Don’t undersell yourself in job negotiations

January 29, 2010 at 3:27 am Leave a comment

After a job hunt of several or especially many months, job seekers are usually so grateful to have an offer that they take what is initially on the table without blinking. Though it remains an employer’s market — especially in journalism positions — hiring experts warn that job seekers still should avoid underselling themselves in negotiations with employers. Remember: What you get going in — in terms of salary, benefits and working conditions — is the baseline for the future and the better deal you negotiate now, the better off you’ll be down the road.

Even when you’ve been laid off and have had trouble finding a good position, here are some smart strategies from experts about negotiating a deal for a job or even a long-term freelance or consulting arrangement:

*Multiple offers provide you with more leverage. It’s wise in a job hunt to keep many “irons in the fire,” if only so that you have choices and can compare offers — and ideally, try to use another offer to get more from the employer you’d prefer. This usually works best when it’s not just about money but about job duties, benefits or other things that an employer might use to “sweeten” the deal if they really want you, and don’t want to lose you to the competition. (This can also work if you’re employed and have an offer from another company. But negotiate with your current employer only if you really are open to staying and if you have very good standing in your organization. If you’re trying to get a better deal from your employer only to use it to escalate the other offer, it could backfire, and then you’d be left having to stay in your old job in any case — and your employer may resent your tactics even if they agree to give you a raise.)

*Consider how badly the new employer needs you and how soon. You’re in a much better negotiating position if they really want you, you have particular skills needed on an impending project or they are on a tight deadline (this is when an employer taking forever to get back to you can actually work in your favor). In these circumstances, an employer may determine that it’s worth a slight bump in pay or another week of vacation or some flex time to get you on board right away.  Use this to your advantage but don’t dawdle — if you give them too much time to consider your requests, they may decide it isn’t worth it to them.

*Don’t undersell yourself on pay but remember that organizations right now are often not budging from strict pay guidelines — which may require you to take a pay cut from your previous job. (See Nov. 3 blog post “Talking about money” and Dec. 1 post “When to consider taking a pay cut.”) Be honest with the organization — as early in the hiring process as seems appropriate — about your pay expectations and what you earned in your previous job. Then, the salary range shouldn’t be a surprise when an offer comes. Politely assess whether there is any give in this figure and if you determine there’s not — and research you’ve done on the company and the industry bears this out — seek to get something in exchange for taking a pay cut. One tactic is to negotiate when you would be eligible for a pay increase — and discuss what percentage increase would be likely. Another is to try to negotiate a bonus if certain performance conditions are met. Another idea — if you have been at all successful free-lancing — would be to persuade the organization to allow you to continue doing some free-lance work on the side. In any case, make clear what your pay expectations are going forward — so that presuming your performance is worth rewarding, the employer knows what it might take to keep you happy in the job.

*Watch out for some negotiating pitfalls. Even if you think you’re not in a great position and really want this job, don’t act weak and don’t accept the position on the spot. Employers can smell weakness. Always ask good questions about the package they are offering and take some time — at least a day — to review it. They will respect you more for it. Ask to speak to a benefits or human resources representative before you accept the offer; hiring managers typically don’t have all the benefits details and you don’t want to find out there are some real issues with your benefits only after you’ve started a job. And above all, don’t be a jerk in negotiating — the people you’re haggling with are going to be your colleagues and you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. A few extra vacation days or a better workplace setup isn’t worth turning a hiring manager into an enemy even before you walk in the door.

*For those looking to jump-start their free-lancing in 2010, the following article offers some smart, creative tips:

Creatively Handling the Admin Side of Freelancing – Smashing Magazine
There are very few who would argue against the notion that most freelance professionals, especially those operating in the design/development and writing arenas, tend…

*As always, some job leads to peruse and pursue, with today’s emphasis on broadcast, online and communications openings:

*The hat tip on the next two broadcast positions is The first is for a radio reporter in D.C. for WTOP:

1/27 – WTOP Radio, in Washington DC seeks a full-time reporter. Minimum 5 yrs major market experience radio news reporting experience. Excellent writing & editing skills for radio and website. Flexibility in work schedule. Valid driver’s license. Complete application at link “inside wtop”…follow instructions from there. Resumes accepted with application only. An Equal Opportunity Employer

*Comcast Spotlight in D.C. has openings for sales professionals:

1/28 – Comcast Spotlight, the #1 Media Sales organization in Washington, D.C is searching for talented individuals to fill a number of open positions including Local Sales Manager, Regional Account Executive, National Direct Account Executive(with some National Sales Office oversight) and Sales Assistants. Each position requires collaboration with Sales Management as well as our Interactive and Marketing teams to grow revenue and enhance client satisfaction by utilizing targeted cable networks, and On Demand. Qualification/Requirements vary depending on position. To learn more about each available position apply online at Comcast is an EEO/AA/M/F/D

*The next two positions were listed on The Environmental Defense Fund in D.C. has an opening for an online editor:

Publication or Company Environmental Defense Fund
Industry Non-profit
Benefits 401K/403B, Bonuses, Dental, Health
Job Duration Full Time
Job Location Washington, DC USA
Job Requirements Overall function:Environmental Defense Fund is increasingly using online tools to get the word out and exert influence. We are looking for an Online Editor to keep our work powerfully presented and in line with the best practices for Web writing. If you are a wordsmith who is fascinated by how people interact with material online, this position is for you.

