Negotiation Begins the Moment You Say Hello

Posted by Nancy Gober

Impressions are formed in less than 30 secondsNegotiation begins with the first impression you make on an employer. The initial information you choose to reveal about your experience begins the negotiation and influences your offer. Since this is the information initially offered in your resume, other marketing materials, and initial phone screen interview, that means that the negotiation begins at the time of your first contact with a company.

The early comments you make and information you reveal are important. Be cautious about revealing too much too soon.

Negotiation Begins the Moment You Say Hello

Your early communications, such as e-mails and resumes, and initial talks, such as at a networking meeting, job fair, and phone screen interview, set the stage for how you are perceived. Those early perceptions set, if not cement, in the interviewing team’s mind your levels of competence, authority, and compensation and influence your future offer.

In other words, you are already negotiating. The negotiation began the moment you said hello. So, manage that first impression you present to prospective employers. As you choose the information you initially reveal about yourself, you set the stage for the make-up of your potential offer. Plan and practice how you will reveal and discuss your experience, accomplishments, education, and expertise to convey the right first impression of you.

While future discussions may correct some incorrect early perceptions, it is far easier to get it right the first time.

Impressions Are Formed in Less Than 30 Seconds

Psychologists say that people you meet form an initial impression of you within the first 30 seconds or less of meeting you. Translating this fact into meetings with prospective employers means that recruiters, hiring managers, and networking contacts are making decisions about you right off the bat. They immediately begin to gather information to make their hiring decision.

With a cursory look through your resume and cover letter, and after a short initial phone screen conversation, they make these early judgments:

  1. Are you knowledgeable enough to move forward in the process?
  2. Are you competent and capable?
  3. Will you fit their organization or one which your network contact is considering referring you to?
  4. Would you be easy to work with?
  5. Do they want to work with you?
  6. Are you well enough educated to interact in their organization with employees and clients?

Their impressions may or may not be correct. But, it is still their first impression of you, and impressions once established are hard to change. So, it’s your job as a job seeker is to manage that first impression. Here’s how:

1. Be careful about the information you choose to initially reveal to an employer.

Information about your background, affiliations, interests, attitudes, outlooks, goals and aspirations, as well as experience, and accomplishments, begins the negotiation. Be careful about revealing too much too soon about any of these areas, because you may:

  • Lower your compensation or benefits
  • Reduce your chance of hiring in at a higher level, or
  • Eliminate yourself as a viable candidate.

How is this possible? Because the information you share about your experience and accomplishments:

  • Places you at an experience, competence, and compensation level in the interviewer’s mind – right off the bat!
  • Indicates to them the level of responsibility you could assume in their firm or organization.

A technique to use to gauge if you are on the right track in an initial interview is to answer a question you are asked briefly; a few sentences will do. Then gauge the interviewer’s re-action: Is it positive or negative?

  • Positive – If the response you’re receiving from the interviewer is positive, continue to reveal additional information about the topic.
  • Negative – On the other hand, if you perceive the interviewer’s response to what you are saying to be negative, stop talking and ask the interviewer what he or she would like you to amplify.

2. Do some homework about the climate and culture of the organization, and conduct yourself accordingly.

Rely not only on internet sources or social media, but talk to people who know about the firm or work there. For instance, a formal company culture might require a more formal dress, demeanor, method of communicating, and way of presenting information about yourself. An informal company culture would allow you to conduct yourself in a bit more relaxed manner.

3. Be careful about the information you share on social media.

Any information you share on the Internet projects your professional image. If you share information that does not fit, or conflicts, with the image, product message, or mission of a company with which you are interviewing, you may be deemed a poor fit, not contacted for an interview, and eliminated before you ever get to say “Hello!”

It also works in reverse. Candidates who sailed through the interview process have had their candidacy come to an end, even offers rescinded, when an inappropriate image of them emerged via social media.

4. Do an informal inventory.

In summary, do an informal inventory. Assess yourself and decide how you wish to be perceived in the employment marketplace. Conduct an informal survey with some key and trusted members of your network and ask how you come across. Ask: What is the image you project? Then use this information to manage your professional image. You next job may depend on it!

It’s a Myth

Many job seekers view negotiation as that stressful interchange that occurs at the end of the interview process when an employer makes a job offer and the recipient of the offer attempts to improve their offer by negotiating. In actuality, it’s a myth. The negotiation has been going on all along – whether the job seeker realizes it or not!

In summary, understanding that negotiation of your job offer is just the culmination of the negotiation-conversation you’ve been having all along can ease your stress, and enable you to negotiate on your own behalf. It’s a Win-Win!

Next time: If You Don’t Negotiate, How You Lose and What’s Negotiable?

Best of luck in your job search!

Nancy GoberNancy Gober is a career strategist who has helped thousands of job seekers find employment. She’s also been a popular resume reviewer at our Cleared Job Fairs. You may reach Nancy via email at [email protected]. Follow Nancy on Twitter @AfterJobClub.

This entry was posted on Sunday, March 18, 2018 12:20 pm

2 thoughts on “Negotiation Begins the Moment You Say Hello”

    1. Hi Richard, You’re so very welcome. And thank you for taking the time to write. I wish you great success in any negotiations you may have coming your way and in your career. All the best, Nancy

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