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…

4 Ways to Lose Your Dream Job at the Starting Gate

Project 2012: Day 205

Let’s talk about the Profiting Phase of your job hunt. Here’s where the rubber hits the road. You’ve prepared, planned, pursued, and practiced. Your CV, References, and Interviewing skills have gotten you to this place – the job offer.

But many roles are lost right here. There are 4 areas where you can lose the job at this stage:

1) Not knowing what the company is offering for the role. i.e. Not being in the “range of reason”

This is a classic mistake. If you’re ever heard the words “You’re too qualified for this role” or “You’re asking above the salary ceiling” you’ve either over-estimated the salary for the role, or you’ve not sold your own value.

Every negotiation has a “range of reason.” There’s a ceiling above which the buyer is not willing to pay, and a floor below which the seller is not willing to sell. You need to know what that ceiling is. Preferably before the job offer.

2) Not knowing what you’re worth

This is the opposite (yet, just as classic) mistake from point 1. Again, you need to be in the range of reason. Everything is negotiable. Perhaps there’s a mandated salary band, well, there’s is a band. It’s ok to expect to be at the top of the band if you have the experience and skills. Also there are other parts of the remuneration that could be negotiated. Start date, leave loading, benefits, working flexibility, any number of items.

As with point 1) you need to know what you’re worth, and highlight this value throughout the negotiation.

3) (Mis)choosing one offer over another

This mistake is not so common, yet as disastrous. This is where you choose a role based on some priority, only to find the job isn’t all “beer and skittles,” and you should’ve chosen another offer instead.

It’s an easy mistake to make, especially when:

  • The hiring manager is a good negotiator or salesman
  • You’re under financial pressure to get into work
  • You focus on too few characteristics about the role
  • The alternate offers timing don’t work to your advantage (i.e. the “bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush” syndrome)

This is one reason why you should be tracking a LOT more than just the package of any opportunity you’re pursuing. Commute, office environment, travel expectations, peer feedback, corporate performance, company brand, etc.

4) Your negotiating skill

Finally, the job offer isn’t the end of the process. It’s the beginning of the engagement. Most of us are so excited and flattered to be offered a job, we lose sight of the years ahead in the organisation and career. This is akin to getting engaged and thinking about the wedding, rather than planning for the marriage. (Actually most people do that too Hot smile)

Like any human endeavour, negotiating is a skill, and can be learned. Whilst the hiring manager, on behalf of the company, is offering you gainful employment and a salary; you are offering them commitment, dedication, skills, and more often than not, some level of sacrifice of personal time, ambitions, or family.

Learn to negotiate. Understand, and be able to articulate your worth. Understand the competition you face, but highlight the competition the hiring organisation faces too. Learn when to walk away, when to concede, and when to stand.

Learn to negotiate.


Keep your eye on these four key areas, and you’ll land your dream job.

Interview Skills: The Secret to Being Remembered

IKEA-Job-InterviewProject 2012: Day 65

So here you are, and you’ve come to the end of your interview. Enter one of the most critical phases you’ll experience throughout the job hunt. Many jobs are lost here.

This is to do with a concept called “Primacy and Recency.”

People remember most the first thing they encounter, then the last. Pretty much everything in between becomes somewhat hazy.

This is also why if you ever have an opportunity to choose, you want to be either the first candidate, or the last. This also goes for presentations you deliver.

Leave a Lasting Impression

So, no matter how you answer the interview questions, you want to make a great first impression, and you want to leave a lasting one.

Often the end portion of the interview is left to “do you have any questions?” (Note: You always do, and we’ll cover those in another post)

Once you’ve asked your questions, it’s time to wrap up. No matter where you are in the interview loop, this may be the one and only interview, or the first in a raft of discussions, this is rarely the end of the process.

There are always next steps

Even if the last, there’s still a verbal offer, verbal acceptance, written offer, potential negotiation, and written acceptance to go. So don’t ever, ever, end with “So,” cheesy smile, “when do I start?”

Also, you don’t want to ask a question like, “How’d I do?” Immediately you’ll have undermined your confidence, and perception of value.

You do want to do three things at this stage:

  1. Leave a good impression as we mentioned
  2. Thank your host for their consideration
  3. Establish next steps, and gain commitment from the interviewer to follow-up

No easy task. Although relatively simple.

End strong

  • So, begin by standing and shaking hands.
  • Then thank your interviewer(s) for their time, and mention that you enjoyed exploring the role further. (unless of course you didn’t enjoy it, don’t lie)
  • Ask what the next steps are. Or re-confirm them if you already know.
  • Finally, ask who is responsible for the next activity, and when they’ll complete it
  • Write this down in your notebook.
  • Goodbye, and leave.

The whole process should take no longer than about 1-2 mins. Being succinct, thankful, and disciplined enough to write down the next steps shows you’re confident and in control. That’s the good impression.

(Re)confirming the next step, and gaining commitment from the interviewer (or their proxy) to follow up puts you in control. Writing it down sends the message that you take the commitment seriously, and gives you the opportunity to hold them accountable. In other words, call them a short time after the commitment to follow through.

Focus on them

Thanks also makes the interviewer feel better. Remember, they’re likely to be in a hole, as they need to fill the position, busy, and perhaps even feel uncomfortable about interviewing. So taking the time to thank them (conditionally) is the right thing to do.

What if it’s not the one?

Don’t be afraid to end the process if you don’t want the role. Remember the interview is as much you determining whether you want to work for this organisation, as it is them determining whether you’re a fit for the role. If there are show stoppers (too much travel, skills mismatch etc.) then have the decency to thank the interviewer for their time, and end the process.

There is a company cost to interviewing candidates. You also have an opportunity cost to interviewing. Every interview you attend for a job you don’t want is time you could’ve spent interviewing for a job you do want.

And that’s not mentioning other potential candidates that may be ruled out if you continue. So if you know you don’t want the job, don’t waste your or the hiring organisation’s time.

Wrap up

Remember: Short, sharp, thankful, and make a note of what’s happening next.

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If you have any questions or would like to discuss the topic further, feel free to leave a comment below, via social media, or contact me directly