We expect projects to be mostly quick-turnaround updates, promotional copy and fine-tuning of material created by others, though occasional longer writing projects may be assigned. You will work closely with Web producers and communications specialists, so while technical skills and communications savvy will be helpful, your primary focus
will be on the words and content.


With guidance from the communications team and policy experts, write and edit copy that frames and connects more in-depth materials. (For examples of this kind of “hub page,” see and
Work with policy experts and the communications team to ensure the accuracy and appropriateness of your copy.
Ensure that online materials adhere to our search engine optimization strategy.
As needed, edit blog posts written by staff experts for style and online best practices.
Select and edit materials from our offline sources to suit online reading and scanning behavior. Sources range from the annual report and marketing brochures to white papers and other materials for expert audiences.
Work with staff experts, Web producers and media staff to keep materials current and reflecting our communications priorities.
Stay informed about the organizations projects and the online news context.
Help coordinate online coverage of selected news releases and events, including keeping the timing and wording consistent with what other departments are doing.
Edit material to be used in online outreach or for syndication, including anything from policy summaries to tips and other link bait.


Bachelors degree with at least 7 years of relevant professional experience, preferably in online marketing writing. Experience writing for blogs is a plus.
Thorough understanding of how people interact with materials online and the best online writing practices, especially when it comes to headlines, other display text and links.
Ability to distill complex topics into clear, compelling language.
Excellent judgment about what concepts, details and words must be highlighted to both engage readers interest and advance Environmental Defense Funds goals.
Strong time management skills, especially when it comes to quickly changing news-based priorities, and balancing small but necessary tasks with larger projects.
Experience coming up to speed quickly on a wide variety of topics, and strong judgment about the appropriate depth of research.
Ability to communicate with and learn from experts in many different disciplines.
Strong writing and editing samples and willingness to complete short writing and editing exercises as part of the application process.
Proficient in basic HTML and Photoshop. Familiar with the standard functions of a content management system.

About Our Company With world attention focused on both the environment and the economy, Environmental Defense Fund is where policymakers and business leaders turn for win-win solutions. This leading green group, founded in 1967 as the Environmental Defense Fund, has tripled in size over the past decade by focusing on strong science, uncommon partnerships and market-based approaches. You can be part of a vibrant workplace that welcomes diverse perspectives, talents and contributions, where innovation and a focus on results are a way of life. With programs from Boston to Beijing, Environmental Defense Fund is the only environmental group to receive an A rating from Wired magazine.Environmental Defense is an equal opportunity employer. Women, minorities and the physically challenged are encouraged to apply.

*And last but not least, the American Pharmacists Association in D.C. is looking for a manager of external communications:

Manager, External Communications
Job ID: 6443309
Position Title: Manager, External Communications
Company Name: American Pharmacists Association
Industry: Nonprofit/Association
Job Function: Media Relations
Location(s): Washington, Dist. Columbia, 20037, United States
Posted: January 28, 2010
Entry Level: No
Organizational Setting: Nonprofit/Association
Job Type: Full-Time
Min Education: BA/BS/Undergraduate
Min Experience: 3-5 Years

The American Pharmacists Association has an immediate need for a Manager of External Communications to assist in the coordination and implementation of activities of the External Communications Department, including support of day to day media relations activities, American Pharmacists Month and other consumer outreach campaigns.

Responsibilities include:

  • Proactive media outreach to place articles, interviews etc.
  • Development of press releases, talking points and other communications documents.
  • Maintain media contact database, including trade, consumer, and online publications.
  • Monitor and track media coverage.
  • Conduct and compile daily news scans.
  • Establish and maintain close relationships with all relevant journalists.
Job Requirements

Required Skills to include:

  • Bachelor’s degree in communications or journalism preferred.
  • Three years prior related communications or public relations experience.
  • PR agency or association experience preferable.
  • Excellent communication skills, with an emphasis on writing.
  • Relationship building skills with capability of working with all levels in the organization.
  • Strong project management skills and ability to handle multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Understanding of conference/meeting media outreach planning and activities is a plus.
  • Experience developing video and podcast content is helpful.
  • Proficiency with MS Outlook, Word, and PowerPoint and media analysis tools.
  • Understanding of and experience working with new forms of digital and online media including social networking outlets, bloggers, etc.

Please email resume, cover letter and salary requirements with EC in the subject line to EOE

Happy hunting and have a relaxing weekend!



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

How to write an effective bio Interview questions to anticipate

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

DC Works has moved!

I'm now blogging at I hope you'll join me there!

%d bloggers like this: