I'm a finalist for a CIO position in a mid-size manufacturing company. The recruiter that introduced me to this position has had some discussion with me about my expectations regarding an employment package, but I've been guarded while trying to remain flexible.
Recruiters play an active role in many negotiations by providing guidance, encouragement, and support to ensure the process moves as efficiently as possible. Lawyers representing your interests and those of the firm may also be involved if the compensation package is very large and complex.
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But be careful not to rely too much on a recruiter for your communication with the hiring representative of the firm. Keep in mind that at all times, the recruiter's client is the employer, not you. There are going to be times when you will feel it is important that the employer hear what you feel -- in your own words. This isn't to say that recruiters cannot and do not play key roles at this stage of the game, they often do, but you will have to make a value judgment about the recruiter with whom you are dealing and the degree to which you trust them to represent your point of view.
If and when you request a better package, you must be able to speak with confidence about your fit and value to the organization -- no one else can do this for you. And keep in mind that while a recruiter's goal is to have the negotiations conclude successfully, it is more than likely they have a back-up candidate or two waiting in the wings -- especially in this type of an employment market.
In preparing yourself for a negotiation, determine in advance what issues you think will be negotiated, what issues you want to negotiate, and even what issues you may not want to negotiate. And when the negotiation process is complete, obviously you should expect to have the entire package put in writing to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
Dave Opton is CEO and Founder of ExecuNet, an online career services center for executives. Questions can be sent to Dave at email@example.com, he can't answer each individually but look for yours in an upcoming column.