When advancing your career, it’s important to think about what you want and the most effective way to ask for it.
When you’re thinking about advancing your career – perhaps by making a strategic move with your current employer, or moving to another organisation entirely - it’s important to think about what you want and the most effective way to ask for it.
If you are effective in applying some of these tips to your own career negotiations, take a moment to think about others in your organisation or professional network who may benefit from support in their own negotiations. A strategic approach to navigating professional life may not come so naturally for those who grew up in families without career stability or cultural differences in making asks and negotiating.
Although reaching agreement on pay and benefits is important, think broadly about the opportunities that will enhance your career experience and long-term advancement. Consider the balance of priorities between the terms of your role (the scope of your authority and nature of development opportunities), your pay and benefits, and work-life challenges around location or flexibility.
Negotiations may take three forms:
Asking – you want something that’s already reasonably well established for someone in your role or level. In these negotiations, try to show that your request is reasonable (aligned with existing norms) or deserved (your track record demonstrates this).
Bending – you want an exception, or an unusual arrangement, which you will need to show is justified and of mutual benefit (and not just special treatment). You may need to consider your responses to their reasons for a “no” with your career goals in mind.
Shaping – you propose to change something or create a new initiative, which will need you to demonstrate that you have the necessary leadership skills, and buy-in to be successful.
It is usually best to approach negotiations with a specific goal in mind, but be prepared to find mutually beneficial solutions. This may involve trade-offs or compromises.
Gathering information, about the broader context and about your own career/contribution, will help you to negotiate better. You should try to be clear what you are negotiating for, how you plan to do it, and who the key decision-makers are. This will allow you to adapt your arguments.
Information gathering should not just be specific to a negotiation; use your networks more informally too, to explore ideas, gain feedback, and benchmark.
If you can, get to know the people you will be negotiating with. But don’t forget those who are your professional and social support network – your critical friends, and your allies. Done well, career negotiations can be an opportunity that enhances your working relationships, with your team and senior colleagues.
Negotiating your next job (via Harvard Business Review)
Negotiating a salary (via jobs.ac.uk)
How to ask for additional career development (via AICPA)
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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2021) Negotiating your next job, and supporting others in doing the same. Available at www.rgs.org/careersresources/negotiatingnextjob. Last accessed on: <date>
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