The Art of Negotiation & How to Market yourself as an Asset
This article surrounding the art of negotiation and knowing your value in interviews was written by Nicholas Colwyn Parry, a locum pharmacist working across the UK, and a subscriber to the My Locum Choice Software.
Of all the blogs I have produced to date, this is possibly my most important. The aim of this blog is a snapshot into my mind as to how I negotiate offers including the reasons and some of the psychology behind them. It will hopefully be an insight into how to approach this somewhat lost art, and how it can be executed to perfection.
They say a magician never reveals their tricks, which is just as well because I’m rubbish at magic. I developed a formula very early on which I have nicknamed “The Foggo Formula”, it is something everyone can use in any job and is so simple a 6-year-old can do it. I’ll explain it later in less than 5 sentences and even my friends 6-year-old daughter worked it out.
How is negotiation relevant in daily life?
There’s this ideology around negotiation that it is something businessmen and women carry out in board rooms on a daily basis, but truth be told it isn’t hard, and you’ve been negotiating a lot longer than you think. Have you ever asked for 5 more minutes to carry out a task? Have you ever asked someone to pick something up for you? Most importantly, have you ever haggled with the barman to get 3 Jäger bombs for a fiver? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then you are already a negotiator.
What are the 6 secrets to a good negotiation?
1. Knowing your worth
I personally believe to negotiate successfully; you must know your worth! I won’t even post a picture of any wages for job ads etc here as you should already know the wage range you are looking for. Remember to never go into a company with the first wage they offer, always shoot for the moon and land in the stars. I say it over and over again but if you don’t ask you don’t get. I guarantee an employer will have a theoretical upper limit for the wage they are preparing to pay you once they have sent you an offer, this is why you NEVER give them a nominal figure early on.
You know a car salesman has valued your car the second you drive it on the forecourt, so why let an employer exploit this tactic on you when you step in for an interview? You could accept a job for £30k a year and their theoretical upper limit could have been £35k. Well done, you just lost £5k and your employer just got an absolute bargain. This is why knowing your personal (or product) worth is the number one step to negotiation and always aim high.
2. Building your confidence
We covered interviews in a previous blog, so let’s say you smashed that interview and you’ve been given an offer by your employer. RESULT! Now how about we make that offer truly worth your time, this is your chance to maximise what’s on the table. How you approach this is unique to you as many people prefer to negotiate over e-mail, some prefer a phone call and few prefer face to face! We sadly live in a generation that will pour their heart over text, but won’t say boo to a goose when they are faced with the real thing. I even see young staff look puzzled when a phone rings in work. If your job is going to require you to socialise with people in more ways than an e-mail, you might want to start looking at building your social skills to aid this.
To master this tactic, you need to get confident at speaking to people face to face, and there are some really easy techniques you can employ without much thought to get a better outcome. Mirroring body language and reading the person visually based on your answers can allow you to push in the right directions for a successful negotiation. Hearing the tone in their voice when they answer is something lost in an e-mail, and positive (or negative) facial expressions are never seen through a phone call. In my opinion, face to face is the best method to actively listen and engage with your potential employer to allow a successful conversation for both of you. Remember, the best negotiations end in both parties thinking they have won.
3. Setting your limits
Now being face to face with your soon to be employer can be quite scary, and especially in British culture as it seems somewhat taboo to discuss wages with them. This couldn’t be any further from the truth, thanks to our ancient ancestors who invented money, our life is unfortunately dictated by that number… So why isn’t it okay to discuss it?
(Having money’s not everything, not having it is – K. West)
What is important to know with any negotiation is to play them at their own game. I said before how a car salesman values your car the second it’s on the forecourt, and an employer has an upper limit on the wage, so you should also have a lower limit for what you would accept as your bottom line.
The Foggo formula
Cue “The Foggo Formula”. My-self titled, alliterative mathematical formula is something so simple yet so terribly understood by employers, you too can use it with ease.
