I’m Sure You Know This: Negotiate Your Exit and Your Salary At The Same Time !!

You’re so excited by the interview. They asked you all the right questions and you had all of the right answers right? Then comes the offer.  Now what?

Did they ask you for your salary “history”, “requirements” or just ask “so, what are you making?”  

If this is your first job after college or graduate school, chances are, YOU HAVE ZERO ROOM to negotiate BUT…

One of the most common questions I get asked is about salary negotiations and whether you should “be honest” about your current salary, “how to get the most salary and benefits possible” and increase your total compensation.

I’m going to give you the good news and the bad news all at once.  If you have not thoroughly researched the employer and the compensation ranges for your level, you’re not going to find anything magical here.  You’ve got to give me something to work with.

Here are some basic’s that I would want to know:

  1. After you’ve looked at glassdoor and scoured google for what ever you can about salary, if it is a publicly traded company, YOU MUST read the public filings on edgar.gov.  Search for the company and employment agreements.
  2. It is all public info. If you take the time, and know how to do the search. You will find gold. Feel free to hire me to do this for you. The below is just an example and will definitely NOT apply to you.

3. The more you search for like roles in other companies and the more you know, the more capable you are to ask the right questions.

Equally important, what I can tell you is this:

REGARDLESS OF THE LEVEL OF EMPLOYEE, YOU MUST BRING UP AND NEGOTIATE YOUR SEVERANCE NOW.  You will never have the chance to negotiate your exit again (with any leverage).

This is an example of what severance looks like for a very financially fortunate person:


The above letter is not YOUR severance or your deal BUT the questions I would want to know:

  1. Are you at the level in the Company (e.g. your future employer) where there is severance? And if so, what is the policy.
  2. If no, you could tell them what you want and see their reaction ONLY if you have done the research in advance to know exactly what your predecessor got.  Is this Company the type that has arbitrated with former employees? Wouldn’t you like to know that before you start down this road?

Most importantly: their answers to your questions will give you a good idea about what type of organization you are considering joining.

Give me a call – I can help you work out a salary and severance negotiation that fits your situation. 310-570-2399

Yeah, I am sure you consider yourself a great negotiator right?

 Nothing to learn right?

Well, one of my mentors fifteen years ago taught about “Getting to No” in the context of sales.

Get a no quickly to qualify a prospect. I think it equally applies in negotiation. For example:

“Will you agree to limit our obligation to repairing the service performed, deliverable or product for a year after closing?”

Or, in real estate deals, we might ask an investing partner:

“In year three, if real estate prices are way up, can you assure us that you will not force a sale until year seven?”

The “no” that follows tells you so much about where to go next if you really pay attention.

No’s” give us boundaries but also clarify how one sees the relationship.

In the first case, I might ask, for starters, how* the customer would want to handle when things change or do not work as planned?


In the real estate situation, since we know our client cannot prove out its return on cash goals if a sale is forced in year 3, we might have to re-think our assumptions.

The real question becomes how often do you practice the art of paying attention?

*how questions are my next topic of focus

How would you rate yourself as a negotiator? 

Do you believe the compliments given by your opponent?

Yesterday, a Mongolia-based consulting services client shared a common negotiation tactic in the US. The nationality of the speaker only highlights an outsider’s perspective.

At a tense point in the negotiation, the American said:

“I would never want to be on opposite sides of this issue with you,” the American said.
“Yeah why is that?” the Mongolian side asked.

“Because you just seem too fierce, I would worry that it wouldn’t end well for me,” the American said.

Americans often use the “false prop up the other side” approach to appeal to ego. Regardless of the words, it is a false compliment to gain leverage and the speaker does not believe it.

I get this often with opposing counsel who says things like “I really like you”, “you’re so smart” or worse, they call my client or me “pal.

These things ever show up in your world?

It is often said in a genuine tone but the fact that it is a negotiation tactic is surprisingly lost on many.

The Mongolian’s below response summed up how the logic of false compliments falls apart.

“You and I are negotiating a transaction to do business together. We are doing the deal because we cannot do it ourselves. If you are telling me that when the chips are down, you will turn from our business partner into our adversary then this discussion is over.”

Would you like to become a better negotiator? Let me know what types of things you negotiate? Shoot me an email – gregory@rutchik.com

New Business Plan – Follow Sequoia Capital

Sequoia capital offers the best advice here so follow it.


Use their handy outline and keep it really simple.


I am in no way affiliated with them or them with me. Use at your own risk. You might get replaced by their board and have to wait until your blackout date passes to sell your very low valued stock. Go for it!

Know your style before you negotiate

And then keep a close look out for your adversaries’ style.  Try the MIT two dollar game and Thomas Killman’s test.

So what if before you stepped into a word fight or negotiation, you could see more than just yourself. You could see the other’s wish and want list, you knew their strategy.  Well, what if I told you that the first thing one must master is to feel what is going on within their own skin and then, only then, can they look beyond their skin to become aware of what is going around across the table.  Would seeing breathing patterns that change in your opponent help?  What if your opponent could see your face get red when you cannot and knew what it meant? What if your opponent could sense your sped up breath or calmed breath and knew what it could mean?

Some things to think about before you negotiate (as Derived From MIT Sloan School of Management Butterfly course work)

1) Do you know what you want? Isn’t that what negotiation is all about? Do

you know exactly what your opponent wants?

“Wow. How on earth did you learn that answer? Did you just ask? And they

told you the truth?” If it were only that easy.

2) What is your own natural strategy: (a) Competitors; (b) Compromisers – even if

they are told not to; (c) Avoiders; (d) Accommodators; (e) Rule breakers; (f)

Collaborators; and (g) Revengers. Take the Thomas Kilman Test.

3) Where is your breath? Where is your opponents breath? How does your breath change depending on the strategy you approach or the strategy you naturally take?

4) Chaos theory: Did you ever meet someone who tests the water? For example, their first salvo might be “what if we move the term effective date down to the end of the first recital?”  Is your reaction to say no or to say yes or to fight every period and comma.  Try to see if their reaction is competitive from the start with everything by testing the water.  Try making non-substantive concessions early or ask if we can do something that both parties agree to as a starting point. See if that evokes the opponent’s natural strategy or evokes a new different strategy or just confusion.

5) Rules: (a) “Splitting the difference” is not the only way to divide what is on

the table, and why it may or may not be the best way, in real life.; (b) The

importance of intangibles (such as relationship, trust, friendly feelings) as

well as tangibles (in this case money) as sources of value in a negotiation;

(c) repeated interactions with the same person—in building or losing a good

relationship. We do not usually bargain

just once with the same person. We often interact with the same person more

than once. The effect of successive interactions, positive and negative feelings

become part of the intangibles that are won or lost in the interaction.

5) Strategy vs. style and demeanor. (One can be very competitive and very

charming, or collaborative and aggressive, or competitive and aggressive). Don’t mistake Mrs. Nice with a push over and don’t think that Mr. Aggressive won’t concede or compromise on important issues.  Sometimes people get all caught up in their style and demeanor and it turns out they have no strategy at all.

6) Ethics in negotiations — how comfortable am I with making up a story, and

how do I feel about a negotiations partner who lies or threatens?  Don’t assume both parties operate from a moral equivalency unless and until your data proves it so.