BATNA stands for “Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement." This is the breaking point of negotiations, or the point at which making further concessions becomes unviable or unaffordable. Candidates indulging in salary negotiations need to identify their BATNA, or the lowest figure they would accept, before the start of negotiations. The candidate’s BATNA depends on how much they need the job or the alternative arrangements in place if they do not land the job.
When fixing BATNA, do not go by the salary figure alone. Consider other factors such as benefits, bonuses, work hours, work title, working conditions, and more. For instance, company policy may make the salary unacceptable, but other elements of compensation, such as eligibility for benefits or paid COBRA, tuition assistance, paid vacations, signing bonus, severance pay, stock options, sales commissions, car allowance, paid cell phone, relocation expenses and others may be up for discussion.
When making an offer, do not start with the BATNA level. Allow some margin to concede to the employer. At the same time, do not come down from a higher level without reason. Make the employer give good reasons on why you should accept lesser compensation than demanded.
Continue to page 2 for more tips on how to negotiate salary and benefits.