You made the cut, aced the interviews and got that job offer. Perhaps your intuition tells you that this job doesn't need full-time hours, or maybe your home life will benefit from more time. Persuading your new boss, however, will take analysis and negotiating skills. "You're asking your potential employer to change the game right out of the box," says Mary Clarke, career counselor from Grand Island, New York. "Unless your negotiating position is very strong, flexibility will be your best asset."
"Moves from full-time to part-time are more common once your boss has an idea of the work you can do," says Clarke. "A big factor in your favor is your value on the marketplace." Pat Katepoo, an author and negotiations coach, agrees with the importance of perceived value. Writing on her own website, Work Options.com, Katepoo points to a lack of other candidates in your field and your distinctive skills and experience as points that boost your value. "The job itself has its own value," says Clarke. "If you will be one of a team of receptionists, for instance, your boss may have scheduling flexibility, and requesting part-time hours may not be troublesome for him."
Preparing a Case
"If company policies are not given at the time of the offer, ask for them," says Clarke. "If the company already has part-time and flex-time policies, use these as the framework for your proposal. Connecting your message with workplace rules that already exist may help your request gain acceptance." As with any negotiation, be prepared for give-and-take. "Be ready to offer back salary, of course, but not necessarily all of it," says Clarke. "Define salary in your proposal as well as your bottom-line number to keep to yourself. Offer the key responsibilities upon which you'll focus in a part-time setting." Clarke also suggests expressing each point from the benefit to the company. "Convince your boss that he saves money while maintaining your full expertise, and he will have a hard time saying no," says Clark.
Conducting the Meeting
"Don't ambush your recruiter," says Clarke. "Surprising the person you're negotiating with will only push them into a defensive position, from which it's easy to say no." As negotiation coach Jim Camp writes on CIO.com, you want to save "no" for your own uses. Camp says that running your idea past your perspective boss and letting him know you're OK with a no answer sets the scene for a mature discussion focused on mutual benefit. Your boss relaxes and no longer has a need to find a reason to say no that may block his openness to your proposal.
"Define your bottom line," says Clarke. "Decide your course of action for each outcome. If you can't accept full-time hours then you must be ready to walk away if your part-time proposal is rejected." Camp agrees but warns that you can't use this to issue ultimatums. You're more likely to persuade your potential boss with a tone of mutual benefit, not a "my way or else" posture. That no answer today may be a yes after you've worked the role full-time. "State your case, and be ready to listen," says Clarke. "You're asking your new employer to be flexible. If you're not ready to return the favor, you're not likely to win him over.
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