CompensationIt’s that time of the year again, when thoughts are turning to Black Friday, the beginning of the mad holiday shopping rush. Children everywhere are putting together their wish lists, but the questions is, have you put together yours?

Several of my clients are in the midst of negotiating compensation packages, what a nice present to enter the holiday season. But just as a child puts together a wish list for his or her holiday gifts, so too should you have a wish list for your own gift that keeps on giving . . .  your compensation package.

1. Putting together the list

When thinking about what you’d like to ask for in the negotiation (or what you’d like to counter with) make a list of what it would take for you to accept the position in the prospective company. Remember to include base salary, bonus, singing bonus, benefits (all too important these days), stock options and vacation time.

2. Do your research

It’s much easier to negotiate if you’ve researched the market and found out what companies are paying for professionals and executives in similar positions. That gives you a more compelling and dispassionate argument for getting what you feel you deserve. Fair market value makes business sense. Remember, if a company appreciates and wants to hire and keep your talent and expertise, they will be willing to pay for it.

3. The compensation package is just that, a total package

The compensation package goes far beyond just base salary. When negotiating, remember to look at the total package. That gives you more flexibility in the negotiation. Not only that, each of us has different wants, needs and motivations. For some, a generous salary base is most desirable, while for others it’s the challenge of a start-up with huge potential upside based on having a piece of the company pie.

4. Get the offer in writing

It’s always important to get the offer in writing, but even more so when you’re negotiating an executive compensation package. There are a lot of elements that go into these packages and you certainly don’t want anything falling through the cracks.

5. The negotiation should be a win-win

The person you’re negotiating with is someone that you’ll be working with in the future, therefore you don’t want the transaction to be contentious. That means you should ask for what you want rather than make demands. Making demands and becoming emotional could lead to an offer being withdrawn.

The compensation package is the gift that keeps on giving. Going in the door is the time to get your best package and always remember . . . if you don’t ask, you don’t get.