Questions & Answers

Preparing for Employment Salary Negotiation

employment-negotiation

Question

I may be entering into negotiations with a US based oil company for a position in one of their foreign offices. I realise that working offshore does pay much more than what I'm currently earning, but how much more? Is there a way to find out how much more I should ask for while negotiating on salary?
Mark Hotz from Canada

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Answer

In considering how to approach negotiating a pre-employment job offer there are a number of areas you can research beforehand. Preparing for a negotiation is vital to getting the best employment agreement. Having more information at your fingertips will give you a good idea of the list of questions you will need to ask at the interview. Write out your negotiation questions in a manner that will give you best possible information so you can consider the pros and cons. By eliciting good information you can fully evaluate your options and perhaps devise a more suitable counter proposal that best suits your needs. Here are a couple of other tips to help you prepare:

1. Research

  • Research the web for employment sites that deal with your industry. Google employment sites that are oil & gas industry specific. Check out the websites of competitive companies and see what they are offering for similar positions. Contact any trade or professional association relevant to your industry and profession. A trade or professional association would likely have a great deal of information on a variety of employment scenarios. They may also be able to provide you with other research sources to pinpoint salary ranges and packages for your unique employment situation.
  • Another component you need to research in detail is the locale and environment where you will be situated. This can be especially vital if you are relocating family. Investigate the new locale from the perspective of how this change might impact on your lifestyle. Cost of living can be a very crucial consideration.
  • Try researching your industry and employment positions in the country or locale where you are to be based, they may have local web sites. These sites might provide some idea of what your company or competitor companies are advertising for. Additional information can be obtained from other on-line sources such as oil and gas e-zines and trade journals. You can try Government department web sites responsible for industry and employment as they can provide valuable statistical data on salary ranges in your industry. Talk to professional employment recruiters, particularly those who specialise in your profession. Employment agencies that target your market would especially be in the know.

2. Other Negotiating Factors to Consider

  • Always consider your BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) in relation to the company's BATNA. Do you have other job offers or employment alternatives available should the circumstances of the position not meet your expectation and needs? Alternatives offer better leverage when negotiating an employment package. The situation also boils down to what the company requires and their level of urgency to fill the role at the moment. Look at the company's situation relative to the skills and experience you are bringing to the position. Consider how many other candidates can offer your unique skills. Your level of expertise will have a bearing on the negotiation.
  • Remember also that salary is just one component of what the company will be offering you. In an off shore employment situation, there will be a very extensive employment package involved. Don't limit your negotiations to salary alone. The area where you are being located can be inhospitable so this can be leveraged or factored into the negotiation process.
  • Look at the whole range of the package being offered. This includes sign-on bonuses, other bonuses, salary reviews, stock options, relocation expenses, housing, additional training, health/life/disability plans, professional memberships, certifications, profit sharing plans, tuition reimbursement, vacation and sick days, termination contract, and overtime policies for example. These are all intangible factors which have worth. They can all be considered as negotiable features of your employment contract.

Preparation is key to any negotiation and especially a new job offer. Anticipate what the employer is going to discuss. Brainstorm the questions you might be asked. Write out questions from both perspectives, and if at all possible - rehearse with a friend. Rehearse both your questions and the questions the company might ask. If you view the interview through the eyes of the employer, you will be better prepared to seize the moment, negotiate a solid employment contract and dazzle them in the process.

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