In the modern business world, professionals may change jobs several times during their careers, voluntarily or otherwise. Many often ask: “How can I negotiate a satisfactory employment package every time?”

Usually, because of the wrong assumption that negotiation always entails a “win-lose — you win and I lose” situation, you may walk away from the negotiation table too early, or you may accept an unsatisfactory deal too quickly. By doing so, you miss the opportunity to create a win-win solution for both parties.

Here are some tips to help you secure a win-win deal out of your next career negotiation step:

Look at the bigger picture

When negotiating employment packages, people mostly focus too much on one single issue: the salary. Thus, they spend all their efforts bargaining instead of negotiating. When you say: “I deserve 100K per year because I have worked in this area for more than 10 years” and your potential employer replies: “No, you cannot get this kind of amount because …”, it becomes a deadlock and win-lose situation.

Therefore, you must change your mentality and focus on the bigger picture, instead of sticking to one single point. For instance, you can think of other key elements that are also important to you (besides salary), but not as much to your potential employer. How can you use this to your benefit at the negotiation table?

It could be that your potential employer is less concerned about the vacation days per year, so you can get more holidays even though you don’t get a higher salary. Also, instead of solely aiming for a certain salary level, you may want to try to obtain a better job title.

Or, if you really are very keen on getting a salary rise, you can agree a certain percentage of your salary to be variable and linked to your annual performance since your potential employer may be less concerned about the variable pay.

Present future opportunities

When negotiating your remuneration package, try also to suggest opportunities for the future. For example, if you cannot get the title or salary that you wish for now, try to propose a probation period after which you could revise your package according to performance. By presenting future opportunities at the table, both parties will have more room to come to an agreement.

Focus on motivation

To find a win-win solution, think about what the objectives of employer and potential employee are. By doing so, you will always find ways to fulfil both parties’ motivations and create a win-win arrangement.

For example, your potential employer may ask you to move to another city to take up a new position. But you cannot do that because this kind of arrangement may strain your relationship with your family.

Instead of finding arguments to defend your position, think about why your potential employer may want you to move. If you know that the main purpose for sending you there is to make sure that the job can “be done” instead of only expecting you to “be there”, you can counter-propose that you make frequent trips to the city and establish regular teleconferences. This will ensure your performance and, at the same time, fulfil your personal needs.

Thinking about objectives instead of positions will help you to open the door to win-win solutions. 

Don’t burn your bridges

Negotiation is part of life and is essentially a continuous process. First-class negotiators value good relationships very much: the current negotiation results may be based on the relationship you built last time. Or, your current negotiation journey might be the foundation for future negotiation.

Therefore, the last recommendation is to try to maintain a good relationship with your potential employer even if you cannot finalise the deal “this time”. It’s a small world: you may need to negotiate a possible employment opportunity with them in the near future.