Negotiation across your career

by Rishika Gupta


When you’re in college and just starting out on your career, questions of self-doubt can plague your mind. When you’re on the cusp of entering the real world, a key skill that not many discuss is the art of negotiation.


As an employee, the first stage of negotiation you would come across is at your first job. Through your course you may have taken up internships, but a key difference here is that in an internship, your salary is fixed and your main goal is to gain exposure and experience. The priorities when you’re starting your first job are very different. Now you’re looking to set up your own life and earn a living, in order to maximise that, it is important to keep self-doubt aside and negotiate your worth, while being respectful to the company budgets, policies and bosses.


The best way to reach and identify common ground is to do your research. Speak to mentors and professionals in the industry to identify what is the average pay range for your role. Also be mindful of the experience you bring to the table. For example: if you’re a fresher with minimal internship experience, you would not be in a place to negotiate a higher salary package; but if you have 4-5 internships under your belt, safe to say that the HR team would respect the experience you bring as compared to someone more inexperienced as you would require lesser training as well.


Within your role, if you work with vendors especially, finding the best value for money sources would enhance your value to the firm. In a place like India, you can always find the next best or in most cases, more affordable option for any item. The key differentiator can be creating strong connections with those suppliers so as to form your own base to advance in your career and knowledge. A key differentiator between junior and senior members of a team is yet again, experience. Negotiation is a nuanced art wherein the right way of talking can result a 10% cost reduction and strategizing partnerships for long-term benefits.


As a student this may seem daunting especially since the world is more ruthless than ever. When speaking with someone, always try to identify what their motivations could be. Most likely, they too have some targets to meet. Forming a friendship can mean that you form a level of commercial trust and receive best prices from both sourcer, supplier and seller. A great way to practice this skill is to participate in events or select roles in internships that involve speaking to outside stakeholders.


Negotiation involves the process of extracting value from a scarce resource, which may not always be money. Within the organization, finding a mentor to give insider advice on how to get your proposal approved, or which is the best place to find the cheapest source of office equipment. The benefits are endless. Negotiating for time with them is also important in highlighting ‘your edge’ as someone who knows how to help both parties involved in the deal. As you’re up for the promotion, these skills would be the necessary soft skills a leader ought to possess to drive incremental value for the people, purpose and profits in an organization.


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