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Want to Land Your Dream Job? Learn Negotiation Tips from a Pro

by Jim Camp

How do the best CEOs nail multimillion-dollar contracts for their companies? They understand the fine points of negotiation. If you’re a recent college grad, you can learn these same negotiation skills and strategies to land a dream job.

Here’s the good news: College grad job seekers are in the best position they’ve been in for years to aim high and ask for exactly what they want. Thanks to baby boomer retirements, there’s no shortage of available college-level jobs in 2005, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here’s the bad news: Professors teach facts, but they don’t give you tools you’ll need out in the real world. Going into a job interview with a few insider tips and secrets from a pro will give you an edge over competing candidates.

It worked for Brian, who landed a six-figure job at a high-tech firm, and it also worked for Elizabeth, who got a White House appointment, after each college grad took an online tutorial in Systematic Decision-based Negotiation™ and then applied negotiating strategies in their job interviews.

Becoming a masterful negotiator will help you in every area of your life, from asking for a raise, promotion, or better benefits package after you’re hired, to getting the best deal on a new house or car.

Here are 10 tips for landing that dream job:

1. Unlearn everything you’ve been taught about the value of compromise. Offering to give something up in order to get what you want is as American as apple pie, yet the best negotiation professionals don’t do it. Compromise puts you at an immediate disadvantage from the start. You don’t have to give anything up, including your self-confidence, in order to get this job.

2. Do impeccable homework and preparation about the company and position. Use the internet, read the local paper, make calls and inquiries. And bring your notes with you, including any questions that have come up in the course of preparing.

3. Do not try to impress your interviewer with your dress, attitude, or style of communicating. It will backfire. Be honest, direct, and authentic instead.

4. Don’t be needy. You do not need this job. You need water, food, and air. You do not NEED this job. Neediness is the number-one advantage killer.

5. Be emotionally neutral. Learn to clear your mind of assumptions, fears, and expectations so you can maintain a calm, open-minded perspective at all times. When emotions enter into a negotiation, failure follows. Retrieve a dropped pen if necessary to get your emotions back to calm if they start to intrude.

6. Do not come with a prepared statement. Instead, have prepared questions. Find out what your interviewer wants, how s/he views the position. Get her/him talking as much as possible, while you take notes.

7. Ask questions that begin with interrogatives, such as what, how, and why. This will help YOU direct the dialogue. By avoiding simple yes/no answers, this style of questioning helps you find out more about what’s in your interviewer’s mind.

8. Get your interviewer to reveal what a “good fit” means to him or her. Your objective is to find out whether this organization is a good fit for YOU.

9. Answer questions with questions as much as possible. Determine your interviewer’s position and uncover any hidden agendas. Word your questions to keep your interviewer reassured, relaxed, and trusting you.

10. Base everything you say ONLY on information that has been disclosed in the interview. Don’t guess what your interviewer means by something, or wants to know. Effective negotiating is all about collecting information in the present time, taking copious notes, and responding only to the actual facts you’ve collected. If you don’t have enough facts to answer your questioner, ask for them.

Jim Camp is president of Coach 2100, one of the leading negotiation training and management firms in the world. He offers self-paced online tutorials to college grads looking to improve their job prospects. He is author of the critically acclaimed business book, Start with No! (Crown Business).

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