Whatever You Do Have a BATNA

Project 2012: Day 359

“Well done!”

“We’d like to offer you the job.”

Is your hunt for your dream job over?


Not by a long shot.

We now enter into the 5th and final phase of your hunt. The profiting phase. But this is as critical as the preparation, planning, practicing, and pursuing phases.

Time to negotiate.

A couple of key principles:

  • There is always a negotiation
  • You must have a BATNA

As a hiring manager, my job is to get the best talent I can, for the least cost to the company. So, like any transaction, generally I’ll start in the ball park, but at the lower end of the scale. This gives me room to promote, reward people, not to mention keeps the costs down.

Next week we’ll talk about confidence in your value to the organisation.

This week I want to talk about the BATNA.

Power in a negotiation is about choices. The BATNA is your “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.” In a word, it’s your way of walking away from a bad deal.

And you must have one.

Which is really difficult when you need an income.

When I was looking for my last job, Lucy asked me if I’d take the first one I was offered. “Depends on what they offer me?” was my response. She struggled with that because she felt that any income was better than none. Which made me struggle with it.

But unless you have an alternative, you can’t negotiate for what you’re worth.

So figure out practically what your alternative is. How many more days/weeks you can last, could you sell some assets, would you need to move, could you stay in your current role, could you contract to tide you over? Write these down so when you’re made an offer you can compare them (relatively) objectively.

Also, so you can show your spouse.

Of course if you have a job offer from another firm, or even if another opportunity is looking promising (at the 80% mark where they’re checking references), that is your BATNA.

More than one alternative offer shifts you to the driving seat in the negotiation. Which in turn makes you all the more valuable.

Always have a BATNA…

The Last Question

QuestionProject 2012: Day 352

With just 2 weeks left in this blog series I figured it time for us to get to the crux of the matter. Finishing off the final interview, and negotiating your job offer.

So this weeks post is all about your last question:

“Do you have any doubts as to my suitability for the role?”

That’s it. Exactly like that. Practice it word perfect.

If the interviewer has doubts, you inquire as to what they are, and resolve the doubts there and then. If they don’t, then your next question is:

“Great, what are the next steps?” and “When should I expect to hear from you or would you like me to call?”

The next steps are important, and if you’ve managed the interview process well, your interviewer will expect you to want to know when you’ll be moving forward.

This question is so powerful that my daughter was practically offered her job even though the organisation still had other candidates to interview. They literally said that if her references checked out, they’d be pleased to offer her the job.

And they did.

Remember, if there are no doubts (or you’ve resolved them) the role may still go to another candidate. In that case, this job was not for you. You’ve done your best, put your best foot forward, been helpful, thankful, confident, and shown you can do the job.

Hold your head high. Well done.

It’s a Numbers Game

Project 2012: Day 338

Do you really want that dream job? I mean really?

There's a story about an acolyte that hiked over mountains, deserts, and crossed vast oceans, through famine, war & hardship to reach a great master. He had but one question: “What is truth?” The story goes that the master took him to a stream, bade him enter, and held his head under the water until he finally stopped struggling. At the point of near drowning he let the acolyte up to the surface, gasping, spluttering, and choking for air. “When you want truth as much as you want air,” said the master, “you will find it.”

Hyperbole as teacher. When you want your dream job as much as air, you'll find it.

To find it, understand what every sales person knows (and you're selling yourself): It's a numbers game.

The last time I went job hunting I applied for 35 jobs. 19 responded, and I actively interviewed for 10. 4 companies offered me a job. Imagine I'd stopped after the first 16 opportunities where I didn't even get a response?

Numbers gives you:

  • Options
  • CV feedback
  • Interview experience
  • An expanded network
  • Negotiating power

Even if you want just one of those opportunities, apply for all of them.


Accelerated Rapport – Part 2

Project 2012: Day 331

We’ve spoken about finding something in common to build rapport, let’s look at some other ways you can accelerate getting on with anyone.

Laughter is the Best Medicine

Ever noticed how in tune you feel with someone when you laugh together? That’s a very powerful psychological force. But what or who do you laugh at?


It’s called self-deprecating humour, and it really breaks the ice. Essentially it’s the opposite of making fun of someone else. It’s also the opposite of being a story topper, because you increase your vulnerability by being the butt of the joke.

You can weave self-deprecating humour into your contextual answers.

Note: You’re not a comedian.

The idea isn’t to have your interviewer rolling on the floor with laughter. Or even laugh out loud. Just a humanising smile is enough. So you don’t have to prepare a repertoire of jokes, just point out the embarrassing, or unflattering in a way that brings out a smile.

Here’s the thing – the difference between a stilted, formal conversation, and a natural trust-building one, is humour.