At the Bargaining Table -- Tips for negotiating your next compensation package

  • To lawyer up or to not lawyer up -- that is the first question facing CIOs as they approach the bargaining table.
  • Though most prefer to negotiate their own deals, those who have a hard time talking money shouldn't hesitate to bring in a lawyer. The same goes for nervous neophytes. "If someone is doing this for the first time, they'd better have a lawyer or a good friend or colleague who can coach them," advises Dana Deasy, CIO with Siemens, the German global manufacturing giant.
  • Even intrepid CIOs who do their own deals would be well advised to have a lawyer look over their employment agreement. "We're talking of upwards of a million-dollar deal," says headhunter Beverly Lieberman of Halbrecht Lieberman Associates, a Stamford, Conn., company that specializes in recruiting CIOs and CTOs. "We're talking about relocating your family."
  • Be forewarned, however: Some people take a dim view of lawyers acting as bargaining agents. "I only negotiate with principals," says Dave Nerrow of CMGI@ventures in Andover, Mass. "If they bring in a lawyer, I tell them to go look for another job."
  • Perhaps self-servingly, Lieberman also advises using competent recruiters: "I'm technically being paid by the client, but if I don't do well by the candidate, they'll say no." But Deasy remains skeptical of headhunters: "At the end of the day, they're looking out for themselves. Like real-estate brokers, their job is to close the deal."
  • Don't forget to factor in cost-of-living increases in long-distance relocations. Deasy says he always asks for two family visits during negotiations, so that his wife and son can check out prospective neighborhoods. "The Internet is also a great tool for figuring out local living costs," he adds.
  • Don't dive for every dime in the deal, and don't insist on getting every last detail in writing. These deals are complicated enough without you inserting every little party-of-the-first-part. Besides, says Russell Reynolds' Dave Brown, "if you start nitpicking, the company begins to wonder how excited you are to work there."
  • Don't make exotic demands. If you must relocate your mother-in-law, ask for more money in your signing bonus. "Signing bonuses are used liberally to solve issues," says Spencer Stuart's Rich Brennan. "Companies will do lots of things to meet a candidate's needs."
  • Repeat after me: Don't sweat the small stuff.
  • "If you're the right person for the right job, it usually goes smoothly," says Brennan. "If it's the right deal, it's going to happen."

This story, "At the Bargaining Table -- Tips for negotiating your next compensation package" was originally published by CIO.

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