you receive is verbal.  Are you someone who thinks on your feet or do you need to think things through thoroughly?   It is perfectly acceptable to ask for additional time to think things over.  If you are prepared for the call and can respond with your requests during this first exchange, you may have a slightly greater impact on the negotiations.  If you need to take time to think it through, be prepared to respond in one day or less.  Always respond to the person who presented the verbal offer, even if that person doesn’t have the authority to approve your requests.
Asking for Additional Consideration
The most difficult part of the negotiation process for many candidates is asking for additional consideration (e.g. asking for more than the initial offer).  Asking politely for additional consideration is fine and is sometimes expected.   You will typically have only one opportunity to ask for more.   If compensation is lower on your priority list, you can still ask for more—though your request should be reasonable and stated in a more delicate, diplomatic approach.  If compensation is a high priority, you should state your requests in a more direct, still diplomatic, approach. 
If the verbal offer meets most of your requirements, state your desires about the elements you would like some consideration for, but give no specifics.  For example:  “I had a different number in mind relative to salary, is there anything the company can do here?”   If compensation is a high priority and the offer was not enough, be flexible but firm.  For example:  “I really want to work for your company in this position and I’m hoping we come to a mutual agreement.”  State the elements you want to see changed, with a short rationale.  For example: “I very much appreciate the offer, I want to join your organization and I hope we can come to a mutual agreement.  Based on my previous x+ years of experience, I am looking for a position with a higher salary and/or higher variable income potential. In addition, I currently have 3 weeks of vacation and I’m hoping to maintain the same.”  Flexible in that you want to work it out, but firm in that you need more consideration.
How Much to Ask for and When is it too Much
Generally, changing jobs warrants a 10-25% total compensation increase, possibly more if the variable bonus is significant.    If you are currently unemployed, you may still seek an increase, but your demands should be less aggressive.  
When asking for additional consideration, think about how much a hiring manager will likely approve.  Be prepared to share a new monetary figure, so think it through.  50% of your counter offer is commonly approved, sometimes 100% and sometimes there will be no change to the offer.   Ask for enough that 50% of your counter offer is acceptable and that 100% would be terrific.  Consider too, if no additional consideration is given, are you prepared to walk away? Remember you likely get one opportunity to counter offer.  Be reasonable, but stretch!
A Final Note
If you get an offer, remember that YOU, above all others, have been chosen for this position.  If you have followed the advice here, you too have chosen the company and the position.  Therefore, be confident in asking for consideration so that both parties can come to a mutually agreeable commitment and successful new employment relationship!
Thanks to Craig Colligan for being our blogger this month! Watch this space for next month’s blog on communication skills.

NEXT WEBINAR:  We are very excited to announce that our next webinar will be held in June (date and time TBA) and we have scored a very special guest speaker, Elizabeth Loverso, VP of Product Development at Red Storm Entertainment. Red Storm is a prominent video game creation company located in Raleigh, NC. They produce such top-selling titles as Far Cry, Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six and all of the Tom Clancy novel-based games. Elizabeth will speak on “Being a Woman in a Male-Dominated Industry.” You do NOT want to miss this one!! Invitations will be sent out soon!

OWLI BONUS WINNERS:  Congratulations to the following OWLI members who won our random drawing for a copy of Seth Godin’s book, What To Do When It’s Your Turn (And It’s Always Your Turn):

  1. Mary Reedy, CP
  2. Nicole Soltys, CP
  3. Cassandra Jones, CPO
  4. Laurie Cronin, CPO
  5. Lori Hampson, CPO

We will be contacting our winners via email.
Thanks for being a part of OWLI and please keep encouraging your peers to join us!

Until May,
Karen Edwards
Director, Össur Women’s Leadership Initiative
OWLI Quote of the Month:  Think like a Queen. A queen is not afraid to fail. Failure is another stepping stone to greatness.  – Oprah Winfrey
Talk to us!! Your feedback is welcomed and encouraged! Please let us know what you think of our initiative, share your ideas, share your victories, or just say “hi” by emailing us at And follow us on Twitter @OWLIOssur and on Facebook at Össur Women’s Leadership Initiative.