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How to negotiate your employment contract

May 19, 2021

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The pandemic has presented an unprecedented workforce climate - yet while the world is slowly recovering, the workforce is rapidly seeing an increase in jobs and opportunities.  

The final stage in cementing any business relationship is contract negotiation. Whether you're entering the contingent workforce, becoming a fulltime employee or re-negotiating a pre-existing agreement, the workers who get what they want achieve it with a sound negotiation strategy.

And while the current workforce and economic climate may impact an organization's payroll, your skills and experience are of value, and it's important to approach the bargaining table with confidence that a fair and competitive market rate will be agreed on - if you're prepared.

Before you accept the first offer, lay the groundwork for getting what you deserve. Here's how: 

Do your research

Non-monetary drivers like remote work options can be attractive incentives for some workers, yet for others, money does matter. When it's about the Benjamines, get the best rate or salary by learning the company's current pay rates and salary ranges ( you can find this info on review sites like Glassdoor). 

Then, determine: What's the competition paying for the same role and what's the industry standard set at?

Once you have this information in hand, strike first. Having the ball initially in your court ensures the whole negotiation is based on that first number, which will most likely be higher than the organization's initial offer. 

Set expectations

It's important to articulate exactly what you're looking for in terms of rate or salary, non monetary benefits and opportunity. These could be things like flexibility on work/life balance, remote work options, available technologies or ownership over a particular project or department - Whatever matters most to you! Would you rather more remote work over a larger paycheck?

However, if an organization simply can't meet your financial expectations, another valuable benefit to consider is education, which can greatly increase your long-term marketability.  Does the company offer career or upskilling programs you can take advantage of to increase your future marketability? 

Be mindful of the current state of the world of work

You'll also need to take into consideration the specific organization you're negotiating with - and the uncertain times the world is working within.

A young startup company may not necessarily have as high a budget for labor as an established corporation. Moreover, if you're working with a staffing firm, let your recruiter know from the very beginning if you have a firm rate or salary, so that he or she won't submit you to a client to only find out at the end of the hiring process that they couldn't afford you.

Be quantifiable

It's easier to get what you're worth when you can prove your value. This means letting an organization know how valuable you expect to be in the new role. You can do this by mentioning your past achievements in quantifiable terms. How much money did you save a previous organization? By what percent did you increase revenues or decrease production time? Were you able to manage multiple locations while working remotely part of the week?

Aim high - but be flexible

It's always better to start with a number that's slightly higher than what you're really aiming for. It's easier to negotiate down than it is to raise the price after you've already laid the starting point. 

Look for clauses in the contract

If you're entering full-time employment or a long-term contract, do you have any probationary clauses in your contract? If so, you can expect zero job security. Whether it’s the typical 90 days or more, try to discuss it. If you don’t, you can be let go at any time or for any reason within that time frame—regardless of your performance.

Are you working with a staffing agency to find your next great opportunity? 

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