It is literally – (Hours) X (£) = pay
I discovered it by working 60-hour weeks as a dispenser on £9 an hour earning the same as a pharmacist who was working 20 hours on £27 an hour and quickly realised time and money were proportional to one another. This little baby has not only made me thousands in recent years, it has saved me priceless hours of my life that I can spend on whatever I want and here is how you can use it too:
Hours 60 X rate (£9/hr) = £540
Hours 20 X rate (£27/hour) £540
You can look at it another way when negotiating full time hours. £1 an hour increase on your negotiation or wage will lead to £2080 a year extra. That’s working on 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, your average full time job hours. 40 x 52 – It literally is that simple, but I guarantee 99.99% of employers in the UK will not know this off the top of their head. This is why having your maths ready and going in face to face can really put your employer in a position where they think they’ve won, but in reality, you’ve just bagged yourself the equivalent of a one week all-inclusive 5* to Mexico with key stage one maths, who’s the real winner?
4. Make your hours as valuable as you can
As there is nothing more valuable than time, you may as well make your working hours as valuable as you can. So, if the offer allows no negotiation on the wage, then you can always ask for at least 2 other things which lead to an increase in wage.
Tailor your hourly rate to suit you
Firstly, you may be offered a salary based off 45 hours a week over 5 days, 9-6 for 40k which is reasonable and sounds great as you get a paid lunch. But what if you went back and offered them 40 hours a week over 5 days but also 9-6 for 40k. Sounds daft to sacrifice a paid lunch doesn’t it? Actually, it’s one of the smartest things you could have done as now you are paid a better hourly rate.
45 hours, 9-6, 52 weeks, 2340 hours a year, 2340 paid hours, £40k – £17.09 an hour
40 hours, 9-6, 52 weeks, 2340 hours a year, 2080 paid hours, £40k – £19.23 an hour
Maths can be fun right?
Your boss wants you to do stay late after work? Wants you to take on more hours? Wants to give you 4 hours pay for online learning at home? Gives everyone a 2% pay rise? You will benefit more from this.
5. Make yourself irreplaceable
Secondly, you could ask for a funded qualification or progression that will result in an increase in your income and skillset! Many employers will invest in their employees by means of training so they can carry out extra duties and services that ultimately make them more money. Remember when working for someone you will always be lining their pocket, so you may as well upgrade yourself, diversify your skill set and get something out of it too!
Expand your skillset with training
I really like the offer of additional qualifications, and the progression behind those rather than the slippery corporate management ladder we are expected to climb. Of course, when you become more qualified and responsible for something, you are still technically managing it, but I’m not talking the classic supervisor, manager, area manager, regional nonsensical hierarchy so many fall victims to. Qualifications can be some of the most important pieces of education you can acquire, especially if you get the experience using them! I ran a full travel clinic including vaccinations when I was last employed which gave me valuable experience on how to run and manage a clinic, for when I get my own…
The qualifications you acquire in your position will also make you a more secure company asset and makes you much harder to replace. If you work for a company for 5 years and redundancies are announced, I guarantee you they will want to keep the most qualified and valuable employees. By making yourself such an asset with a perfected skillset you are only solidifying your position in a job, or further cementing your company in the industry.
Transfer your skills between jobs
You can also prove your worth before you’re in the company which is why experience and references are so important. Being able to justify an offer by means of your previous projects will only instil faith in your soon to be employer. If you can prove that during your time at X you personally built Y and that is what lead to a positive outcome shows initiative, drive and a hard-working attitude. Just because you are qualified in something does not mean you are entitled.
6. Know when to walk away
So, what if you aren’t allowed to negotiate and the offer is on the table is all your employer will give? Simple really, leave it for someone else. No negotiation, no job. This is a huge red flag to me and only shows your employer is demanding and has no flexibility which is not feasible for normal life. I can guarantee this will leave your life a misery as they will be far too controlling and expect the world from you whilst giving you a substandard package.
If anyone would like any help on confidence with regards to negotiation or any additional information about this blog, please get in touch and I will help guide you. It can be terrifying when you are sat in a room with someone who’s been a manager of a multi-million-pound business for years, but nerves show you care about the position in question and that is completely normal. Just remember it is always okay to ask for a better offer, after all, a 25p an hour increase can mean £500 a year extra (based off 40 hours a week).
N.B. 3 jaeger bombs for a fiver is something only seen in Liverpool and Newcastle, down in the South West it’s £3.50 for one and Freddo’s are 35p