Career Connection Series: 5 Helpful Tips to Successfully Negotiate in a Tough Job Market

By Guest Blogger Shabana Wollin, PMP, Independent Consultant; Designer of , a social media network for finding employment & other community resources; and Owner of Bluefrog Technologies LLC

Negotiation is an art. Some people are naturally good at it, and some people need guidance to negotiate effectively. Negotiation is a part of our everyday lives. Take a moment to think about the number of times during the course of a day that you negotiate in some way, shape or form at home or at work.  But in order to negotiate well, you must be able to communicate effectively.  

These five tips will help you to negotiate better during your job search:

1) Do your homework and research the company before your interview.

Most companies have a variety of information available on their websites or in other ways. Some companies are savvy and are part of popular social media networks, such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, or have a company blog. Spend some time online learning about the company with which you are interviewing. If you don’t have a computer at home, visit a local library or One-Stop Career Center

If you have a contact name for the HR representative or the interviewer, connect with them on LinkedIn or read their blog posts, which will give you a perspective on their values, the corporate culture and the company’s overall strategic vision. Once you have this information, you can make better informed decisions and hence better negotiate. When you’ve done your homework, it makes you stand out from the rest of the job candidates. 

2) Make a great first impression.

First impressions are important as they sometimes make lasting impressions. It is important that you make the extra effort to look your best and are well prepared for your first interview. Be prepared to provide extra copies of your resume, answer questions confidently and to ask questions of your potential employer. This is not the time to discuss or negotiate salary.

Once you are done with the interview, always thank the interviewers for their time, smile and follow-up with a handwritten thank you note. When time is of the essence, follow-up with an email within 24 hours of your interview. Employers in this economic climate receive numerous resumes and meet a lot of candidates. It is important that you set yourself apart from the rest by making a great first impression on your interviewer.

3) Maintain a job search journal and note your experience with the interview.

A job search journal is a very helpful tool for active job seekers to keep track of their job searches. You might be interviewing with several different employers, meeting a lot of new people and learning different things about each. It is a daunting task to keep it all organized in your head and bring it back from memory a few days later. Many people have a short lived short-term memory, which can decay spontaneously over time when not used. 

Journaling is an effective way to preserve information about an interview should you need to recall it at a later time. Be sure to note in your journal the following about any interview you go on: the date & time, location, name of the company, name(s) of the interviewers, questions that were asked during the interview, how you responded and other comments or observations. This is also helpful for you at your next interview in case you feel that there are things on which you can improve.

4) Remain calm, confident and well informed when you have been made a job offer.

It is important to remain calm and confident during all stages of your job interview process and negotiations. When you have successfully followed the above three stages, you have set the foundation for effectively negotiating your next job offer.

Once you have been offered a position, don’t be in a hurry to say, “YES!” Take some time to carefully evaluate what you have been offered and if you are satisfied with it completely, go for it! If you think you might want to negotiate something, don’t be afraid to ask. 

It is important to know that everything is negotiable during the offer process. Job seekers find this hard due to the current job market and often settle for less. When you are armed with information and are confident in your abilities, always present them to the employer. Most employers expect that you will consider countering their offer.

5) Confirm, close and celebrate!

Most negotiations are done over the phone.  Once you have reached an agreement, it is important that you confirm it in writing by accepting the job offer via mail, FAX or email. Some offers can be signed digitally and faxed electronically directly to the employer. Whatever the method, make sure you have the offer in writing.  Before you sign it, be sure it lists all the items you discussed over the phone, especially the terms of compensation. It is easier to change the terms of compensation before you are hired rather than after. This letter of job acceptance closes your job search process, and it is time to celebrate! Congratulations!

We hope you find this information useful and are able to implement some of the tips that were presented to you in your career or life. Your comments and feedback are welcome. Please share with us below in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you! 

Shabana Wollin, PMP is an independent consultant and owner of Bluefrog Technologies LLC. She actively blogs on topics such as employment, communication, social media and project management. She also designed and developed a successful online resource portal for people with disabilities entering the workforce. This portal,, was designed with the intent of helping not just people with disabilities to find employment opportunities, but also to serve as a useful resource for their families, caregivers, employers, teachers and local advocate agencies. Visit for more information.

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