Compensation Negotiations: Part 2

One of my favorite movies is “The Godfather.” There are so many reasons why, but as it relates to salary negotiations, it is that famous line, “It’s business, not personal.”

People become emotionally involved in their salary negotiations way too much. They think $500 or $1,000 is life and death in their dealings and lose sight of how they may be gaining or losing in an offer with what seem like secondary issues.

For example, let’s say you have an offer that requires public transportation to get to work and another for less money that is only a 30­ minute drive from home. There is a $5,000 advantage to the offer involving public transportation. Assuming almost all things are equal, which do you take?

I have listened to people rage about receiving “a low ball” offer when, in fact, there are two different job markets with two different wage scales.

In the example I gave, even with expensive gas prices, insurance costs, and wear and tear, what is it worth to you to be home in a half-hour vs. a longer commute? What’s the value of being able to watch your children grow up, enjoying a midweek barbecue, or being able to go for a bike ride during the week vs. sitting on a bus or train?

I don’t know the answer for you. I do know that there is a cost to being a commuter that I pay for the privilege of living in a vacation area year-round, two hours from New York.

Here’s another example of misplaced focus.

I was speaking to someone who wanted to buy a new home. He was currently earning just under $100,000 plus he received a modest bonus last year of approximately $9,000. His firm was probably not going to pay him a bonus this year because business was terrible. In effect, it gave him a $9,000 pay cut.

Mr. A wanted a company to pay him a package of $150,000 because he needed that much to buy the kind of home he wanted.


Who cares whether he needs that amount or even deserves that amount? The focus should be on the value you bring to a new organization.

So take your feelings out of your thinking. Research what your value is by using the job boards to get a sense of the market for what you do. Remember that a salary range has both a top number and a bottom number and your experience may not allow you to value yourself to the same level as the high end of the range.

And remember, “It’s business, not personal.”

Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2006, 2008, 2016, 2020


JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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