Negotiation Skills For Graduating Seniors

There is nothing quite so promising as the enthusiasm of youth. I speak to many graduating seniors at business schools and the look in their eyes inspires me. They possess a “can do” attitude and believe that anything is possible.

I encourage these seniors to embrace negotiation as a tool to maximize first-job compensation, advance their careers and fortify relationships. Start early, while that “anything is possible” mindset is fresh and alive. “But wait” they say, “I have no professional track record. I haven’t ‘done’ anything yet”.

Whether you are new to the work-world or not, we all bring some differentiation that can win us that job or that deal. This difference is “your leverage zone”. In negotiation we use those strengths to convince the other side that our deal, our program, our product or our “self” is the one they need. Here are 3 powerful strategies anyone can use in any negotiation:

1 – Get in Your Leverage zone. Find and use those strengths that the “other side” needs. For example in a first-job interview:

• Do research, then offer up growth ideas. It shows not only initiative and creativity, but differentiation. Most people won’t or don’t do this.
• Find a parallel between your college activities and the business you’re pursuing. Employers care less about your lack of experience (they know it); they’re more interested in what you will do once hired. Make that connection. Again, most people don’t.

2 – Embrace the Process. To negotiate successfully, you must commit to a disciplined, data-driven approach. That means “aggressive preparation” every time. We use information, creativity, insight, documentation and practice to gain strength and achieve great outcomes.

3 – Ya’ Gotta Ask. Most people simply don’t ask for what they need in a negotiation. Ask! It’s amazing what happens when you do.

I believe in “windows of optimism”. Right after college, most of us believe the “world is our oyster”. We’re infused with fresh ideas, excitement and a passion to get started. There’s an edge to our psyche. Over time the reality of life will polish off some of that edge, but if you use negotiation early on to gain your best deal while strengthening relationships…you will achieve success sooner.

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