Negotiating a New Job: How Do I Begin?

Question: I have worked for my employer for almost 20 years, and was recently presented with an opportunity to work for one of our company’s suppliers. It is an amazing opportunity. I have two questions: First, my potential employer has asked for a release from my present employer; is that something I get involved with? Second, they’ve made me a good offer, but I’d like assistance setting up a “home office” that will be necessary for the new job. How do I begin?

Catherine, Minnesota

Answer: First, when two companies do business, and one wants to take away an employee, it is not unusual for the “taker” to ask for the “permission” of the “takee.” In fact, many companies make suppliers sign agreements – so-called “anti-poaching” agreements – to prevent this. It is an employer-employer issue, and one that you should stay out of. Just one thing: don’t resign until this is straightened out; otherwise you could be left “out in the cold.”

Second, imagine for the moment you are selling your car. If someone is offering you a pretty good price, but wanted you to include, as well, your lawn mower, you would probably say, “For that, I would like an additional $25.00” or something like that.

This is no different: Don’t be afraid to say, “I very much appreciate the offer, and am excited to come aboard. I know I’ll be a great asset for you. There are just two items to address before I am able to accept your offer: (a) I would like the company to cover the reasonable costs to set up my home office for the job, which I’ve determined to be about $3,000, and (b) an additional $8,000 in annual salary would make a big difference to me, and justify my leaving my employer of almost 20 years. If you can include these two items in the offer, I would be delighted to accept today. Is that something we can agree on?”

Understand that, from the employer’s point of view, they are excited to be “buying” a new asset – namely, you – and your leverage is greatest at this time. So long as you make your request with respect, and it is reasonable, and it is delivered with a compelling “rationale,” that is, a reason behind it, there should be no downside to asking for what you want. Your taking this step to negotiate for yourself is an important step, and you shouldn’t fear it. Instead, embrace it as your being responsible in taking care of yourself and your loved ones.

I hope this helps. Please let me know how it goes. I mean that.

Best, Al Sklover

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