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How to negotiate your current job instead of joining the Great Resignation

If there are some aspects of your role or employer that you do like, it may be better to negotiate.

How to negotiate your current job instead of joining the Great Resignation
[Source illustration: nadia_bormotova/iStock]
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If you’re thinking of leaving your job, the grass may not be greener somewhere else. If there are some aspects of your role or employer that you do like, it may be better to negotiate the things you want to change instead of jumping back into the job market with everyone else.

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“Anytime you’re dissatisfied with your job, go to your employer to see what can be changed before you depart,” says Victoria Medvec, PhD., author of Negotiate Without Fear: Strategies and Tools to Maximize Your Outcomes. “Assume that your employer wants to keep you and would like a chance to modify things.”

This is especially important for women, says Medvec, who’s also cofounder and executive director of the Center for Executive Women at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. “Women are less likely to negotiate and exit without asking,” she says. “If you leave without asking for what you want, you risk leaving on bad terms because your employer will feel that you didn’t give them a chance.”

Before You Start the Negotiation

First, consider who you’re trying to influence, says Andres Lares, author of Persuade: The 4-Step Process to Influence People and Decisions and managing partner at Shapiro Negotiations Institute. “It might be your boss, or it could be an HR director who needs to sign off on the request,” he says. “Put yourself in their shoes before you approach them.”

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It’s critical to use the right method of communication, and the conversation should be a synchronous method, such as in person or a video call with the camera on, says Medvec. “A negotiation about your career is important enough to warrant a face to face,” she says. “You want to watch the person’s reaction so you can modify or shape the conversation based on what you see.”

Don’t use the phone for a negotiation, says Medvec. And the worst thing you can do is email your boss. “That’s an asynchronous channel and not likely to yield success,” she says. “It could damage your relationship.”

Frame the Ask

Script your argument ahead of time, says Lares. “Often, negotiation conversations are tied to emotions, especially when you’re arguing for something in your favor,” he says. “Being emotional may make or break their decision. Script out different scenarios to see how you will respond if the argument goes in your favor or against. This helps you avoid any rash decisions or responses.”

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While it’s natural to go in with a list of grievances or requests, that method puts the focus on you. Instead, Medvec suggests focusing on what other side needs. For example, if you’re asking to travel less for your job, determine how the organization will benefit from having you onsite more often. If you are asking for more money, connect yourself to how you address your employer’s needs.

Medvec likens career negotiations to a train on the tracks. “The engine is the company’s pressing business needs,” she explains. “The next car back is how your differentiator addresses the business needs, and the caboose is your salary, annual bonus, time off and benefits. It’s attached, but the train always needs to run forward. Lead with the engine never with the caboose. If you solve business problems, you’ll be far more successful.”

Lares suggests creating a list of things that are important to your employer. “You’ll be more powerful if you’ve put yourself in their shoes and can communicate it,” he says. “You’ll subconsciously communicate differently.”

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Ask for More than One Thing

Avoid negotiating over one thing, says Lares. “Have variations,” he says. “If you want to work remotely five days a week, be willing to reduce it to three days. It feels less like an ultimatum and more like a collaboration, especially when you provide each party with something that’s important to them.”

Medvec suggests going in with three possible options instead of a take-it-or-leave-it demand. “Having multiple options allows you to ask for more than you could with a single offer,” she says. “It looks like you’re flexible and sends the message that you’re problem solving rather than coming in for a deal.”

If They Say “No”

Be prepared for your request to be rejected. Don’t let your emotions get the most of you, says Lares. Instead, he suggests responding with something like this: “This request is important to me, and it’s not quite as simple for me as not having it. Can we put time on the calendar in a few weeks for another discussion?”

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“This shows that it’s not a nice-to-have for you,” says Lares. “It also gives them time to digest and sit on it. They may not be ready to make a decision quickly.”

It’s a good environment for employees to ask, says Medvec. “Many companies are finding it hard to get and retain talent,” she says. “Think about more than just pay. You could negotiate for position, key assignments, and development opportunities. But make sure to ask. You never know what you might have gotten if you don’t. Leaving has no expiration date. You can still choose to leave later.”