How to get a good offer from a good friend
March 2, 2011 6:05 AM   Subscribe

How do I negotiate a job offer from a good friend? Very specific details inside.

My best friend's husband, who has now become a good friend of mine in his own right, saw an opening at his company that he thought I'd be great for. He put in a good word for me with his boss, who was to be doing the hiring.

Now his boss has left the company and my friend has been promoted to the position that will be doing the hiring. This means that he will also be my direct boss if I'm hired. He's rooting for me to get the job and has done everything that he can to help prepare me for the interview process that will take place this week. I'm incredibly grateful for his help and genuinely excited about the possibility of working with him.

My question deals specifically with negotiating the salary, should I be offered the job. I currently make $30k and I know that the range of the salary for this new position is $50-60k. I would obviously be happy with anything at the bottom of that range, since it would be a dramatic improvement over my current pay, but I would really be satisfied with $55k and above.

My friend will not lowball me, but I'm not sure what reasoning to use to ask for more money if I need to to get above that $55k mark. My friend knows that I don't make very much money currently, so it's not very credible for me to say that my current job offered to double my salary to ask if he can better his offer. I'm also sensitive to the fact that he is newly promoted and can't go around hiring his friends and giving them raises willy-nilly. I'm having trouble coming up with good reasons to ask for more money other than "I want it," though.

Some other details:
- Parts of my current job relate directly to the work I would be doing at the new job, but this is the first time that I would be doing it full-time.
- This is in a field where I don't have experience and I would be working with a team of engineers. I would be the only employee of my kind.
- This is a new position that was just recently created, so there's no precedent for pay.

Thanks for your advice.
posted by p. kitty to Work & Money (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You're going about this the wrong way. Spend your interview learning the key metrics you'll be measured by. See where his offer comes in at. Negotiate an increase to your desired salary contingent on hitting specific performance metrics in the first 6 months or year. You get paid for results, not for showing up.
posted by bfranklin at 6:11 AM on March 2, 2011 [4 favorites]

Negotiate for the salary you think you're worth and you'll never have trouble coming up with the confidence to argue for it. If you end up earning a salary higher than you think the job should pay you, given your experience, you'll go into your position with an inferiority complex. Remember that if they have 60k max budgeted for the position, you could always angle for a raise after you've proven yourself.
posted by litnerd at 6:13 AM on March 2, 2011

Your current salary is irrelevant. It's great that you are looking at a nice increase no matter what, but what you are making should not influence what you get at the new job.

The range for the position under consideration is 50-60K. After your interviews you'll have an idea of the job duties and skills needed. Ask yourself where you with your current experience would fall:

Learning: you would come in and have the basics to get by, but will learn a lot in the first year.
Competent: you can step in on day one with little hand-holding and get the job done
Mastery: you can step in on day one and be a rockstar

Set Learning at 50K, Competent at 55K, Mastery at 60K. Adjust in between those ranges depending on the particulars. Then go in and ask for what you feel you are worth to the company.

Ideally you will do this through their HR dept and not your friend directly, but not all companies do this.
posted by mikepop at 6:29 AM on March 2, 2011 [3 favorites]

I agree with mikepop, and I'll also add two things:

1) Find salary surveys or other ways to learn the industry average & median salaries for your role. Use that as your guide, not what you're currently making.

2) When negotiating, say as little as possible, especially right after you say the number you want. Silence is itself a negotiating tactic. It says you don't feel the need to justify your number. It says you're confident that you're worth that number. It says you're not going to counteroffer until you hear something back from them. And then sit on your hands, bite your lip, do whatever you have to in order to say as few words as possible.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 6:36 AM on March 2, 2011

When negotiating, say as little as possible, especially right after you say the number you want.

Please don't say the number you want. You will only ever get that or less.
posted by Dragonness at 9:27 AM on March 2, 2011 [2 favorites]

My wife took a job recently and negotiated more than her new company was prepared to spend. There was a little tension for a while afterward but her experience and talent has been put into much use and a lot has been asked from her as far as helping out on projects of colleagues. She's become a little frustrated with some of the directions she's been pulled but that frustration is mitigated by the knowledge that she didn't sell herself on the cheap. Always negotiate upward, the company knows how demanding the job is going to be, you do not. Negotiating a higher salary will give you incentive to go above and beyond without feeling like a stooge.

Oh and remember - if you settle for less than you are worth you'll eventually have to answer to a higher power
posted by any major dude at 10:16 AM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

As mikepop says, you can phrase your argument in terms of "these are the reasons why I am a top candidate and should be paid a salary at the top of your range". They've mentally defined a range of salaries and a range of acceptable applicants. Your salary should be higher than any (hypothetical) acceptable applicant with less experience/drive/etc.
posted by aimedwander at 12:10 PM on March 2, 2011

I am sorry to bring up a negative, but beware of working for friends. Did that EVER bite me in the ass.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:43 AM on March 4, 2011

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