Why negotiating ALL benefits when interviewing matters!

Negotiating is a skill we all practice throughout our lives personally or professionally. 

Whether it’s negotiating what restaurant to eat at on the weekend, where to live, what movie to see, etc. as you can see, they range from the smallest of things to major choices we make in our lives.

In our careers, it’s no different and many times, it’s in our professional lives we seem to get tripped up and don’t consider ALL our options as we consider what’s important to us, especially when we’re interviewing.  With enough experience, practice and time, it’s a skill that can be nurtured especially when it comes to negotiating money.

Most candidates when they’re interviewing think of the monetary benefits they’re hoping to earn – a bump on their base salary as they consider their next move.  Salary and bonuses are usually at the top of the list amongst a number of other motivators that are important when interviewing.  Depending on what’s driving your move and desire to change, they may vary in level of importance.

So why do we get choked up when it comes to asking for money?

The truth is, most people are uncomfortable asking for what they want, especially money and more importantly, are not always prepared for the discussion or how to ask.  When I was in the very early stages of my career, I remember sitting across from a manager I had at the time who I admired and happened to be male and I flat out told him, “I hate asking for money…” and his answer to me was, “why?  You work hard, you’re performing, you should ask for what you want.”  That’s it.  Nothing complex, no long lecture, just, ask for what you want.

Of course, there’s more to it and it takes time, experience, practice, etc. to get comfortable with negotiating (and personally, I’m still working at it), but I never forgot that.

Remember, if you don’t ask, the answer will always be NO so if there’s anything you take from this post, ASK for what you want! 

When you’re interviewing and you’re lucky enough to make it to an offer stage, here are some suggestions to keep in mind:

Be open and transparent with your salary expectations – this should really be shared before you get to this stage as most companies will want to understand if they can afford you at the early stages of the interview process.  The last thing you want to do is go through a number of interviews only to reach an offer stage and learn the company just doesn’t have the budget to meet your salary expectations.  Having said that, be clear with what you’re looking for – i.e. 10% increase on my base, $10K sign on bonus to cover X, etc.

Be prepared to negotiate ALL benefits – as mentioned earlier, everyone has various motivating drivers that are important to them and salary is not always the main and only benefit of interest.  What else is important to you?  Work from home?  Vacation time?  Commute allowance?  Think about what these options are.  Also, consider discussing what the flex is around these items early in the process.  Some benefits are company-wide policies that are less flexible to be offered to new hires coming on board.  Again, be prepared to discuss openly the benefits that are important to you.

Ask a trusted colleague or friend if you’re unsure of how to deliver your message and articulate what you want – again, for the purpose of asking for what you want, if negotiating isn’t something that comes easy to you, practice ahead of time with someone you trust and know.  Ask them to role play with you and ask for feedback.  We don’t always see our own blind spots, so asking for someone else’s perspective can be helpful.

Be prepared to get a NO to what you asked for – so this is not always easy to hear and can be deflating especially if you’re trying to seal the deal with a company and new opportunity.  Going back to the above, consider other options you can negotiate, but also, consider this to be a sign that it may not be the right fit if none of your requests or asks were met.  This isn’t about giving up and walking away, however, if you’ve made every effort to explore and consider ALL your options, the one to walk away is also one to consider if you’re requirements aren’t met.

Now, I’d love to hear from you! What would you add to these suggestions? Is there a negotiation strategy you’ve used that’s been effective?

Happy negotiating!

Lisa xo

What skills should you take notice of and why are they important?

What’s the most important skill you’re assessing when you’re interviewing talent?

Does a talent’s soft skill vs. hard skill and/or competencies to do a job hold the same level of importance for you?  I can probably guess that your answer would likely be no, although I’m sure you would agree it’s important just not as important as the hard skills to actually do the job.

In a world where artificial intelligence is creeping its way into many different industries and jobs, there will be forever the skills that AI simply will not be able to offer or do. That’s the human skills that we bring to the table, or otherwise known as soft skills.  Effective communication, compassion, empathy, passion, drive, etc. just to name a few. 

Why is this important and how does it effect you?  Well, if you’re a company that hires people, you want to focus on the FULL package a talent has to offer; meaning ALL skills are becoming increasingly important.  Not just their ability to perform a task and do a job.  It all matters.  In fact, LinkedIn‘s data as noted in their 50 Big Ideas in 2019:  What to watch in the year ahead article, suggests the fastest growing skills gap are related to soft skills.

If you’re someone who will likely be looking for a job at some point in your lifetime, your creative abilities and soft skills are what will set you apart.  They are the skills that can not be taken away from you and be automated.  The workplace is evolving, technology is constantly changing and skills and jobs are being automated.  As a job seeker, you want to understand how this affects you.

Now, I’m sure you can imagine, soft skills I find are typically more difficult to measure and assessing them can be tricky.  Simply reviewing a resume for key or ‘buzz’ words isn’t enough either.

For hiring managers and recruiters, here are some questions you can ask to help measure a few of the more common and important soft skills during interviews:

  • Communication skillsTell me a time when your communication skills were imperative to a problem you solved?  How were they used and what was important about that? (here, you’re not just looking for oral or written. Communication also includes what’s not being said – body language. You want to go deeper here)
  • Adaptability & FlexibilityHow have you dealt with change in your organization and what soft skills were critical to demonstrate during that time?
  • CollaborationWhat are some examples you can share when you’ve had to work with others you don’t know and how did you approach the situation? 
  • EmpathyShare an example of a customer service issue with your company or make one up.  Ask what soft skills they would demonstrate in that situation

I would also add to these.  You can also ask a candidate to share a real-life work issue at their current company (if they’re employed), and what soft skills are needed to solve it.

There are all kinds of different questions you can come up with and likely add to this.  The ones above are those I have found helpful in my experience, but please feel free to play around with these.   Also, don’t be shy to ask directly, what soft skills they deem themselves to be strengths of their’s and how they would relate to the position at hand.  As simplistic and obvious as it may sound, it’s a good question to ask, as chances are, candidates aren’t commonly being asked about their soft skills.

What are your thoughts on the skills gap being related to soft skills?  

How important are soft skills when you’re assessing talent for your organization? 

Please share your thoughts below! 

Thanks so much for your time,

Lisa  😉