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Powerful Insights 

Articles, interviews, inspiration, and tools to help you balance your power with purpose

Should I wait to negotiate until I prove myself?

corporate negotiation resource strategy Aug 03, 2023
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Securing a job offer marks a new chapter in your career and is an exciting opportunity to create some momentum. I can understand why you might be reluctant to negotiate that job offer. So in this article, I want to explore some of the reasons you might be considering waiting until you've been in the job a while, before negotiating a bump in your salary. In Part Two (out next week) I want to give you some compelling reasons for why that's a terrible idea - and offer you some tips for how to negotiate effectively. 

Jennifer's Story

A few weeks ago, I delivered a keynote about negotiation at a women's enterprise group event. After the talk, Jennifer approached me to share that she had just accepted a job offer. I congratulated her and, with a wink, asked if she had negotiated. She told me that she accepted the offer as-is (it was ok), but then proudly boasted that she got her new supervisor to agree to a performance review in 3 months; they could discuss salary then. 

I didn't want to break her heart, even though she broke mine. 

She made the decision to delay negotiation because of a few concerns that continue to make the rounds via urban legends. Let's explore those myths here. 

What if they withdraw the job offer?

Jennifer was coming from a job that she absolutely hated. Technically, she loved her job, but couldn't stand her misogynistic boss who constantly overlooked her talents (and her actual job description) and assigned her unrelated tasks like taking notes, shopping for office supplies, and organizing office events. She really wanted out. 

So when she got the job offer to work at a comparable job (where she'd actually get the chance to do her job), with a supervisor who seemed excited about the skills and experience she brought, Jennifer didn't want to do anything to risk the offer.

She had heard that if you push too hard in a job negotiation, the company will just get fed up and move on to the next candidate. So she didn't negotiate at all. 

The problem is, that's just not true.

It's an extremely rare circumstance where a company would with withdraw a job offer just because the candidate negotiated. The reality is that organizations fully expect candidates to negotiate. They can't always meet the candidate's requests, but they typically try to meet as many as they can. 

The only circumstances where I've ever seen a job offer withdrawn have been where, as a result of the negotiation, information comes to light that makes it clear the job wouldn't be a good fit for the candidate. Not because the candidate asked for more money. 

What if they say no?

One of Jennifer's challenges is that her 6 year old will be starting school this fall. Unfortunately, she hasn't been able to confirm consistent after-school childcare. So for the forseeable future, she has to manage an ever-changing schedule of trusted family and friends who can pick up Dani 5 days a week.

She didn't want to ask about whether she could augment her hours to start work at 7:30 am, because she was worried they'd say no. Jennifer figured that, after she had been there for three months and shown them how great she is, they would be more likely to say yes. 

But what if they say no in three months?

What if she works there for three months, juggling a constantly-changing childcare schedule, and then finds out that they won't accommodate an early start, despite how great she is? Her choices will be to continue juggling childcare or look for a new job and start the process all over again. Ugh.

All of that could have been avoided if she had just negotiated. 

If they said no, then she'd have a third choice - stay at her current job with the devil she already knew. If they agreed, she could have avoided three months of extra coordination and stress. 

One of the benefits of negotiation is that you get to see, before you enter into a working relationship, how flexible your new boss is going to be. If they won't say no at the point of a job offer (when they want you the most), things are not going to get better once you've "proven yourself'. 

What if they think I'm full of myself?

The final concern that Jennifer had was that her new supervisor would look down on her and think she was arrogant and demanding for asking for more salary. 

When I asked her about her career, she shared that she'd been in the sector for almost ten years, and in her current job for just over three. The job she accepted was quite literally the same job she had been doing already, but with a different company. In other words, she was super-qualified for the job. 

She should have been full of herself.

Where other candidates may have come to the job with little to no experience, Jennifer knew her stuff. She had done everything on the job description, just for a different company. 

It's no wonder she got the job offer. She was exceptionally qualified for it. 

However, if she was applying for a leap of a promotion and had asked for a top-of-the scale wage, that might have created some ripples. She might have been considered arrogant. 

But she was applying for a job that she was already doing. Of course she should have asked for a top-of-the-scale wage. And the company probably wouldn't have blinked. They know how long training and development takes and were probably thrilled to hire someone of her calibre. 

Myths Debunked

So there you go. We've talked about three of the most common myths that people use to delay negotiation and why they make zero sense. 

Next week, I'll be sharing my top three reasons why you shouldn't wait to negotiate the job offer. If you're not already subscribed to my newsletter, sign up below and you'll get a copy of the article in your inbox the moment it is published. 

What to read next.

Negotiating a job offer can be intimidating. You might be tempted to delay it until you've been in the job for a few months. Here's why that's a bad idea. Also some tips for how to negotiate with confidence. 

Read part 2 of this blog: Why waiting to negotiate is a bad idea

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