The Negotiation Table: Know Your Cards And When To Play Em’

The economy is conditioning most individuals to be so excited about a job offer that they are not asking for their needs during the interviewing process.  The majority of Americans are accepting offers without negotiating.  This is troubling because money is not the only thing they are missing out on during this short window of opportunity.  Do you remember the first time one of your childhood friends wanted something you had in your hand?  And, standing firm on the decision that the world would have to crack in half and suck you down a worm hole before you parted ways with it.  But, then, all of a sudden, the child presented a toy you had dreamed of having one day.  The negotiations began with either a five minute play swap, a one night only trade, or, you went for it, a complete swap out.  Do you remember how excited you felt inside when the choice you made matched with what you wanted?  YES!  The hiring process presents similar negotiating opportunities that allow you the chance to play your cards.

In order to play your cards, you need to take the time to assess your top four needs.  I would like you to use the four playing cards: Ace – King – Queen – Jack, Ace high and Jack low, placing a need on each one.

The Questionnaire

In order to find the top four, you must dive into the motives of the heart.  All of us are motivated by different things.  Some of us require large amounts of money, big houses, and fast cars.  Some of us require medium amounts of money, average houses, and dependable cars.  Some of us require low amounts of money, small houses, and a car that gets us from point A to point B.

Ask yourself….

What is my personal motivation?

Money, Flex Time, Fast Track Management, Benefits, Training, Continued education reimbursement, Working from home, the list could go on and on…

And, ask more questions….

Do I like working in teams? Do I like corporate offices? Do I like working traditional hours? Do I like learning? Does money make me happy? What things do I wish were different in current job? What would I like to see implemented for employee recognition? Would I like better benefits? Would I enjoy more perks? Would I be happy with more vacation time? Would I work better in an office? Would I work better from home?

The key here is to dive into your bank of needs without the influence of others involved in this process.  I highly recommend spending several days working on this project.  Take the time to write down on a piece of paper your thoughts, questions, and answers.  The more you write down, the more likely several top needs will bubble up to the surface.

The cards explained

Several months ago, I assisted someone that was struggling in their current position and couldn’t figure out what course of actions to take.  We dove into personal motivations and came up with the top 4 needs in ranking order:

Ace – Work 5 Minutes from Home

King – Flexibility

Queen – Money

Jack – Independence from boss

This individual was driving 45 minutes each day with a child in desperate need of a parent’s attention.  She went through an entire life altering experience, as she sold her house, car, and belongings.  Next course of action, she moved into a condo in town only a couple minutes away from the new job.  She purchased an electric vehicle for short distance commuting.  And, she was able to play the King, Queen, and Jack cards during the hiring process.  The company offered her time at home when needed, matches of old salary with increase in six months, and a hands-off manager.  Now, she is able to spend time with her daughter in the mornings and afternoons, along with the days she is ill working from home.

How to negotiate the top 4 needs?

Maintain Logic without Emotion – The last thing you want to do is bring in personal reasons why you are requesting this need.  And, you do not want to appear emotional about it at all.  The number one focus should be on presenting your case with facts on why this need should be met by the company.

Make the environment welcoming – It is your job to keep the conversations light and fun.  Do not appear demanding and even make a light joke in order to relax the atmosphere.

Self-Worth Affirmations – This is the time to walk into the room stating to yourself that what you are asking for is exactly what you deserve.  Nothing more. Nothing less.

Know When to Fold Em’

Years ago, there was a movie made from a song called The Gambler.  The reason the gambler was successful in playing poker was because he read the room before sitting at the table.  Plus, he was highly skilled at studying facial expressions.  It is very important to understand all details about the company and position prior to approaching the negotiation table.  Once you do approach the table, be skilled at reading facial gestures prior to placing cards on the table.  You must be able to read whether the individual is taking in the request/s negatively or positively.  Negotiating can be a very rewarding experience.  As we learned in childhood, we can gain a very nice toy by simply asking for it.

The Gambler stated it very nicely when he said:

You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em,

Know when to walk away and know when to run.

You never count your money when you’re sittin at the table.

There’ll be time enough for countin, when the dealin’s done.

I hope the next time you approach the negotiation table; you have all four cards ready to play.  Even if you are unable to obtain all 4 needs, walking away with one is still a very rewarding experience.

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Monica Miller

Monica Miller, CIR-PRC has worked in the healthcare industry for 12 years and transitioned from a C-Suite Executive Assistant into a Corporate Recruiter after completing a psychology degree. Her recruiting experience includes working with small and large businesses focused on behavioral and performance based interviewing. In her spare time, she offers pro bono career advice/resume writing to job seekers, connecting candidates with hiring managers via social media. Connect with Monica.


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