Master contract negotiation

You have lots of requirements when it comes to job hunting. You’re looking for a position within a certain distance of your home. You want to be working in a field you’re passionate about that will lead to a job you love. But more than anything, you want to be compensated fairly.

Securing a new job is only half the battle. After a company has reached out to offer you a position, you need to develop a strategy for how to negotiate a contract. Considering that you’ll probably remain in your new position for at least a few years, you absolutely must make sure that you’re getting everything you want from your employer from the get-go.

While you can and should adjust the minutiae of your contract negotiation strategy for each potential employer, there are six elements you should build your expectations around.

1. Have your end goal in mind

contract negotiation

What’s your ideal salary, and how did you get that number? Sure, you might want to make $100,000, but why did your mind immediately jump to that number? Examine your past experience and respective salaries before you begin contract negotiations. Then, look at your finances. How much money do you need to not only cover all of your expenses, but to start generating wealth and saving for retirement? When you’ve finally figured out your goal salary, know without question that you won’t accept anything less than this during a contract negotiation.

2. Be realistic

As stated above, you’ll need to look over your experience and previous salaries to determine what you should be making, and compare it to the standards in your industry and in your area. The job that pays $75,000 in one region might only pay $60,000 in another. Additionally, know exactly what you bring to the table in terms of skills so you can effectively employ contract negotiation strategies.

Author and entrepreneur Keith J. Cunningham suggests viewing contract negotiation as an agreement that will benefit both parties. In order for you to benefit the way you want, the opposite party – your prospective employer – needs to benefit as well. What can you offer your potential new boss that makes you worth $80,000, $90,000 or $100,000? How many new customers will you reel in for them or how much money will you save them by maximizing efficiencies? Do they need your particular set of talents?

You should always know your worth, but researching the company and its industry will help you determine how much you should ask for.


3. Realize that everything is negotiable

how to negotiate a contract

Has the company you’re interviewing with said that there’s a set cap on your position’s salary? Jeff Cochran, one of the partners of Shapiro Negotiations, is a master of negotiation and believes that everything is negotiable. Jeff has consistently been a speaker at Business Mastery events and knows how to negotiate a contract. Keep in mind that the reason you’re negotiating is because there are so many variables in play, so don’t think of anything as final until you’ve signed an agreement.

Jeff also recommends that, rather than making big leaps in your asking price during contract negotiation, you move your number up incrementally. Big jumps in numbers risk alienating your future employer; instead, move upward in small, strategic sums until you find a salary that makes both parties happy.

4. Think beyond your salary

We often think of contracts purely as documents that establish how much we’re paid, but there are many other things to consider. One of your contract negotiation strategies is adding bonuses, benefits or flexibility to your new position to enhance your salary. Consider your lifestyle. How many vacation days is your prospective employer offering you? Can you negotiate a more powerful title for your résumé? Have you been offered health benefits and stock options that work for you and your goals? Consider all these factors during contract negotiation and don’t make the mistake of focusing solely on the numbers.

successful contract negotiation

5. Be prepared to walk away

negotiating contract with employer

Contract negotiation is an art that takes time to learn. Even after you’ve mastered the skill, there are times when you simply need to be prepared to walk away from an organization. If they’re not meeting your needs financially or otherwise, you need to have a point at which you can leave and feel good about it. What does that look like? It’s entirely up to you, but planning ahead will help you formulate contract negotiation strategies and decide what you will and will not accept. At the very least, you should have a clear vision of your goals, your contract needs and where you need the two to align for ultimate job fulfillment.

6. Know how to present yourself

Whether you’re negotiating a new contract or revising your current one during an annual review, be conscious of how you’re presenting yourself. Dress appropriately in an outfit you feel powerful in. Approach this contract negotiation with confidence: Sit up straight with your shoulders squared, keep your hands and feet still and make eye contact. You’re here to obtain the salary you want, but focus on building rapport, too. Remember that you are trying to give both parties what they want during contract negotiation; observe the posture of the person you’re negotiating with as well as how they are responding to your discussion. When the person you’re negotiating with sees you as organized, professional and self-assured, they’re more likely to trust your worth and give you exactly what you want.

how to negotiate a contract with your boss

7. Get it in writing

No matter how great of an instant connection you believe you’ve made with your future employer during contract negotiation, you still need to make sure you get everything they promise in writing. In some cases, an employer will tell potential hires they will revisit certain requests 60 or 90 days after they’ve been hired or will promise certain perks that aren’t in the contract. Unfortunately, you can’t believe everything you hear. How to negotiate a contract involves protecting yourself. The best way to do that is to make sure everything you discuss is guaranteed in writing before you accept the job offer.

8. Make sure everything is fully explained

As you get deeper into contract negotiation and are presented with an offer, make sure you fully understand it. It can be easy to get excited about your new position, especially if you really get along with your new bosses and are receiving the salary and perks you want. However, if anything is unclear or not present in your contract, this could lead to big problems down the road. There’s nothing wrong with pointing out areas of ambiguity in the contract or addressing the fact that your job title or right to work from home two days a week is not spelled out. While you may need to allow your new employer to make some adjustments to the contract after you’re hired, you need to know exactly what the parameters are and approve them.

Most importantly, know that contract negotiation is a learned skill. The more you practice your contract negotiation strategies, the better you’ll become at getting what you want and expressing your needs to the people around you.

Leverage your way to success through negotiation

Tony Robbins’ complimentary 7 Forces content series uncovers the negotiation skills and tactics necessary to achieve your ultimate business goals.