Introduction | Your Interests | List | Power | Understanding the Employer
Please, please do your homework here.
You want to know just what each employer or possible new boss expects. Start calling friends and alumns and reading local newspapers and doing computer searches about any aspect of the company you can discover. Go to the MIT Career Office. Any important interest of yours from the list you developed earlier should be matched with relevant information about the company and the job.
Understanding the Other Side
As with any fruitful conversation, a successful negotiation requires that you understand the other side's point of view. An invaluable skill is the ability to "put yourself in the other's shoes." This requires that you have an understanding of why the potential employer is recruiting at MIT. What are they trying to accomplish besides simply filling an opening ? What kinds of candidates are they looking for ? With such an understanding, you will be able to anticipate their expectations, determine where your interests overlap with theirs and increase your options for developing a mutually beneficial agreement.
The Office of Career Services and Preprofessional Advising surveyed several recruiters, asking them this exact question. Below are the top six charactersitics that recruiters look for.
To find more specific information to determine what your potential employer is looking for, it is highly recommended to attend company presentations. While you are there, make sure to pick up any information distributed at the presentation. If you are unable to attend any of the company's presentations, or are looking for more information, you can go to the Office of Career Services and Preprofessional Advising and look through their company literature.
Other Questions Which You Should be Able to Answer for Yourself:
Will this employer negotiate for salary ? About other matters? Within what range - and which items on your list can be negotiated? (Many companies will negotiate on hours, geographic location, which team you will join. Virtually none will negotiate pension plans until you get to golden parachute level). If they never negotiate salary, how do they determine how much you and others are worth?
Be very respectful of the importance to many employers of internal salary equity. If the employer has strict ranges, then salary may attach more to the job, than to the incumbent. Your task in this case is to argue for a job that carries as many responsibilities as possible (commensurate your experience and talents). Can you create a new job which has not yet been rated?
Whom can you call within the company to check things out? What did they pay last year? How is the company doing? How have they been doing in attracting new people this year? What skills and talents are needed this coming year? Can you talk with a friend within the company or in a local business school about where the company stands with respect to the most important topics on your list?
Remember that the most important source of power for the employer is likely to be its BATNA (whom else could it hire if not you - and can it survive without you?) With respect to big companies, you can count on their having done some homework about alternative recruits as well as about salary levels. You may wish to think through and communicate how you are different from others.