Know When to Hold ‘Em: 5 Tips on Salary Negotiation

Know When to Hold 'Em: 5 Tips on Salary Negotiation

Though poker is a game anyone can play, relatively few women seem comfortable at the poker table. Similarly, few women seem comfortable taking a seat at the negotiating table. I am a woman who's won a poker tournament or two, and though I'm not exactly proud of my hours spent in dimly lit rooms at games lasting far past my bedtime, poker has helped me to cultivate skills that have served me well in my career. One important skill I've learned is negotiating salary. When preparing for a salary negotiation, I've learned over time that it's important to stay calm, hold your cards close, and, most importantly, don't leave money on the table. These five lessons from the poker table can be applied to your next salary negotiations. 

It's All About Position

Today is your day. You've just been offered a wonderful position at a fantastic company. However, the salary offered for the position is less than ideal. Suddenly your mind shifts focus to the question, "Can I negotiate this offer?" It's your action. You have to make the first move. In fact, employers expect you to negotiate. It's a common misconception for job seekers that the salary they're being offered is the only salary available to them. This is often not the case. Don't let your mindset get in your own way. Remember: you are in position. 

Keep a Poker Face

Too often, people think that salary negotiations need to be a battle; a game of me vs. my opponents. But games, like poker, are supposed to be fun. Salary negotiations may not be fun, but they can be a positive experience for everyone involved. This comes down to your attitude. Be calm, positive and confident while remaining humble and gracious. Employers want to see you be enthusiastic about the job offer. Share your excitement with the hiring manager before you play your hand.

Count Your Chips: Know What You're Worth

Your salary negotiation should be driven by data, not your feelings. In order to succeed, poker players study away from the table. They have a deep understanding of what their hand is worth in each game-play scenario. When coming to the negotiating table, do your research to understand your market value. Being prepared can help you avoid leaving money on the table. 

Bet Your Value

All good poker players know that their livelihood depends on finding a good game. Similarly, a good employer recognizes that the success of their company relies on each employee's value-add. Your new employer is as excited about your value-add to their organization as you are about your new opportunity. You can use this mutual excitement as leverage to negotiate an even better offer. Be confident and demonstrate your value at the negotiating table.

Don't Be Afraid to Raise

You know you have a winning hand. Now, it's all about getting the most out of it. Don't be afraid to raise. It's important to understand that other benefits are negotiable besides pay. Before you begin negotiating, know which benefits, or lack thereof, are deal breakers for you. Find out what's on the table that can be included in negotiations. This can include signing and retention bonuses, medical insurance, vacation time, 401(k) contributions, paid leave, and less tangible benefits such as flextime and telecommuting options. Know your outs and think it through. 

This is a guest blog post by Jaimie Asakawa. Jaimie is an enthusiastic member of Metro EDGE and currently serves on the Communications Committee. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, Scott, and their kitten, Bob. While Jaimie aspires to make her mark on the Sacramento poker scene, her husband is the far better player.