How to Negotiate a Hiring Contract in Westchester

We asked an executive search and recruiting expert for tips on negotiating a hiring contract.

The most contract-negotiating power you will ever have at a company is when you’re not hired yet, but you’ve been offered the position, says Don Zinn, StevenDouglas senior vice president of executive search for Westchester and surrounding areas. Servicing clients ranging from start-ups and emerging middle-market to Fortune 500 companies and private equity firms, Zinn has seen it all.

A member of the Business Council of Westchester, Zinn focuses on small to medium businesses earning $20 million to $250 million, family firms, and private-equity companies.

After working in this field for more than 17 years, he has some advice on how to negotiate the details of your hiring contract — some of which can apply to negotiating a promotion or raise during an annual performance review.

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Get a clear statement of what the role and duties are.

“Getting detailed position specs, that’s step No. 1,” Zinn says. “You never want to start a new role and say, ‘Hey, this is not what I thought it was.’”

Make your list of must-haves and wants.

This list can include salary, commissions, job duties, paid time off, working locations, travel, equipment, retirement benefits, health insurance, and working schedule. Once you’ve discussed the list, the employer gives some and denies others, then stop. “Go to the table once, walk away with the wins you have, and be thankful,” he says.

Sell your desire to work remotely.

If you prefer to work from home, ask for it within the context of productivity, not that you don’t want to commute. Explain that if you don’t have to spend time traveling, you can accomplish specified extra tasks.

Steven Douglas
Photo courtesy of StevenDouglas

“Negotiate from a position of what you can contribute, how you can help — not what you want or think you deserve.”
—Don Zinn Senior Vice President of Executive Search, StevenDouglas

It doesn’t hurt to ask — once.

“I don’t think there’s any harm in asking,” Zinn says. “But don’t keep coming back for more and more and more.” The bigger the company, the less likely they are to bend. Smaller companies can be more progressive in creative negotiating.

Show your ROI for your salary.

“When negotiating a salary, it’s not about me, me, me; it’s about what value I bring,” he says. If you made $300,000 a year at your current or last company, figure out how to show you brought $1 million or $2 million to the company. Share what you anticipate you can accomplish, making a case for why you will bring value to the company at that compensation level.

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Know when to let the salary haggling drop.

If you’re quibbling over $5,000 or $10,000, that’s not worth missing out on the position, all things considered, if you’re in the ballpark of a $200,000 salary. If you’re in the $75,000 range, then that amount might be a deal-breaker.

Bring quantitative evidence to the table.

Find measurable results and numbers when possible as examples of how you helped a company make more money and or save more money. “You need to have a measurable result in order to have value,” Zinn says. “Then you’re positioned to have an intelligent discussion that’s very different from ‘I want more.’”

The universal rule for all asks, Zinn says: “Negotiate from a position of what you can contribute, how you can help — not what you want or think you deserve.”

Related: How to Dress for Hybrid Work in Westchester County

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