Fear not, there’s one business executive from the critically acclaimed TV show “30 Rock” named Jack Donaghy, played by actor Alec Baldwin, who can help shed some light on negotiating during an interview. Jack’s favorite time of the year is when contracts expire so he can play the negotiation game with his employees. Here’s what you can learn about negotiation from NBC’s favorite executive.
“In poker as in business, the key to success is to determine your opponent’s strengths and, more importantly, his weaknesses.”
Jack was able to gain the upper hand in a game of poker because he was able to identify his opponents’ “tells,” indicating they were lying. He carefully studied each and every person before so he could know when to play his hand.
Just because a potential employer is paying close attention to your resume during an interview doesn’t mean you can’t dissect their resume as well. Do some thorough investigating on your potential employer that could include other job postings to get an idea of salary ranges, marketing materials to find out how they stand out from the competition, and any annual reports on the financial health and longevity of the employer.
As G.I. Joe would say, “Knowing is half the battle.” The more you know, the better you will be at judging whether or not your demands are realistic, reasonable, and can provide value to the potential employer.
“I am confident, open, and positive. You are negative, pessimistic, and in danger of becoming permanently sour.”
Throughout “30 Rock,” Jack Donaghy works tirelessly on his appearance with peers and superiors. In reality, he focuses on appearance to a fault. While you shouldn’t repeat Jack’s cutthroat tactics to gain favor with powerful executives, you do need to provide a positive, professional, and enthusiastic manner when interviewing.
The key is to get potential employers to buy into what you can do for them and what you bring to the table so they offer you a job. Once you are given the job offer, then it’s your chance to start negotiating. Employers want to hire someone who wants to work for them, not someone who is only looking for a paycheck or benefits. Put on your Jack Donaghy charm and make them fall in love with you first.
“Now you know how Bin Laden felt at this same point in his career, Mr. Speaker.”
While Jack finds joy in “winning” negotiations by coming out with the better deal, there is one tactic he uses that makes all parties in a negotiation happy– focus on their interests instead of their positions. Just like Jack had conflicting interests with a U.S. Speaker or didn’t want to pay his babysitter the same amount after switching to just nights, he often looks to understand why they want it.
When negotiating with potential employers, it’s always more effective to tell them why you think you deserve a higher salary instead of just asking for it. They may have policies in place you weren’t aware of or they might be willing to make other special arrangements that will meet your specific needs. If both of you know why there is a need, both of you can better find ways of meeting that need instead of just demanding what one side thinks it needs.
We all have needs. Even though the economy still isn’t in the best shape, you can still request to get compensated for what you can bring to an employer. Jack Donaghy knows what he wants and goes for it. As a job seeker, you should to.