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Negotiating? Have a Plan B, says Villanova's business dean

Jane M. Von Bergen, Staff Writer

Updated: Tuesday, August 22, 2017, 3:01 AM

Villanova Business School Dean, Joyce Russell, in the atrium of Bartley Hall, at Villanova University.

What are you supposed to do if you ask for a raise and don’t get one? Pout? Walk?

Answer that question for yourself before you ask for a raise, advises Joyce Russell, dean of Villanova University’s School of Business, who for years penned a career column.

“I wrote a lot on negotiations, which are always really popular — job negotiations or salary negotiations,” Russell said during her recent Executive Q&A interview for the Inquirer’s Sunday Business section.

How do people shoot themselves in the foot when they try to negotiate salaries?

No. 1, they don’t negotiate, or they don’t do their research. They just go in there cold, especially for raises. People just go in and say, “Can I have a raise?” Why? “Because I think I deserve this,” without any kind of data. Lack of preparation. Lack of practice. That’s why I always tell people you don’t go in to ask for a raise unless you’ve done some research. What is your market value out there? You may find that you’re actually in pretty good shape, or you may find you’re not. But now, you have more confidence in negotiating harder because you find you have options.

What should you do if you present data, and you show what peers are making, and you show your worth, and you still don’t get a raise? Should you quit?

That’s a good question. I always tell people it goes back to: Don’t go in and negotiate anything unless you’ve considered your best alternative to a negotiated agreement. What are you going to do if you don’t get it? Most people don’t think about that. But you need to think about it. Are you going to walk out? Are you going to stay and keep looking? Are you going to stay and be happy?

When asking for a raise, having a BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement) is critical. It could be another job, but often people may not want to leave the firm if they don’t get a raise. If that is the case (and they want to stay), they should think about other options besides a raise to base salary that can be offered.

So, bonuses, money for travel or professional development and certifications, more paid time off, parking, mileage, technology are all additional things the employee could ask for. Many companies will try to do something (assuming the employee is highly valued), and using these types of things is less costly for the firm than adding to the base salary, which also increases money to benefits, retirements, and other monetary things connected to the base salary.

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Jane M. Von Bergen, Staff Writer

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